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Thread: Question regarding online sales

  1. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by m0002a View Post
    That may be if you are talking about the state where the customer resides. But if a state where the online dispenser does business from wanted to prohibit dispensing online to patients in their state or other states, they are within their rights to do so.
    Actually, they cannot prohibit dispensing to other states. Only within their own state. Again, interstate commerce.


    Optician licensing has nothing to do with it. The site I mentioned above is in Texas, which has voluntary licensing, but even if they had mandatory licensing it is not that big of a deal to get opticians licensed. The site in Texas apparently does not sell frames, and dispenses name brand stuff from Varilux/Essilor, Zeiss, Sekio, Shamir, etc, so the FDA has nothing to do with it.
    Licensing has everything to do with it. Take for example Mass. They have a very rigorous licensing process. There will never be an online dispensary in Mass because of it. They exist in Texas because it is VOLUNTARY, not mandatory.

    And the FDA regulates the items coming into the states from foreign countries, which, if you read my quote closely, you would have noticed. They don't take much notice of optical commerce in the US unless there are major health concerns (like bad saline etc.).

    The site you linked, is one of many, but one of a very few that DOES NOT sell frames.

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    Quote Originally Posted by m0002a View Post
    I doubt that state agencies would ever in a million years pass legislation to stop someone from buying online, but they might very well want to prohibit opticians from dispensing online (to customers in their state or to customers in other states). As you mentioned, there are many reasons why dispensing online is a bad idea. There may be some states that prohibit it, but apparently not in NY and TX.
    Again, states cannot prohibit their residents from selling items outside of their resident state. That violates the Interstate Commerce regulations. A state can only regulate commerce inside its borders.

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    What the states need to do is raise the fine for each occurence to a worthwhile number so that it pays for itself.

    If each occurrence involves a $5000 fine, made payable to "Treasurer, State of Michigan", then that little agency is a cash cow.

    Ohio has one (!) investigator. One. Probably costs the state about $50K/yr, all done and told. He could pay for his job and more with one bust of ACLens, here in Columbus, who dispenses to Ohioans in violation of Ohio laws.

    Why the heck do you think municipalities set up speed traps or put stop-light cameras in?

    Just one more reason each state should have opticianry licensed, so not just any clown can practice opticianry.

  4. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barry Santini View Post
    That's the point. What exactly is YOUR value added?

    If you're simply selling products online, Rx or no, I'm not sure what would differentiate you.

    B
    This is the important question.

    I know there is a lot of value added. Each of us has to answer that question, set a annual wage for himself for that value-added, and tack that on to the cost of goods sold.

    Or, in a perfect world, would itemize it out, but let's not go there in one step. But for Pete's sake, don't give away the value-added for free, so someone can buy the goods without the service and steal your services.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeAurelius View Post
    Actually, they cannot prohibit dispensing to other states. Only within their own state. Again, interstate commerce.
    I disagree. In most states the initial fitting of contact lenses must be in person. Selling contacts online does not obviate this legal requirement. Also, when I looked at the online site in Texas, there is no evidence that a patient in Texas cannot purchase lenses there (intra-state commerce).

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeAurelius View Post
    Licensing has everything to do with it. Take for example Mass. They have a very rigorous licensing process. There will never be an online dispensary in Mass because of it. They exist in Texas because it is VOLUNTARY, not mandatory.
    Are you talking about licensing of opticians, or of optical businesses? I don't think it has anything to do with it. States usually prohibit online sales of contacts unless they are initially fit first in person, regardless of whether opticians are licensed. In NY (see my post above) opticians are licensed, but it "appears" to me (from reading the quote I posted above) that online dispensing of glasses is not illegal.

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeAurelius View Post
    And the FDA regulates the items coming into the states from foreign countries, which, if you read my quote closely, you would have noticed. They don't take much notice of optical commerce in the US unless there are major health concerns (like bad saline etc.).
    I understand what you are saying about offshore online opticals, but the one I mentioned in TX is obviously not offshore and they sell name brand lenses. My suspicion is that the place in TX is an OD and/or optical store that has a separate/regular brick and mortar place of business (partly because the online address is in a virtual office location).

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    I guess one of the things I'm trying to get across is that the genie is out of the bottle, and attempting to regulate this business by passing additional laws or having states move to more regulation, is moving against the general flow of state and federal governments. There seems to be a feeling on both sides of the aisles that there are too many laws and regulations, and a movement towards deregulation, because regulations cost money. As Dr. K points out, one investigator for the entire state. I wouldn't be surprised to see that job eliminated at some point in the future.

    The right side of the aisle wants small government, less regulation. When you add regulations, you increase the size of government, you increase the amount of spending, and that is what the right side of the aisle is try to eliminate. You can't have it both ways.

    Personally, I foresee a general movement towards more internet commerce by the optical industry, where the optician now has a website, and does business online, accepting orders for existing patients, and having them come in for a fitting. This fills the 67% or so of the normal business, where you don't make a lot of money anyway (making a profit on a 1st division flat top???). This leaves the outliers on either side, the most profitable part of the business.

    The younger generation, those 40 and below, are the future and they are used to buying online. They will expect to buy their eyewear online. They get automatic refills from Walgreens and CVS online, why not eyewear. They won't understand why until you educate them. Until they are educated, they won't ever walk into your store.

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    Quote Originally Posted by m0002a View Post
    I disagree. In most states the initial fitting of contact lenses must be in person. Selling contacts online does not obviate this legal requirement. Also, when I looked at the online site in Texas, there is no evidence that a patient in Texas cannot purchase lenses there (intra-state commerce).


    Are you talking about licensing of opticians, or of optical businesses? I don't think it has anything to do with it. States usually prohibit online sales of contacts unless they are initially fit first in person, regardless of whether opticians are licensed. In NY (see my post above) opticians are licensed, but it "appears" to me (from reading the quote I posted above) that online dispensing of glasses is not illegal.


    I understand what you are saying about offshore online opticals, but the one I mentioned in TX is obviously not offshore and they sell name brand lenses. My suspicion is that the place in TX is an OD and/or optical store that has a separate/regular brick and mortar place of business (partly because the online address is in a virtual office location).
    Good lord. Are you even processing the words I'm writing????

    I am talking about purely INTERstate - between the states. INTRAstate, inside the state is regulated business. INTERstate cannot be regulated by the state.

    Licensing of opticians, dispensers, is what I'm talking about.

    Contact lens sales are a regulated INTERstate commerce, that all the states have agreed to. Spectacle lens sales are NOT regulated for INTERstate commerce.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeAurelius View Post
    Good lord. Are you even processing the words I'm writing????

    I am talking about purely INTERstate - between the states. INTRAstate, inside the state is regulated business. INTERstate cannot be regulated by the state.

    Licensing of opticians, dispensers, is what I'm talking about.
    You are just flat out wrong. The state of Texas could (if they wanted to) prohibit an optician from dispensing to persons online in another state. To believe otherwise is ridiculous. Now I do agree that the state where the customer resides (if different from the where the online optician resides) probably cannot prohibit the patient from making the purchase, but they can restrict what opticians in their state can do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by m0002a View Post
    My suspicion is that the place in TX is an OD and/or optical store that has a separate/regular brick and mortar place of business (partly because the online address is in a virtual office location).
    I am retracting my suspicion. By Googling, I found out that the owner of online website www.eyeglasslensdirect.com is Steve Villani and I cannot find any brick and mortar store or practice associated with him.

  10. #35
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    Just to take the interstate commerce part out of the discussion, does anyone know of a state that prohibits online Rx eyeglass lens dispensing to patients in the same state as the dispenser? Presumably, we would all agree that a state "could" require (if they wanted to) that at least the fitting take place in a face-to-face setting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeAurelius View Post
    I guess one of the things I'm trying to get across is that the genie is out of the bottle, and attempting to regulate this business by passing additional laws or having states move to more regulation, is moving against the general flow of state and federal governments. There seems to be a feeling on both sides of the aisles that there are too many laws and regulations, and a movement towards deregulation, because regulations cost money. As Dr. K points out, one investigator for the entire state. I wouldn't be surprised to see that job eliminated at some point in the future.

    The right side of the aisle wants small government, less regulation. When you add regulations, you increase the size of government, you increase the amount of spending, and that is what the right side of the aisle is try to eliminate. You can't have it both ways.

    Personally, I foresee a general movement towards more internet commerce by the optical industry, where the optician now has a website, and does business online, accepting orders for existing patients, and having them come in for a fitting. This fills the 67% or so of the normal business, where you don't make a lot of money anyway (making a profit on a 1st division flat top???). This leaves the outliers on either side, the most profitable part of the business.

    The younger generation, those 40 and below, are the future and they are used to buying online. They will expect to buy their eyewear online. They get automatic refills from Walgreens and CVS online, why not eyewear. They won't understand why until you educate them. Until they are educated, they won't ever walk into your store.
    I gotta give it to you, Mike. That's a pretty convincing outlook.

  12. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by drk View Post
    I gotta give it to you, Mike. That's a pretty convincing outlook.
    I think it depends on what they are buying. If someone buys a frame and high-end progressive lens for $700+, and it doesn't work well because the frame was not fitted well, and/or the seg height was not determined properly, etc, then they are going to be an extremely unhappy customer no matter how much they saved by purchasing online.
    Last edited by m0002a; 03-18-2014 at 10:18 PM.

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    Wow, you all have given out a lot of information to think about. Thank you so much for your responses.

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    Quote Originally Posted by m0002a View Post
    You are just flat out wrong. The state of Texas could (if they wanted to) prohibit an optician from dispensing to persons online in another state. To believe otherwise is ridiculous. Now I do agree that the state where the customer resides (if different from the where the online optician resides) probably cannot prohibit the patient from making the purchase, but they can restrict what opticians in their state can do.
    How am I wrong? Please cite examples where I am wrong.

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    Quote Originally Posted by drk View Post
    I gotta give it to you, Mike. That's a pretty convincing outlook.
    Thanks. It has been one that has been evolving over the past couple of years, watching the debates here and listening to the politicians. I can't say that I'm totally happy about it, I believe in certain areas the cuts have been too far, but those cuts can be reinstated if there is a finding of public harm. But as has been pointed out from others much more educated than me, where are the dead, dying, or injured people from a wrong seg height? That's what it takes to get any investigative body interested: blood and guts. (That may be hyperbole, but I hope you get my point.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeAurelius View Post

    How do you legally stop someone from buying online, and why would you want to? If you are educating your patients, they won't buy online anyway. If you are a good provider with happy patients, they won't go online.
    Beg to differ with you here Mike. Educate your patients all you want and everyone of them could, get the point so to say. But the consumer is lazy. They want convince. If that was not so then fast food joints would not of been so successful. Why do you think Wal-Mart became so successfully with Optical. It is convenient with all the other shopping people want to do. And best of all its CHEAP.
    They want to sit at home at 2AM and order contacts and glasses while wearing their Pj's and have it shipped directly to their door step so they can go lay on the beach tomorrow.
    There are a few that want to be "entertained" by coming to your office. Those will be the ones with a complicated Rx or those that are retired and are just looking to get out of the house.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeAurelius View Post

    What is important for a lot of patients is the "belief" that the optician is ripping people off with the prices of spectacles. They aren't stupid. They can see that one place sells glasses for $69 and another place sells the exact same pair for $375. Who do you think they will buy from?

    It isn't donation money, its the money that the patient has to pay.

    Perfect statement, but mostly valid in the optical profession.

    Buying on line is here to stay and nobody can do anything against it. However buying on line can be done by clicking a button that saya "Buy Now", or going on the phone and order the item you want or get some more information on the subject by e-mail.

    There are millions of websites, available in every language and are actually advertising, done in magazines, the newpapers or delieverd to mailboxes by hand in the old days not too long ago.

    Websites can be changed or updated at a moments notice. If they rank good and are listed on many search engines they can be easily found on the central point GOOGLE, and then on to the the site wanted.

    The optical is one area where the selling price difference is one of the largest on the market between online sellers and conventional opticians, and that draws the consumer the most. You will not be able to change the laws or regulations because you will not find the support for it.
    The economy is weak and everybody is out to save wherever they can.

    Online sellers are here to stay and opticians better find ways ti live with it. I don't worry about places like "Barry Santini or Craig" who are serving a clientele with quality taste and the money they dont have to care about.

    You should find a solution you can live with what is happening, instead of hoping somebody in Government will start influencing others to vote for the opticians protection and kill the commercial internet. It will not happen. This is a world wide issue not just the USA and Canada.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CCGREEN View Post
    Beg to differ with you here Mike. Educate your patients all you want and everyone of them could, get the point so to say. But the consumer is lazy. They want convince. If that was not so then fast food joints would not of been so successful. Why do you think Wal-Mart became so successfully with Optical. It is convenient with all the other shopping people want to do. And best of all its CHEAP.
    They want to sit at home at 2AM and order contacts and glasses while wearing their Pj's and have it shipped directly to their door step so they can go lay on the beach tomorrow.
    There are a few that want to be "entertained" by coming to your office. Those will be the ones with a complicated Rx or those that are retired and are just looking to get out of the house.
    Wow...I wouldn't want to be one of your patients with an attitude like that. Maybe its time to retire or find a different career?

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    Attitude has nothing to do with it Mike. Its called looking fact straight in the eye and calling it for what it is regardless of ones personal opinion.

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    I've never needed a reservation to get fast food, but I do need one at all the better restaurants around me, they're always busy. I also will drop about 5-6 time the money at these than I do at a Mickey D's. I think it's way more about price than convenience for the e-glasses buyer (though convenience is a factor for some.) I've had plenty of clients over the years try the Mickey Optical's around me only to return, and return for good, they've experienced what attempting to buy on the cheap results in...Some change left in their pocket only to have less satisfaction and performance with the product.

    Net sellers still comprise an extremely small percentage of the overall market. They are not going away, but they are not going to shut anybody's doors any time soon either. We (our offices) are still experiencing tremendous growth. Enough for us to justify opening two more locations this year. Our growth has come despite having every kind of independent to corporate competition all around us. We have not taken optical ins. in the past and have no intentions of accepting it in the future.


    Products, services and knowledge with *fair* pricing will trump your competition whether it's e-based or B&M based. You can't win them all. You may loose a sale (the battle) but you will win the war. I love it when I can work this question into a conversation.. "What's the most expensive eye wear? One's that don't work!" Figure out *what* your location is all about, then excel at *that*. Have confidence in your ability to deliver excellence (as Barry would say) knowing that if a client goes elsewhere they will *see* the difference. Then they can justify any price differential between you and "cheap".

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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeAurelius View Post
    How am I wrong? Please cite examples where I am wrong.
    I can't prove a negative. But as I suggested earlier, let's take the inter-state issue out of this. There are states that apparently do not prohibit online sales of Rx eyeglasses intra-state (See my quote from NY state above). For all I know, all states allow it (but I don't know that for sure). Your claim is that states are prohibited from restricting online sales because of inter-state commerce clause, but even if you are right, that does not explain why they don't prohibit intra-state online sales.

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    I would suggest if you live in a licensed state file a complaint with your AG. If anything will be done of it, it would be through their office. (The worse they can do is nothing....Or, change the laws distinctly NOT in your favor.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by optical24/7 View Post
    I would suggest if you live in a licensed state file a complaint with your AG. If anything will be done of it, it would be through their office. (The worse they can do is nothing....Or, change the laws distinctly NOT in your favor.)
    I guess I am missing something. What does licensing have to do with it? What if a licensed optician dispenses online (intra-state or inter-state). There may be rules against dispensing online (or maybe not), but it would seem to me that the issue of optician licensing is a different issue.

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    Because some licensed states have specific laws on Rx eye wear delivery. i.e. a licensed optician has to be present or do the final fit.


    In Texas (non-licensed) a monkey can dispense (and maybe better than some I've seen) There is no law on the books here on whom (or what) can dispense or sell Rx eye wear. The same as about 28 other states. I could call our AG but they would take no action because no laws are being broken (here).

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    Easy now fellas. Be sure you differentiate between a "State Statue" aka "Law" and a "Board Rule".
    A state statue aka law means that the state can charge and prosecute you with a crime.
    Board Rule means that a governing state body may spank you for breaking one of their rules. But the state cannot charge you with a crime. Sounds like some are now starting to try and split hairs here.

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