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?