Thursday, March 2, 2006

World's Worst Plan. World's Worst Service.

My employer offers the World's Worst Medical Plan. The premiums are high, the copay is high, and the provider list is scant. But my biggest gripe of all is the Vision Plan.

I am very, very, very near-sighted. To make matters worse, I have a bad astigmatism. Without my glasses, I am virtually blind. No exaggeration.

In January, the frame on my almost two-year-old glasses snapped, causing the lens to fall out. Try as I did, I was unable to repair them.

Blind as a bat, I set out in search of a vision provider covered under my plan: Cole Managed Vision. Being blinded by the situation, I was desperately seeking a provider that could make my glasses the same day, like LensCrafters. I called my plan provider for a list of providers near my home (which is 85 miles from where I work). What?! There were no one-hour optical shops in town. "How about Indianapolis?" I asked. None there, either. I found a Pearle Vision Center about thirty minutes away from home (in the opposite direction from work) that makes glasses on site, but when I called them and read them my prescription, they said it was so severe that they would have to order the lenses. I was left with two choices: pay full price at LensCrafters, or wait a week some place else.

Being despearately blind, as I've already explained, I was very tempted to go straight to the nearest LensCrafters and have my eyesight restored. Being a husband and father with my second child on the way, and trying to live on a budget, I realized that the smart choice was to actually use the vision plan that I've been paying for every two weeks for the past year. I found myself at the local mall at Sears Optical. Things did not get better from there.

The Sears Optical was in the midst of a staffing upheaval and didn't have an optometrist on duty for the next four days. This meant I would either be waiting an additional four days on top of the already anticipated seven, or reusing my most recent prescription, which was nearly two years old. In this case I did the desperate thing and whipped out my tattered copy of that old prescription. I picked out some frames and plunked down my copay for the polycarbonate lenses, as I didn't feel like wearing Coke bottles for glasses, and went on my merry way, expecting a call as early as four days later, happy that I had saved the $200 I would have spent at LensCrafters for the convenience of not having to wait. I later realized that I have spent exactly $195 over the past twelve months in premiums for this stellar vision program that was causing me so much grief -- a net savings of $5.

No phone call came on the fourth day. I, of course, called them just four days after placing my order, and found that my glasses were in and ready for pick up. I didn't think to ask why no one had called me to tell me they had arrived. I just loaded up the family and headed back to the mall to get my eyesight back.

A week later I noticed a scratch over my right eye, directly in my line of sight. The polycarbonate copay I forked over supposedly included a scratch-resistant coating, so I picked up the phone and made a quick call to Sears. I apparantly caught them at a very busy time, because I was told they would have to look up my purchase and call me back the following Monday. "No problem," I said, and gave out my mobile number.

Late the next Monday, frustrated, I called Sears again. "I ordered you a new lens," I was told. "It should be here in about seven days." Again, the wait.

Fully two weeks later I had not received a call to tell me that my new lens was available for pick up. As you can surely imagine, my frustration was mounting. I called again and spoke with yet another person. "I don't see where anything was ordered, sir." Ugggghhhhhh!!!!! "That's very disappointing," I said. "I called two weeks ago and was assured that the lens was being ordered." "I can order it for you and possibly have it here by Wednesday." "That would be good," I said, "because if it isn't here by Wednesday, it will be yet another week before I can be in to pick it up."

Yesterday was Wednesday, and I long ago grew tired of waiting. I once again loaded the family up and headed back to the mall, only to find that my new lens had not arrived yet. "It was shipped out yesterday," I was told. "We don't usually receive our shipments until three o'clock. You can call back then and see if it's come in." I didn't bother to ask them to call me, because they obviously don't have any phones with working dial pads.

Come five o'clock I called to check the status and learned that my lens had arrived. Good news! But they closed at 5:30. Bad news. And they are closed on Sundays, which was my only day off for the next eight days. Worse news. What this all means, of course, is that I had to leave work almost three hours early today to get to Sears and have my scratched lens replaced.

I walked in and announced my purpose, and was greeted with, "Oh, I'm the only one hear and these three phones have been ringing off the hook." I got the impression she was hoping I would offer to come back at a later date. I simply replied, "Well, I've been waiting three weeks for this lens because no one bothered to order it when I called the first two times."

We proceeded to wait the fifteen minutes or so that it took to have both lenses replaced (my guess is that no one could remember which lens I needed and they were all too afraid to call me to find out). I later looked closely at my glasses and noticed that one of the original screws had been lost in the process and replaced with a screw that was too long for the frames. I wasn't a bit surprised.

Bottom line, I guess, is that I won't be going back to Sears Optical. The service was terrible from start to finish, and no one there seemed to even care that they were incapable of providing quality service. I would call and complain, but I suspect that whomever I complain to would also not care. And since I won't be going back to Sears Optical again, I won't be needing this stellar vision plan anymore. Rather than pay $195 over the next year in bi-weekly premiums for a plan that covers glasses only once a year, I'll cancel the plan (open enrollment is conveniently going on right now) and spend $200 at LensCrafters for better glasses and faster service the next time I need them.

By the way, I haven't posted a rant here in quite a while. It feels kind of good.



Anonymous said...

Because yours and everybody elses vision plans [stink], the service you are going to receive [stinks] as well. If you think anyone is going to go out of their way to provide you with first class service and quick turnaround - think again. Cole vision pays almost nothing for an eye exam and pays less than nothing to do your glasses. When you call a doctor's office and say you have cole vision, nobody wants to deal with you. Your are just another low paying ... customer.

Average Joe American said...

Cole Managed Vision has recently been acquired by EyeMed Vision Care. The rates and charges all remained the same, but with one improvement: LensCrafters is now an approved provider. This would have solved all of my problems at the time, as I have dealt with LensCrafters both with and without vision coverage in the past, and the service was sufficient and essentially equal each time.

By the way, the comments above were edited for profanity, but I didn't change the essence of the message. If you've read many of the posts on my blog, you should be able to figure out that profanity isn't welcome.


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