Monday, June 18, 2007

Unbreakable my ass

I'm pretty hard on the stuff I wear, carry around with me etc... I know this, so I try and buy good quality, durable items; and I consider the extra cost associated with them as noting more than money well spent. I'd much rather spend $300 on a pair of shoes that lasts 20 years, than $60 on a pair that barely lasts two.

When it comes to the hard pieces I wear; watch, wedding ring, eyeglasses etc... this is doubly important, because not only are they important, and see a lot of hard use; but they are rather difficult and expensive to replace (in addition to the personal value).

Hell, I generally wear an Omega Seamaster Pro 300m, no because it's a "nice" watch (though it is very attractive), but because it can stand up to just about any abuse I throw at it. I'm so concerned about having things that stand up, my wedding ring is tungsten carbide (no, seriously, it is).

I've worn eyeglasses since I was 13. I have a very mild prescription which has been stable since I was 17; and that I plan on having corrected with laser surgery eventually (other priorities) but for now I still wear glasses.

A few years ago, manufacturers started coming out with Eyeglass frames in titanium, and nickel titanium "memory metal" alloys. These things are great, because you can bend and flex them in any number of ways, and they just take it (the most famous demonstration is to tie them in a knot, then untie them without any damage). In fact, they are so durable and flexible, they even make the frames without any sort of mechanical hinge; depending only on the flexibility of the metal as a living hinge.

Now, I personally don't think that's a great idea, so I didn't buy one of those; but I did spring for a titanium frame last time around (about two and a half years ago). In particular, the Richard Taylor "Joshua" pictured above. They are about the lightest, and most comfortable glasses I've ever had; and thus far have been great...

Until just now, when for no apparent reason, one of the eyepiece mounts broke just in front of the temple hinge when I picked my glasses up off the arm of the couch.

These are "frameless" glasses, so the hinges mount directly into the lenses through two small holes, with a plastic bushing and two barbed posts on each side. The mount broke just at the end of this plastic bushing.

It looks like a classic metal fatigue crack; except there should not have been ANY fatigue there, never mind sufficient fatigue to break off. Not only that but this is NiTi (the abbreviation for Nickel Titanium alloy), without the living hinge; so it should last forever right?

Well, I have no idea why that spot had sufficient fatigue to crack.. I suspect there must ave been a pre-existing flaw at a stress riser. Also, though they look the same, the lens mounts will take a bend whereas the temples won't, so I'm thinking maybe they didn't make that part out of NiTi...

Any way you slice it though; it's irritating. I'mna need to be driven down to the "vision center" (thankfully just down the street) and see if this is covered under the limited lifetime warranty on the frames (I would think it would be), and if it is how much they're going to charge me to remount the lenses, and how long it will take.

Last time I had to have a repair done (on a different frame) it took 10 days to get the parts, and they held the glasses the entire time. At least I had a spare pair then, I don't right now (yes I know, oversight on my part).

If it's more than $50 or more than a few days wait, I'll just buy a new frame from frames direct (linked above). It's only $75 (less than half of what I paid for the frames 2.5 years ago) and I can keep the glasses as a pince nez until they can overnight me a new frame. The lenses are actually trivially easy to mount in the frames if you know what you're doing (and I do), since the holes are already drilled.

Update: So I went over to the vision center to see what they wanted to repair or replace the frames. Firstly, they were incredibly snotty. I mean downright rude. Then they told me they didn't handle warranty repairs, it would have to be sent back to the manufacturer, and it took 6-8 weeks to turn them around.

Ok, how much for THEM to repair them?

They told me that they wouldn't repair them, only order me a new frame; but since my prescription with them was three years old they wouldn't just put my lenses in. I had an eye exam at a cheaper place last year; I know my scrip hasn't changed, and I've got the paperwork around somewhere; but no, it has to be with their doctor. They would however order me the frame, and I could have someone else put the lenses in.

OK, how much?


That's $40 MORE than MSRP.

I showed them on the web site the MSRP and told them that obviously I wasn't going to pay over MSRP for them just to order the frames, and not even mount the lenses.

So, we went to Costco, thinking "Ok, I'll order the new frames, in the mean time, I'll get a cheap pair of glasses at Costco and keep them as a spare (which yes, it was stupid of me not to have. MY spare pair went missing when we moved and I hadn't replaced them).

Guess what? Costco had my frames for $5 more than the online wholesaler, and I could take them right there. They wouldn't mount the lenses for me but they recommended someone who would.

So now, I have new frames, same day, for less money (considering overnight shipping charges). I already put the lenses into the new frames, and all is well.

Oh and I'm still going to go and pick up a new spare pair at Costco; and also a new pair of prescription sunglasses, because those went missing a while back as well (I put them in my pocket in an IKEA when I was switching to my regular glasses, then dropped them somewhere along the way).