Hello, good people.
Last year I had laser eye surgery via Optical Express. Their customer service was absolutely awful, and continues to be.
I wrote the below letter of complaint to their head office, and they replied with a letter of apology (which had mistakes in it) and a £50 Optical Express voucher – quite an insult really, as I obviously no longer need glasses (and why would I want to put myself through more stress by being their customer any longer).
Also, I just called today to arrange my one-year follow up (supposed to be included in the huge fee I paid) and they said as it’s a few days after the one year anniversary, I’d have to pay for this! They’ve had nearly £5k off me already! They didn’t send me a reminder to make the appointment, so just another example of how poor their customer service is. I told them not to bother, I’m not giving them another penny.*
Here’s my letter, so you can have an understanding of the terrible experience I had. If you’re looking for laser eye surgery, I obviously do not recommend them.
I would like to make a formal complaint about the service I have received from Optical Express. You have disappointed me again and again, and I write this in the hope that you may learn from it and prevent other customers from suffering the same.
Firstly, I chose Optical Express for my laser eye surgery because I believe you were the best; a well-known leader in the field. However you have disappointed me along almost every step of my customer journey, wasted huge amounts of my time, and caused me a lot of stress.
Here’s a list of the times you’ve let me down. These incidents on their own may not have been a big deal, but put together it has been an extremely poor experience.
1. I booked my initial consultation at the Milton Keynes branch, online. I then received a letter just a few days later, to say that MK would be closed that day I needed to go to Northampton. This would involve me traveling for 30 minutes each way instead of 10 – so you were in effect asking me to take 1 hour travel time instead of 20 minutes, for both me and my partner (as I was told I couldn’t come alone/drive home). I found this to be quite presumptuous – that I would just be happy to travel further, the letter shouldn’t have been sent and I should’ve been called instead. I called up and said I didn’t want to do this and so they re-arranged my appointment in MK for when they re-opened.
2. My initial consultation was fine, but only then did I discover I couldn’t have the surgery in MK – you should make this clearer on your website. My surgery was booked for 20 November in Shaftsbury Avenue.
3. I then received a confirmation letter, plus an almost identical letter sent to my address but confirming the appointment for Michelle Spiller, who appeared to have the appointment after mine. I emailed the address given on the letter, saying that you must have a data problem and Michelle may have not received her letter – plus I pointed out that I hoped no one had received my name and details like I’d received Michelle’s. No one replied, so I then called up. The person I spoke to thanked me for letting her know, but didn’t offer any apology or explanation. No one ever replied to that email.
4. 20 November, I was excited; no glasses after today! Or so I thought… I was under the laser, about to start, when I was told it’d stopped working. Having had my ‘flaps’ done, I then had to go and sit with watery eyes in the recovery room for about 20 mins, nerves increasing. Eventually, I went back in and had 2 seconds of laser treatment before the machine broke again. I was asked to wait again in the recovery room. After about half an hour I was told that an engineer was on his way to fix the machine, but I’d have a two hour wait minimum.
All other patients would be moved to Harley Street but I must remain. I was quite stressed and the staff apologised, but my surgeon said: “I promise I’ll finish your eyes today.” It was suggested I go out and have some lunch in a restaurant – not likely to work for me, seeing as my eyes were constantly watering and sore. So, both myself and my partner sat and waited. And waited. I couldn’t even read so I mostly just sat with my eyes closed. Eventually, I was told the laser surgery couldn’t be completed today, that it was too risky and I should go home and return the next day. I was told that Optical Express would cover any travel expenses.
Both myself and my partner had taken a day off of work for nothing, and returned home feeling rather stressed. The rest of my day was ruined; I didn’t get home until about 4pm and I couldn’t really do much with sore eyes – which wouldn’t have mattered to me had I had 20/20 vision but I still needed my glasses, of course. I was suffering for no reward.
5. 21 November, I returned and my laser surgery was completed. My surgeon made me feel taken care of and made up a little for the previous day (his efforts to redeem Optical Express have since been undone with the other issues I’ve had below, however).
6. 22 November, my follow-up appointment. This should have been in MK on 21/11, but as MK are closed on Sunday’s, I had to return to Shaftesbury Avenue for the third day running. 90 minutes travel time each way meant that we had now spent an additional 6 hours travelling than expected.
7. 23 November, I wrote a letter to XXX, Manager of Shaftsbury Avenue, as instructed with the receipts for my additional travel (not including petrol, so I was still out of pocket). This totalled £93.50.
8. I also tried to make my appointment for my 1 week follow-up in MK. I was told that MK don’t do laser follow-ups on weekends, and are only open Tuesday-Thursdays. David from head office had been calling me regularly to check I was OK, so I told him this wasn’t very customer friendly and he said he agreed and arranged my appointment in MK for Saturday 28 November.
9. 28 November, I turn up for my appointment at 10:30 and the receptionist tells me that they’re running 40 minutes late! I asked why she didn’t call me to tell me in advance, and she just shrugged. I said I had paid for parking and considering the stress I’d already been put through, it’d be nice if I was given priority. I was told to take a seat and she would see what she could do. I suggested she call other patients whose appointments may be running late, out of courtesy, so they didn’t have to wait 40 mins as well, and she just looked at me blankly. I tried to call David, but he wasn’t available so I spoke to someone else in his department; while explaining my situation, someone came to take me through for my appointment. I suspect this was because I was describing the stress of the machine breaking down in front of other patients. In the end, my appointment was about 20 minutes late. The staff there hinted it was because they don’t usually do this sort of appointment on a Saturday – not my problem – and not very professional to hint it’d been a mistake to give me the appointment.
10. 23 January – I had still not received my cheque to reimburse my expenses. [The store manager] had told me this would be a month, it was now 2 months. I called to speak to David, he wasn’t around so someone else said they’d sort it out and someone would call me back.
11. 27 January – I still have not heard about my cheque, and call David again. He said he didn’t know but would call me back. He did call back and said I should receive my cheque with in the next 7 days. I asked why I hadn’t got it already, he said he didn’t know.
12. 3 February – 1 week later, still no cheque. I emailed David to find out what’s going on. He never replied to this email.
13. 4 February – someone new leaves me a voicemail to say my cheque is being sent out. I received this on 5 February. I do not believe I’d have got it at all if I hadn’t chased so many times.
Now, I understand machines break down. I understand that someone makes a mistake now and then. But this long list of bad service is not acceptable. I paid £4,890 and do not feel that I’ve received anywhere near the good service that this sort of money should bring. I’m utterly disappointed and although I’d recommend laser eye surgery to anyone, I would definitely tell them to avoid Optical Express. I’m shocked that a big brand like you could repeatedly get it so wrong.
I’ve calculated that between the extra appointments, extra travel, running late time, extra phone calls, plus the two letters, you have wasted over 10 hours of my time. I write freelance; if I were to charge you for this time, you’d owe me over £XXX (removed for purpose of this blog). Not to mention my parner’s time and our day off work – and, perhaps most importantly, the stress you’ve caused us throughout.
All through this, no formal apology has been made for the stress you’ve caused and time you’ve wasted, and I’m disappointed that I felt the need to write this letter.
*Update: they have now offered me a free follow-up (probably after seeing my review above) … I just hope I don’t have a long wait!
**Update: my last appointment went OK, I didn’t have to wait for once (perhaps because of this blog!). Never going back!