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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

I also had lens replacement surgery on both eyes. I have always had problems with my right eye since the operation and I was informed that the symptoms would get better over time whenever I had an eye test. My left eye has become a lot better with time but my view in my right eye has a slight haze now. I was informed before I had any surgery on my eyes that the aftercare would be free for life and that a haziness may develop in the later stages of recovery and it would be an easy fix. I went to Optical Express to have my eye check out and to my amazement was told that I now had to pay £50 for a test, and that any surgery would be at a cost to me of around £400. This I found as disgraceful and if there is any chance I can sue Optical Express I will. I cannot stand companies that lie just to get your money. I will be checking the policy I received from Optical Express again just to make sure and see if I have a case.

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Hi Duncan,
I do have this in writing and I will be seeing another Optician for a second opinion, as I do not trust Optical Express to tell me the truth. I have to say that I have lost all confidence in them.
Concerning the comment, “haziness could be a result of a slight cataract due to laser surgery”. I did say that I had Lens Replacement Surgery to both eyes, so cataract should not be an issue, That’s what Optical express said to me. Should I believe that? I not so sure.

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Thats ok Duncan,
You are right I have not had cornea eye correction.
Optical Express did say that there was a procedure to clear the haze in my right eye but i have forgot want it was called due to the shock of hearing about the changes they made to their guarantee.
Fortunately I do have the evidence. I will let you know how I get on.

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Hi Rick
I have the same problem but with my left eye
I actually paid a premium for the lifetime guarantee when I had the original surgery
But again after asking them to check out my left eye they want £50
They said check your terms and conditions
I could not put my hand on a copy and they now want £50 to supply with a copy
I also missed an eye test as I was out of the country and according to optical express invalidates your guarantee
Hopefully soon there will be some legal firm that will take up the misselling of this guarantee
A bit like PPI
Cheers
Rich

Jo Calascione says:
1 July 2017

Both myself and my daughter, we had different procedures at different times were told the price included free lifetime aftercare. Now we both need checks and further interventions and are being told there was no such thing. We went to Optical Express in different parts of the country

Hi sasha my husband had lens replacement last August 2017 in which his left eye developed an infection causing tear retina cornea ulcer leakages and other complications optical express sent us to London to see a eye specialist has they said they had never seen and didn’t know what was wrong. Which I find hard to believe after reading some of the horror stories from other optical express patients optical express has now told us they will no longer pay for anymore treatment eight months after first initial surgery my husband’s eye is now shrinking has he has zero pressure after all the trauma his eye has endorsed in the past eight months his sight is very poor in that eye and he’s in significant pain to be told today optical express has only paid in the past eight months as a good will gesture

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Definitely all the advertising and the promise of 20/ 20 vision paid nearly 6 grand to be blind in one eye has there is still no guarantee that my husband will have vision out his left eye after all the surgery nine operations later it was not the London specialist who said he didn’t know or seen anything like it before it was optical express my husband went on Saturday 12th August 2017 to have his right eye done and even ttold then it would be the best money he will ever spend has the outcome is amazing then the next day Sunday 13th went to have his left eye done the nurse during the op cut my husbands eye Which she caught with the scalpel and the Dr who was doing the procedure made a joke about it my husband told the Dr after he had his second lens replacement op it didn’t feel same has the first and there was pain down his left cheek to be told this was normal and to go home and rest and administer drops (some did have to go in the fridge ) and to return the following Monday for his routine weekly check up my husband could see perfect at this time but still had this niggling pain but on the Sunday that’s when the pain became much worse so I phoned optical express about the pain and was told to go to see them has a Dr from London was going to see another gentleman that day who was also having problems which we did to be given some drops and sent back home the day after Monday we went back to optical express for his routine week check up to be told they didn’t know what was causing the pain or what was wrong not getting any answers from them I asked for my husbands medical records has I was taking him straight to the hospital to be told we couldn’t have them unless we signed for them which I told them I would after that alarm bells started ringing has they booked us a taxi to go to see a Mr Alex George in Birmingham Alex George then told us he couldn’t do anything and he was sending us down to London to see an eye specialist who operated on my husband within the hour of getting to his clinic in London the specialist said he treated me for an infection and if it was left another hour he would have been blind in that eye and the specialist has and still is trying to save my eye to this day but now to be told no more expenses will be provided by optical express and all our other expenses in the past eight months has been a good will gesture our life’s has been a total nightmare these past eight months I wished my husband had never heard of optical express plus he has not seen one optical express once since having the lens replacement done

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Sandy says:
19 July 2017

Hi I also had laser eye surgery and was promised lifetime aftercare which they later said I would have to pay for,a couple of years later my husband got lens replacement on the promise of 500 pound discount with me referring him,had the treatment but said we weren’t entitled to it so after big kick up we got just 30 pound.
Will never trust these again.

I am in the same boat, I have had LRP in 2013 was told free eye tests for life & now they want to charge me £50. I emailed them the brochure given me at the time of agreeing to surgery and showing Free Eye Tests for life & they completely ignore this & say my contract says aftercare for 12mth.

They sent me a copy of my contract, it says cost include any consultation recommended by my reflective optometrist during 12 mth. It doesn’t say ongoing eye test which the company recommend every 2 yrs.

The thing is I obviously don’t have taped conversations but Di have the full brouchute they produced & gave me & it points out the benefits are eye test free for life. I don’t know how to go about doing something but they have mis sold a package to me and trying to get out of it. There must be something that can be done?

Ewelina says:
16 July 2018

Hi Fay,

Would you mind sending me a copy of that brochure to [Email address removed] as I am in the same situation as you but I lost my contract, I would be very grateful.

Ewelina

[Personal information removed by moderators – our guideline, “Please don’t post personal contact details (email, phone number, address) whether they’re yours or someone else’s”, is in place to help keep personal information safe online]

Both my wife and myself were promised lifetime aftercare after we had laser surgery in her case and lens implants in mine. About 18 months later, I had proteins removed from my implants, which I am told is normal during the first few months after this kind of surgery. During my telephone conversation to book the visit for the protein removal process with Optical Express, I was told “don’t worry, you have lifetime aftercare so your treatment will continue for free as long as required”. The removal was carried out free of charge, as were the subsequent checkups.

I had intracoular lens replacement in 2010 with Optical Express followed by a laser correction in 2011. I remember that the biggest selling point for me was the Free lifetime aftercare. The surgery cost more than £4000. Since then all checkup appointments have been free but I was only given drops for dry eyes at the first few appointments. Yesterday when I rang to make an appointment I was told it would be £50 and any revision surgery would be £495 per eye. However as I was over 60 I could have a less thorough NHS eye test free of charg . I have never been advised that the rules had changed and unfortunately do not a copy of the terms and conditions that I signed at the time. I certainly understood that I was paying a one off charge for a lifetime of care.

Hi Linda, I’ve just had the privilege of finding out that I don’t get lifetime cover either when I specifically remember them confirming this too me, I weighed up how much eye appointments and glasses have cost me over the last few years and would of continued to do so and paying out my £3000 for eye surgery with free lifetime cover seemed like the cheaper and best option so it swayed me to have it done. They even said if I developed a prescription for the surgery I’d had I could have a top up surgery for free. I’m really disappointed feel like I’ve been totally mislead. Is there anyone that has looked into this further do you know?

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chris says:
28 November 2017

Hi Sarah, I had my eye surgery in 2008 and was promised free lifetime aftercare. I also paid over £3500 for both my eyes and this promise is what swayed me. My mother also had a consultation in a different part of the country and was promised the same. I was told that eye tests, enhancement surgery and any drops or medication would be free for life. I have required an enhancement for the last few years but they are saying I have to pay for it and i was told 12 months aftercare. Its frustrating. They obviously said this when hundreds if nto thousands of people are complaining

My husband and I had Lens Replacement Surgery in June 2015, and we were told that we had life time aftercare. In June this year I called to book an appointment for an eye test to be told that we would have to pay £50 each!!! I complained and explained that we were told life time aftercare, I was told no just 1 year. I don’t have any paperwork quoting life time but we were defiantly told this at our consultation.

I had lens transplant in 2009, I was promised lifetime after care, upto 2015 I have had all care needed without a mention of paying. I’ve had two laser surgery procedures for correction and check ups, drops etc. Two years ago I went for a check up as my vision seemed to be getting worse and I had a lump on my left eye. I was told I might need laser surgery as I had more build up of white cells, but they asked if I would wait as they wanted to see if things got worse before carrying out the procedure. I was told the lump was a water lump and should go on its own and wasn’t causing any problems. They told me to come back if I started experiencing problems. I have recently found my vision is worse and the lump is bigger. I called optical express last week to arrange an appointment to be told I would have to pay £50 for a check up and £20 to have the lump looked at. I told them I don’t pay as have lifetime after care, they said the only offer one year after care. I asked why I haven’t paid over the last seven years, I was told I had been lucky!! I couldn’t believe I was talking to the manager of the store. He then told me to take it up with head office. I contacted head office on line to be told the same thing and they said the care I have received so far must have been a good will gesture. I asked if I could have a copy of all my original paperwork as unfortunately I can’t find my copy, they said I would receive something to sign to authorise release of my notes. I was so upset I decided to look on line to see if anyone else had experienced the same problem, to find thousands of people had. Also people were saying they were being charged £50 for copies of their original paperwork to receive incomplete copies. I can’t afford £50 to possibly not get the proof I need. I really don’t know where to turn as need my eyesight checked and need the lump removed. I’m so upset and angry and there doesn’t seem to be anything I can do.

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We called into Optical Express Liverpool One for my husband’s annual eye test following lens replacement surgery in 2012 in London. We were shocked to be told it would be £50 for the test. My husband explained that he had had eye surgery and had been promised care for life. The guy calmly stood there and said we were mistaken and that Optical Express had never had a lifetime care policy and it had recently changed to twelve months from three years. I interrupted and said that I had been with my husband every step of the way and had also heard ‘lifetime guarantee’. We had even told all our family and friends who wore glasses about the promise at the time, encouraging them to have treatment. To say we are disgusted is an understatement. Their name will be mud with us from now on and we will make sure that anyone we know or hear of contemplating surgery will be informed of their lying, scheming, underhanded treatment of it’s customers. Needless to say I won’t be having my eyes done by them and will take my hard earned cash to a company that doesn’t tell LIES!!!

Hi, I had laser eye surgery in 2014, where during the consultation, I was informed I would I free lifetime eyecare. This included eyedrops, further tests and further surgery if needed. However, without warning, this has now been rescinded. This is highly annoying as I know I have been miss sold a service.

I had laser eye surgery in 2012. About a couple of months ago someone from Optical express called me to ask about my eyes after the surgery but could not speak to him at the time and he said he will call back but have not heard from him.
I called Optical express this morning to make an appointment and to my surprise the women said I would need to pay £50 first and then only can she book the appointment. I was fuming. I obviously did not book the appointment as I was certain the aftercare was free. I think I have my contract and will look at it and advise further on the what it says.

I had lens replacement surgery in 2014 (operation in London). At the time of surgery the consultant said that I may need, in the future, a small correction operation as sometimes the lens becomes cloudy and this would be part of the follow up procedure. I remember this most distinctly. I think he said it would only need to be done once, but it would be included in the price that I was paying. Last year at an NHS eye test the Optometrist said the lens was starting to become cloudy. As with everyone else, I’ve just been told I would need to pay £50 for a check up. Is there seriously nothing that can be done about this? I’m all for bad publicity etc etc, but I don’t have the energy for a campaign. I guess we are all just voting with our feet and taking our hard earned money to another company!

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Danny says:
4 October 2017

I was told I would have lifetime after care which has now stopped after 2 years. I did not verify the verbal promise and when I checked my written contract there is confusing terminology suggesting a two year guarantee.

I had lasik eye surgery in Dec 2008. My pack clearly states ‘unlimited post operative care’ My eye sight has gradually worsened over the years and it is worse than before the surgery. I have just found my details out as I wanted to contact Optical express about what can be done. I am shocked to learn that the guarantee they gave me is now nul and void. How can they be allowed to do that?

Hi Chris.
I’m in the exact same situation as you. My vision has reverted back to my pre-lasered prescription and i had my surgery in 2008. Unfortunately i don’t have my paperwork but i know i was offered lifetime aftercare. Surely they’re breaking the law by not honouring the contract terms?

This Convo seems to revolve around the offer of “free aftercare” and for how long. I have not gone through all the posts (270 so far) so the question may have been answered. Has anyone, such as Which? Legal, examined the contracts / Terms and Conditions of the individual complainants to see whether or not they are being contravened?

Optical Express has received a great deal of criticism. If they are as bad as some have claimed, I am not sure I would want free aftercare.

When companies attract major criticism it’s difficult to know what percentage of customers are happy.

Perhaps we should extrapolate from the claimed figures treated which I expect are in the Accounts to the number of complainants here and add back the traditional figure of how few Brits complain. However all said and done a contract is a contract and if OE are reneging it is a matter of public interest as it affects all consumer where they have long term contracts.

I have no doubt that there is a major case of consumer detriment going on. As Which? is here to make consumers more powerful I am disappointed with lack of action.

Regarding reneging on lifetime care, this should be referred to Trading Standards but in view of the fact that TS is failing as a result of lack of resources, it would require following up until the problem has been resolved.

I would also like to see proper assessment of the risks associated with laser eye surgery.

I asked earlier whether Which? (Legal?) had examined complainants contracts and/or terms & conditions to see whether they had been contravened.
@ldeitz, Lauren – do you know if Which? Legal have looked at these and come to a view?

I am sure many subscribers would like to see a Which? Legal statement on this matter. In fact one might suggest that not having a comment reflects poorly on the organisation.

I realise without actual sight of the supporting documents it will need to be hedged but the underlying concept of offering a lifetime service against an up-front payment is not difficult to summarise.

Hi Malcolm, sorry I missed this. In short, yes the Legal have seen this. On top of that, we also share possible new evidence with them as we see it. However, as Patrick has noted, we do need to see the supporting documents for our Legal team to examine properly. We’ve had some documentation that came via this convo, but so far it hasn’t been enough for us to take this any further.

I had my eye lasered in June 2010, i was also promised free lifetime aftercare. i now suffer with really dry eyes, resulting in me having my tear ducks plugged to help keep moisture in my eyes. Up until 2 years ago, this has been done for free. I called this week to book in as one plug has fallen out, to be told i will have to pay £75 per plug!!!! And that all other plug (about 7-8 sets) have been done as a gesture of good will!!!
i am currently writing an email of complaint and have requested my signed T&C’s because there is not a copy in my pack (which i still have)

Hi

I’m having issues and have done since my treatment with dry and sore eyes. I’m now suffering with migraine and discomfort in one of my eyes. My doctor has recommended an eye test. This when I have contacted Optical Express to organise my ‘Free Lifetime Aftercare’ eye test which is now going to cost me £50!!!!!! I was 100% sold on the Free Lifetime Aftercare and something I have shared with many potential participants in this surgery. The company change in care provisions is very disappointing. I have been told I either pay or write to them to challenge. Not what I was sold, expect or will be satisfied to accept.

Chris D says:
6 December 2017

Has anyone had any independent advice or recourse regarding this issue?
I too had laser surgery with Optical Express in December 2009, and during the last 6 months noticed my vision deteriorating. I called to book a follow up appointment as part of my lifetime aftercare but was told the same story by Optical Express that £50 payment was required to be taken in advance of any appointment. Needless to say I was not impressed with their response and have gone elsewhere for my eye test as a short term solution, however I now have concerns about any follow up prescription or corrective measures which might need to be taken going forward.

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Chris D says:
6 December 2017

I went to Specsavers for a free eye test, the usual health checks for glaucoma etc were undertaken and all was fine. Sight test was marginal/not within the prescription range (although it has definitely deteriorated) and no other issues raised.

So a slight peace of mind, however its concerning that Optical Express are not honouring their aftercare commitments, this is driving me to go elsewhere and give me a lack of confidence in their company. Im keen to understand if any correction can be applied, however without having the contract or documents from the procedure its a difficult situation to resolve.

Nick says:
5 January 2018

Same story here. Had an operation in 2009 and was promised free lifetime aftercare. Had one correctional procedure in 2011 and was told to check my eyes for free every couple of years. Last time I checked my eyes with Optical Express in 2015 for free. I called to book an appointment yesterday, and I was told pretty much the same I read in this forum. I have an occasional sharp pain in my eye when I wake up at night. It started immediately after the operation, optical express always dismissed as something minor without really explaining what it was. They gave me free eye drops. Now I think I need to dig out my contract and check my eyes with someone trustworthy.

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