Friday, September 09, 2005

Aaron vs. Legal Con Artists

I've just bought a new pair of glasses, the old pair being a vicious casualty of war between my brother and I. It will not necessarily be missed, the frames dislocated from the shoulders, the lenses themselves scratched something fierce and the whole contraption possibly doing more harm than good. However, what will be missed are the five hundred dollars that went towards purchasing this new pair.

Now, the legal con is very simple. It involves a necessary product - for instance, food - but one that is specialized in, that very few people know anything about - specifically, an organic food or an exotic food. You can do basic research online now, thanks to the internet, but interpreting the data becomes like stock analysis for the layman: of not much use. We don't know how to read the information properly, and when we arrive to get our prescription filled, we're taken for a complete ride. The more appropriate analogue would have been medication, but that expense is never questioned and has inflated so high because of people allowing medical coverage to needlessly purchase the most expensive and generally worthless of products.

In any case, upon arrival at the shyster's lens store, the seller will immediate entice you with words of "savings," "sales" and "under-the-table discounts." What these equate to are a skillful manipulation between inflations and gradual lessenings of that inflation to a more reasonable (but still slightly exaggerated) price. Of course, that implies some basic knowledge of haggling, something that went out with the agoras of yore. Couple that with the fact that these optometrists live off of commissions (they profit from giving you the most expensive of options) and today's honest and naive citizen is going to get shucked.

I actually overheard a conversation while putting my contacts in (after my "free" eye exam) between a new hire and the store manager. The latter boasted of owning three stores and said that this new seller - a former bartendress - would do fine in no time, once she learned "how to sell" the products. I think it no small coincidence that all employees were women, and moderately attractive ones at that.

Now, the frame we pick out is going to cost either $250 or $299 (there are two attractive looking options) - but they'll be half off. Now, $150 for glasses sounds fine, until you factor in the cost of my ultra-thick lenses which (honestly) have to be custom made because they're so damn terrible. The price is now overall $350 or so, and it's necessary to upgrade the scratch-guard. She offers us SG and anti-glare protection for $75 (which is a great deal over $120... though still completely unnecessary if you think about the longevity of my last pair) - when I ask for just scratch-free lenses, she tells me that would be $65. So why not spend the extra ten?

Now that she's gotten us up to around $445, she manages to sell us one final time. A second frame and lenses - a back-up pair - for only $55, to make the whole thing an even five. This is what's called the consolation prize, so we think we're getting our money's worth. After all, two pairs for five is really just $250 each. Reasonable. However, the actual economic truth is, if she's willing to part with my "expensive" custom lenses and a pair of non-designer frames (which look just as good) for $55 - isn't that approximately how much a pair would cost? Maybe $150-200 at the most. All of a sudden, the $500 expense we've accrued isn't looking as good.

Still. A man's got to see. And my credit card has a great pay-back plan. So maybe, whether we'd like to admit it or not, we're all just willing participants in this legal shell game. After all, need we look any further than the lies our government has forced down our throat for support of this most basic of self-evident truths?


Anonymous said...
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Lily said...


Hey. I used to be one of your kids at trailblazers and just came across this blog. It's actually pretty well written-I totally can relate having two-inch think glasses. Also, did you go to Stuyvesant in high school?

email back at, if you so choose.

sooooo...yeah. good luck!

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