Friday, December 07, 2007

VisionDirect.co.uk DHL Discounts

The VisionDirect.co.uk RSS newsfeed just reported that they are lowering their DHL shipping costs by one third during the holiday season. This is a nice gesture that allows contact lens users to avoid the usual jam in the Royal Mail services that occurs around the holidays. Kudos! [or "Déu n'hi do" as they would say in Catalan]

Friday, November 30, 2007

Eye Power

Dvice.com is reporting on "Eye Power", a machine that "correct near-sighted/myopic vision problems" and can "supposedly caress your eyes back to perfect 20/20 health".

Ummm, right. If you're buying for me for Christmas, I'd rather have the Cheeky Chimp air freshener...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Various Stuff

I have another mailing from CoastalContacts.co.uk trying to move their European customers over to Lensway.co.uk. Coastal is a Canadian company which owns the Holland based Lensway, and it makes more sense for the sales to go through there. They are even giving a 10% "welcome" discount for switching. Anyone here how the marriage between Coastal and Lensway is going?

VisionDirect.com did a mailing offering a 10% off discount with coupon code HOLIDAYTEN up through December 11th. In addition, you can "Get a free air freshener when you buy any two Cheeky Chimp beauty products". Um, right.
Their stock dipped below $3/share before showing an uptick to reach $3.05. Knowing that more and more shopping is going to the Internet, and that they may soon reach profitability, the price actually looks tempting.

I've been hoping to see Christmas contact lenses (red and green eyes, reindeer eyes, something of that sort), but no go. Looks like I'll have to go to all the xmas parties with my baby blue's ;->

Friday, November 16, 2007

Flames

Although the prices are a bit out of my budget, and it's a bit late for Halloween, you have to love the variety of theatrical lenses available at 9mm SFX. I think I'll go for the "flames" design!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

VisionDirect.co.uk: Ski Goggle 33% Off!

I received a 33% off ski goggles offer from VisionDirect.co.uk. They offer UV protection and excellent quality polycarbonate shatterproof lenses. They are made of G-TECH multi-layer Titanium Lens technology as used by aerospace engineers at NASA. If you buy two, the savings are even greater.

I talked to Steffan, who used them on the slopes last year. He's the type of person that can afford and buys the best of everything, and truly enjoys great design and quality. He was impressed with the goggles, and will be using them again this year.

They are now selling like hotcakes, and for a good reason - they give great bang for the buck. I'll be getting 6 pairs for my trip to Andorra this January. What color do you suggest?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Eye Makeover

Johnson & Johnson has released iMakeover, a site that allows you to virtually "try on" Acuvue 2 Colors. You upload a picture, virtually put the lenses in your eyes, and then try adjusting the colors to find out which ones look best. The interface is very slick, and while the results are not as exciting as I was expecting (I was looking for a super noticeable green for my son - just the eyes in a commercial he was commenting on the other day), it did clearly change his look.

It also includes the possibility to get a free trail pair certificate, but only for US addresses. Let's see if Johnson & Johnson Europe can comment on that...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Beijing blur

The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that Australian Olympic athletes will be given contact lenses to fight the bad Beijing air. Johnson & Johnson will be providing lenses with UV filters. At the very least, it's a great publicity stunt.

I would have thought that Nike Max Tints would have been in the running for this one...

Another VisionDirect.com Offer

The guys at VisionDirect.com are at it again, with a 10% off (coupon code HURRY10) through November 13th.

VisionDirect's mother company, Drugstore.com, saw it's stock price rise to the $3.50 mark, after falling as low as $2.35 earlier in the year. Their 3rd quarter results were still in the red, but down to only 2 cents per share, and they expect a "breakout" 4th quarter. In any case, at a guess, they are doing well in their contact lens division.

Monday, October 29, 2007

CooperVision Learning

CooperVision has a free online learning center for people who work in the optical branch - both for opticians and for non-specialists. All you need is a CooperVision Business Partner number to register on the site and sign up for the courses.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Nike Max Tints

Nike? Selling sports contact lenses? Here's a short news report video on YouTube. NikeVision also has more info and a PR video.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

DMOZ

In my continuing effort to make sure users can find us wherever they look, I submitted VisionDirect.co.uk to DMOZ (the site needs to be reviewed before it's actually added to the list, so don't expect VisionDirect to appear for a couple of weeks yet).

DMOZ (a.k.a. Open Directory Project) was started in 1998, and has a checkered and interesting history outlined on Wikipedia.

It's about time we're there!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Royal Mail

Royal Mail expects that the offer they made to the union will be put up for a vote to the 130,000 members of the CWU, and all strike actions called off until the results are in. They expect it to take about a week for service to get back to normal, and about a month to know whether the union accepts the offer or not. For up-to-date info, check out Royal Mail's Industrial Action Update page, or follow the story on the BBC News site.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

CoastalContacts->Lensway

Sorry I haven't been posting lately - I've been hanging out on the MoneySavingExpert cheap contact lens forum reading what buyers have to say (and showing them why I think VisionDirect.co.uk has the best contact lens service). I've learned a lot, and it's fun to see how well VisionDirect.co.uk stacks up against the competition.

Now back to the grindstone: I received an interesting mail today saying "CoastalContacts.co.uk has changed to Lensway.co.uk!". I can't find any reference to this on their websites, but the email says "As of October 10th Coastal Contacts will transition customers to LensWay".

So, I went over to the LensWay site to compare prices. LensWay claims that "this month we have lowered our prices", and claim a 9% discount on Soflens One Day. However, their price (26.90 GBP per box plus 3.50 in shipping = 30.40 GBP), even with a discount, is higher than VisionDirect.co.uk (27.50 GBP plus free shipping = 27.50), whose price is TEN PERCENT cheaper.

Your best bet for cheap contact lenses continues to be VisionDirect.co.uk.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Pounds, Shillings and Pence

Pounds, Shillings and Pence - funny words for a Yankee like me. I was raised on Ben Franklin's quotes, which favored a different currency - "A penny saved is a penny earned". Later, I got an effective financial education from the school of hard knocks, my boss while working in Germany that taught me about investments, and my ex wife who is an expert penny pincher (Catalans have a tough reputation here in Spain on money matters).

However, for me, the holy grail of finance has always been Andrew Tobias' "The Only Investment Guide You'll Even Need". It has served me well through good and bad financial times, and I've bought at least a dozen copies for friends and family. There are better books for pure investment, but Andrew's holistic approach to money have deeply enriched my understanding of the subject.

Which is why I took an instant liking to Martin Lewis and MoneySavingExpert. From the little I've read about him so far, he seems like a UK version of Andrew Tobias, with a zeal for finding the best deals for the consumer. He has a page dealing with Cheap Contact Lenses which he updated quarterly. Although I think that it's unfair to the consumer that Lensbase does not appear more prominently, and VisionDirect.co.uk does not appear at all, I will definitely join in the forum and see what I can learn. I highly recommend that you join his newsletter, and I hope that I can prove to him that we're on the consumer's side.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Daysoft

The Herald had an interesting story about Daysoft, and their hope to become a major supplier of contact lenses direct from the factory to the customer.

The IDEA is interesting - of course they are able to have the cheapest prices - but I feel Ron Hamilton (the creator) is forgetting two major points. First, if opticians know that Daysoft will be selling directly to the customers for reorders, why the heck would they recommend Daysoft to their clients?
I would be interested in knowing just what percentage of contact lens wearers go back to their optician for reorders. Perhaps if this percentage is very low and getting lower, Daysoft might be on to something.

Second (and much less important), shipping within the U.K. is fairly easy - if you want to ship outside of there, things get MUCH more complicated.

Mr. Hamilton, any comments?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Why Pay More?

I just got an email from ASAD asking "Why Pay More?", and they are just so right!!!! They advertise Focus Dailies at 18 GBP for 30 lenses, while the same contact lenses are sold by VisionDirect.co.uk for 12.50 GBP! VisionDirect.co.uk sells for 30% off a price that ASAD thinks is worth making a big fuss about!!!!

So, ladies and gentlemen, why pay more? They may beat SpecSavers, but they don't come anywhere near VisionDirect.co.uk.

For the best prices, service, security and fastest delivery of your contact lenses, make sure you go with VisionDirect.co.uk. Tell them Ed sent you!

Writing and Discounts

Hey, it looks like I've been doing this blogging thing all wrong. Why spend time staying current on trends, examining sites, and writing articles when I can just BUY articles from ISnare? Or even better, just do web searches and report the results like Contact Lens Online Guide? ISnare is at least a good idea - a service for those that want to be lazy. However, Contact Lenses Online Guide appears to be a simple regurgitation of other people's work. Whatever, if it makes money...

One site that I like (but, unfortunately, is USA only) is ContactSavings.com and their companion blog. The main site is a price comparison of products (well, at least products of the companies with which they have an affiliate agreement), and the blog (which is perfect to get via a feed reader) has all the latest offer codes from the companies. Nice idea. Wish I had time to do the same! Let's see if they can stay impartial knowing that their money is coming from the ecommerce sites themselves via their affiliate programs.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

VisionDirect.com Fall Sale

On VisionDirect.com, you can get 10% off orders of $99 or over with coupon code TENFALL till October 16th, or 15% off Halloween lenses with coupon code TREAT15 until October 31st.

VisionDirect.com's mother company, DrugStore.com, has seen it's stock price edging up since the mangement shakeup this spring. Although still off it's 1 year high, it's up from $2.40 to $3.25 per share. Not bad, not bad. I should have bought their shares when their new CFO from Wawa came in!

If you want something scary for this Halloween season, read here and here about how buying contact lenses from the U.S.A. can leave you suffering. If you want contact lenses from a trusted supplier at an excellent price and with great service, try the UK VisionDirect (not related) instead.

Monday, October 01, 2007

LensCases

I just found LensCases, and my jaw dropped due to the main site image. We have Spanish business cards printed with the same image, which is one of the stock items from VistaPrint. I'm not sure VistaPrint would be very happy, but since it appears that the gift certificates that LensCases give out are printed by VistaPrint, I guess it's alright ;->

LensCases does not have a PageRank yet, the way back machine does not have any info on the web site (the first time that I've seen that for a web shop), the copyright for the site is 2007, and all the products that I checked were added to their catalogue in September of 2007, so it looks brand spanking new. The "About us" page says they've been in business since 2005.

The site is written in PHP using Zen Cart as a base, and is average speed with old-style (i.e. non-SEO friendly) product URLs. They don't appear to be using Google AdWords, but they were smart to get on Froogle.

In all, a decent start for a new niche shop. I think I'll talk to my clients about ordering wholesale from them ;->

TradeDoubler / ASDA Spam Cleaned Up

The deceptive redirects via TradeDoubler to ASDA have been taken off Google Product Search. I'm not sure WHO cleaned it up - I never got a reply to my emails - but at least it's gone. As far as I can tell, there are now no "fake" shops on Google Product Search.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

VisionDirect.com goes to 10% on Abandoned Carts

Just got this from VisionDirect.com - they do 5% better than Lens Catalogue:

During your last visit, we noticed that you left behind one or more items in your shopping basket. There's still time for you to get them!

But hurry -- we clear inactive shopping baskets periodically.

Plus, if you come back in the next couple of weeks, you'll get 10% OFF on any order (there's no minimum purchase) when you enter coupon code CARTSAVE10 on the shopping basket page.

Applies to U.S. orders only.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Creepy, Part II

Ah, another thing we saw this weekend: a cool web site that shows Wild Eyes contact lenses. Maybe I can get them to send me some free samples since I'm (inadvertently) advertising their wares ;->

Continued TradeDoubler / ASDA Spam

I didn't receive any response to my reports of "deceptive redirects" from Google Product Search from TradeDoubler nor ASDA from Malholland and Shappel, but someone (either Google or them) got them off Google Product Search.

However, what I would assume is the same affiliate is playing the same trick with SS-Store, Sanchez, and Maisonette, using trick redirects to go to ASDA, so it seems clear to me that TradeDoubler and ASDA did not do a very good job of cleaning up this leak (at least not so far). The "drama" continues.

Collected from the Web

If you are interested in how contact lenses are made, take a look at this video. I showed it to my wife and kids this weekend, and they were all blown away at how they are made.

Staingrid has study results on the "biocompatibility of various contact lens/multipurpose solutions".

Contact Lens Spectrum is reporting that AMO has begun shipping AMO Complete Easy Rub Formula.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Blog Update

While doing some research on ChromaGen (corrective lenses for the color blind and dyslexic - post to follow "soon"), I stole a couple of things from my personal blog for this blog, and also moved over to FeedBurner. Now if Blogger would only allow me to finish my FTP publish, you could see all my new subscription options. As it is, you'll have to live for the time being with only a few cosmetic changes on the top and left of the blog. Hope you can stand my ugly mug ;->

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Malholland & Shappel

Although I informed both TradeDoubler and ASDA yesterday that Malholland was a "spam" website used to redirect people to ASDA, they are still on Google Product Search today. In addition, I also spotted what must be the same spammer with a "company" called Shappel.

In addition, I got no reply from either TradeDoubler or ASDA. We'll keep an eye on this and see what develops.

Creepy!

CoastalContacts is doing their usual Halloween push to sell special effect contact lenses. I just got a newsletter advertising lenses with names like "Creepers", "Banshee", "Green Reptile" and "Spider Web". The prices are not cheap (19.99 GBP per LENS!), but if you're the type of person that wants to spend that money for an extra touch for your Halloween costume, Coastal has what you're looking for. Anyone know where these lenses can be bought cheaper?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Mallholland (a.k.a. wunderld, a.k.a. ASDA)

Now here is something weird - I found a shop named "Mallholland" on Google Product Search selling Acuvue. Clicking on the link brings you to ASDA. Unless you have JavaScript turned off (which I do by default for sites that I don't know - by using a FireFox add on called "NoScript"). In that case, what you see is that the Mallholland script goes to a page on wunderld.1sthost.org which automatically and quickly redirects you to ASDA.

Checking the whois record for 1sthost.org shows me that this is the hosting company called Bytehost Internet Ltd. from London. wunderld, one would assume, is simply an entity or a person that has an account at Bytehost.

Checking the source code from wunderld show me what they are up to - they "cheat" by hiding a TradeDoubler link in JavaScript, piece by piece...
a7="'htt", a8="p://p", a9="dt.t", a10="rade", a11="dou", a12="bler.", a13="co", a14="m/cli"
...and then assembles the pieces into a redirect. This, my friends, is a spam web page ;->

At a guess, neither TradeDoubler nor ASDA approve or know of this purposefully deceptive practice (affiliates are hard to police), so I will drop them both a line about it. Let's see if they are able to clean up their own act and get Malholland off the listings.

Monday, September 17, 2007

GreatShades

OK, back from the states and ready to roll. Today I checked GreatShades, which I found via Google Product Search. They have a PageRank of zero, which I find strange for a site which the way back machine indicates has been around since December of 2005. Additionally, they seem to be more of a glasses company that happens to sell contacts rather than a group with their focus on contacts.

The site is running the C.R.E. Loaded web shop, which is written in PHP. The speed of the page is acceptable, as is the design (although I did see a few cosmetic problems running FireFox).

A quick price check on 1 Day Acuvue first shows that it's impossible to order only one box - minimum are two boxes. GreatShade's price, including UK delivery, is 40.54 GBP (vs. VisionDirect.co.uk at 39 GBP including UK delivery), so the prices are competitive, although VisionDirect.co.uk beat them on all the half dozen or so products I checked.

In any case, they would be interesting to check out if VisionDirect.co.uk didn't exist but, in the meantime, I suggest you stay with the best ;->

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Sainsbury's Contact Lenses

Today we visit Sainsbury's Contact Lenses. It is a page rank 5 site written in PHP by ominor.com, with decent speed and nice SEO URLs. I really like the design - simple, clear, and correct. The only major problem that I see is the lack of search. I think I'll have a chat with the guys from Ominor - I really like their work.

On this site, it's impossible to buy one box of 1 Day Acuvue (which will be a major problem for some buyers), so let's compare their minimum amount with that of VisionDirect.co.uk. Hmmm, the checkout process is not what I expected, but it's OK. Also, they have free shipping in the UK (like VisionDirect.co.uk), so they have a lot more price transparency than places like Coastal Contacts.

However, as with all the sites that I look at, Sainsbury loses to VisionDirect.co.uk in terms of price - 90 GBP for Sainsbury, 84 GBP for VisionDirect.co.uk. VisionDirect.co.uk wins on other quantities, too, along with all other products I checked.

I'm off to the states for a few days, so you'll have to wait for more news till next week. Anyone that can help me out with industry rumors is more than welcome to contact me at: ed the-at-sign EdsContactLenses.com.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Lens Catalogue Abandoned Carts Offer

I see that Lenscatalogue has implemented an idea that we have been kicking around for a while - a $5 discount for people who "abandon" their shopping cart. Since they do not have a newsletter, I tried to "sign up" for their mailings by going through the checkout process up to the point where they have my email address, and then stopping. I was not surprised to get an email from them asking if I needed help to complete the order (we do that, too), but I was surprised that I got a $5 off offer (especially since I was ordering in GBP!). Here is the email...

Dear Ed's Contact Lenses,

We noticed that you started to place a contact lens order at our site, but were unable to complete your purchase. We just wanted to see if you had any trouble or needed any help finishing your order.

We would certainly welcome you to join the thousands of satisfied Lens Catalogue customers and as an extra incentive we would like to offer you $5 off your first order of $50 or more!

If you would like to come back and try again, just enter the coupon code NCMP5 in the "Special Instructions" box when you checkout at our website.

Alternatively, if you prefer, call our customer care specialists at 1-614-921-2551 and they can help you place your order. Just mention the code NCMP5 to get your additional $5 discount off our already low prices.

Just use the convenient link provided to order your contact lenses and participate in this offer:
Click Here to Order Your Contact Lenses!
(AOL users may need to cut and paste the link into their web browser to open the page.)

Remember to enter the coupon code NCMP5 in the "Special Instructions" box when you place your reorder!

Thanks again for your business and we look forward to serving you in the future! Please let us know if there is anything we can do to help you order your lenses.

Best Regards,
Lens Catalogue
http://www.lenscatalogue.co.uk/
1-614-921-2551

Please Note: Limit 1 offer code per customer per order. Discount redeemable by phone, fax, and online orders. Offer code provided in this email cannot be combined with other offers. Purchase must be $50 or more to apply for discount.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
If you prefer to not receive messages from us, please follow this link:
http://www.lenscatalogue.co.uk/optout.asp?R=xxxxx

Lens Catalogue
52 French Laurence Way
Chalgrove, Oxford OX44 7YF
We take privacy seriously! Read our Privacy Policy.

Nice! However, don't forget to compare prices - both VisionDirect.co.uk and Lensbase.com are lower priced, and highly reliable.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Eyecare Plus

One last site - I checked Eyecare Plus (at least, that appears to be the name - the URL, edinburgh-eyetests.co.uk, doesn't match). 1 Day Acuvue, 30 lenses, is listed as 14.20 GBP, but actually shows up as 14.50 when you add it to the basket (huh?). Actually, at the top of the page, it's listed as 13.70 GBP per box, but that must be an unspecified quantity discount (guys, put "as low as" or something like that - don't try to trick me!). Added to that is 3.50 GBP in shipping, for a total of 18.00 GBP. Not as expensive as the other shops we visited today, but far from cheap.

The site is fast, but the site design is (IMHO) poor, with the navigation bar disappearing (go to e.g. 1 Day Acuvue - your navigation bar on the left is now gone), prices changing (14.20 becoming 14.50), and incompatibility problems with FireFox (check out the main page in FF). NOTE: if the site designer is reading this, I highly recommend a book that I learned a lot from - Don't Make Me Think - also please note that I'm far from an expert myself! I have a lot to learn.

Page rank is only 2, so they have not yet impressed Google very much. NOTE: The Google page rank is a logarithmic scale with the important contact lens sellers in the UK having a rank of 4 (CostalContacts.co.uk, Contactlenses.co.uk, Lensbase.com) or 5 (VisionDirect.co.uk).

Again, I'll stay with VisionDirect.co.uk ;->

PoshEyes

While checking through Froogle... wait, strike that... while checking through Google Product Search (Froogle sounds SO much better), I found PoshEyes.co.uk. Just a quick check showed a (for me) strange web site, with expensive prices - one box of 30 lenses of Acuvue 1 Day at 14.46 GBP plus 2 GBP shipping (note: they have free shipping on orders over 25 GBP) plus 2.88 GBP in VAT comes out to 19.34 GBP. They claim they have the "Lowest UK Prices on Contact Lens Solution" - well, that may be true (and it's worth checking another day), but they are certainly not cheap on lenses.

The site is Pearl based and very fast, and they have nice SEO-type URLs. Navigation is not bad, per say - more than anything, the thing that annoyed me where the "extra" pages filled with blah blah blah text when you clicked e.g. on the "Contact Lenses" link from the header - I'd rather see categories, etc.

Their focus is mostly on glasses, and it shows.

VisionDirect.com 15% Offer

Just received a 15% off offer from VisionDirect.com (coupon code FALL15 - valid through the end of Sept. 2007) - not bad, not bad at all. It seems to have no basket minimum attached to it, nor any of the tricks we found with the Coastal Contacts offer the other day.

One thing I found strange is that my account with them is set up with a Spanish address, but they sent the email assuming Dollars - even when they have buttons on the top for Euros and Pounds. A click on the button brought up a window that explained why I got the mailing in Dollars:

International Customers:

We recently made some changes to our website. All prices on the site are now reflected in United States dollars. We continue to ship to international addresses. Currency exchanges will be performed by your credit card company during the billing process. Please contact your credit card company for current exchange rates. Thank you for your business.


Yea, OK, so I have to do some calcs to compare prices, but let's see what I come up with...
One box of Acuvue 1 day (30 lenses) costs $21.95 (10.85 GBP), and the 15% discount (1.63 GBP) gets taken off that, for the awesome total of 9.22 GBP. Up till now, all roses.

However, there are three problems for U.K. customers. The first is the shipping, which comes out to a whopping $19.99 (9.88 GBP), bringing the total of our order up to 19.10 GBP (vs. 14.50 GBP, shipping included, at VisionDirect.co.uk). The other two problems are possible insurance complications, along with possible additional duties and taxes added to your total.

Although the prices vary slightly, the same principal applies to other European countries - buying from the U.S.A. just doesn't make sense.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

VisionDirect.co.uk is Officially "Hacker Safe"




VisionDirect.co.uk news reports...

We've always taken security very seriously at visiondirect.co.uk.
This includes using services like CyberTrust to scan our site, bringing in security experts, evaluating all site changes to check their security implications, ensuring our servers are secure, and applying all relevant patches to production software as soon as they become available.

Today, we are happy to reveal our newest vigilance measure - we are now certified as "Hacker Safe" by Scan Alert, "The trustmark more people trust".


They've also added an web feed to allow you to subscribe to their news.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Back to School

Hey, wonder of wonders - I have an audience! I got a call while on vacation (my wife and our 4 kids were camping) that my blog came up in a meeting with a major contact lens company. OK, if you want me to continue, I'm happy to oblige ;->

Arriving back from vacation and going through my 8 million emails, I found a 10% off back to school offer from coastal contacts (coupon code BTSF07UK). From the email, I click on the 1 Day Acuvue ad, and the lenses cost 14.50 GBP as advertised. However, I have a question - how many lenses am I buying? I assume it's 30, but that's not indicated anywhere. "Free" shipping costs 5.99 GBP (huh?), and a 1.12 GBP "handling fee" (what is a "handling fee"? Why not include it in the price instead of fooling me?). Also, the 10% was not subtracted after I put in the coupon code, and no explanation was given. I had to read the fine print in the email to discover that the 10% discount only applies on orders over 99 GBP. So, at the end, it's 21.61 GBP for 30 lenses.

Let's compare that to the everyday low prices at VisionDirect.co.uk. There, the price is also 14.50 GBP. However, VisionDirect.co.uk does something really weird - the price that they claim, 14.50 GBP, really costs 14.50! How strange is that - truth in advertising. No 6 GBP "free" shipping, no funny named extra charges, clear info that you are buying 30 lenses, and a final cost of 14.50 GBP, including free shipping (which, in VisionDirect.co.uk's case, "free" means 0.00 GBP - strange, isn't it?).

Hey, which store would you rather buy from?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

VisionDirect.com Offer

VisionDirect.com has another 10% off offer - enter the code FRESHLENS on checkout and get 10% off. Offer ends May 22nd, 2007.

VisionDirect.com's parent company, DrugStore.com (DSCM), has been out of the news for a number of weeks now, and their stock price has moved up from their low of $2.35 they reached in March to their current $2.79, but still well off their 52 week high of $4.02. At least no more executives (with underwater stock options, one would suppose) jumped ship since the last shuffle in March.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Coastal Contacts Offer

I just received a "Save Time And Money On 1 Day Acuvue This April" email from Coastal Contacts. They have a "Guaranteed Lowest Prices" promise, and their prices ARE as low as e.g. www.visiondirect.co.uk when you order only one box. However, VisionDirect.co.uk has significant discounts over that price when ordering a 3 months or more supply, and also has cheaper shipping.

VisionDirect.com 10% Discount

Just got a "Get 10% off contacts and free shipping" email from VisionDirect.com.

Dear VisionDirect.com customer:

Spring into savings on new contacts. Stock up on your favorite
contacts at VisionDirect.com and save with our already low prices
and rebates, AND an additional 10%* off! Plus, get FREE SHIPPING on
orders of $99 or more.

To get your 10% discount, just enter coupon code SPRINGLENS in your shopping basket.

Their stock price (DSCM) is above it's recent low of below $2.54 per share, but well off their 52 week high of over $4.00.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Health Canada warning about Renu Multiplus

Health Canada is warning people not to use certain recalled lots of Renu Multiplus.
Not sure if this is new news (it's dated March 12th, 2007), or a repeat of this recall from last year.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Bausch & Lomb Image Bank

My friend Andrew just sent me this link to the Bausch & Lomb Image Bank (an apparent service of B&L). Nice! They give you all the images you need to start selling their lenses online.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

US Suppliers Revisited

One of the problems I heard about UK (and probably EU) customers is that of duty and insurance problems with goods coming from the US. I already reported on the duty problems you might run into - now I want to talk about possible insurance problems.

I sent this question (unanswered for the last 2 days) to LensCatalogue: "Do your prices include VAT at 17.5%? Does your invoice separate the 17.5% so customers can then reclaim from their insurance companies? Does your invoice also include the company name, company number, registered office, and VAT number?".

I sent the same question to CoastalContacts.co.uk. Coastal DOES ship from outside the EU, but from what they've explained to me about their operation, I am guessing that they do their invoices correctly. I greatly doubt that the other non-EU suppliers do this, but I wait for a reply from LensCatalogue to see what they have to say.

I am not a lawyer nor an expert in insurance claims - I'm only going on stories I heard where I did not investigate thoroughly. Right now, I just want to see what the companies have to say. However, before buying from the US, you should make sure that you are covered.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Costal

Just got an email from CoastalContacts.co.uk - not an offer per say, just an ad. In the ad, they have one day Acuvue listed as £15.95* (* = prices subject to change). OK, I thought, let's compare this to VisionDirect.co.uk's £17.50 (including shipping).

I found the Coastal interface a bit weird, but was finally able to add one box to my shopping cart. On the product page, they claim that one box is £14.50 and shipping is marked as "free priority" (even though, right beneath that, it says "£5.99 value, only valid for orders over £99", and right below that, "Did you know you will get free shipping if your order is above £69?" - Huh? Say that again?!?!).

In the end, the price is £21.61 (£14.50 plus £1.12 handling plus £5.99 shipping), which is neither the price in the mailing, nor the price on their web site. However, we can safely say that it's above VisionDirect.co.uk, Lensbase.com and the recently reviewed Lens Catalogue.

Work started today on the long overdue update of the full UK market pricing list. Maybe by this time next year, it will be running ;->

VisionDirect.com Offer

VisionDirect.com is offering a 15% discount code - SEE15 - with the offer ending March 18th. If you're buying from the UK, be sure to read this warning. Also, if you are in the UK and looking for an insurance refund, be sure to check with VisionDirect.com that your invoice includes 17.5% tax, along with the company name, VAT number, etc.
...or even more sensible - buy your contacts from a company which fulfills all legal requirements while still giving a great price, like VisionDirect.co.uk or Lensbase.com.

Friday, March 02, 2007

New Lens Site

I was just contacted by Bob from Lens Catalogue about their site. Here's my quick first impression of the site.

It's a very fast (hey guys, tell me what shopping cart software you're using - it's hot!), ASP based site with a wide selection of products (close to 200!), and a page rank of 1 (on a scale of 10).

It's a US based site, and it's not clear from their page where items are shipped from. When this happens, you have to be aware of potential problems. I'm about 95% sure that they are part of ACLens - the LensCatalogue domain is registered by Philip Dietrich (who appears all over the ACLens site), both sites are ASP sites (although the .co.uk site is faster), and a line in the code reads "All Source Code, Images, and other information Copyright 2000 Arlington Contact Lens Service, Inc.".

Prices are OK but not outstanding. E.g. a brand new customer buying one box of Acuvue 1 day would pay £19.45 at LensCatalogue, but only £17.50 at VisionDirect.co.uk (both prices include shipping - LensCatalogue free on orders greater than £60, VisionDirect.co.uk free for reorders when using their reorder reminder feature). Granted, VisionDirect.co.uk's prices are VERY low in the market - LensCatalogue does great against most of the competition, but you, dear reader, and interested in the best price / service, right?

They don't have a favicon - highly disappointing! (just kidding!) Their developers were too busy making the site blazing fast.

UPDATE: Bob replies: "Thanks for the review. The entire site is developed internally so there's no shopping cart to mention. We are the UK division of AC Lens. Depending on inventory, some of our items ship from the UK while others will ship from our US based operation. Let me know if you have questions."

Friday, February 23, 2007

Lensbase Changes & VisionDirect News

Lensbase (whose prices ROCK) have updated their checkout process, and also added German and Spanish. They will soon be adding more payment methods, and eventually more languages. Their site could use a face lift, but if you looking for great prices, it's THE place to go.

Meanwhile VisionDirect.com (not to be confused with the privately held VisionDirect.co.uk) seems to be having a lot of churn in their executive personnel as their mother company's (DrugStore.com) stock price continues to dive down from their high of $80 a share down to below $3. They've burned through a lot of cash, and expect to continue to lose money though most of the year.