Have you ever visited those eye doctors that claims they always get the newest technologies and equipments but no one in the office from the nurses to the doctor themselves know how to properly operate the machine? Well, that's how I would describe my one-year relationship at Santa Fe Optical...sort of.
I'm a frequent traveler and an avid eyeglasses shopper that has visited many high-end European and Japanese glasses boutiques both in the states and abroad. When I moved to Austin, I was searching around for a high-end boutique that I can rely on locally and came across Santa Fe Optical. Everything about Santa Fe Optical is nice looking, from the store design, staff, to the large selection of expensive beautiful designer display frames. When one walks into a store that asks around $1,000 for a pair of glasses, this is what you'd expect. However, the part that customers don't get to see is the most important part of Santa Fe's problem: the finished quality of the customer's very own glasses.
Let's be fair here since it is the nature of how all glasses stores operate, the customer rarely knows how their glasses will turn out before they pay. But since I have had some past experiences, after I found my desired pair of rimless frame and lens choice, I asked my optician to show me a pair of customer's finished glasses to check out their lab's quality. I noticed that the edges of the lens although polished shinny, has a bit of wavy and uneven appearance. I asked if that is something the lab can take caution of when they make my pair and my optician said no problem. After I paid and patiently waited around 6 weeks, the glasses finally arrived. One of the first things I checked is whether the lens were cut smoothly and evenly around the edges, and that my frame has no scratches from shipping and lab processing. To my surprise, I found both of my lenses to have unfinished bumps that can both be felt and seen. There was also some minor paint scratches near the arm joints. I made note of the problems to the store manager and they agreed to remake the pair whenever I am convenient to bring the glasses back in.
A few months went by and after I've obtained an extra back-up pair from another boutique, I brought my Santa Fe pair in to get the lens smoothed out. After 2 weeks, the shop called and said that one of my lens coating cracked when they pulled my glasses apart so they are in the process of ordering brand new lenses to remake my pair. Another month went by and finally I received the call that my glasses are ready for pick up. Again, I went in and checked out the quality. This time, one of the drill holes was drilled too wide and have chipped edges from drilled tool mark at the hole entry. Due to the falsely large drill, extra glue had to be applied and it over-flooded onto the surface of the lens. The look was simply unacceptable for a pair of ""high-end"" glasses and I pointed out that every single demo pair on their display shelf looks better than mine. The manager asked me whether I wanted to take my pair home and wait for him to consult with the owner to see if they can remake that one single lens for me. After waiting impatiently for 2 more weeks, the store manager called me and apologized that my account has ""run out of re-makes"".
I left the store as an unsatisfied customer now having to either live with an ugly drilled $1000 rimless glasses or having to find another responsible boutique elsewhere. Like I said, the people working at Santa Fe Optical are cool and friendly, but the lab's quality and consistency is probably as old as the chain itself from the 80s. Do not believe their words when they say that their lab has invested in lots of expensive high-tech systems, because the lab technicians obviously don't know how to correctly assemble glasses.