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December 14, 2005

Optical Negotiation


Since when do eyeglass stores allow you to haggle?

It has been nearly six months since my favorite pair of glasses cracked in half and I am still wearing my awful spare pair. For those of you who have not seen them, my backup glasses have some strange mutation of the arms (the sides of glasses-- are they called arms? Earpieces? Whatever) that cause them to bell out at my temples. Worse, they are the wrong prescription, assuring a near migraine at least once a week.

On Monday, I went frame hunting-- a rather daunting task-- and finally found a pair of glasses that did not make me feel like Arvid from Head of the Class. I had forgotten how expensive spectacles could be in NYC, particularly for people with eyesight with mine. When the sales clerk read me the price of frames, lenses, and the special grinding down that they would need to do so that the two could fit together, I nearly passed out.

Is it the price? he asked, as I slowly backed out of the store. Well, yes, I gasped. Even though I have a flexible spending account that needs to be emptied by the 31st, I was in no way prepared to lay out a small fortune, even if it did mean actual eyesight.

Okay, he said, let me see what I can do. After speaking with his manager and a little more back and forth between my pocket book and his calculator, we knocked nearly $200 from the price.

Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but since when do opticians allow you to haggle? Are they just looking to get rid of inventory? I am suspicious of "deals" in New York City, even if I am my mother�s bargain-seeking child.

Posted by callalillie at December 14, 2005 5:34 AM | Random


Most frames are marked-up anyway, so when they knock the price off, you're not really getting a deal, per se...you're just getting a price closer to the actual retail price. That's the way I see it...I know that my mom marks up the hearing aids that she sells and if she wants to, she can lower the price for someone and still make money off the sale.

Posted by: Nancy at December 14, 2005 7:41 AM

just gives you an idea about how much markup there is on frames. there is no way that production costs for a designer pair of frames is anyhere near the $200-400 prices you see. i'd bet they cost more like $25 to make. there is a huge markup on lenses as well.

but if you haggled him down, no matter how inadvertently, you've made your mother very proud.

Posted by: bobtrancho at December 14, 2005 8:01 AM

Once upon a time I overheard a girl on the F train say she got really good prices on her frames at optical places in Chinatown. I think in NYC you can haggle over anything to some extent.

Posted by: Sue at December 14, 2005 9:17 AM

I should've used some of those haggling skills. My glasses were stolen along with my camera in Spain and cost a frightening amount to replace because of needed the thinner lenses. Between the glasses + camera (all purchased in one day), I nearly had a financial heart attack. Where did you go to get your glasses?

Posted by: yp at December 14, 2005 9:58 AM

I agree with the markup. It's unbelievable. I went to Cohen's Optical on 14th Street-- mainly by default because, after searching all of the eyeglass places near my office, I coulnd't find a single pair of frames that I liked.

Posted by: corie at December 14, 2005 10:13 AM

yes, you can haggle on the price of glasses in chinatown.

Posted by: tien at December 14, 2005 10:41 AM


And my glasses cost more than my car (well, my car was a steal), but I do wear them all the time...

Posted by: Bill at December 14, 2005 1:41 PM

My brother and I both had similar experiences with Cohen's Optical. They lowered the price substantially witohut much prodding. Also, when my brothers glasses broke and he went back for a new pair (which should have been covered by the insurance policy they sold him), they claimed that they don't ever sell insurance policies and refused to honor it. They're a bunch of scumbags, you should go someplace else. Try Sol Moscot on 14th St and 6th Ave or on the LES.

Posted by: Dave at December 14, 2005 4:46 PM

It's too bad they don't have See Optical in NYC...


Posted by: Heather at December 14, 2005 4:52 PM

I go to Mott Street Optical in Chinatown, at 52 Mott Street.

Posted by: JJ at December 14, 2005 5:23 PM

I got my glasses at a place on Austin Street in Forest Hills, near the corner of Austin and 71st/Continental. Before that, I got them at a place on Avenue A, near 3rd Street.

Posted by: Nancy at December 14, 2005 7:30 PM

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