/ Health

What happened to Optical Express’ ‘lifetime’ guarantee?

Eye

Were you offered ‘lifetime aftercare’ before agreeing to laser eye surgery with Optical Express? The campaigner Sasha Rodoy shares stories from hundreds of patients who say this has now turned into ’12 month aftercare’…

Since 2012, both as campaigner and patient advocate, I have spoken with thousands of people wanting advice or help following laser eye surgery.

Over the last few weeks hundreds of Optical Express patients have contacted me, left in shock after trying to book appointments only to be told that they will no longer receive free aftercare of any description. Each of them have told me that they were offered either free ‘lifetime’ or ‘unlimited’ aftercare. And I’m sure there are thousands more to come when they discover this change in policy.

Free lifetime aftercare

Neil told me:

‘We have just been told that my wife will now be required to pay for eye tests and products by Optical Express. We were told when we signed up for the treatment in Nov 2013 that we were not to worry as the treatment was covered by their Free Lifetime Aftercare Guarantee and so far they have honoured this for the past 2 years and 5 months.’

Paul has also suffered:

‘After surgery in 2012 I cannot see at night or in low light. Optical Express prescribed pilocarpine which allowed me to drive and commute to work, but now they have told me they will no longer supply this. Without help I am really at my wits end, it is affecting me mentally and has affected my marriage. I have become a recluse suffering from eye strain and headaches dreading not being able to see when dusk comes.’

Optical Express responds

An Optical Express spokesperson said last week:

‘For a period of time in 2009 we offered free lifetime aftercare to our laser eye surgery patients. As technology developed and the procedure became even more successful, it became clear to our Medical Advisors that the vast majority of patients only required aftercare in the early stages following their surgery. In October 2009, we changed our terms and conditions to offer 12 months of free aftercare instead.’

However, there is too much anecdotal evidence that a promise of lifetime aftercare was the reason many people chose to get laser eye survey with Optical Express. People like Hannah:

‘I had laser eye surgery with Optical Express three years ago and was promised FREE lifetime aftercare. However I’m now being told that I have to pay £50 for an eye test? Optical Express claim that it’s in my terms and conditions that my free aftercare is only for two years. However I was promised FREE eye care after surgery for LIFE!’

Laser eye surgery T&Cs

Although Optical Express claims that the need for long-term aftercare is small, what about those who do need aftercare beyond 12 months? Let alone the fact that so many people have said they were sold ‘lifetime’ aftercare after October 2009.

Some of the people who have received free aftercare far beyond 12 months post op are now apparently being told that this was a ‘goodwill gesture’.

In fact, I have a number of different versions of Optical Express’ T&Cs. A November 2014 copy states that there will be free aftercare consultations for 24 months, and a July 2013 copy states 36 months. Therefore, free ’12 month’ aftercare doesn’t seem to be the standard since 2009. Some patients have said they weren’t ever given T&Cs, and when they’ve asked Optical Express for a copy of them they have been asked to pay anywhere from £10-50 for them.

If Optical Express refuse aftercare then it falls on the NHS to do so – in fact I’ve heard from a number of patients who have had to go to their GP for medication, and referrals for reparative surgery.

Did you get laser eye surgery with Optical Express? Were you promised free ‘lifetime’ or ‘unlimited’ aftercare? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. And if you have a copy of your terms and conditions, please send to the Which? Conversation team at conversation.comments@which.co.uk

This is a guest contribution by Sasha Rodoy. All opinions are her own, not necessarily those of Which?

Comments
Member

All these complainers say thy were told Was it put in writing? have they the proof ? Sue and I see Optical Express closing down bankrupt rather than pay out as it appears to me to be a dodgy company which does not keep it’s promises or now cannot afford too Never used them and now never will

Member
Nyomi says:
20 January 2018

I just don’t understand how they are getting away with this! It’s clearly a really widespread problem. Can’t we all join forces on a legal case?

Member

Nyomi- they wouldnt in the States its only sharp practice business tricks on us “stupid ” Brits where HMG condone this . There are action groups on the web.

Member
Clare says:
6 March 2018

I have my brochure from 2013 when I got my surgery displaying the free eye tests for life and lifetime of free comprehensive aftercare. I rang optical express to book an appt and they said I was only entitled to 12 months aftercare even though I went to them in late 2013 for a free check up. I’m going to ring a manager tomoro to challenge again.

Member

Clare I got one eye done on the NHS so far , followups to follow for as long as it takes no tricks, sly moves , small print, etc just service to the public , world of a difference to my eyesight . Not only that got letter to give to my local optometrist to get up to date eye test to check the operation who, after the tests phoned the hospital with the results to speed it up . Now THATS what I call Premium Service , dont privatise the NHS or you will end up like Optical Express.

Member
John says:
6 April 2018

Hi Clare, are you able to send me a copy of that brochure, as I also had my replacement lens op in 2013, and also advised free aftercare for life, however cannot find any documentation pertaining to this.
Thanks
I have asked for my T&C’s and told it will cost £50 to retrieve copy, not sure if this is legal under GDPR legislation.
My left eye is now quite hazy, and I have to pay £50 pounds for a test. Also I note on the website that 20% of lens replacement patients need to have “YAG” procedures.

“YAG laser capsulotomy
Refractive lens exchange gives excellent results, but in the months or years that follow treatment, approximately 20% of patients may notice that their vision is fading. This is a common side effect of refractive lens exchange and is caused by the thickening of the lens capsule in which the new lens sits. This thickening causes vision to become hazy, but can be easily treated.”

The reason I went with RLE was due to free health care 20/20 vision for life, weighing this up against the cost of glasses or contacts for life.

Again now told any corrective surgery is chargeable.

Some questions:
When did this policy change?
When did OE advise on the 20% corrective surgery requirement?
Can the NHS carry this out?
What are my rights as to a prosion of a service not fit for purpose?

[Hello your John, I’m afraid we’ve had to remove your email address to protect you – we can help share the brochure if Clare is happy to send that to us at conversation.comments@which.co.uk. Thanks, mods]

Member

John YAG treatment is available free from NHS England .

Member
caroline ballard says:
15 March 2018

I had my surgery in 2011 and was offered free check ups for life.

But only got free check ups for 3 years. And within that time Optical Express sent me a letter that states I am entitled to free check ups (I had had issues with getting my free check up)

I have spoken with a few members of staff and they have told me that my free entitlement has finished. And that the letter I have, is referring to free check ups with in a certain them frame. (The letter mentions no end date for my free check ups)

I have also emailed Optical Express regarding this matter and they ignored my email.

Doesn’t seem fair to offer a service and then take it away. Very obvious they just want to get more money out of their customers.