/ 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
Val ROBERTS says:
22 February 2019

You can make a Subject Access Request for your original signed Terms and Conditions and indeed any other documents they hold regarding you. It may cost £10. If they have lost it, then they have lost your “personal data” in terms of the GDPR, and you can complain to the office of the Information Commissioner.

Luke Hall says:
3 April 2019

I had LASIK eye surgery in 2009. My eyes have already started to deteriorate. I was told in my consultation that I would get free aftercare for life and this was in my terms and conditions, which I sadly don’t have. I even convinced my best mate to have it done and his procedure cost more money, again they told him the same thing. When I now phone to say I need to see someone they tell me I have to pay £50 for an eye test, I said no and was told I have free aftercare for life and that the manager at the then Southampton branch “Adam” had his done and told me the aftercare was definitely for life. They told me to contact customer support so they could look at my contract. They told me they had checked it and said it definitely was not on they even though I know it is. They said whoever told me about the free aftercare for life should not have told me that. As my eyes are bad I had to pay for a checkup and would only make me an appt if I paid the money up front. This place is so terrible. I wish I had gone elsewhere or not at all.

I had laser eye surgery in 2008 and was told free eye tests for life with optical express. Just rang the Liverpool branch last week to book an eye test and was told it will cost me £75 . Absolute disgrace

William Smith says:
28 November 2019

Yes same here,Liverpool shop told me free aftercare for life then when I needed a test I was told “optical express have never done this” bad bad company be honest OE

My eye surgery was in 2009 and I was promised lifetime cover for eye tests and aftercare. They said they will honour it if I bring in my T&C’s who keeps T&C’s for 10 years? Absolute disgrace, I have a current issue with my eyes and they said it will cost me £75! There should be a law against this, whether you have the terms & conditions or not, that was promised at the time and Optical Express know it, if they changed the policy after that fact, then that should be binding with the public who had eye surgery with them at that time.

Ben says:
19 June 2019

I had Laser eye surgery 15years ago at the Milton Keynes branch. Thankfully my eyes remain in good condition, but I do need reading glasses when working with computers or my mobile phone.
My surgery included the “lifetime aftercare” package, to which I did receive a couple of free eye tests and a free set of reading glasses, the last one of these was around 2012/13 when I moved to a new location.
I recently lost these glasses, so called the bookings line to see if I could order a new set (for which I was totally prepared to pay for). I was told I needed to have an eye check up as it’d been a few years, and I was booked into my new local Optical Express for tests.
Upon arriving, going through the open door and waiting in an unattended waiting room for 10minutes, a young 20something receptionist wanders in and complains that I should have waited outside on the street (in the rain!) pressing an entry button! She then says she was going to call me on my phone, but didn’t, and says that the cost of the appointment was £75!!
I said that I’d had the laser eye surgery and that included the lifetime aftercare. She replied that they don’t do that anymore and that I should check my T&Cs documents from 15years ago!! They now only offer 12months “lifetime” aftercare!
I said that all I wanted was to get a new pair of glasses and didn’t need an eye test, but this was refused and said they wouldn’t do anything without testing first!
If I wanted a copy of my T&C’s, I should contact the head office for a copy to be sent out.
I rang the head office and issued a complaint, to which I’m waiting on a response. I was told that I shouldn’t have been charged any more then £25 for a check-up and that their promise of lifetime aftercare was no longer offered with today’s packages.
I explained that the aftercare side was one of the reasons why I chose them to begin with, but all I got was a “sorry for your confusion!”

I left and went to Vision Express, got seen in 5mins and had a new set of glasses, eye test and check-up all for under £60! Plus the staff were very courteous! Some were ex-OE employees who said the business changed policies on almost a 6month basis and was the reason for them leaving due to lack of customer care vs profit!
I would strongly recommend anyone thinking about dealing with Optical Express to reconsider other options, or at the very least, keep all copies of paperwork in case they make changes and claim the promises made to you never existed!

Diane Evans says:
26 July 2019

I had Lasik eye surgery in Optical Express, Princes St in Edinburgh on 1st April 2010, I was told my procedure was covered by a lifetime guarantee, and I would be able to get the procedure repeated if needed (which was one of the reasons I got it done) I used their messaging service today, to enquire about this and was told that it was only covered by one year! I will ask for a copy of my terms and conditions…

I had my eyes done by optical express and was told lifetime care after about a year had to have one eye re done then about an other year eyesight went again they redone my iSight went shortly afterward and they said I would have to pay what happened to lifetime care don’t use them

I had really dry eyes before lasik surgery with optical express in 2009 was advised that dryness after surgery would only be temporary ha. 10 years later I am using three types of eye drops constantly which I have to self fund after optical express renaged on their free lifetime aftercare.worst decision I have ever made and it wasn’t made lightly I had three consultations over 5 years before going ahead.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Dennis Sheehan says:
18 September 2019

I am in the same situation. I still have a spec of dirt that looks like a floater in the eye. I went back several times after the surgery but they could not find anything. now it has gotten worse and they are looking for €80 for a checkup, I too was promised lifetime care

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Roger Benfield says:
16 October 2019

Hi, I had lens replacement at a cost of £3000 per eye a total of £6000 in 2015 in fact they wanted £7500.A year ago my left eye started to go blurred so I lived with it for 6 months before I went to see (not a good use of words) a private eye clinic where the Optician told me I needed YAG Laser treatment. He advised me to go back to Optical express, which I did I had to pay Optical Express £50 for another eye test. They confirmed I need YAG Laser treatment at a cost of £795 per eye or they could if I wanted refer me to the NHS, (WHAT THE F–K HAS THE NHS GOT TO DO WITH THIS) ,but I should wait a further 6 months because the NHS might say its not bad enough yet. I was a bit shocked as I was sold that Optical express take care of my eyes for life. This was the sales blurb this was what their in house store videos said. even now when you visit their opticians the sales blurb is all about aftercare (what aftercare). I don’t think £1000 per eye per year out of my treatment is good enough. They wont budge on responsibility or cost. So I am going to take my money somewhere else and in fact I can get it quite a bit cheaper even with a totally new consultation fee. My advice TO ANYONE considering Optical express, There are plenty of other companies around. OPTICAL EXPRESS fast food counter.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

, I had lens replacement in both eyes December 2014. Initially I had ghosting in the right eye, I went back several times to optic express, they insisted my eye would take maybe a year or so to adjust, It has steadily continued to go cloudy making it hard to drive at night, and when it is a sunny day.
I continued to complain the optic express, They eventually admitted that there was a batch of faulty
lenses which were supplied by a German manufacturers,
I eventually went to the NHS and I am now due to have the lens replaced,
I am now considering taking further action.
Incidentally I luckily kept the original sales brochure given to me by optic express, which clearly states and I quote, ( Free eye tests for life ). should anyone want a copy please get in touch.

David, I had the same procedure as you in 2013 and are now having problems with my right eye, blurriness and headaches. I too thought I was entitled to free eye tests for life. Could I please ask you to let me have a copy of the original sales brochure as I have thrown mine away. Thank you

I have just been informed that I can no longer get free refractive sight test as I am “outwith the free aftercare period” I have found my original LASIK paperwork regarding this (June 2009) it does promise free lifetime aftercare. I am now having “misty” issues in one eye, I have been to an optician (local as my nearest Optical Express is miles away). They cannot find any issues which would be resolved by prescription, they referred me to the NHS. The specialist at the hospital also could find no obvious problems so are referring me back to Optical Express who they hope will be able to help……….not reassured after reading these comments on here

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Hi Guys, I have the same problem,. clouding in one eye,OP has admitted to me that they had a bad batch of lenses on or around 2013 / 2014, and evidently there is a legal
case going on, with the manufacturers and the people who have the same problem.

Jazz Stening says:
31 January 2020

I had LASIK with optical express in 2014 and was promised free eye checks for life. This was part of the reason I chose to go with optical express. I had a check up for free 1 year and 2 years after surgery. Went for a check up 5 years after surgery to be told that was never the case and I have to pay. Unfortunately they never gave it to me in writing… Complete scam! I would not be recommending them in future. If they convince people into having surgery with false promises, I do not trust them to do a good job.

Miss R Saxon says:
5 February 2020

When I was sold laser eye surgery, I was about nineteen years old, and was told that I would be able to claim free eye care for the rest of my life. This was one of the reasons that I was happy to pay the amount of money that I did, which was a lot for me at the time. However, I have been told that this offer of free yearly eye tests has now been revoked. I feel that this is rather unfair towards those who were promised free eye tests for life, and I think that you should honour this for those who were sold the treatment under the impression that they would be entitled to this.

On top of this, I recently went to the Chester branch of Optical Express to discuss booking an eye test, and was told that not only was I not entitled to a free eye test which I was promised when I paid for my laser eye surgery, but that because I had had laser eye surgery, I would have to pay much more for an eye test (almost £100). Nobody ever explained to me that my eye tests would be so much more expensive because I had had laser eye surgery. In fact, I have been to some other opticians and have been told by them that I shouldn’t have to pay any more money for an eye test because of my laser eye surgery. I feel that this is not right at all and that I am being scammed in a way by those who have said this to me.

After this, I made a complaint to Optical Express and was sent a very rude and dismissive letter basically accusing me of lying. When I called them up on this, a lady from their customer service department rang me up and said she was ‘sorry I felt this way’. She then said that they had been getting similar complaints from others. This, to me, is an admission of mis-selling me the product. So why do I not get my money back?
I find it so interesting that what they give in writing, and what they will tell you verbally or on the phone when it’s not being recorded, are worlds apart.

Hi and thanks for creating this thread.
I also was promised and sold that there would be free lifetime aftercare.
My journey with optical express started back in 2008, I made an appointment with optical express to go and have a consultation, this was at the Rosen eye clinic in Salford Quays Manchester apparently a partnership. I sat with a lovely lady who I developed a good patient relationship with over the years, we had the meeting and was sold on the fact that they were the only company that offered the free lifetime aftercare.
After some deep thought we went back and agreed to have the surgery now I have a high prescription that made me ineligible for straight forward laser surgery so I was told I would have to have what’s known as IOL (Intraocular lenses) surgery which meant I had to have prescription lenses similar to contact lenses made and surgically inserted into me eyes.
My surgeon Dr Andre Oberholster was magnificent and so professional he cared for me and made sure I was happy at all times.
He advised me that following surgery of both eyes I would require regular annual tests to ensure that all’s well.
These tests included eight test, lens checks and cell counts and all the other normal tests for sight but again I was assured that these were all covered under the free lifetime after care.
So each time I had to go see him during the first year at the Rosen eye clinic I got charged nothing.
During one of my visits with him he said that the lenses haven’t totally cleared up my vision to he knew they could get it to so recommended I go and have laser surgery as a top up or fine tune again no cost for this addition treatment was made, so I had to wait another 12 months for this additional surgery to let my eyes properly settle but in the meantime the annual checks were done as normal and no charge made.
It came to the laser surgery day and I had to travel to Liverpool to have this completed at this point I should mention that I live in Staffordshire. The surgery went well and I left the clinic with again no charges.
Each year up to 2016 I went along to the optical express at the Trafford center to have my eyes checked etc and never was charged for any of these tests, the branch in the Trafford center couldn’t carry out one of the tests the cell count which measures of air is getting to the back of my eyes sufficiently, this had to be carried at at the private hospital Bridgewater hospital across the city and again no covers involved.
This continued for 8 years following my original surgery date.
I went along as normal for my checks and nothing was mentioned to me prior to arriving that things had changed no letters explaining things had changed etc.
I booked in had the checks completed at the Trafford center and afterwards went to the desk to ask the to tell bridgewater hospital I would be on my way but then the lady said that I owed £100 for the tests I just had done.
You can imagine my shock so I said I don’t pay for aftercare it’s free, she said no it’s never been free, I said it is and it has been for the past 8 years dear, she was adamant that I had to pay but I refused and said I will speak to someone about this and left the store.
I went to the bridgewater all confused and frustrated to find that the lady I originally built up the patient relationship with had left or more forced to leave I later found out along with the whole of the team I was used to seeing and dealing with.
I questioned this with optical express and was abruptly sent emails saying that they have only ever offered 12 months free aftercare and that the past 8 years have been a gesture of goodwill.
Which I find totally absurd and quite frankly insulting to treat customers this way.
They closed me down saying it was in the t&cs and sent me a random page showing this but I don’t remember this page and certainly don’t have any T&cs of the surgery other than the credit agreement.
The only forms I had was the agreement of the actual surgery ie medical consent form I understand that this is a risk etc and had to initial each medical question.
I was never given any t&cs.
I am now at a loss as to what I can do, I went to my local trading standards and they said there’s nothing that can be done.
Optical express have left me in a somewhat limbo position as my optician cannot deal with IOLs and I don’t want to pay £150 min a year to check my eyes out of principle that I should be getting free lifetime aftercare.

If you know of any other avenues I haven’t checked or indeed been able to get optical express to concede then please please let me know.
Many thanks

Anon says:
17 June 2020

To Lee Beresford, your local optician can absolutely check your IOLs as they are commonly inserted when cataracts are removed. They will see them multiple times a day. I hope that helps.

Gary Bellerby says:
17 July 2020

I signed up for lens exchange and laser treatment on 03 Jan 2009, one of the things that attracted me to Optical Express was a promise of “free eye care for life”. I now have a peripheral vision problem with my left eye and have just been told I need a £100 appointment for a check up and will have to pay for any remedial treatment I may need! This isn’t the contract that I signed in 2009!