LensCrafters’ Bait-and-Switch Scam: AVP

By , October 6, 2008

October 6, 2008 — I’m angry today, because I’ve just wasted two trips to LensCrafters, and now must start over from scratch looking for new eyeglasses.

I wanted to buy new glasses. I knew what I wanted, and I had my prescription (written by the nice lady at the EyeExam office inside LensCrafters, for the bargain price of just $59.95). However, the salespeople I spoke with (and the general manager) kept trying to pitch me on “upgrades” — featherweight lenses, anti-reflective coating, and the “new thing” called AVP (for “Advanced View Progressive,” not “Alien Vs. Predator”).

I had to ask four times before the salesperson finally went into the back and brought out samples of lenses with and without the “anti-reflective” (AR) coating. I was suitably impressed, so we moved forward to the AVP issue. The salesperson could not explain it to me, and I became so frustrated and angry that I simply left the store, promising to return later when I was in a better mood.

But when I returned six hours later, in a better mood and absolutely expecting to spend $300 to $400 on a new pair of eyeglasses, nothing really changed. I asked at least ten different ways for the salesperson and manager to explain what AVP actually is, other than some marketing hype. Each time they explained it, it sounded just a little bit different from the time before.

But one thing was clear: glasses without AVP are crap, and I really needed to buy AVP. No, they couldn’t “show me” anything. No, there was no sales literature. No, AVP is not explained technically.

I finally took a break and tried to research the issue online, using my iPhone. (Of course, this was hard to do since I didn’t have the right eyeglasses.) Eventually, I determined that there simply didn’t seem to be any reference to AVP (“Advanced View Progressive”) anywhere other than at LensCrafters’ own web site. When I pointed this out, the general manager told me that AVP is the same technology as “Accolade,” so I tried to research that. I found that there are no web pages ther mention both AVP and Accolade — clearly, they are not the same technology.

I asked, again and again, to be shown anything that would actually describe or show the difference between AVP and non-AVP progressive lenses. The staff was unanimous: there was nothing. I even called another LensCrafters store, and got the exact same explanation and agreement that there was nothing that either explained or demonstrated the difference.

So what’s the deal? Is AVP just another made-up buzzword like they use to sell toothpaste and gasoline at inflated prices? It certainly seems to be. I walked out of LensCrafters twice today, because I won’t do business with bait-and-switch scam artists. I expect to pay more money tomorrow at another optician to get the glasses that LensCrafters persuaded me that I should not buy from them.

Added 10-7-2008: Some form of “better progressive lenses” are apparently offered by a number of companies under different trademarks. None of these web sites actually explain the technology or provide a credible demonstration. This all appears to be “marketing hype” with no actual benefit for your money.

  • Advanced View Progressive (AVP) – LensCrafters
  • Verilux Physio – WAVE (Wavefront Advanced Vision Enhancement)
  • Accolade & Accolade Freedom With FrameOptimization Technology
  • Harmonix (Accolade’s “Technology”)
  • EasyView (PearleVision)

– Mark J. Welch

11 Responses to “LensCrafters’ Bait-and-Switch Scam: AVP”

  1. J says:

    I understand this man’s pain completely. I have been a dispensing optician for the past 8 years. I started out at LensCrafters, and went to private practice shortly after that. There is always a grey area with LensCrafters progressive multifocal lenses. First off, not all progressive lenses are the same. When I worked at LensCrafters, I would encourage my patients to purchase a special order Varilux Panamic lens. (this is because the LensCrafters branded lenses were terrible) LensCrafters does NOT use the latest technology and generally are about 5-10 years behind from the rest of the optical industry. This is where they make huge profits. They care about one thing MONEY, not you. Your vision is the last of their priorities.

    The latest technology definitely benefits the older styles. Essilor Varilux Physio/Physio 360 and Hoya Vision iD & iD Lifestyle all use a “freeform” digitally generated surface technology. What this means to you is that there is going to be less peripheral distortion in the lens. This means the swimming effect will be less when looking to the ground and walking.
    Crisper, Cleaner vision is the end result ( in distance, intermediate and near).
    Lens Material plays a HUGE part in visual clarity. Most chain stores sell YOU Polycarbonate lenses. Polycarbonate lenses definitely have their benefits, they are impact resistant, and give you UV protection. Polycarbonate has been around for 15+ years. The problem is that polycarbonate causes chromical abberation (distortion). Polycarbonate is CHEAP garbage. Nowdays there is a better alternative it is called TRIVEX or TRILOGY. Hoya Vision calls their lens material PHOENIX.
    It is visually pure, and costs the same as Polycarbonate. (NO DISTORTION).

    High Index is also a great option.

    Anti-Reflective Coatings have come a long way in recent years.

    Your best bet is to go with a coating that has a warranty.
    They all resist scratches, fingerprints and boast better clean-ability. Great coatings are HOYA Super Hi-Vision EX3, Essilor Crizal Sapphire and Alize. (all have a 2 year warranty)
    LensCrafters “Scotchguard” coating is a good option, but they don’t stand by the product.

    I hope this may help many of you out there! Do yourself a favor, go to a private office. See a qualified optician. They will take the mystery out of the process, and find you the best option that suits your needs.

  2. Ron Bosse says:

    This was the best analysis I have seen. Thanks for the information. I was very confused, and now I am pretty clear on what I need.

  3. sean says:

    AVP is a type of lense with a wider “side field” view.
    ie if you have non avp lenses you you want to look at something that isn’t. “Dead on s traight” then you need to swivel your head or the view will be blurry. With avp you can just look. Its more natural.
    Its not a “scam”many companies make similar wider view lenses

  4. Lisa says:

    I used to work for an optical shop and the reason they push for certain products is solely based on commission. I think I made an extra 5 dollars when I sold anything with anti-reflective coating, another 2 dollars for extra scratch resistant coating, and so on. Same thing when I worked at a bank. We got commission for signing people up for online banking, debit cards, certain accounts, etc. Crizal lenses have been my favorite to wear. I had a pair of transitions with crizal, which were nice, but now I just use regular Crizal. I noticed a lot of people having issues with progressive lenses and most opted back to regular bi-focals. Good luck.

  5. Allison Smith says:

    “Custom digitally generated surface” is just another excuse to charge overblown prices. Off-the-shelf Panamic lens one of the best ever, with true wide vision, all newer lenses are just a gimmick and don’t work as well. Shame on you Varilux for discontinuing and shame on you “J” for pushing the “new” technology!

  6. Matt F says:

    I’ve been in the business for 23 years and to Allison I’d say you may be off the mark a bit. Panamic,GT2 and a whole host of other lenses have been some of the best lenses ever designed. However the problem is that they lack the benefits of a customized progressive in that they simply can’t correct for things like position of wear, variable corridor, variable insets and the like. The older generations of progressive lenses I describe like this. They were designed for everybody and Anybody but nobody in particular. Now there is an exception to that rule. Position of wear measurements include measurements such as the wrap angle of the frame, the vertex distance which essentially accounts for how far away from the eye the lens sits and the tilt angle of the front frame (referred to as Pantoscopic tilt). In the case of the standard design progressive they will use “Standard position of wear measurements” to generate your lenses. Typically those measurements are around 5 degrees of frame wrap angle, 14.5mm vertex distance and then around 9 degrees of tilt. If you happen to be lucky enough to fall into those parameters with the glasses that you’ve chosen you’re basically customized.
    That’s an overly simplistic explaination though because it doesn’t account for one of the most important features of the customized progressives and thats the fact that on a Free-form custom, digital progressives they take the progressive corridor off of the front surface of the lens (in other words, the lens manufacturer determines the progressive corridor in the lens design and casting)and a very expensive, highly sophisticated, way-above-my-paygrade computer and lab equipment determines the best possible vision given all of the parameters discussed above and generates the progressive corridor onto the back surface of the lens. That translates to a larger and more customized reading and intermediate zone.
    So again, I would agree with you in that there are older generations of progressives out there that did work just fine but as I’ve layed out here there are definitely more advanced options available.

  7. Matt F says:

    Mark, in direct response to your question, “is AVP just another made-up buzzword like they use to sell toothpaste and gasoline at inflated prices?” Yes, but that’s nothing new. Lenscrafter’s has made a living off of separating themselves from the herd in this fashion. When I was there in the early nineties they had a device out called the “Accufit.” It was nothing more than a plastic clamp with a non-standardized set of measurements on the side of it that gave you a “size” that coincided with their exclusive sizing system. The idea being that if you were measured for a size 13 frame at lenscrafters using this “device” and then went elsewhere to look for frames and that dispensary used the traditional sizing method which is basically done by trying on frames rather than using the handy lenscrafters tool,that it would reflect poorly on them and when opticians at these optical shops didn’t have an answer for it Lenscrafters would look all the more sophisticated and customers would come flocking back (Accufit failed by the way).
    Another instance of this is the case of the “featherweight” lenses they sell. “Featherweights” are nothing more than a common polycarbonate lensand while it’s true you can only get “Featherweights” through Lenscrafters you can readily purchase a Polycarbonate lens from any respectable optical shop.
    In regards to the “Advanced View Progressive” think of it like this; They are no more advanced in the world of optics than an analog television set is to a black-and-white set. In other words is more advanced than the earliest generations of progressive but nowhere near as sophisticated as the best lenses on the market (an 1080p HD television set).
    To “J” there is one small issue I’d have with your comments about polycarbonate lenses. I wouldn’t say that polycarb is “garbage.” True it has a high price margin but that being said it’s also an inexpensive option where the Rx merits it. I would further make one more slight correction because you mentioned “chromical abberration” with poly and then proceeded to recommend Hi index in the next sentence. In fact Hi index lenses have just as much incidence of CA as that of polycarb. The higher the index the lower the ABBE value and along with that comes an increased chance that a patient might experience some form of CA (which is basically the propensity for a lens material to break a ray of light down in to it’s component colors and OCCASSIONALLY you may experience a halo or shadowing effect or one of a few other symptoms). In my opinion if you already have a lens material already picked out for your customer before you’ve taken into account Rx, lifestyle needs, past experiences etc, you’re doing it wrong.

  8. Michael V says:

    Matt F:

    In regards to your comment:
    “In regards to the “Advanced View Progressive” think of it like this; They are no more advanced in the world of optics than an analog television set is to a black-and-white set. In other words is more advanced than the earliest generations of progressive but nowhere near as sophisticated as the best lenses on the market (an 1080p HD television set).”

    Then what are the best lenses on the market?

    PS I have AVP bifocals from LC, but i found that they are not what they told me they would be. My field of clearness is narrow. I want to say that the technician probably forgot to program the machine for the AVP setting when the lenses were molded.

  9. Al B says:

    Wow, sounds like the staff at Lens crafters were trying to hook you up with a decent pair of glasses that would not be too heavy, and a no line bi-focal… hell my lenses alone were $1200… and after about an hour of trying to find frames that could handle my prescription and what my insurance would cover, the great people at the Potomac Mills Lens crafters were awesome!!

  10. Ann Edwards says:

    Sean, above is completely wrong about AVP lenses. The Lenscrafter tech told me that with the Lenscrafter AVP lenses I just got I WILL have poor peripheral vision. The Lenscrafter tech says if I want to be able to use my peripheral vision, I will need to get ‘varilux lenses’ and it will cost me a steep upcharge.’ The Lenscrafter AVP progressive bifocals are terrible. I can’t even use the side view mirrors in my car without moving my head completely over and craning around. I can see out of a dime-sized sweet spot and two-thirds of my field of vision is blurred. I get migraines and this constantly blurry peripheral vision is going to kill me. Am going back to return them for a full refund. Wish me luck.

  11. js says:

    TECH is the key word, you are buying glasses from “techs” who are all part time with no experience besides a video. Stick with your local Optometrist who cares enough about your eyes to hire a trained/experienced Optician, not a retail chain concerned about “their” numbers…..

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