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Optical Express changes its laser eye surgery T&Cs

eye close-up

When we heard that Optical Express customers were losing their money when they had good reason to cancel their laser eye surgery, we knew we had to step in…

Last September we published the results of our undercover investigation into laser eye surgery. We sent undercover researchers into 18 laser eye clinics across England, including Optical Express, Optimax and independents, for their initial consultation.

A third of the visits were rated poor by an expert panel. Reasons included not explaining the risks of laser eye surgery and pressure selling.

What happened next showed the power of sharing your views on Which? Conversation.

Cancelling laser eye surgery with Optical Express

Many of you shared your experiences of laser eye surgery, and there were numerous concerns about market leader Optical Express’s cancellation processes.

Nerys told us about her 20-year-old daughter who booked to have laser eye surgery with Optical Express:

‘She booked her surgery and paid a £400 deposit. The day she actually went for surgery she was told she was not suitable, but they would keep hold of her deposit just in case she became suitable in the future.’

We were concerned to hear that customers who wanted to change their mind after a consultation with their surgeon were being told they were not entitled to a refund. This left us worried that people would feel pressured to go ahead with an operation they weren’t sure about because they’d committed their savings, particularly where they had paid in full in advance.

Even where only the deposit had been paid in advance, we were concerned people could also feel pressured to carry on as the deposits could be significant. It seemed the only way to be sure of getting a full refund was to cancel within 72 hours of signing up. But, for most, this period would elapse before they’d had the chance to speak to their surgeon. This is important because the surgeon could provide new information about the risks or suggest a change in the procedure to be used.

Optical Express changes its T&Cs

We used the stories Optical Express customers had shared with us to write to the company to highlight our concerns. A month later, our lawyers were pleased to see Optical Express had published revised terms and conditions, including:

  • You now have seven days – not 72 hours – after booking to change your mind and get a deposit refund.
  • You can now get a full refund within 28 days if you cancel for any reason after seeing a surgeon – including if the treatment you need changes.

Better still, Optical Express will apply these terms retrospectively to customers who have already booked – but not yet had – treatment.

However, seeing an Optical Express surgeon before your operation day still incurs a non-refundable additional fee (currently £150), unless the appointment is deemed clinically necessary for your eyes.

Thank you to everyone who shared their story and helped bring about these changes. A special mention goes to Sasha Rodoy and her supporters for raising awareness of this issue and putting pressure on to help secure change.

If you’ve had to cancel your scheduled laser eye surgery following a meeting with your surgeon, please let us know how you get on with getting your deposit refunded.

Comments
Guest
Maria S says:
30 June 2018

I have been interested in laser eye surgery for a lot of years and the other week plucked up the courage to go to the Norwich Branch. Myself and my partner were warmly greeted and offered hot drinks and shown to the seating area. An American woman then came and introduced herself and brought us to a room and asked me to fill out a form on her computer, after giving only 5 minutes to fill out a 15 minute form the woman then snottily said she would help fill it in because she had other people to see.
We then had to wait in the waiting area until the same woman took me to another room and ran some tests on my eyes, not forgetting to mention that they’re equipment has been used on astronauts. The room was small and cramped and another patient was brought in for tests at the same time! I was then seen by another woman who did some more checks and used the drops to dilute my eyes. Once these tests had been done it was back to the American woman who was asking me to sign things although my eyesight was blurry! She then proceeded to ask for a £400 deposit, never asking if I needed time to consider. She discussed payment options and said she would speak with her manager to allow me interest free repayments for 2 years..she clearly says this to everyone.
I want the surgery done so paid the deposit and was told this is the best decision I will ever make…as if they know me and my life!
I am due my phone consultation in 2 days time but am questioning my decision. I have hated the way Optical Express are trying to sell the surgery, I dont trust them when it comes to my money. But if I change my mind now how do I go about getting my full deposit back?
They have stated that if my vision isn’t 20/20 or better that I will be refunded…but will I really!? I don’t trust all of terms and conditions and feel that I’m missing a loophole in it all. Do I call today and ask questions and say I’m thinking of opting out or wait until after the phone consultation?

Guest

STOP Maria !!!! After more than 2 years of attending NHS hospitals for eye operations , talking to staff/professor of Ophthalmology /doctors/nurses can I ask ?? are you signed up for laser surgery for EYE CORRECTION not glaucoma or cataracts ? If so think long and hard about this type of operation just so you dont need to wear glasses , I have it straight from ALL the staff NONE of them will advise any of the many patients who come to them to get this operation of laser cutting a section out of your cornea — no none of the surgeons will get it done on themselves as years later their waiting rooms are filled with patients with eye problems which are HARD to correct entirely due to this operation and yes I have spoken to many myself as I make a point of talking to both staff and patients . I do not care is the whole of the private eye surgery industry try to boo me -mark me down by the score -condemn me en masse –just remember -do you want to go blind in later years due to vanity of not wearing glasses ? I have had IOL lens replacement -both eyes – glaucoma -eyes lasered for holes to allow pressure to drop and come out the other end SUCCESSFULLY ! entirely due to the NHS . I can now see clearly for miles – see small print on the side of food tins with NO glasses ! 97 % success in the NHS -2 % fixable only 1 % unfixable . You have been Warned ! I am posting this without glasses with normal size screen print. Its up to you at the end of the day but that is my advice from ACTUAL experience -not supposition-not checking up on a website -etc no– reality Maria.

Guest

To show you how unprofessional Optical Express are ,when I get a letter from the hospital asking me to go for an eye test after a peripheral vision test called a Humphrey visual field test I get told in the letter that due to the drops expanding the iris – do NOT drive for several hours /or that day . I also get told THERE and THEN the pressure on my eyes and the results of the visual field test . This then goes into a NHS folder on the condition of my eyes along with multiple photographs done on a very expensive German eye camera machine which is able to take pictures of every vein and condition of the eye. Your eyes are the “Light of the World ” would you leave them in the hands of a fast talking saleswoman Maria ?? –not I .

Guest

See (or not ) -same operation as you might be getting Maria https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/optical-express-considering-appeal-after-500000-pay-out-to-woman-left-with-sensitive-eyes-following-9759284.html and https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jan/03/top-eye-clinic-faces-claims and for those that think I am biased this website = NHS.UK gives a couple of 5 stars to them BUT the rest — 1-1-1-1-1 and read the reviews Maria the first one mirrors your experience and notice all up to date -07-6-2018 https://www.nhs.uk/Services/opticians/ReviewsAndRatings/DefaultView.aspx?id=91980