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Exactly a week ago today I came home with my new glasses, something I was quite pleased about because I’d finally found a pair of lightweight frames that were cute and suited me. It’s always difficult finding frames to fit my wide face, mostly these days because shops only tend to stock glasses in “average sizes”. Used to be I could try on a frame and, if I liked it, ask to try it in a larger size. But I digress…

I’d gone out shopping with my friend Fourat because I wanted to get another opinion that I felt I could trust, and our second stop that morning was the Alain Afflelou store near my house. I honestly wish we’d kept going now. Before ordering the lenses for the new glasses I told the salesclerk that the frames were too tight on the right side and he said – no problem! – and that when the glasses came back with the prescription lenses they would do the final adjustments then.

Well, as you know, when I picked up the glasses and got the final adjustments done, I noticed after I got home that the lenses were no longer aligned with the frames. In fact, they were quite wonky. So the next day I went back and was surprised to be told that those particular frames couldn’t be adjusted without warping the frame. Well, not MY problem, right? And so, although I was disappointed that I’d have to keep on looking for glasses I reckoned what the heck and asked for a refund. And that’s when it ALL WENT TO HELL…

You see, it turns out that Awful Afflelou doesn’t give refunds, although I didn’t see this pertinent information posted anywhere in the store, nor did they tell me about it before I made my purchase, and it is nowhere to be found on the receipts I have. And anyhow, who returns glasses other than for repairs? I mean, it wasn’t my fault that the frames I chose couldn’t be adjusted – and THAT was information I should have been given before I bought them. In cash. For 180 euros.

Well, after wasting a lot of my time returning to the store on several occasions (kept being told that they needed to speak to their superior, blah, blah) I was finally given the news that they would either:

  • adjust the glasses (which isn’t possible)
  • exchange the glasses (there are no others in the store I want)
  • give me a voucher

Well, none of these options are any good for me. Trust me, Fourat and I had a thorough look through their available stock before I made my choice. There were no other frames I wanted. And I certainly don’t want a voucher, so that I only have to rely on one store. Given the difficulties I have finding frames (same with shoes) I need to be able to shop around. And surely a big multinational company that spends gobs of money on presumably worthy causes such as The Children’s Desert can afford to cough up 180 euros to a paying customer who got a bad deal. But apparently not!

So this morning, being the social media maven that I am, I got on Twitter and asked the person who handles @Afflelou_Optico if they could put me in touch with someone who could help me with my problem. Which they did (and were very nice about it too). But then all the “customer support” people did was pass me back over to the asshat manager of the Seville store, who came back with the exact same “soluciones” for me (see above).

AND SO… I wrote back to the “superiors” and received a totally dismissive email, in which they repeated the pointless “soluciones”, as well as saying – and I quote – that “the store is not obligated to return the money”, and further saying my only other option was to make a formal complaint against the store. Well FOR FUCK’S SAKE. I’ve already lost at least ten hours of my time over the past week dealing with these idiots – maybe I should charge them back? As for the consumer protection complaint route, well, that would take time (month or two) and although I am sure to get my money back that way (the asshat manager admitted this, though now he denies saying so), why would Alain Afflelou put a customer through all that hell when the easiest and best solution is to simply return the money?

So then I got back on Twitter (up until then I hadn’t named and shamed) and asked if anyone else has had problems with Alain Afflelou … and well, guess what? Apparently yes, there are a lot of people out there who have been less than satisfied with the product and especially with the so-called customer service. And good ol’ Ian came up with this PDF about consumer rights in the EU.

So now what do I do? Waste more time fighting this ridiculous bullshit no-refund policy or waste more time going back to a store (that I seriously DO NOT want to enter again) over and over until I maybe find frames I can live with so that I don’t lose my 180 euros.

And so, in effect, I am being forced against my will to continue doing business with a company I now despise in order not to lose my 180 euros. How is this good for anybody? Including Awful Afflelou? Seriously, how do these people sleep at night?

And for those of you who know me, you know that this isn’t just about me… I really hate it when Big Corporate Money shits all over the customers who made them possible. And having just been shat on, I am now getting the urge to go hunting for bear…