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Thread: Question regarding online sales

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    Question regarding online sales

    I apologize if this has already been addressed. I have tried to research the forum for answer but I haven't found a thread that could really answer my question. I am wondering how online eyewear companies are able to sell prescription eyewear to states that require dispensing by a registered (NH) or a licensed (MA) optician? The reason I ask is because you can't buy ammunition online in MA, as soon as you put the MA zip code in it will decline your order (because of the gun laws in MA) but you are able to buy ammunition online in NH with a NH zip code because the laws are more lenient . I know these are different products, however, it's the only example I can use to explain what I'm asking. I mean prescription eyewear is just that a prescription and some states are more strict than others with who is able to dispense. Thank you in advance :-)

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    Good question, I await the answer to that as well...

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    The laws about purchasing goods online in another state are a bit complicated. Generally speaking online sales are exempt from state sales tax if the online company does not have any store, office, warehouse, or "affiliate" presence in the state where the customer resides. The US Supreme Court has ruled on multiple occasions that a state cannot force a retailer to collect sales tax unless the online retailer has a physical presence in that state (where the goods are shipped to). So in a similar way, maybe the online retailer may be exempt from optical dispensing licensing laws of the state where the customer resides, so long as the online optical is licensed in the state where the online store physically resides. Keep in mind that this is just a theory I am putting forward for a possible explanation, and I have no specific legal knowledge about this situation.

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    Are there actually some licenced states that allow licensed optictian/optometrist to sell Rx eyeglasses online.

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    Quote Originally Posted by coupe View Post
    Are there actually some licenced states that allow licensed optictian/optometrist to sell Rx eyeglasses online.
    This site operates out of Texas: http://www.eyeglasslensdirect.com/ and I suspect there are others.

    I have no idea if they are breaking any laws or regulations for the state of Texas or whether it is permitted.

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    Optical onliners operate the sdame way as any other optical wholesale lab.

    A customer orders, gives the Rx on the phone and it is made, shipped and paid. The only way to get controls would be to licence the optical labs...........................and that will never happen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Ryser View Post
    Optical onliners operate the sdame way as any other optical wholesale lab.

    A customer orders, gives the Rx on the phone and it is made, shipped and paid. The only way to get controls would be to licence the optical labs...........................and that will never happen.
    I believe that the site in Texas (link provided in my post above) is operated by an OD, not a lab.

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    Interesting...thank you all for your input

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Ryser View Post
    Optical onliners operate the sdame way as any other optical wholesale lab.

    A customer orders, gives the Rx on the phone and it is made, shipped and paid. The only way to get controls would be to licence the optical labs...........................and that will never happen.
    Inaccurate. Wholesale labs don't go direct to patient.

    Onliners deliberately flout existing state dispensing laws and nobody cares enough to enforce it. It's just not there, yet.

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    Oh ok, drk, I see. That makes sense. I just couldn't understand how they were getting around that. Maybe one day it will get there. Thanks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by drk View Post
    Onliners deliberately flout existing state dispensing laws and nobody cares enough to enforce it. It's just not there, yet.
    I am not an expert in this area, but I googled and found this information about the state of New York that "suggests" that it is legal (just ill-advised).
    Can I buy my prescription eyeglasses online?
    New York State law requires prescription eyewear to be fitted and dispensed in person by a licensed practitioner (ophthalmic dispenser/optician, optometrist, ophthalmologist). Although any number of websites offer the sale of eyewear, the consumer must be aware of a number of things. Prescription eyeglasses are highly customized. There are numerous measurements that go into the fitting and fabrication that cannot be conveyed over the phone or internet. These include, but are not limited to: the shape of your nose and ears, the width of your face and the overall size of your head. Measurements such as these, and bifocal or multifocal height, can only be measured when you are face to face with a dispenser wearing the eyeglass frames you are planning to purchase.

    In addition, the form, thickness, and material that your prescription lenses are made of should be discussed with your eyecare professional. A bargain that may be advertised online may result in a pair of glasses being heavier than necessary, or cause eye fatigue or headache. New Yorkers are advised to be wise consumers and consult their eyecare professional.

    I could not find any information about Texas, but optician licensing in that state is voluntary, so it may not be illegal to dispense online in Texas.

    Obviously, each state has their own laws on these matters.

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    Redhot Jumper Inaccurate. Wholesale labs don't go direct to patient. ............................

    Quote Originally Posted by drk View Post

    Inaccurate. Wholesale labs don't go direct to patient.

    Correction: What I was saying was, that they work the same way as a wholesale lab. They get the information and make the glasses. I have had a lab for 20 years and never needed any license to operate, but at that time we sold only to opticians and optometrists, but probably could have sold to anybody. We where never questioned on it.

    How about "E"in the near future decentralizing their lab work for their online outlets and have the many or all of their labs making them close by the online receipient, to save transport cost ? They have the organization right in place. That might be your next surprise.

    Order today and get them tomorrow, in most locations.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Ryser View Post
    Correction: What I was saying was, that they work the same way as a wholesale lab. They get the information and make the glasses. I have had a lab for 20 years and never needed any license to operate, but at that time we sold only to opticians and optometrists, but probably could have sold to anybody. We where never questioned on it.

    How about "E"in the near future decentralizing their lab work for their online outlets and have the many or all of their labs making them close by the online receipient, to save transport cost ? They have the organization right in place. That might be your next surprise.

    Order today and get them tomorrow, in most locations.
    As I mentioned above, the website http://www.eyeglasslensdirect.com is located in Texas (suburb of Houston) and does not appear to be run by a lab. It appears to be run by an OD or an optician, operating out of a virtual office location (http://www.davincivirtual.com/loc/us...s/facility-912) called Greatwood Business Center (the building says Tower Executive Suites). So if they have a brick and motar store, it is somewhere else. They have a fairly wide variety of lens brands (Essilor/Varilux, Zeiss, Seiko, Shamir).

    From looking at the website, it appears they do not sell frames, so the frames must be sent to the on-line retailer, and they ship them back to patient with lenses installed. I doubt that shipping cost is a factor, since they are likely shipped at fixed cost via US Postal Service.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Ryser View Post
    We where never questioned on it.
    Unfortunately, in a society that wants to govern itself instead of being a police state, self-governing people are expected to self-govern and obey the law. Yes, you could have been criminal and broke the law and gotten away with it. You could also probably rob an old lady and get away with it as well.

    How about "E"in the near future decentralizing their lab work for their online outlets and have the many or all of their labs making them close by the online receipient, to save transport cost ? They have the organization right in place. That might be your next surprise.

    Order today and get them tomorrow, in most locations.
    With essilor and VSP possibly bankrupting most smaller, independent labs, I wouldn't be suprised if all that unused capacity didn't go to some use. Hey, why outsource to Vietnam when you have a starving American you can pay minimum wage to? That's the global economy's end game, anyway.

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    Quote Originally Posted by m0002a View Post
    I am not an expert in this area, but I googled and found this information about the state of New York that "suggests" that it is legal (just ill-advised).
    Can I buy my prescription eyeglasses online?
    New York State law requires prescription eyewear to be fitted and dispensed in person by a licensed practitioner (ophthalmic dispenser/optician, optometrist, ophthalmologist). Although any number of websites offer the sale of eyewear, the consumer must be aware of a number of things. Prescription eyeglasses are highly customized. There are numerous measurements that go into the fitting and fabrication that cannot be conveyed over the phone or internet. These include, but are not limited to: the shape of your nose and ears, the width of your face and the overall size of your head. Measurements such as these, and bifocal or multifocal height, can only be measured when you are face to face with a dispenser wearing the eyeglass frames you are planning to purchase.

    In addition, the form, thickness, and material that your prescription lenses are made of should be discussed with your eyecare professional. A bargain that may be advertised online may result in a pair of glasses being heavier than necessary, or cause eye fatigue or headache. New Yorkers are advised to be wise consumers and consult their eyecare professional.

    I could not find any information about Texas, but optician licensing in that state is voluntary, so it may not be illegal to dispense online in Texas.

    Obviously, each state has their own laws on these matters.
    Each state indeed has their own laws. The one I'm familiar with regulates only intrastate glasses dispensing, and has no jurisdiction across state lines. That's another loophole.

    Simply put, the laws aren't strong enough, and those that are on the books are not properly enforced, nor are violations properly prosecuted.

    Nobody cares.

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    Quote Originally Posted by drk View Post
    Each state indeed has their own laws. The one I'm familiar with regulates only intrastate glasses dispensing, and has no jurisdiction across state lines. That's another loophole.
    Does that mean you know of a state that prohibits online sales of Rx glasses to patients in-state? In other words, that requires that a patient be fitted for glasses in-person instead of on-phone or on-line (obviously not talking about contacts). Just curious.

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    Basically, it comes down to this:

    Interstate commerce (all of it) is regulated by the gummit (Commerce Department). One state CANNOT force the businesses of other states to conform to their regulations (except in very specific circumstances, as in the aforementioned ammunition).

    Most, if not all, the onliners are in states where there is no licensing required of dispensers, or, in some cases, in a foreign country. In those latter cases, the FDA can (and has) step in and inspect the merchandise to ensure that it conforms to its regulations (essentially ANSI Z80). Last year or the year before, the FDA held and refused entry to several large lots of spectacle Rx's that were coming in from labs in China because they did not have proper documentation of safety standards (impact testing etc), as well as improper import documentation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by m0002a View Post
    Does that mean you know of a state that prohibits online sales of Rx glasses to patients in-state? In other words, that requires that a patient be fitted for glasses in-person instead of on-phone or on-line (obviously not talking about contacts). Just curious.
    There might be, but how the heck would that state enforce such a law? Since it is required that the prescription be given to the patient, this frees the patient to purchase spectacles from wherever he or she wants to.

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    Now I like what Safari said about the gun laws and zip codes in MA. Key in the zip and it kicks out the order.
    I'm in Florida, not allowed to dispense without a license AND the optical establishment is supposed to have a permit.
    What a simple way to fix the issue. Use the zip code......gezzzzzzzz I'm all about that. I'm not talking about just glasses, contacts also. Those who live in FL want to order on line, guess your going to have to move to AL or get a AL mail box somehow. Then the drive would not be cost effective.

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    So what your saying Mike its all about where the priority's are for the ones that do the enforcing. It becomes important to them when the donations get large enough. Ahhhhhhh all about politics again isn't it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CCGREEN View Post
    So what your saying Mike its all about where the priority's are for the ones that do the enforcing. It becomes important to them when the donations get large enough. Ahhhhhhh all about politics again isn't it.
    Who are they going to pay to go door to door asking if someone buys glasses online? Sounds like invasion of privacy to me.

    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.

    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeAurelius View Post
    There might be, but how the heck would that state enforce such a law? Since it is required that the prescription be given to the patient, this frees the patient to purchase spectacles from wherever he or she wants to.
    There are laws in most states I know of that require initial fitting of contact lenses only by direct on-site interaction with the patient. How do they enforce those laws? How do they enforce any regulations? One way would be that someone could refer violations to the state regulatory agencies if it were in fact illegal (to dispense Rx glasses online). I don't know if there are any states where it is illegal, but apparently not illegal in NY per my post above. I suspect that if it were illegal to dispense online, lots of brick and mortar opticals would file a complaint with the state agencies.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeAurelius View Post
    Interstate commerce (all of it) is regulated by the gummit (Commerce Department). One state CANNOT force the businesses of other states to conform to their regulations (except in very specific circumstances, as in the aforementioned ammunition).
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeAurelius View Post
    Most, if not all, the onliners are in states where there is no licensing required of dispensers, or, in some cases, in a foreign country. In those latter cases, the FDA can (and has) step in and inspect the merchandise to ensure that it conforms to its regulations (essentially ANSI Z80). Last year or the year before, the FDA held and refused entry to several large lots of spectacle Rx's that were coming in from labs in China because they did not have proper documentation of safety standards (impact testing etc), as well as improper import documentation.
    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.

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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?
    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

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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?
    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.

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