Zenni Optical is one of the best-known names in online eyewear and has some of the best eyeglasses online, and with good reason.
By doing all the things that good online stores do, it’s been quietly saving millions of people millions of dollars for more than 15 years.
The headquarters are in San Francisco, but costs are kept low by manufacturing and shipping from China, without middle-men adding both time and extra costs to your order.
The lack of designer options coupled with brick and mortar stores keep the costs down but may limit the appeal to some customers. Shipping can take a few weeks and there’s no “try before you buy” scheme to take the risk out of online buying.
Zenni Optical review: How much does it cost?
- Huge savings potential
- Extras push prices up fast
Year founded: 2003
Pricing starts: $6.95
Delivery time: 2-3 weeks
If it weren’t for the lack of labels, you’d be hard-pushed to criticize Zenni’s range for style. The company has thousands of fully customizable frames and lenses. Many are available in a range of colors and the selection of materials available runs from basic acetate to sophisticated stainless-steel and memory titanium numbers – these are those bendable frames you can trust your forgetful grandpa to sit on a couple of times.
Adding optional extras, however, does start to send the total skyrocketing, but that could well be true of anywhere you’d buy eyewear. Nonetheless, it’s a tribute to Zenni’s pricing that you’re surprised when you see the bill rise into three figures.
Zenni Optical review: Tailored ranges
- Huge range from sports glasses to goggles
- Can be too much
The sheer scope of Zenni Optical's choice could be intimidating if not for the incredibly useful tailored ranges. Sports glasses and goggles, a choice of different work progressives for different workplaces, selections by price, selections by the Pantone colors of the season – it’s all well signposted and there truly is something there for everyone.
Once again though the sheer range of options does begin to get in the way of ease-of-use. If you know what you want, you could be stuck for a while finding the needle in the haystack. If you’ve got time and are happy to browse you’re good to go.
Zenni Optical review: Customer service
- Hidden live chat
- No try before you buy
Despite its smart curation, the website doesn’t offer many whistles or bells, and the whole service has an own-label, discount superstore feel to it once you scratch the surface. There’s no “try before you buy” selection box, as offered by competitors.
There are online videos and tutorials on pupillary distance and replacing lenses in a variety of frame shapes, but at its heart it’s a YouTube channel pretending to be a customer service department.
There is a number to ring and a live chat widget but they’re buried and hard to find. Customer service as an afterthought is an online shopping bugbear for many and you’re left crossing your fingers that they got your order right the first time.
Zenni Optical review: Delivery times
- Two to three week wait
- Annoying for replacements
The downside of the distance your new glasses have to travel is that they take their time to arrive. Their website suggests two to three weeks is usual, which is fine as long as you’re ordering ahead. If you’ve lost a pair or your forgetful grandpa has come to stay, two to three weeks could be a deal breaker.
The lack of a convenient box of various styles to try at home makes more sense when you know how far they have to travel, but it’s still a shame. It seems petty to criticize for not having such a new and innovative feature, but these days it really does make a difference.
Zenni Optical review: Payment and pricing
- Frames from $6.95
- Clunky buying procedure
There is no doubt that the savings are real, and pretty hefty too. Frames start at just $6.95, all lenses have scratch resistant and UV protective coating without extra cost. The option for blue-light blocking, if you’re staring at a screen all day, does cost extra. Also, you can mirror your sunglasses, tint yours John Lennon pink, add polarized coatings, all at extra cost, of course.
Running through the website’s somewhat clunky buying procedure, the glasses of our choice with our lenses’ prescription came to $32.95 before we added any extras. This is a fraction of what we’d pay usually, and honestly, just as smart to look at, and through.
The result of your Zenni shop is a terrific product at an exceptional price and we can’t argue with the quality or the value. The experience might be a little basic but if you’re prepared to take the rough with the smooth, there’s a lot here to like.
Should I buy from Zenni Optical?
Zenni doesn’t massage your ego, or hold your hand. It won’t appeal to your inner rock star or press all your designer buttons. The range is huge, the choices are surprisingly stylish and the service is straightforward, if a little bare-bones.
But the price, even if you go to town on the extras (and what a host of extras there are, you lucky people), you’re still going to be saving hundreds of dollars a pair.
As long as you’re happy to wade through the endless back-alleys of the clunky website and if you’re happy to wait a couple of weeks, and do without the label, Zenni is a number-one bargain choice.