Sen. Charles E. Schumer thinks you're paying too much for eyeglasses.
The New York Democrat, who is No. 3 in party leadership, has made the eyewear giant that owns LensCrafters the target of his latest consumer crusade. Schumer wants to make sure customers get access to their prescriptions after eye exams, so they can shop for their next pair of glasses on the Internet or at a different brick-and-mortar retailer.
Schumer has sent a letter to Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez outlining his priorities for an updated eyeglass rule, praising the commission for its work on contact lens regulations.
"Given the high demand for eyeglasses, there should be extensive and healthy competition keeping prices affordable. However, as any American who has purchased glasses knows, prices are anything but reasonable. In particular, today’s rules should take advantage of the innovations in e-commerce to facilitate comparison shopping and competition. I urge the Commission to consider, among other changes, requiring optometrists to provide complete prescription information (including pupillary distance measurement) to consumers and to verify prescription information to third party dispensers," Schumer wrote. "The omission of these elements in current rules limits consumer choice and leads to higher prices. In addition, the Commission should consider whether short term prescriptions (for example, a year or less), are appropriate or fair for consumers given that vision does not necessarily change more rapidly."
But Schumer also wrote that the FTC should avoid making the rules too loose, to keep fraudsters from preying on vulnerable consumers.
"Of course, the Commission should be mindful that there may be unscrupulous online retailers who try to take advantage of American consumers by offering cheap, low-quality eyewear. As the Commission considers updates to its rule, it must ensure that the changes protect high-quality, legitimate online providers without encouraging the bad actors," Schumer said.
In true Schumer fashion, he first made the announcement, as reported by the New York Daily News, of his effort outside a LensCrafters store at a Sunday news conference, waving a pair of spectacles.