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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

Similar to many others posted here.. had LASEK surgery in 2009, with promise of lifetime aftercare including check ups and future procedures. This was sold via brochure and heavily during the consultation. Called today to book an eye test and was told it would be £50 and to check my T&C’s. I no longer have the document.

Clear fraudmalpractice.

I had laser eye surgery back in 2012, I’m in my 20’s and was told that it would be great for me as it would last till I’m atleast 40 so I would save loads of money! Plus there’s a life time guarantee. My eyesight has started to becomed blurred again so I went to optical express yesterday (Thursday 16th Feb) to be told the policy as changed, for an eye test its £30 and if I want to discuss my eye surgery it’s £50! I said to the gentleman iv got a lifetime guarantee? His reaction made me think that optical express are fully aware what they have been promising people with these lifetime guarantees and they don’t want to deal with it!

john says:
1 March 2017

Hi I had Lasik Wave treatment in January 2009 at a cost of £2400.00 complete with lifetime aftercare , am I correct in the understanding that this no longer applies?

Judith Pennington says:
2 March 2017

I had my eyes treated in March 2011, and again in September 2011 as they were not correct. I have had six monthly FREE checks since then, including being given FREE eye drops to last me to the next appointment. My last FREE appointment was in September 2016, but when I rang to make the March 2017 appointment I was told I had to pay £50 before I could even make the appointment and this did not include ant drops that I would need. I can’t remember what the aftercare agreement was, and I don’t have the paperwork anymore, but surely a precedent has been set by giving me FREE treatment for 5 years. I think this totally outrageous, I have written to them but have not had the courtesy of a reply as yet.

Craig says:
4 March 2017

Same as most people on here, I too agreed to eye surgery in July 2009 with the promise of lifetime aftercare.
I had my eye tests carried out as per the terms and conditions but in 2012 needed to have the procedure carried out again as my eyes had deteoirated,but just on the one eye and with the other to get surgery in the future.
I have never had to pay for any eye tests or even there treatment as it was covered under the lifetime aftercare. But in 2014/15 was told that I did not have lifetime aftercare and would have to pay for any eye tests or treatment.
I forwarded a copy of my lifetime aftercare promise but they fail to acknowledge it and state new terms and conditions supercede it?
Do I have a case for a refund as I have not been provided with the services promised?

Nigel West says:
15 March 2017

I have just rang Optical Express and I must admit that even after reading of the lack of lifetime care I had assumed that this applied to other people, and that in my case as I was specifically sold free lifetime care that this would not apply to me. I now know how naïve that was, after 6 years of free care I am not being asked to pay. This is outrageous and I don’t see it as being any different to being miss-sold PPI insurance, they have told an out-and-out lie. The other thing they have told me on the phone just now is that I can go anywhere I like for aftercare, but nobody else will have any access to my surgery records or notes. This is tantamount to telling me that I actually don’t have any option for aftercare other than to start paying Optical Express, this being the case, I would NEVER have had the surgery in the first place. I would love to know what actions I can take to get this resolved, and if I can’t resolve it then to drag this company through the mud so that everyone knows how they treat their clients.

Iv just rang for a oppointment at darlington and they want £50 I av cloud buildup in my lens = I had my replacement lens in January 2009 and was told I would have life long free aftercare treatment and iv now been told none of it is free and they deny ever saying that to me = I was also told I needed Lazer top up ontop of my replacement lens and looks like IL afto pay for that now?

I had replacement lens treatment in 2014 and the sales man told me on 2 occasions that I would have free aftercare for life. The treatment did not work as predicted and I get halo at night which makes it impossible to drive. I was given eye drops that ‘fixed’ the problem but I would need them for the rest of my life. After a year my sight started to degrade and I had to have YAG laser treatment on my right eye, which helped but the man who did the treatment said I would have to come back and have the left eye done in a year or so, he said it was vital I went to the opticians every 6 months to monitor. My last check was September 2016, I have tried to book a follow up and I have been told that ALL previous agreements etc. have been superceeded by a new set of terms and conditions and i have to pay £50 to see anyone. This also means I can’t get the eye drops unless I pay £50 and the cost of the drops – I spoke to my GP and she said she could provide them on the NHS – £8.40 is a lot cheaper. My worry is the YAG treatment, as the receptionist said that this will also cost me £50 per consult plus the cost of the treatment – sky’s the limit there. I was of the impression that even if there is only “1 year cover” they at least need to finish the original treatment.

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This comment was removed at the request of the user

i had lens replacement treatment in december 2015 and was told before that aftercare was for life.the first time i tried to book an eye test,they tried to charge me £50.The branch manager waved this as she didnt agree with it.

I’ve just rang Optical Express because I’m experiencing minor discomfort in both eyes, I had my lens replacement in March 2012 and was told I had lifetime aftercare. The lady I spoke to informed me that I had to pay £50 up front to make an appointment and that I didn’t have lifetime aftercare. How do I get round this? Can I make a claim against them? Has anyone tried to take them through the courts?

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I had my laser surgery done summer 2010 and I was promised free lifetime aftercare (one of the main reasons I decided to go ahead with the procedure). I have suffered with very dry eyes since and require drops which until yesterday were always given free of charge without question. Yesterday I was told I would have to pay and when I questioned it was told that there is no lifetime guarantee it’s only 12 months and if I check my contract it will tell me that. Unfortunately I no longer have the contract so am unable to argue but I most definitely was told that at various point during my consultations! Very angry!

I was promised aftercare for life after intraocular lens to both eyes and was due to have laser ‘tweaking’ a couple of years after the procedure. I was told at the time of arranging my appointment at Optical Express, Cabot Circus, Bristol Branch that they were moving so would need to ring back in about 6-8 weeks. Unfortunately my Mother was taken seriously ill for a while and I cared for her so didn’t make the appointment after 6-8 weeks, but when I eventually called them to re-arrange the appointment for the lasering, I was told that I had gone beyond the 5 year aftercare treatment and a consultation would cost £50! Although I haven’t gone back out of principal, I am now wearing shop bought glasses (+1) to help with my visual aid. I really feel let down and ripped off! Why didn’t they warn me of this ‘5 year’ length of aftercare or warn me when I tried to arrange the appointment, but put me off because of them moving?

I had my laser eye surgery in 2011 and was most definitely told I had free lifetime aftercare. The sales rep told me this would be beneficial as I was currently paying for contact lenses and and appointments through specsavers and here I would only have to pay for my surgery. I went in to book an appointment and was told I would have to pay £50 for an appointment. I was then told I only had 1 year aftercare which is odd because I have never paid for an appointment up until this point. I rang their customer services who told me it has always been 12 months but only now do they enforce it. I think this is just lies and they have suddenly realised they cannot deliver on their aftercare promises. I firmly believe I have been mis sold this service. I may not have gone ahead with the procedure had I not been told I would have free aftercare. I no longer have a copy of my contract and it may say in there 12 months aftercare, however this is a mismatch between what is told to your face. I definitely want to persue this further as I feel I am being called a liar!

I have just come across this site by googling optical express. I am a customer having had laser eye surgery in both eyes in 2013. I have always attended and been welcome for the aftercare appointments plus free drops every time I have been (annually) and just popped in as they told me as part of their service to collect eye drops as and when, once every 6-8 months. I have just phoned up to be informed I now need to pay for my drops and eye appointments and a complete contrast in attitude, almost as if they wish to lose the business. I am so disappointed and currently searching for my contract with them, as this is one of the reasons why I waited 16 years to get my eyes lasered. Peace of mind for the sake of my vision. This is awful as reading these threads see it has been ongoing occurring for a long time. How can companies reneg on their terms, they also informed me it was goodwill, and I never received anything in writing about any changes to policy/contract.

I had my surgery in April 2011 and was promised aftercare for life. It sticks in my mind because the sales guy asked me for details of what I typically spent in a year on eyecare; contact lenses, glasses etc. and calculated the money I’d save. In this he included eye tests and said several times that I would never have to pay for another eye test again. I mentioned that I lived quite a few miles from Cardiff (where my procedure was done) and he said that I would soon be able to go to Swansea for regular eye tests, because they were opening a store there. For 4 years or so there was no mention of paying, then I phoned to make an appointment and I’m suddenly told that there’ll be a charge of £50! I can’t really afford to be paying that, especially when it’s much more than other opticians charge. I’ve had terrible headaches since the procedure and when I’ve gone to other opticians for a second opinion, I’ve been told that I’m better off going back to where I had the procedure because they’ve got my pre-op info and are better trained to understand the changes to the eyes after a procedure. I’ve requested my records from Optical Express several times by filling out the request form, but they are not responding. I’ve read that all patients should receive pre-op info as this is important for future eyecare, but Optical Express told me when I phoned to enquire about getting my details that I’ll be charged for them. They wouldn’t tell me how much. All they said was fill in the request form and I’d receive a letter within 21 days with an amount and details on how to pay. That was last year. The whole experience was a negative one unfortunately and I would never recommend Optical Express.

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Sarah says:
16 May 2017

I had my laser eye surgery in 2012 and promised lifetime aftercare but tried to book in for an eye test this week to be told it would be £50 and that they have never offered lifetime cover!!

Claire Fellowes says:
6 June 2017

Hi, I had Lasek surgery in Nov 13 but because I had problems they couldn’t discharge me. I ended up having LASIK surgery again after 3 years of going back every few weeks for an eye test. The LASIK was performed FOC I had 2 aftercare appointments and when I phoned to arrange my third I was told there was a fee of £50! I had only had surgery weeks before!! I was completely disgusted with the service from Optical Express. Especially as I am now once again short sighted (enough) to warrant glasses for one eye. I too was told it was a lifetime of aftercare….. More like life time of lies 😠

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Free after care was promised to me too in 2009 when I spent over 3k. Last week when I made an appointment and was asked for £50 I was shocked and they said they only provide free aftercare for 12 months. My feeling go out to those who are having problems and left with this extra expense. They should not be getting away with this.

Ray says:
16 June 2017

Had lens exchange in Feb 2009 on both eyes on the premise of life time after care. I was checked out in May this year 2017 and need yag laser treatment to clear opacification in one eye . They have said I didn’t have an after care package any longer and should pay £495 for the repairs to the posteria capsule. Deadening drops and a laser that fires for a nano second costs £495.
Had this on the other eye free within the first year after the lens exchange. Now they want lots more money… from all previous patients it’s seems.

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I had my laser eye surgery just before I was leaving to live in Spain they told me not worry as I have a life time free after care and we also have clinic in Spain so not to worry, but I had many problems after and had to have more laser treatments by flying back to uk my eyes have never been correct since, I was dealing with David Mungull ,I have just phone up for a appointment for them to check my eyes as they are giving me problems again but they tell me I will have to pay £50 as they no longer honour the life time after care they promised is this legal “”?

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