L&T: Through My Lens

Sep
2011

The Chain of Liability

With the advent of Internet eyeglass sales in recent years, opticians are frequently encountering customers who have purchased their eyewear online but then come to the dispensary asking the optician to fit and adjust their glasses. Some customers also come to the dispensary before they purchase Internet eyewear and ask the optician to measure their PD so they can submit it along with their online Rx order.

These situations can be uncomfortable for the optician and the customer unless the optician establishes a protocol for handling them. Some practitioners say they simply honor such requests in the hope that they will establish good will with a potential customer. But others are taking a more assertive stance. Some post signs advising Internet eyeglass buyers they will have to pay a fee for a PD measurement, fitting or adjustment. Of course, customers who purchase eyewear from the store’s own online dispensary would be exempt from paying the fees.

I discussed the situation with L&T’s dispensing expert, Dr. Palmer Cook, and he offered some helpful advice. As Dr. Cook points out, dispensers should avoid adjusting eyewear purchased on the Internet because they would be making themselves part of “the chain of liability.”

“You might not know anything about the eyewear the customer is asking you to adjust,” says Dr. Cook. “If they’re $10 eyeglasses, you know whoever sold them is cutting corners. But if you adjust them, you may be liable if anything happens to the patient while he or she is wearing them.” Dr. Cook advises opticians to politely tell customers, “I’m sorry, I really can’t help you,” and then explain why.

That makes good sense to me. It also sends a message to the customer that a qualified dispenser is the best resource for full service eyecare.

—Andrew Karp
akarp@jobson.com

 

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