When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down.

Ephesians 4:26 AMP

Alright, here’s what I’ve been dealing with since the end of August.  On August 19th, I went to my optometrist for my annual eye exam, contact fitting, etc.  This year I had specifically set aside money in my Flex Spending Account for at least two new pairs of glasses.  I chose two pair, one of them being quite expensive (compared to what I usually spend on glasses).  The frame of the more expensive pair was beautiful and I was excited to get them back.  When I went to pick up my glasses, I did not like the look of my first pair (the less expensive pair).  The salesman knew I didn’t like them because I mentioned it. The lenses seemed larger than what I had remembered when I had picked them out.   I told him maybe they needed some tint and maybe that would improve their appearance.  He said he could have tint placed on them at no charge.  I told him I would think about it and let him know.  Next, I tried on the expensive pair.  They looked great on me from what I could see at the time although I was concerned because my depth perception was a little bit off.  I was told I probably needed to wear them for awhile to get used to them.  I took them and left the shop and drove home.

While at home, I put on a pair of the glasses and checked each pair out thoroughly.  To my surprise, I noticed a gap between the upper left (when looking at the frames in my hands) portion of the left lens and the frame (it looked like a hole- the frames had been cut incorrectly).  It was significant to me, but I thought I would ask a few people to see if they thought I was just being picky.  I took the glasses to work with me that night and showed a couple of co-workers, and they said they would take them back and have them cut a new lens because it should be perfect for that price.  Thus, the next morning I took both pairs of glasses back to my optometrist’s office and spoke with the salesman.  I told him to go ahead and put tint on the pair I did not like.  Then I showed him the defect in the more expensive pair.  He tried to convince me there was no defect.  I then pointed out to him the difference between the left and right lenses in the corner.  He still tried to talk me out of it.  I told him I had already showed it to other people and they agreed it was something that was unacceptable and besides I had paid ($—) and I wanted them to be perfect.  That ended that conversation.  I was polite as usual.  I never make it a point to be ugly with people just because I am dissatisfied with the service or products I received.  However, I did make a mental note of how he had tried to pretend there was nothing wrong with the glasses. 

He called me at home about a week or more later and told me that the lab couldn’t place pink tint over Crizal lenses- they could only use brown or gray.  I told him to forget it, since I did not think brown or gray would really make the glasses look any better. He went on to explain how he cuts the lenses but they send them to a lab for tint and different coatings, etc.  At that moment I thought to myself, “So you cut the lenses! – That’s why you had such a hard time accepting the lens that was incorrectly cut in the more expensive frame.”  He had obviously taken it personally.   He told me I could come in to pick up both pairs of glasses whenever I got a chance.  I think I went the next day to pick them up. 

Of course, with the first pair that I didn’t like, there was nothing new to look at.  However, the other pair, which had looked so good on me but had a significant defect, was now fixed where the left lens was concerned.  However, this time the right lens was coming out of the frame on the whole right side of its lens.  I pointed it out to him.  He took the glasses back to a little machine he had and did something.  He fixed the lens however now the left lens was out of its frame.  I pointed it out to him and he then proceeded to tell me that that was how the frame was made-  the lenses were not supposed to fit in the frame.  He said it was a designer frame with a newer- edgier style and that the lenses were not supposed to fit in the rims.  He went on to flex the temples of the frames to demonstrate what he was saying. I shook my head and he took the frames back to the machine and bent them so that both lenses were out of the frames on their outside edges.  I couldn’t believe he was saying that.  However, I was tired of sitting there while he tried to convince me that was the style and nothing was wrong with them.  For some unknown reason I left with the glasses.  I went home and looked at them over and over again.  I tried them on and looked at them and the more agitated I became.  I called the salesman up and told him I had looked at the glasses over and over and could not get over paying that amount of money for glasses that look like that.  I then asked him what he could do about it.  He said I obviously didn’t like that style and to bring them back and we could pick some more.  He asked if I wanted to come in the next week.  I told him I wanted to come in right then.  He told me o.k. and I drove right back to the business. 

 Next, I gave him the glasses and took my time picking out a number of frames to try on.  I wanted to make sure this pair would be right.  How about the salesman tried to push plastic frames on me by saying, they’re really “in” this year.  I didn’t remember him saying anything about plastic frames when I was picking out the first two pairs of glasses.  I ignored him on that point and went about choosing all the frames that struck my fancy.   I had probably picked out about 10 -15 frames to try on.  I sat down and went through them systematically, finally deciding between two frames.  I then picked the frame I liked the best and the salesman took it. I asked him, “How much are they? Is it going to be more or less than the others?”

He responded, “Oh, don’t worry about it- I won’t charge you anymore.”

I responded,  “and if it’s less?…”

He replied, “Well, I don’t know if the manufacturer is going to take those other frames back yet…”  I just squinted my eyes at him like he was crazy without saying a word.  I thought to myself, “This guy thinks I just fell off of the onion truck.”

I left and went home knowing that the salesman was going to try to pull a fast one over on me when I returned to get the glasses.  “He’s got a lot of nerve to think I’m just going to let him keep any difference there is in the frames.” I thought to myself.  I estimated there had to be anywhere between a $100 – $200 difference between the pair I had just returned and the one I had just chosen.  Once again, I asked the opinion of a few others to see what they thought on the matter.  Each one agreed with me that he indeed owed me the money.  One co-worker insisted he should re-imburse me for gas too- since I had to keep going up there in reference to these glasses.  I smiled when she said that knowing that was a long-shot.

A few weeks later, on Friday, Sept. 26th I was in bed and received a call from the salesman.  He said the glasses were ready and asked if I could come in and get them that day.  I told him that I could not and that I would be in to get them the next week.  He went on to say that they would be on vacation next week (he and the optometrist) and the business would only be open in the afternoons from 1- 4 p.m.  I stated that was fine and that I would just have to get up early one afternoon and get them.  He persisted, “Well, the thing is… if they need adjusting, I won’t be here to adjust them for you.”  I told him that if they needed adjusting I would simply bring them back in one morning when he was there.  He had to add, “Well, if you change your mind…, we’ll be here all day today.”  I told him once again I would get them the next week and hung up the phone.  I hate it when people try to manipulate me. 

Well, it turned out that it was not convenient for me to go the week of their vacation either.  So I went in on Wednesday of the week they were back(October 8th).  However, I called and asked my Flex Benefits Card Company whether I had the same rights with it as I had with a regular credit card and then went on to explain my previously shady dealings with the salesman and that I believed he would try to keep the money which he owed me since the pair of glasses I was about to pick up were going to be less than the original ones he had charged me for.  She told me yes, that my rights were the same.  I had to give him a chance to correct the situation in good faith.  However, if he refused to place the difference on my card, I was to call them back and they would start the paperwork for fraudulent charges.  They would handle the matter from there on out.  He has a responsibility as a merchant to please the consumer. I was told it was not my responsibility to pay for his mistakes with cutting the lenses, etc. and that it was not my problem.  So, I entered the business knowing exactly what my rights were and what was reasonable to expect from the standpoint of the law.  

The salesman came around the corner to get me and their was the usual small talk.  He brought out the new glasses and placed them on me and started to do his adjustment thing with the temples.  When he finished I looked in the mirror and stated, “Oh, those do look nice!”   He went on with small talk which included, if you can believe it (or even if you can’t) a sales pitch for the glasses I had orginally returned.  He made a point to tell me that he still had them in the back and that those frames and those lenses would only fit one person in the world and that was me… he would be glad to sell them to me at a discount… I quickly interjected and told him I was not interested.  He went on to tell me he would keep them in the drawer in the back if I changed my mind.  When he was finished, I asked, “How much were they?” pointing to the new glasses I now had on my face.

He responded, “I don’t know. I didn’t even add them up.” 

In a pleasant voice, I replied, “I suspect that they’re going to be significantly lower than the other frames I brought back.  I would like for you to place the difference back on my Flex Benefits Card. “

 His eyes widened in disbelief, “The manufacturer wouldn’t take the frames back.”

Cool, calm, and collected, I responded, “That’s not my problem. “

Actually tearing up (I couldn’t believe what I was seeing) he said, “I told you I wouldn’t charge you anything for these glasses and that would be that.”

I quickly interjected, “No…. I asked you if the glasses were going to be more or less than the original pair I brought back and you told me that you wouldn’t charge me anymore, so I asked ‘and if they’re less?’ to which you responded- well, I don’t know if the manufacturer will take them back- and then I just looked at you.”

“Well the manufacturer wouldn’t take them back.” he repeated.

Once again, I replied, “That’s not my problem.”  We just sat and looked at each other for a few moments, me- knowing it was the law that he had to refund the difference (without letting him know that I knew) and him with tears in his eyes putting on the performance of his life. 

“He said, “Hazel, you’ve been a good customer for a long time.”

I quickly agreed, “Yes, I have!”

He went on, “I understand where you’re coming from but I wish you would look at it from my point of view… I’ve already paid for those glasses twice…”

My ears perked up and so did my eyebrows, “TWICE ?”

“Yeah..” he went on, “First when you ordered them and then again when you didn’t like them…”

“No. I paid for them when you ordered them.  You purchased them with my $— dollars.”

 “Well, o.k., but I purchased them two times.” I shook my head at him in disbelief as he went on.  “In all my years, I have NEVER had someone bring back a pair of glasses because they didn’t like them!” he exclaimed with his hands flailing out to his sides.

I quickly chirped in, “I didn’t bring those glasses back because I didn’t like them.  I brought them back because the lenses weren’t cut correctly.” 

“That was the design!  That’s how they’re made I told you!” 

“No, it was not the design, the lens wasn’t cut right.” 

 Then he said a little more calmly, “O.k.,  maybe I made a mistake by not realizing that a prescription as strong as yours would not fit well in those designer frames… but I’ve learned my lesson now… and it was a big lesson and I’ve paid for that.”

“No, you’re trying to make me pay for that and it’s not my problem.” 

Once again we just sat there and looked at each other.  I suppose he thought I would give in.  Many probably do.  But as I said before, I was armed with the truth. 

I looked at him and said, “Can you talk it over with —-(His wife who was my optometrist before he even came to work there).”

He quickly chirped up, “No, she’s already mad at me because I’m not making you pay for these.” speaking of my new glasses.

I corrected, “I did pay for these with my $— dollars.”

Silence.  Sometimes it golden.  Sometimes it’s not. Then, “I don’t even know how to do it on the card machine.  I tried doing it a couple of weeks ago with someone else and it wouldn’t work.  It says you need a pass code but it doesn’t work.”

I looked at him and said, “Alright, I’ve done what I can do, if you’re not going to give it to me, you’re not going to give it to me.  However, I would like an itemized receipt listing how much I paid for each item dealing with these glasses- how much for transitions, how much for the frames, how much for polycarbonate lenses, how much for anti-reflective coating, etc. because on the receipts I’ve received- you never tell me how much each item costs you simply give me a total for a frames/lens package.  I would like that for all three pairs of glasses.”

He jumped up before walking to the back and said, “It’ll take a few minutes.”

I responded, “That’s fine.”  While he was gone I took off the new glasses and looked them over while thinking to myself, “Boy, he’s really trying to pull one over on me.” Then, I noticed some scratches on the temple of the frame.  I shook my head in disbelief.  The optometrist came out with a patient to wait for the salesman.  She didn’t stop, just walked into the back where the salesman had gone.  I assumed they were back there talking about the situation as he was probably trying to make the receipts and prices match, etc.

When the salesman came back and handed me the receipts for the three pairs of glasses (the one I returned and the two I now had) I asked him what the difference was.  He told me there was a hundred dollar difference between the frames but if we took away the discounts he had given me in the beginning it would be a $48.00 difference.  I asked, “Why would we take away the discounts I was first given?” (One of the discounts was because I brought in a card they had mailed out to their customers saying they would get $25.00 off  a pair of glasses- I didn’t remember the other discount but he pointed it out to me on the original forms he had filled out when I had first ordered the glasses on 08/19/08.  I then asked for a copy of those two forms as well- which he gave to me.

I asked, “Did you see the scratches on this frame?”

“I’ll replace them if you’d like me too, you still have a year warranty on the lenses and the frames, I didn’t take that away from you.”

I must admit I gave him a slight smirk and shook my head in disgust.  Then I said, “Well, I’ve done what I can do.  I’m going to go call my Flex Spending Card people and talk to them about it.”  I stood up to leave.

He said, “I’ll write you a check for $48.00.”

I said, “I want $100.00 and it has to be placed on my card.” and I turned to leave.

He said, “Well, let me talk to —(my optometrist) tonight and I’ll call you tomorrow morning.”

“Didn’t you talk to her while you were in the back?””

“No.  She just walked back and handed me a folder and said I had two customers waiting for me.  We never get to talk at work.  I’ll call you in the morning.”

“Fine.  You talk to her and I’m still going to call my Flex Card People.”

“I’ll call you in the morning.”

“Fine.”  As I was walking out the door I turned back and said, “Thank you.” to the receptionist who responded with a chipper farewell.  I had kept my cool and handled myself well.- I was quite pleased with that.  Years before, in a bad car deal, I had not been as level-headed.  I had wound up causing quite a scene. Oh, how we live, learn, and are transformed from glory to glory.  This time, even in the face of someone continuously lying to me in order to rip me off, I remained calm and did not “show out” so to speak.   It really is insulting that someone would stoop to that degree in order to make money.  Honesty matters and ethical business practices matter.  I’ve included some links below that might help someone out if they think they’re being cheated, bamboozled, or ripped off by someone they’re doing business with. Always do the research.  As you can see from my experience above, that some people will stop at nothing in order to cheat you out of your hard earned money.  They count on wearing you down, making it seem as if you’re the unreasonable one, and your ignorance of the law. Don’t make it easy for them, but don’t act in an un-Godly manner.  There are laws to protect consumers.  However the person trying to rip you off will never let you know that.  It’s up to you to find out what the laws are and what can be done about your particular situation.  Also, don’t sit on it.  For certain things you have to file paperwork within a certain timeframe of the business transaction in order to be able to dispute a charge, etc.  So, the earlier you begin looking into it, the better. 

How did my situation end?  Well, the salesman called the next morning and didn’t mention his wife’s name at all. He said, “I decided to refund the $100.00 to your Flex Benefits Card to make you happy.  So, you can stop by whenever you get a chance and I’ll put it back on there…if I can figure how to do it on the machine.”

I said with a smile in my voice, “Great!  I’ll stop by soon.”

We hung up and I immediately called the Flex Benefit Card customer service reps. and told them how it had ended up and asked them how to proceed if I went over there and he pretended he did not know how to place the money on the card.  They told me exactly how to proceed and I went to the business the next morning.  I had to wait awhile (of course) but the salesman finally came out and gave it a shot with his credit card machine.  He said it didn’t work and he would have to get someone on the phone to give him a passcode.  “If you want, I can write down your card number so you can go because it took quite awhile to get someone on the phone the other time I had to do this.”

I shook my head and smiled and said, “No. I’ll wait.”  He sighed and went and got a phone and returned back to the machine.  It seemed to take all of three minutes. He gave me a receipt for the refund and had me sign a receipt for his records and I was out of there. Case closed?  Nope!  I returned home and called the Flex reps. once again to see if the refund actually showed up.  He had already proven to me he was completely untrustworthy.  The transaction had not shown up which was unusual because they usually showed up immediately (so the cutomer service rep. told me).  She told me she would keep an eye on it and call me back.  She didn’t call me back so the next day I called her- she was out sick but another rep. helped me and told me it still had not shown up and what we would do if it didn’t show up the next week.  Well, I called on Tuesday, and indeed the $100.00 had been refunded to my account.  Now, what was it in this man that made him not want to do the right thing?  Even if he didn’t want to do it, surely he knew the law.  I suppose he thought he could get away with it and probably has so many times before.  I don’t know if his wife knows about how he is handling her business, but if she does, it is a shame.  If she doesn’t, then it’s another kind of shame.  He’s giving a business with her name on it, a terrible reputation.  If she knows how he handles the business then so be it, the reputation is well deserved.  However, if she does not, then God bless her- she has problems not only in her business, but also in her marriage- However, that’s her problem and thank goodness, no longer mine. 

Please check out these links and research consumer protection laws in your own state in order to learn some vital information:

NC Consumer Protection Division 

The Better Business Bureau of the Coastal Carolinas

Federal Trade Commission Consumer Protection