M&S opticians charging more for varifocals based purely on age

(17 Posts)
TomorrowIsAnotherDae Tue 04-May-21 20:52:09

I was in M&S today and decided to browse for new glasses. Staff really friendly and helpful. Was told varifocal lenses started at £50 on top of the price of whichever glasses I chose. Assistant showed me the pricing chart starting at an extra £50 going up to £300, depending on lenses and coatings, etc. As it would be my first pair of varifocals I thought I’d start with the £50 ones and see how I got on.

Found a pair of specs I liked, then to be told the assistant had given me the wrong price for varifocals, they actually started at £100. She showed me the chart again but pointed further down to prices starting at £100.

When I looked I saw that the more expensive prices further down were for people 45+. So they don’t charge according to the lense prescription, they charge more purely based on age!

Seriously can’t get my head round that policy?

I was miffed - 1. at the ageism, and 2. that I quite clearly look over 45 (I am, but still...)

So M&S opticians are now off my shopping list.

Seriously, am I being precious or is their policy truly ageist, and therefore wrong?

OP’s posts: |
TheVampiresWife Tue 04-May-21 21:01:02


I've been buying my glasses from Firmoo for the last couple of years. My latest pair are varifocals and they cost £40 all in. I'll never buy from a 'proper' optician again.

Allsizes8to14 Tue 04-May-21 21:07:12

I am an optician, and that pricing is strange! The vast majority of varifocal wearers are over 45 anyway 🤔
There are definite differences in lens type/quality etc which affects the cost...but that isn’t age dependant as such.
The only thing I can think is that reading prescriptions increase with age, and therefore better quality lenses are more important, but this is all clearly patient choice and shouldn’t be set out in a pricing structure. Bizarre!

TomorrowIsAnotherDae Tue 04-May-21 21:14:57

@Allsizes8to14, it crossed my mind that their reasoning is based on over 45’s probably needing stronger lenses in general. I just don’t understand how they justify adding a 100% price increase for someone who is 45, whereas a customer who is 44 with with exactly the same prescription would be charged 100% less.

Also, if I was 44 but looked 46 what would they do? Demand proof of age?

You are right, it is bizarre.

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TomorrowIsAnotherDae Tue 04-May-21 21:15:37

@TheVampiresWife, thanks for the tip!

OP’s posts: |
EggysMom Tue 04-May-21 21:17:20

Is that not discrimination, charging a higher price simply based on age?

underneaththeash Tue 04-May-21 21:23:10

I’ve just texted a friend of mine about the pricing (she works at one). Basic lenses start at £50 varifocals from £100 (the 45+ is written there as it’s generally people of 45+ who need varifocals).


@TheVampiresWife you’ve been very lucky, they’re very difficult to get right when you’re not taking exact measurements or fitting the frame to the person.

TheVampiresWife Tue 04-May-21 21:41:33


I’ve just texted a friend of mine about the pricing (she works at one). Basic lenses start at £50 varifocals from £100 (the 45+ is written there as it’s generally people of 45+ who need varifocals).


@TheVampiresWife you’ve been very lucky, they’re very difficult to get right when you’re not taking exact measurements or fitting the frame to the person.

I had my PD etc measured when I had my eye test so it's always been fine. Firmoo have a no quibble replacement policy if frames are too loose/tight/unsuitable in any way (or if there's any issue at all) but after 40 years of glasses wearing I know which frame measurements work for me, and order accordingly.

LizzieThor1984 Tue 04-May-21 22:06:44


I'm a manager at this company and we categorically do not charge according to age.

Similarly to other opticians we have different standards of varifocals which are priced differently according to quality and visual needs. Obviously I would expect any of my staff to have a personalised conversation with the customer dependant on the results of the optometrist's eye exam.

Hope that helps clarify. smile

Waterfallgirl Tue 04-May-21 22:14:24

Thanks for responding to the op, but how do you explain the mention of over 45 on the pricing form?

TomorrowIsAnotherDae Tue 04-May-21 22:14:39

@underneaththeash, I’m not sure that’s correct. The price for frames includes the lenses and those prices were displayed on the racks. The sheet I looked at definitely said varifocals £50 - £300 on the top line and £100 - £300+ on the bottom preceded by “age 45+“

When I questioned it the opticians went into a bit of panic mode and agreed it was ageist. They said they’d been urging head office to change the policy but HO wouldn’t. If the top line was for single lenses they would have said that.

OP’s posts: |
TomorrowIsAnotherDae Tue 04-May-21 22:16:00

@LizzieThor1984, the opticians agreed that the 45+ extra charge was ageist.

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LizzieThor1984 Tue 04-May-21 22:24:57

Hi again,

The ages are given as a guide (again like some other opticians) - in the fact that most people over 45 are presbyopic to some extent (need reading glasses/VF)

I don't know which branch you visited, but if you have a concern, maybe visit and ask to speak to the manager there. If a member of staff has got not made the correct prices clear to you, that's obviously a training issue and human error, but I know all my practice manager colleagues would be unhappy to know it wasn't explained well to you.

The pricing bracket you refer to is
Top line single vision (you would see the first box says " _ ", as you quite rightly point out standard single vision lenses are included in the price displayed on the stand but other types or brands of single vision lenses are available)
Second line is flexible readers (sometimes known as occupational
Third line is Early stage varifocals (sometimes called digital or comfort lenses)
And the 4th line is Varifocals.

As I say the ages are a guide as to when these lenses apply to people generally. I will pass on your concerns to marketing, but again let me stress there is absolutely no correlation between price and age.

TomorrowIsAnotherDae Tue 04-May-21 22:43:50

@LizzieThor1984, thank you for the explanation. It does seem that more training might be needed in that case as it was implied that the varifocal price was different depending on age. Staff at no point said that the price difference was for different types of lenses.

I also suggest that reference to age is removed from the pricing structure. The staff in store did say that they had requested age references to be removed so I’m clearly not the first person to think that “older” people are being charged more based on age.

OP’s posts: |
LizzieThor1984 Tue 04-May-21 22:46:35

No worries,

Happy to provide a little clarity.

I'll pass your concerns on.

Metheven Wed 05-May-21 09:25:12

Asda opticians don't charge extra for varifocals. The price on the frame is the price you pay. My last pair cost me £45, whereas previously I have been paying £200+ at other chain opticians.

underneaththeash Wed 05-May-21 09:26:48

@TheVampiresWife varifocals though need a fitting height, rather than just a PD - which is based on you wearing the frame and then being measured from the base of the frame upwards. You then need to refit after glazing as the frame can bend - you need to adjust for pantoscopic tilt as well. Unless you're looking through the correct part of the lens you just can't see through them.

I'm amazed as I used to see at least 2 people a week for a re-test who had bough varifocals online and then couldn't see with them. Most of the main online providers seem to have stopped doing them luckily.

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