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TOPIC: Deposit Refunds

DEPOSIT REFUND 01 Jan 2014 18:44 #481

  • Ben S
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After an exceptionally difficult year I'd pretty much hit rock bottom so decided to do something that would change my life forever,.

On the 20th of December, armed with enthusiasm and the financial resources to pay for it (although not the right state of mind) I went into the Cambridge branch of Optical Express to have my free consultation for laser eye surgery

Completing the pre-consultation form I noted that I suffered with clinical depression, ticking the box stating it was current. After 'checking' the forms, the branch manager (Marcus) led me into the consult rooms and performed tests on my eyes. No mention of my depression made at this point.

I was delighted when the optometrist told me I was a perfect candidate for lasik surgery as I thought I would have issues due to my having blepharitis.

Full of enthusiasm, with my eyes dilated and blurry, I was pressured into the first surgery date available. I was offered no finance options because the moment I said I had money in my account to pay for it I was told this was a better option so I paid £2,795 for iLasik surgery on my VISA debit card. I wasn't even told I could just leave a deposit.

I was assured that if I had any questions or wanted to change my mind it would not be a problem. I was given a pack consisting of a 6 page document and information which I was unable to read with blurry dilated eyes. I was told to “Enjoy your Christmas” and to “not worry about reading the documentation or signing it until a few days before the surgery”.

At this point I was really excited thinking this would have a positive impact on my life after a particularly difficult time, but my excitement quickly turned to confusion when the branch manager contacted me a few days later telling me that I needed a consent form signing by my GP as they'd noticed on the pre consultation form that I suffer from depression.

This started alarm bells ringing as it had not been flagged up during the consultation or when the manager checked the forms – but more importantly, they'd allowed me to pay for the surgery without getting it cleared by their head office or my GP first.

I then called the clinic and asked to have LASEK instead of LASIK as I was fearful of possible complications I'd read about with the flap, but was assured it would “heal perfectly”. I thought the optometrist should know better than any stories I read on the internet my gut instinct told me to switch to LASEK, and doing so calmed my frayed nerves somewhat.

When I went to OE to pick up the GP's consent form the branch manager asked whether I wanted to see the optometrist as I was obviously worried. I spoke to the optometrist for about 15 minutes, probing him with questions. He looked at my eyes again, noticed I had dry eyes and indeed did suffer with blepharitis. When I asked whether this would cause a problem with the surgery or after he said it would not. By then I was more nervous than ever due to the blepharitis being missed the first time and went home with my head in a daze. Convinced that something was amiss I immediately started researching Optical Express online.

I then stumbled upon this site and read that for LASEK Optical Express surgeons use a chemical called Mitomycin C (MMC), used to treat cancer patients and the long term effects on eyes unknown. It has been suggested that MMC can cause corneal melts and other problems. I called the branch and asked which chemicals were used. The guy working on the counter (Nick) assured me they only used ethanol (pure alcohol) and asked if I had any further questions. I then specifically asked about Mitomycin C when he immediately changed his tune and said they use that too but only a very small dosage. I asked whether it was possible not to use this chemical and he said it was at the discretion of the surgeon but more than likely not.

Now with very serious concerns I called the branch again to ask about cancelling or postponing the surgery but was told that if I did this I would lose my £2785 payment as they have a no refund policy after 72hrs. I was shocked as I was not told of this when I paid.

I was misled and mis-sold the surgery by Marcus (the branch manager) who took my money despite my suffering from depression and without prior consent from my GP.

I called the Cambridge OE branch asking whether surgery could go ahead without my doctors consent, to which Nick told me it was at the discretion of the surgeon but more than likely yes.

This means Optical Express are willing to override a GP's advice to risk the health of their patients just for the sake of money and statistics.

I went to my GP the following day and we discussed laser eye surgery. As I only had a few days to get the consent form signed with it Christmas and New Year approaching, he said I should really consider whether the risks are worth it.

I returned the following day and we had a lengthy discussion which he summarised by saying that with my depression, dependency on good vision for my job, personal problems and other health issues, I was unfit for surgery and proceeded to write a letter stating such.

I have been in touch with OE head office who have been particularly unhelpful, refusing to refund my money until I can provide this letter. I am able to do so, but I am sickened that OE offer such a poor ethical conduct, deliberately mislead their customers, take payment without informed consent from other medical professionals and are only interested in as much profit as they can make at the risk and well being of completely unsuitable candidates.

Optical Express took my money despite my not having signing a contract, despite my suffering from a blatant contraindicator for laser eye surgery, despite my suffering from depression, despite a form stating I did not receive my GP's consent.

If OE refuses to refund my payment, I will certainly be taking them to the small claims court to recover my money.

DEPOSIT REFUND RECEIVED! 30 Dec 2013 20:09 #482

  • Richard Shields
  • Richard Shields's Avatar
A brief update following my previous post.

I contacted OE today regarding my £300 refund and within minutes they refunded it back to my credit card with no mention of a 28 day wait and I was informed the credit would show on my card within three days depending on which card company I use.

Sasha, I would like to thank you so much for all your help and advice and the numerous calls I received from you.

I am sure that I would have had a hard battle receiving any refund without your help.

I wish for a speedy resolution to anyone awaiting a refund or other resolution regarding eye surgery complications.

I will continue to watch this site and wish you all the best in your campaign against OE and other companies.

Regards,
Richard

Glasgow Renfield Street Clinic agreed refund!! 24 Dec 2013 16:35 #483

  • Richard Shields
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This afternoon I received a telephone call from Vicki at Optical Express. She has informed me that after my telephone conversation with Jamie on 13/12/13, they have reviewed my file and decided that I am in fact entitled to a full refund in this case.

I have been advised that someone from the refund/banking department will be in touch with me by next week and my Visa Card will be refunded in full to the sum of £300. This may take up to 28 days to complete.

I have also contacted my Visa Card Company to update them with the outcome and I have been informed that I should not have to wait 28 days for a refund, this should be processed on the same day.

I will take this matter up directly with Optical Express on Friday 27th December 2013 and post same day to update you with the result of my telephone call.

I am delighted with the outcome and I would like to thank Sasha so much for her help and assistance.

Kind Regards

Richard.

Merry Christmas & Best Wishes to you all for 2014.

Optical Express Cheltenham 21 Dec 2013 23:55 #484

  • Claire Foley
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If all you have lost is a deposit then please take some comfort in that you have had a blessed escape. I have recently had RLE and am absolutely devastated with the results. My eyesight has been impaired so badly that I am afraid to drive my car! OE have been an absolute disgrace in their follow up to my procedure.

Optical Express Cheltenham 21 Dec 2013 14:14 #485

  • Anna
  • Anna's Avatar
After reading correspondence on the internet concerning people who have not been able to get their deposits back from Optical Express I saw that this site has managed to help some of these people.

I have a similar problem. On 25 July, I paid Optical Express Cheltenham a deposit of £500 for multi-focal lenses to be inserted into my eyes (refractive lens exchange). I had originally gone in for advice on Lasik surgery, but had been told that this could only correct my long distance sight, hence they advised the multi-focal lenses.

They then sent me to their Bristol branch at Cabot Circus, who told me that my eyes were not suitable for multi-focal lenses, as my pupils were too large. They advised single focal lenses to be inserted into my eyes instead.

Back in Cheltenham, I was given contact lenses by Optical Express that were designed to show me the effect the surgery would achieve. My sight with the contact lenses was a disaster, so I said I didn't want to go ahead with the surgery. I asked for my deposit back, and followed this up with a letter dated 23 November 2013.

Optical Express are determined not to pay my deposit back. They are now arguing that they have just launched brand new multi-focal lenses that would be suitable for my eyes, because they can cope with large pupils. I said that I wasn't interested because I had lost confidence in the company, because they seemed to change their story to suit their purpose. However, they are trying to argue that because these new lenses are now available (apparently only from this month, which I find difficult to believe) I am not entitled to a refund of my deposit.

Today I contacted my bank to ask them to refund my credit card with the amount, but they said that because it was more than 120 days since the payment was originally taken, they couldn't help unless I could prove in writing that Optical Express are unable to provide me with the service I wanted. They will not provide such a letter, because they want me to take their new treatment.

Today, I consulted an eminent ophthalmic surgeon about my eyes and he said that the treatment being proposed by Optical Express was totally inappropriate for me and advised me to avoid them at all costs.

Please could you advise me what I can do? Optical Express are still calling me regularly trying to coerce me into taking their treatment. I would be prepared to go to the small claims court if necessary, but would much prefer to resolve it before then if at all possible.

I really hope you can help.

Many thanks

Anna

Glasgow Renfield Street Clinic 20 Dec 2013 15:57 #486

  • Richard Shields
  • Richard Shields's Avatar
Considering laser eye surgery, on Saturday 30th November 2013, I attended a free consultation at the Optical Express clinic in Renfield Street Glasgow accompanied by my wife.

I was greeted by Kate, who gave me a form to complete regarding my health and any medication, and then she performed some eye tests. (Kate is a sales adviser not an optometrist.)

Then I saw the optometrist Jill who performed a more thorough eye examination applying eye drops in both eyes, causing slight stinging and blurred vision.

I was told this was to dilate the pupils and relax the muscles and not to drive for at least 6-8 hours, that the stinging and blurred vision with the pupils returning to their normal size could take up to 24 hours.

I was then advised that because I'm longsighted I was unsuitable for laser surgery, but was suitable for Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) Surgery. I was shown a short video and RLE surgery was explained to be the same as having cataracts removed.

After the consultation my wife and I were led to a counselling room and met again by Kate who immediately asked what dates would be suitable should I wish to proceed with surgery. Although I was still undecided she advised I could be fitted in as early as 6th January 2014 for the first eye and the 13th January 2014 for the second.

When I agreed the dates might be suitable Kate then went on to explain the cost of the surgery. Initially I was told the surgery would be £1995.00 for each eye, total cost £3990.00. I was also informed that the dates might be subject to change but if they did not suit me I could make changes to them.

I was then offered a 10% corporate discount (Police Scotland Employee) with a further small incentive totaling £700.00 leaving a balance of £3290.00

Kate told me that to secure the £700 incentive, apparently only available for that day, I was required to pay a deposit of £500.00.

She then went on to tell me I could finance the surgery with 10 months interest free credit, or 24/36/48 months credit at 11.5% APR. Unsure if I could afford to take on the payments I said I'd like to make enquiries into obtaining my own finance. I was told I would still be required to pay the £500 deposit to secure the incentive.

Knowing I did not have £500 in my current account, I asked if I could pay £300 on my credit card and this was accepted.

I then asked that if I was unable to obtain finance or if I changed my mind would I be able to obtain a full refund of my deposit and told I could. With this in mind I agreed to pay the £300 deposit and my card was debited there and then.

I was informed the surgery would take place at the Eye Care Centre in Giffnock and would be carried out by Dr David Teenan.

I was then issued with an information pack containing two 6 page forms and told both should be read and signed at each section prior to returning to the Renfield Street Branch for a Consent Examination booked for 13th December 2013.

There were three other leaflets in the pack "Preparing for your Consent Appointment", "The day of your Procedure" and "What to expect after your RLE Procedure".

When these forms and the pack were handed to me, I was told that a separate form was required for each surgery, they were not read out to me and due to the extreme blurred vision thanks to the eye drops I was unable to even see what the forms were.

The following day I began to research Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) Surgery, as I had only initially researched Laser eye surgery. There were many reviews with both good and bad experiences.

Over the next few days, I made enquiries into my finances and decided that by taking on potentially 48 monthly payments of £77.16 I would be putting my self through financial hardship and as a result of this on 10th December 2013, I telephoned Optical Express and informed them that I did not wish to attend the Consent Appointment and that I would require to have my deposit refunded.

On Thursday 12th December 2013, I was contacted by Dianne Yeaman who informed me that I could not have my deposit refunded as I only had 24 hours from paying the deposit to cancelling any booking.

I was totally shocked and told Dianne I was never informed of this. She replied that the terms and conditions within the pack clearly state there is a 24 hours deadline in which to cancel any booking and receive a deposit refund, after which no refund would be available.

I was further told that, even though I had not signed any forms or attended the Consent appointment, just by receiving the forms and paying a deposit I was bound by the terms and conditions.

I explained that Kate had never told me of a 24 hour cooling off period and that in fact I'd specifically asked Kate if I changed my mind, or could not obtain finance, would I be entitled to a refund of my deposit to which she told me I would.

I was completely misled and mis-sold by Kate.

On Friday 13th December 2013, Jamie Stewart contacted me telling me that as far as he was concerned Kate claimed that she had fully explained the 24-hour cooling off period to me and highlighted the terms and conditions. Both my wife and I rebutt this as completely untrue.

Having now found OERML and seen so that many others have been similarly lied to, I intend to write to Optical Express demanding an immediate refund paid back to my card. If they refuse the next course of action will be to claim through the Small Claims Court.

It's worrying that this company is so desperate for £300.

Richard Shields

DEPOSIT REFUND 18 Dec 2013 11:04 #487

  • David
  • David's Avatar
Thanks for all your help with it Sasha, I really appreciate it! I’m amazed at how quickly it got resolved and that is in no small part down to your help.

Best of luck with your battle, you’re doing a great job. I was due to have my treatment yesterday and all I can think is what a lucky escape I had! Your website is vital in that it seems to be the only source of information against Optical Express and laser eye surgery. Whether this is down to dodgy practices or not, giving potential customers the bad experiences is important as customers must be allowed to make an informed decision. Flooding review sites with 5 star reviews and trying to stamp out any dissenting voices is unethical and down right bad practice.

All the best,

Dave

DEPOSIT REFUND 17 Dec 2013 20:05 #488

  • David
  • David's Avatar
To update you all, I had a phone call this afternoon promising me a full refund and I even got an apology! Thanks to everyone on this site for all the advice!

Interestingly, the review I left on Trust Pilot has been pushed down by eight 5 star reviews in 27 hours... weird!

DEPOSIT REFUND 16 Dec 2013 11:49 #489

  • David
  • David's Avatar
I emailed Mr Mousdale on Friday - no response as yet. I gave him 5 working days to refund or I will be going through the small claims court.

I informed OE's customer service advisor on Friday that I would be emailing Mr Mousdale directly, his response was "with respect, I doubt the CEO will reply to your email as he doesn't deal with things like that..."

I asked him if he would deal with the court summons landing on his desk? "Errr...ummm....humph"

Thought so...

I've also left a lovely review on Trust Pilot, the top Google hit for Optical Express Review. Should stop plenty of people parting with thousands of pounds with these cowboys.

I'll keep you updated...

David

DEPOSIT REFUND 16 Dec 2013 07:31 #490

  • Mr X
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Conratulations Wlod, I'm glad they backed down!

David,

I would go with writing the letter, as Wlod states Admin should be able to help you with this.

However, you are in a fairly good position here albeit £200 lighter at this moment.

Since you have signed nothing and were offered no paperwork they cannot keep your money. No signature no entitlement. :lol:

If you paid by card, you should report it to your card issuer immediately. As you correctly state they have provided no service and as such have no legal right to your money. That's exactly what you should tell your card issuer.

They will investigate the matter on your behalf and reverse the transaction on that basis.

It might be worth giving the O.E. branch a call and giving them a good ear bending but my guess is you've probably tried that.

Or if you go to the branch in person and they bring up the 72hr cooling off period, ask them to show you the contract you signed in relation to that point agreeing to the terms and conditions. Try and do it in a shop full of people to really embarass them and when they can't I strongly suspect you'll have your money back in your account within 48hrs. Depends on whether you don't mind making a bit of a scene and being the centre of attention for a few minutes. :whistle:

A few ideas for you to think about.

Best Wishes.