Costco Eyeglass Return Policy - One of Costco's Policies That I Don't Like



Costco is really great when you want to return or exchange an item. They sell quality merchandise for great prices. I have only found one thing I’m unhappy with, their policy in regards to eyeglasses. They are guaranteed, I think for up to one year; however, the guarantee doesn’t do me much good.

I got my last pair of glasses from Costco. I wear progressives as I need trifocals, and I guess you could say I’m vain, but I hate the thought of wearing the old fashioned trifocals, the ones where you can see the lines. I paid $215 for my last pair of glasses from Costco, which is an awesome price.

Unfortunately, less than one year into wearing this pair of glasses, they started showing wear to the lenses. Now I’ve worn glasses since I was nine years old – since 1972 – I know how to care for lenses properly. The wear to these lenses was something I’ve never seen before. It looks as if I’d taken a hatpin and tapped the lens, making little scratches. In fact, it looks to me as if the so-called “protective coating” is flaking off.

So I stopped by Costco, showed them the problem and they said they would be more than happy to replace the lenses FREE OF CHARGE. Awesome.

“Hand ‘em over,” she said, holding out her hand.

“What?” I asked.

“Your glasses,” she said.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because we have to ship them back to the laboratory. They’ll be back in two weeks.”

Two weeks? For a Near-Sighted Four Eyes such as myself, owner of only one pair of glasses?

I can’t even walk out of the store safely, let alone go without glasses for two weeks.

So much for the great replacement policy.

The other night I was in Costco again, and decided to (apparently) torture myself a little bit more, by showing the eyeglasses clerk my glasses. He tried to tell me that the front side of my lens is being worn away by – get this – contact with my skin and the oils and makeup on my face. Excuse me, but I don’t wear any type of face makeup, aside from one thin line of brown eyeliner on my lower lids, and mascara, but no facial makeup, and I don’t need lotion on my face, I happen to have enough moisture to my face, thank you very much. Furthermore, I explained to him that I don’t wear my glasses backwards on my face, against my face, but he insisted my lenses were contacting my face in some way and that is what was causing the problem. He also showed me his two year old glasses, and pointed out that he has plenty of surface scratches, too. But you know what, his were actually light scratches, it wasn’t the protective coating being chipped and peeling away from the surface. The young man tried hard to persuade me, “You need to have two pairs of glasses. What if your dog chewed up this pair? What if you stepped on this pair? You wouldn’t only have one pair of shoes, would you?”

Well, I don’t think shoes are a very good example, because I can go anywhere and buy a pair at anytime.   That is beside the point, why should I buy two pairs of glasses if I know from wearing glasses for 35 years that my prescription changes at least every two years, which is about as long as I expect one pair of glasses to last.

I asked him why couldn’t Costco just build a new pair of lenses, and snap them into the frames once they were done? He said they couldn’t do that.

I left the counter in a very aggravated mood. Because I just don’t know what to do. I think their protective coating is inferior, but if they won’t admit it, then how do I know what to do the next time I order glasses? Do I bypass Costco, and buy elsewhere? Or do I just grin like a fool and buy two pair of glasses at once, on the off chance that I might need to replace one pair?

Now that the check arrived to replace my glasses which got scratched when I fell in the pothole at the mall I need to make an appointment for a new prescription.

I think what I’m going to do is make an appointment with the optometrist at Costco, but I’m also going to stop by a glasses place and see if they think my lenses are messing up from the “contact” to my face.    Depending on what they say, I may buy my glasses from Costco again. I won’t be buying a second pair. Although I do think I will check out Zenni Optical and buy a second pair through them – you can get single vision lenses plus frames for as low as EIGHT DOLLARS.   That is the least I could do, is buy a second pair through them, then if my main pair get damaged within the warranty period I can hand them over to Costco for two weeks. I could even buy a pair of progressives for as low as $37 from Zenni’s.

I have known about Zenni’s for at least two years, and have one friend who has tried them and was pleased with them. However, I’m a bit paranoid about getting such cheap glasses (manufactured in China, iirc) for every day wear.  I need the reassurance of having bought my glasses from someone who can verify the prescription and help me adjust them to my face properly.  If I do follow through and order from them, I’ll let you know what I think of the glasses and the company. I’ve read some unfavorable reviews about them, but it wouldn’t hurt to try them for the low price they offer.


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24 comments to Costco Eyeglass Return Policy – One of Costco’s Policies That I Don’t Like

  • Williams Learner

    Well actually the person at Costco is correct. Everyone that owns glasses should have two pair.
    Also it is usually state law that prohibits them from “just build a new pair of lenses, and snap them into the frames once they were done”.
    These places,like most, are DISPENSARY locations. Not manufacturing.

    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    William: Thank you for letting me know that you agree with the man at Costco. Now that I know about Zenni Optical, I feel that I do have the option to own more than one pair of glasses at a time, and will probably adopt this policy myself. However, without this option ($8 glasses) I do not have the money to blow on two pairs of prescription glasses. I am too frugal to do such a thing, as well, not to mention we are trying to get out of debt. Also, I still don’t understand why another pair of glasses cannot be formed for me. I understand that Costco is merely dispensing, not manufacturing. If Costco is going to “guarantee” my glasses, replacing them – frames and all – then why not just take a pair of frames off the wall and send those to the laboratory or wherever they are manufactured and put them together there. If they are only replacing the lenses, they could do the same thing, send a pair of frames and have the lenses formed, then send back the pair, snap out my lenses and put them into old frames. I guess Costco has just spoiled me the few times I’ve had to return something, and expecting me to live without my glasses for two weeks seems unreasonable and I wonder how many people are actually able to take advantage of that “guarantee”. I personally have known only two people who have afforded more than one pair of prescription glasses at a time, and one of those people filed bankruptcy because they ran up a hill of credit card debt and couldn’t afford a second pair of glasses in the first place. Thanks for your input.

  • Well, first of all, I think it’s a good thing that you’re getting a second opinion. What that guy said (if you and I both understood correctly) really makes no sense. How would the outside of your glasses lenses touch your face?!

    And how valuable is protective coating if *it’s* the thing that’s going to get messed up?!

    That said, I grew up always having a spare set of glasses (now I have a pair of contacts and a pair of glasses) just in case. But given how much you paid for that pair, I can see why you’d be reluctant. Now that you found that other place, i guess it’s moot. But if that doesn’t work out, maybe you can get a regular set of trifocals — the non-vanity kind — to have as back up.

    But most importantly, get that second opinion!

  • My “spare” pair of glasses is normally the last pair I had before the current ones! No, they’re not perfect, but they’re usually close enough to one’s current vision to be usable in the very short term. Two weeks is a little long but I’d probably try to get through it. Don’t you have your previous glasses?

    And, if you do go for Zenni glasses, I’ll be very interested to hear how that goes. I’m seriously considering them for my next pair considering that a same day place would cost me about $700 for my prescription (progressives, very near-sighted with some astigmatism) and hubby’s extended plan only pays $150. I really don’t have a spare $550 lying around. I could get the fanciest glasses possible from Zenni and the whole thing would be covered.

    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    Oddly enough, every new prescription I have gotten in the past few years has taken as long as two weeks to get accustomed to! I usually donate my old pair to Lions since they can use the frames. I would really like to try the Zenni’s. I have vision insurance at work, but it was MUCH MORE expensive to buy glasses from the private optometrist, but he wanted to do a zillion tests which are probably not even necessary at my age at that time (40). I will let you know if I try Zenni’s, I’ll try to make a point to try them so I can report back. Thanks for visiting and commenting, Shevy!

  • Grrr! I would complain to Costco’s upper management. That’s ridiculous. If you can get another outfit to claim the coating is defective, you definitely should send a written complaint to Costco’s home offices and cc it to the state optometry board and the Better Business Bureau.

    I bought one pair of bifocals there. They were OK but just OK. The thing that’s infuriating is that if your prescription is over a year old, they won’t make you a spare pair. They demand that you get another eye exam, whether you need it or not. Dunno whether this scam is a state thing or a national regulation, but it’s infuriating! I need a back-up pair of reading glasses, since the overpriced pair I bought a while back keeps falling apart, but I neither need nor can I afford to go to the doctor for a pointless eye exam. So, I’m back to wearing my contact lenses.

    Mrs. Allen Reply:

    FYI, it is not a scam that prescriptions are good for 1 year. It is a state law and they vary from different states. Remember you only have 2 eyes, it is amazing how people are always the least concerned about them until all of a sudden, they cannot see. I wear eyeglasses too. I need them to see esp when i drive. I also have a restriction in my driver’s license, so i make sure i have several pairs, bec if i lose 1 or something happens to my main, i am screwed. I also consider them as part of my accesories bec your glasses are the 1st thing that people look at in your face (your eyes).

  • Hello!

    I never have a spare pair of glasses. I do have contacts that I could go back on if needed, and I started saving the last pair of glasses for a just in case, but I went through about 15 years of my life without a spare pair.

    Also, Zenni Optical is awesome. I bought a pair of prescription sunglasses from them two years ago–something I never thought I would be able to afford–and still use them several times a week!

  • Ray

    Hmmmm…..Zenni optical is mentioned more than once, googled them and found many complaints, I smell something isn’t right with the reviews….maybe a scam?

  • anonbot

    I think the anti-reflective coating is good for about a year no matter how well you take care of it.

    Also, I believe you’re not supposed to use ammonia-based cleaners like windex as they’ll accelerate the decay.

    I always rinse my lenses under a strong stream of water before cleaning – no matter how soft the cloth you use is, if you have dirt on your lenses and you clean them, you will scratch them.

  • Haven

    The protective coating that was on my first pair of Costco glasses peeled off… BAD. The first frames i bought were cheap and the rhinestones fell out fast. I was not happy but they were a little too old to get my money back. So being a sucker for an inexpensive pair of glasses i tried again. The next person i dealt with at Costco was helpful and said that i should bypass the coating. This pair was a lot better but the frames broke in less than a year.I went back to Costco and they refunded me the dollar amount and let me pick out new frames. I am frugal myself and picked a frame with the same shape. I asked the lady to try popping in the old lenses into the new frame.She insisted that they NEVER fit. I asked her to humor me and guess what? they popped right in. I NEVER get that protective coating any more! I don’t think it lasts and I don’t like paying for something that doesn’t do its job. I have found that it all depends on who you’re dealing with. I think that some people just love to say no or be difficult like mister ” your face oil it ruining the protective coat on your glasses” Lame! I think that Costco optical has its value but you had to deal with someone who did not have your satisfaction in mind. Unfortunately there are way to many people out in the customer service industry that are the same if not worse.

    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    @Haven, thanks for sharing your story. This exactly what I wanted them to do for me. Maybe it wouldn’t always be the case, but they could at least try especially if the person can’t be without that particular pair of glasses. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

  • Wow, I can’t imagine getting rid of my glasses for two weeks. That’s a long time to be without. I wonder if there are other companies that have a similar policy? Very interesting. I tend to have a spare pair of glasses around whenever I can – so in case something like this happens, I’ll have something to fall back on.

  • Elena Byrnes

    Take this from someone who examines eyes every day and makes and sells glasses. You get what you pay for! Costco is cheap and what do you expect from cheap. You said you paid $215.00. That is very cheap considering that includes a frame and progressive lenses with a supposedly scratch coating. When it comes to glasses it’s like anything else. You can get a couch from IKEA or one from Ethan Allen but they are not the same. My suggestion is to evaluate how much how you look and see means to you. $200 dollars divided by 2 years is nothing really. If you want quality glasses that will last and look good for 2 years you can’t buy them from Costco. Go to a non-commercial eye doctor and leave the toilet paper for you Costco trip. That goes for getting your exam too.

    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    @Elena Byrnes, hi there. Thankfully, my current pair of glasses from Costco are doing great and I have not had the same problems with the coating chipping off like the last pair. I’m glad, because I consider $215 to be quite a good amount of money. I guess I’m just a cheapskate, but I have a hard time imagining spending hundreds of dollars for glasses at any time in the future. I have been very happy with my Zenni Optical prescription sunglasses which cost less than $20. Thank you for joining in the conversation and thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  • GrapeApe

    As an Optician and a Manager of an optical shop I have to apologize for your bad experiences with Costco Optical. Lens warranties varies from company to company so when you shop for your glasses I would make sure you ask about that. Some charge a large amount for the warranty and some don’t. As for buying glasses online I can not in good faith recommend the process. Personally I have ordered from Zenni and other online optical retailers and have had mixed results but mostly bad. Wearing Progressive lenses you have to make sure not only the “PD” measurement is correct but the “Seg” measurement as well. And in the times I have ordered on line those have hardly ever came in correct. As for the coatings coming off you lens, that could be caused by several things. The lens coating material could be defective or not put on the lenses correctly. The environment you live/work in can effect it. How you clean it could also be a cause not to mention the lenses themselves could be the issue. One thing is you should NEVER clean your glasses with an ammonia based cleaner like Windex. Over a short time that will start eating away at that coating and fog up your lenses. If you would like some more information on glasses I would recommend 2020.com or contact the AOA (American Optametric Association).

    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    @GrapeApe, thanks for joining in the conversation. As I mentioned to another commenter, thankfully my newest pair of glasses from Costco are doing great. I have not tried ordering progressives from Zenni for myself, as I like a narrower lens than they offer for progressives. Thanks for the advice on cleaning.

  • I actually was told by one of the clerks in the optical dept at Costco, when I complained about the undue scratches and wear on a relatively new pair of lenses, that you can expect their “protective” coating to wear off quickly! It’s cheap junk (she didn’t say that, of course, being no fool; but I’ve been wearing glasses since I was 12 years old–i.e., for 54 years), and so I have some clue to how long a decent pair of glasses should last.

    When I asked what kind of protective coating causes scratching and wear and doesn’t protect the lenses, the clerk just shrugged and said that’s just the way it was.

    The last two pairs of glasses I bought at Costco were very disappointing. I couldn’t see adequately through the progressives, and an independent optician discovered that a large part of the close-up field had been cut off when the lenses were shaped in the factory assembly line, which explained why I had to tilt my head back and peer down my nose to read.

    However, I was NOT disappointed by Costco’s return policy. They took the junk glasses back and gave me a complete refund on both pairs, more than six months after I’d bought the things.

    I then bit the bullet and paid an absolutely BREATHTAKING amount of money on the best pair of progressives I could get from an upscale independent optometrist. The result? The first pair of progressives I’ve ever owned that actually allows me to see almost normally!

    The cost was just staggering. However, I’m told the very swell frames will last through several changes of lenses and that I may never have to replace the frames–not for the rest of my life. So in the future, the cost for new progressives should only be for new lenses, about half the mind-numbing price of the whole lash-up.

    Returning two pair of prescription glasses to Costco refunded enough cash to cover about half the cost of the new, really good pair of glasses.

    The whole misadventure was horribly expensive. But ultimately, I’m glad I ponied up the extra cash to get good glasses. It’s so worth it!

    You really should have two pairs of Rx glasses, tho’ they don’t both have to be perfect. When I get new glasses, I always keep the old pair as a back-up. But since you know about Zenni, you should be able to get something adequate there to tide you through emergencies.

    IMHO, the state law requiring you to get a checkup every year is itself a scam. It’s relatively recent, at least from the perspective of a veteran of 54 years of eyeglass wars. It used to be that if you broke or badly scratched a lens or if your frames broke, the optometrist would replace it. Now, it’s “you have to go through an eye exam first.”

    I think it was engineered by industry lobbyists to force people to submit to unnecessary exams. And no, Big Brother, I don’t neglect my eyes, and I do get regular checkups…but I highly resent being forced to jump through an expensive hoop when my glasses break or (as happened once) get stolen one or two months past the deadline. The mid-priced glasses ($215 is not a dirt-cheap price for a pair of glasses) that crap out in a year is also part of a planned strategy to force eyeglass wearers to cough up lots more money than they should have to.

    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    @Funny about Money, I remember reading about your expensive glasses. Do you really think you could live with the same frames for the next thirty or forty years? In just the last few decades of wearing glasses they have changed so much. In thirty more years probably the big frames will be the rage again. :-) Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

    Funny about Money Reply:

    @Mrs. Accountability, Yeah, I think I could stick with them for a very long time. They’re the type that are almost invisible — no rim around the lenses, and so lightweight you hardly feel them on your face.

    They may not last until I tip over into the grave, but I think they probably will last long enough to pay for themselves. Before I decided to splurge, I normally paid around $300 to $325 for my glasses, which are fairly elaborate lash-ups. The lenses are around $150, so let’s say the typical pair of frames is around $150…hmmmm…they’d have to last 4 years and 9 months to pay for themselves. That’s not outside the realm of possibility — my prescription sunglasses are at least five years old, and I’ve had other pairs of Rx glasses last several years.

    So…if they survive five or six years, they’ll probably be worth what I’ve paid.

    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    @Funny about Money, I think you’re right. The rimless sort do seem to remain stylish year after year. If they last five or six years that will be a pretty good deal in the long run.

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