A while ago, I was inspired by Sense about Science‘s Ask for Evidence campaign to follow up on a potentially misleading claim made by a salesperson at Vision Express. You can read the beginning of this story in my previous post ‘Asking for Evidence: Vision Express’, but to summarise, I contacted Vision Express to ask what evidence they had for the claim (made by a salesperson) that my vision would deteriorate if I didn’t buy new glasses following an eye test in which my prescription had changed.
Following my email to Customer Services, I wrote up what I’d done for this blog and for Sense about Science’s Ask for Evidence examples page and then posted a link to the blog post on Facebook and Twitter. Although I didn’t really expect anything to come of it, within a few hours, the tweet had received a lot (for me) of attention and had reached the eyes of the Vision Express customer services team, who requested I contact them directly (which I explained I had already done).
Within less than a week, I received a reply from Vision Express (you can see the full text in the screenshot below), stating that “there is currently no clinical evidence that would suggest that your vision would deteriorate if you were not wearing the most up to date prescription” and promising to “carry out a full investigation and address any training needs that are identified during this process”.
While this was a fast and positive response and potentially a step in the right direction; the cynic in me couldn’t help but wonder if it felt a bit tokenistic. Giving Vision Express the benefit of the doubt, I would hope to see them follow through with their assertion that they will ensure all staff are trained correctly. But I would like them to go one step further, ensuring customers are made aware, in a clear and up-front way, that it is entirely their choice as to whether they purchase new glasses following an eye test, and that there will be no negative health consequences if they choose not to do so. Personally I would like to see Vision Express (and indeed all opticians) presenting this information in conjunction with their sales information both on their website and in store, as this would help customers to make informed decisions. Let’s hope they take my advice!
Overall, my first experience of Asking for Evidence yielded positive results and was very encouraging. For the first time, I personally realised the full extent of the ability of social media (and in particular Twitter) to put pressure on companies to answer questions being put to them by the simple means of publicising the fact that the question has been asked at all.