JC Penny Optical Review | How to Avoid the Rip-Off

by Nindo Mom on July 10, 2011

I bought my eyeglasses at J.C. Penny last summer.  And for the first time, I decided to go for a drill-mount frame–the kind of glasses that give no physical support to the lenses other than a think plastic wire the edge. Drill mounts–called rimless by some–are great because they don’t have the visual interference of a metal or plastic rim around the edge of your lenses. The down-side to this design is that it tends to be more susceptible to damage than a standard frame. So to protect myself from having to pay for a brand new set of glasses if these broke, I allowed the J.C. Penny optical manager to talk me into buying the extended warranty on the glasses.

The problem came when I had only a month left on the extended warranty.  For no cause that I could identify, the lenses were cracking around both screws on both lenses.  In addition, it turned out that the paint was chipping off the frames in a few different places.

I called my local J.C. Penny optical store and spoke with the manager–who turned out to be the same man I had purchased my glasses from–and the same who had sold me the warranty. I explained the problems with my glasses, and he looked up my frame model in his computer. Then came the bad news: my frames were no longer available, not anywhere in the area. My only option, I was told, was to pick out another frame from those the store had in-stock. And if the frame was more expensive than the one I was replacing, the manager said he’d work with me on the price.

It turned out that there would be no working with me on the price, after all–regardless of what I had been told. When I came into the store, I discovered that J.C. Penny optical only had three or four frames that were drill-mounted–and NONE was less than $200 bucks. (My old frames had only been $99.) So in selecting any of the drill-mount frames that were available, I’d be responsible for paying the entire additional price of my frame–over $100 bucks–AND my 10 percent co-pay of the initial $99 frame.

So despite purchasing the eyeglasses replacement warranty, I was stuck with over $100 in ADDITIONAL CHARGES–simply because J.C. Penny optical had decided to no longer carry drill-mount frames in the same price range as my original pair. Nor were they willing to write-off the additional cost so that I could get a replacement frame with equivalent features as my original pair.

For anyone who’s grown accustomed to wearing eyeglasses with drill-mount frames, it’s pretty common to have a serious aversion to wearing the full-frame eyeglasses–because we’re simply used to not having distraction in our line of site. And it’s extremely discouraging that the policy of  J.C. Penny Optical is not more flexible for warranty customers in situations such as the one I found myself: where J.C. Penny had decided to stop carrying glasses with the same features as my old pair and in the same price range.

Avoiding the Rip-Off at JC Penny Optical

Most people who buy a warranty expect it to protect their pocketbook–even if the store stops carrying their exact model–and customers expect to be able go get a replacement with equivalent features. But in my experience, I ended up paying more for my replacement glasses, even with the warranty discount, than if I had bought a new set under a BOGO sale.

With this kind of warranty policy, I can’t see my self returning to J.C. Penny Optical or recommending them to anyone I know. Nor would I recommend buying their eyeglasses warranty–you’d be better off just waiting for a sale. (And buying from a store that really wants your business, and won’t rip you off.)

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Rob July 20, 2011 at 7:53 AM

You could also consider Zenni Optical {zennioptical dot com}. Their prices are insanely low (probably due to the work being done in China) and I’ve used them for my whole family’s needs for several years now with no issues. The most expensive rimless pair they offer was $26, and that’s with the lenses.

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Nindo Mom July 20, 2011 at 8:19 PM

That’s an amazing price! With the price of glasses today, sounds like they’re definitely worth checking out, if you can find a pair you like! The one tricky thing might be getting a pair that looks good on your face, without the benefit of being able to try them on–but the price makes it worth a try. I’m interested to see what kind of return policy they have, if any….

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Rob July 21, 2011 at 7:09 PM

If I recall correctly, they have a widget that you can upload a photo into and then hover different glasses over the picture.

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Decentered August 5, 2011 at 10:08 PM

I found your experience with JC Penny Optical interesting. Having worked in the industry as an educator and with a private practice for over thirty years I would like to make the following comments. First of all, the problem is probably due to the lens material used and not a frame issue. Most private practices would have replaced the lenses using your old frame under warranty. Rimless frames are great but more fragile and it is critical that you buy a good quality rimless frame if that is the style you want. Most good rimless frames should retail at least 2 to 3 times more than you paid for your frame. In the frame business, you always get what you pay for but again I don’t think from your description it was a frame problem but a lens problem and they should have handled it better.

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Nindo Mom August 6, 2011 at 1:11 AM

I usually don’t go for the cheapest frame–mainly because they don’t tend to look good on my face. However, in this case, the only drill mount frame that looked good on my face shape was a $99 frame. Go figure! A BOGO sale going on at the time further reduced the initial cost….still, comparing the original cost and the fee for the warranty, the extra protection wasn’t worth it.

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ABOC Optician October 12, 2011 at 1:44 AM

As mentioned by the previous reply, the issue has little to do with the frame, but more to do with the lenses. JC Penney Optical prepared your rimless pair with polycarbonate lenses, which have an issue with marring/cracking around the edges of the drilled area of the lenses. The reason that JC Penney optical raised the prices of their rimless eyewear was simple-they realized that a ridiculous amount of customers who used their replacement warrenty were doing so using an inferior lens (not frame, despite the previous comments posted) and realized that they could make a buck upping the ante for folks who selected this type of frame and ended up with an inferior lens. The type of lens that you should ask for with fully rimless eyewear is Trivex…it is more dense than polycarbonate, easier to drill, and will not display the wear or cracking that polycarbonate (your old lens material) did. As for the previous posting…

‘Rimless frames are great but more fragile and it is critical that you buy a good quality rimless frame if that is the style that you want. Most good rimless frames should retail at least 2-3 times more than you paid for your frame.’

What a line of horsecrap. You know where $59 rimless frames are made? China.
You know where $359 rimless frames are made? China.
The issue that you are having is due to lens type, not frame style. I can select a $20-$30 frame from an internet sales site and make a pair of glasses that would outlast the expiration of your prescription, if the lens was made from a Trivex material.

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Nindo Mom October 13, 2011 at 8:41 PM

Unfortunately, I was told Trivex was not available through JC Penny. I got the best quality lenses they could sell me.

I don’t doubt that you’re right about the main problem being in the lens, itself, or at least in the way the lenses were installed. It just so happens that, by the time the lenses started splitting, paint had begun wearing off the frames, as well.

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