Abby's Guide to Contact Lenses
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Contact lenses 101

There are plenty of websites out there offering contact lenses inexpensively delivered right to your door. However, choosing the right supplies can be hard. Should you stick to the cheapest lenses available for your prescription? Or do you get what you pay for? Quality, longevity, and cost are all big factors in choosing the right contact lenses. Here are some questions you ought to ask yourself before you buy corrective lenses online. The answers could have a huge effect on the retailer you choose and the lenses you end up purchasing.

Guarantees

What kind of guarantee is available? Make sure that the site has a clearly stated policy regarding sending your lenses back if they do not work. The majority of sites offer a thirty-day-guarantee on lenses that are in any way defective, but some sites only give you ten days. Will you have to pay postage? That can be a big factor. If the site doesn't have a free return policy, you'll end up paying to send your bad lenses back. While this usually won't cost a lot, it can be annoying, and is something you may have been able to avoid.

Support

How about customer support options? If you get perfect lenses, there's a good chance you won't need a lot of help, but as soon as a problem crops up, the quality of the site's customer service becomes an issue. Look for clearly listed phone numbers and the ability to speak to a live person, rather than just sending an email. Some sites offer live chat, but many do not. Check out your support options before you make the decision to buy.



Site Security

Security is another big factor. If you are ordering online, you need to make sure your transaction is secure and protected. You may see the Verisign logo on the site, for instance. Hacker safe sites are also desirable - a special sign indicates that the site's security measures are up to particular standards. If a site seems unsecure, head somewhere else to buy your contact lenses. It is not worth risking your credit card number or bank account to get what looks like a really good deal.



Order Tracking

Once the lenses are sent, how will you be able to know where they are? Order tracking is a helpful feature that prevents your expensive lenses from being lost in the mail. If you can't get a tracking number from your contact lens supplier, it will be much harder to know if your order is going to arrive safely, and how long it will take.

Selection

Does the site sell what you want, or are you going to have to settle for a similar product that may  not be as good. There are many different brands and types of lenses on the market now, so it's important to make sure that any retailer has a good selection. After all, if you wear colored lenses in a particular prescription, you don't want to settle for only clear ones.



Availability

Look at the site to see how many of the products are really in stock. Some sites don't bother to take products off their site, even if they won't be getting any more stock in. A site with a lot of out-of-stock products might not be the best choice for your purchase. After all, once your lenses go out of stock, how can you know they'll ever come back in? Changing suppliers is time consuming and annoying, so make the right choice initially.

Insurance

If you have health insurance and your plan includes coverage for vision, you need to check your benefits. You may be able to receive a discount from some in-person contact lens retailers or be able to order at a lower rate from some online sellers or the plan provider's retailer. If you just choose an online site, you could be losing the benefits you receive from your insurance plan. While online stores may be cheaper than the options you get from your insurer, you can't know this unless you check first.



Price

It's not the only consideration, but that doesn't mean it's worth ignoring. Some contact lens websites have lower prices than others, even if they're selling the same merchandise. Just make sure that you'll really end up paying less. Read the fine print to find the difference between the companies' shipping and handling fees, find out whether there's a surcharge for small orders, and make sure you won't pay any other hidden fees before you pick your site. Just because a site looks cheaper doesn't mean it will be in total. Remember, you want to get the best overall deal.

Rebates

You may be able to get an after-purchase rebate from the contact lens manufacturer, your insurer, or the seller. Just read all the fine print and make sure you understand the details. Then, don't forget to do your part. Most rebates are not automatic. Companies offering rebates rely on a large percentage of buyers never claiming their rebate. Whether it is a card you have to send out, a code you need to enter, or an email you need to send, make sure you do everything you have to in order to claim your rebate. Otherwise, you won't be getting the best deal.

Buying your contact lenses online can be a great decision, but you have to know what you're doing. Take a little time to do your research before you buy, and you're much more likely to end up with a great deal.

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