Have you ever bought a cheap pair of specs? They can save you plenty of pounds but how do they stand up against Which? tests – and could they be false economy…
A few years back on holiday in Spain, I remember visiting a supermarket to find the wine aisle absolutely mobbed by Brits. ‘It’s too cheap to ignore,’ said a man next to me as he over-filled his trolley.
I had the same thought when I recently came across a huge selection of cheap glasses in Primark. After forking out the best part of £200 on my last pair of reading glasses, the prices tempted me to buy a second back-up pair for just £3.
According to a recent Which? survey, I’m not alone. A third of Which? households have someone who uses ready-made specs, typically costing £5 or less.
Putting glasses under the microscope
With so many high street retailers selling ready-readers, Which? has become more concerned about their quality. Three years ago, we carried out a small scale mystery shopping exercise, and our expert optometrist found half had problems.
We’ve just repeated this exercise and, again, our expert detected faults that could cause a range of symptoms in wearers, from headaches to double vision.
You might reasonably argue that ‘you get what you pay for’ but our snapshot check found no correlation connecting quality and price – we paid £27.50 in a top chain like Boots and got a faultier pair of glasses than a £4 pair we bought from Tiger.
Our checks also reveal a lack of consistency in quality between brands and retailers, indicating that quality assurance procedures may need to be stepped up.
Buying ready-made glasses
I’m not ruling out buying ready-made glasses again. We found the magnification (lens strength) was spot-on in all pairs we tested. And with some of pairs of specs, there weren’t any other faults. As it turned out, both Primark glasses were OK.
We’re sending the glasses we bought with the most faults to Trading Standards and we’ll be sure to update you on their findings. In the meantime, I’d love to hear about your experience of buying reading glasses at your local supermarket or high street shop.