Sterling Optical / No Refund Policy
I walked into the store on Friday 4/3/09, and purchased a pair of custom lenses and frames at 12 noon. I was told the lenses would not arrive for at least a week, and that the frames were on backorder until May. I paid on my debit card, over $500. At no time was I alerted that there was a No Refund policy, and my receipt was folded and put in a blue store folder that I did not think to inspect because I was too trusting and the receptionist was pleasant. I went home, found out there had been a shooting in Binghamton (a stunning experience for all Binghamton inhabitants like myself, especially a college student), and thought about my purchase. I realized I really didn't need new glasses so I called the store, at 10 am (opening time), and asked to cancel my previous order and get a full refund. I was told several things by the store manager--1. Since my receipt said "no refund, " I could not get one. 2. That the order had been processed that Friday and that it was out of their hands, that their manufacturers had already processed it through their computers, 3. That I had "insisted" I didn't mind waiting until May for the glasses and how was it their fault that I had ordered back-ordered frames, and 4. That I could be fitted with a temporary pair of glasses in similar frames but a larger size until my glasses came in.
I was aghast and tried to explain that I was trying to cancel an order that while it might have been processed electronically, could be not be assembled within the space of 24 hours, and that for them to call their manufacturers and cancel that order, should be no problem at all. As for the back-ordered frames, it is easier to cancel something that has not even been made yet, then it is to wait until the product is produced, de-valuing over time, and will likely require a re-shelving fee if deemed undesirable. But this apparently escaped the manager's intellect, she said they could not do that (and keep in mind this is happening on a Satuday), nor could I be given the numbers of their manufacturers so I could not do it myself. Secondly, I was offered store credit, which I did not want because I had changed my mind completely about getting glasses. I see no reason why I should have to take a substitute for a product that I am cancelling. There is no customer satisfaction to be had in this scenario is what I tried to impress upon them. Even I can concede how it would have been different had I left the store with a pair of temporary frames, or purchased frames that they could then say I de-valued through handling, or even sat for an eye exam. But I did not of these things.
I called back that Saturday to tell them my official wishes and stance on the matter was that I had requested the order be canceled. I also said I did not want store credit, but that I would argue that issue separately with their corporate offices. The Store Manager's cheery disposition implied she understood that I was canceling the original order, and would be fighting their "store credit" statute. We hung up. I had walked out of the store with nothing but their promise to call me when my glasses were ready, which would likely take 2 if not 3 weeks. Time is not the issue for the glasses, the fact that I DO NOT want them or any product from Sterling Optical, and tried to tell them so in the space of 24 hours before they wasted their valuable money trying fulfill my wishes, that is my problem.
I contacted their corporate office, to ask for assistance since I felt I was in the right. The lady told me she had to consult with the overseer of their corporate offices and she sent me an email later that afternoon saying that she had spoken to the store manager who had said, that I HAD TOLD HER I LIKED THE FRAMES AND WANTED TO WAIT FOR THEM. This is a lie, or else the Store Manager grossly misunderstood my telling her three times, "I want the order canceled and I do not want the frames or the lenses! Please cancel them before they can be made!" I emailed the corporate representative back stating my case again, informing her that there was a miscommunication in the form of a lie on behalf of beloved store manager, and that I would be mailing both parties a letter stating my grievances, filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, the NY State Consumer Protection Department, and considering paperwork for small claims court. I am a college student and $500 is no small thing. They are holding my money hostage, intentionally disregarding wishes and producing a product that is unnecessary to make, and then going to try and force me to accept it.
I think their behavior is reprehensible and shady. Had I taken a product from them, custom or not, I could understand how I would be more in the wrong. But I tried to save them from a zero-sum game, and now, since I believe they have continued to process the order against my wishes, I will have to find the item in question faulty. It would be irresponsible, I feel, to give my $500 store credit to a friend or family member, since I have no guarantee about the quality of customer service or product goods from this store. And they would likewise have little recourse in their decisions, decisions that SHOULD be allowed to change within the space of a day. I would love any advice.
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