Eye eye - online retailer's guarantees are short-sighted
Avid Bitterwallet reader Haresh is one of many folks who has four eyes instead of two. No, not really, that'd be freakish. He does wear spectacles, however, so he ordered a couple of pairs of simple prescription glasses from ExclusiveEyes.co.uk:
The site promises a great deal, including a "no quibble money-back guarantee... a 100 per cent quality guarantee - this means that if there is anything wrong with your glasses, you get your money back without a quibble". They also offer a guaranteed dispatch of all simple prescriptions within three working days. They're certainly attractive guarantees for an online retailer to offer, and to this end the website crows about them on several pages of the site.
Haresh has several issues with Exclusive Eyes. First and foremost, despite a guarantee of a three day dispatch for a simple prescription, the glasses took nearly a month to arrive. When initially challenged, Exclusive Eyes told Haresh his order was shipped on a given date; when the package arrived shipped, the postmark was dated five days later. This was all Royal Mail's fault, he was told. Then in a later email, the company forgot this excuse and instead referred their customer to the small print:
"We dispatched your glasses well within the limit that you agreed to by clicking the terms and conditions."
The terms and conditions on the website state:
"Even though we aim to dispatch orders within 2 working days, this may not be possible for complex prescriptions. Our ophthalmologists will decide whether a prescription is complex or not. Their decision will be final and binding. The maximum time required for delivering a complex prescription is 28 days."
No mention of any sort of guarantee whatsoever and instead an attempt to back out of it - aiming to meet a target is hardly the same as guaranteeing they will. Besides which, Haresh claims his order was for two pairs of single lens glasses with a simple prescription.
Next, when the order finally arrived, it appeared that the arm of one pair had been recycled from a previously-owned pair of glasses - there were several nicks and obvious wear and tear down its length:
Nowhere on the website does it state recycled components may be used, and despite putting the allegation to Exclusive Eyes several times, customer services have not refuted it. And when Haresh did complain about his order, the company would only promise the possibility of a 50 per cent refund, not the 100 per cent guaranteed. Delve into the terms and conditions once more, and the No Quibble Guarantee isn't mentioned one. The only refund policy detailed is a 50 per cent refund against the cost of the frames, not the order. Haresh won't return the goods until the company offers to make good on its 100 per cent refund guarantee and so far the company is refusing to do so. The terms and conditions also state that the company will not refund postal charges, but distance selling regulations mean that this is not absolute; if off-the-shelf prescriptions were used, then they are legally obligated to refund all costs.
In other words, even without considering Haresh's situation, both guarantees offered by Exclusive Eyes are seemingly worthless; their terms and conditions mean they won't promise to fullfill even simple orders in the time given (there's a day's discrepancy between the guarantee and the terms which may allow room for wriggling, although there is no detail on what constitutes a 'simple' prescription) and there's not a whiff of the 100 percent money-back guarantee anywhere. We've contacted ExclusiveEyes.co.uk for a response and will let you know what the heck they say, if anything.