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Laser Eye Surgery Cancelled - Deposit Refund


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All,

 

A long story short, I have cancelled a LASIK laser eye surgery with Optical Express after cooling off period (72hrs) after finding out that my surgery qualifying examination was not carried out by them with reasonable care and skill and critical information that would have affected my decision was withheld. They obviously now do not want to return my deposit (£400). I do not dispute that I confirmed I understood the deposit was not refundable after 72hrs from making a booking, but I believe Optical Express have not done their job right, so should any agreements made on the day of examination be considered as legally binding?

 

Here is my full story.

 

I attended a free consultation appointment at Optical Express clinic in Coventry in November 2013. The examination suggested that LASIK surgery would be suitable and this was booked in December in Birmingham.

 

On the examination day my prescription was found to be higher (I believe by -0.5 in both eyes) than my current contact lenses prescription. This surprised me as I have not been experiencing any degradation in my eyesight. Therefore, I felt I should book an appointment to double check this and I managed to get an appointment at the opticians I usually go. This examination showed that my eye prescription has not changed at all for either glasses or contact lenses as compared to my last prescription.

 

Moreover, during the examination at Optical Express I explained that the reason I was investigating surgery was because I cannot wear contact lenses for long without experiencing dry eyes. During my examination at Optical Express I was given no reason to believe that this could be an additional risk factor should I opt for corrective eye surgery. I have discovered since that this may represent an increased risk of suffering dry eye following corrective eye surgery and therefore, when I found that my opticians’ examination did not confirm the change of prescription identified by Optical Express optometrist, I asked to have my existing concerns around dry eye checked in detail. The examination revealed that I have blocked meibomian glands, which although I had mentioned my current concerns was not identified during my examination at Optical Express. Having become concerned about this, I have checked various medical articles which have given me the impression that eye surgery should not be carried out if you experience problems with dry eyes.

 

During my consultation I also explained that I train in mixed martial arts, which is a highly contact sport. I wanted to fully understand the risks associated with the combination of LASIK eye surgery and contact sports and the potential dislocation of the “flaps” created during this type of surgery. I was told that the LASIK method would still be appropriate. However, the optometrist examining me needed to check this with "a senior optometrist" since she was not 100% confident. I was somewhat confused by this because I was told when booking my appointment that I would be examined by a senior optometrist. It occurs to me now that lady examining me was not a senior optometrist, though I had been led to expect that this would be the case.

 

Moreover, on the day of the examination I was also not given full information that would have affected my decision to make an informed consent: this includes treatment Optical Express success rates, retreatment statistics, statistics for probability of starbursts, halo effects, night time distortion, dry eyes etc.; current investigations by the General Medical Council into their surgeons, numerous legal claims, the numbers of damaged patients etc.

 

As a result of all of the above, I have lost confidence in Optical Express and have decided not to proceed with the operation booked in December. Above all I was seriously concerned that should I proceed, the health of my eyes may be jeopardised by what appears to me to be a poor quality of diagnosis. I have requested that a full refund of my deposit (£400 paid by debit card) be sent to my bank account; however after speaking to their customer service team I have only found out that deposit will not be refunded. I have written a formal compliant to their CEO, but I have not heard anything back.

 

Can you please advise what can I do to get my deposit back? As a last resort I will go to a small claim court, but I would like to avoid this if possible.

 

Any help will be truly appreciated.

 

Cheers

W.

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You should get all of the information which you have given us here, confirmed in writing by the optician who examined you. You should get a second written opinion and then write to Lasik with your written evidence and ask for yo money back or you will take court action.

 

You need anyway to get a letter of complaint off to Lasik.

Additionally this may be an unlawful penalty and you need to ask Lasik to give you a full breakdown as to how your cancellation has caused that figure in losses. If they are unable to account for the money then you may have an action on that basis as well.

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Let's break this down:

 

  • Change in prescription - I don't think this is relevant to your decision to book the surgery
  • MMA - did you wait for the senior optometrist to confirm before paying the deposit? If yes, I don't see why there is a problem. If no, why did you pay the deposit.
  • Other information - I can't see why this is relevant unless you asked for the information. If you wanted to see that information before paying the deposit you could easily have done so.
  • Dry eyes lack of information - I had an appointment with OpEx about this last year and it was mentioned on the risk factors provided to me at the meeting.
  • Blocked meibomian glands - I can see this. Did you mention your dry eye problem to the optometrist?

Certainly go ahead with writing a letter of complaint as the first step. It needs to be very clear about what you think Optical Express have done wrong. For me by far the most convincing reason why you should get a refund is the fact that you have blocked meibomian glands which may render the surgery inappropriate.

 

Check their T+Cs carefully. Is there a provision providing that they will repay the refund if it is determined that surgery is not medically appropriate? If so, you should mention that provision in your letter. If there is no such provision then I would think the requirement for a deposit is an unfair term contrary to the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations but that is an argument to be had later not in the first letter.

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Thanks a lot for this your analysis Steampowered. You have given really good and fair comments

• Change in prescription – it was not relevant to my decision to book the surgery, but it was the reason I started querying the quality of their examination as something appeared to me not to be 100% right. If I went for a standard lasik (I opted for the more expensive custom one), the prescription they established during the examination would have been used by a surgeon for a baseline for laser correction. If the prescription was wrong this would under or overcorrect my eyesight

• MMA - Yes, I waited for a senior optometrist to confirm that before I made decision, but I did not speak to a senior optometrist directly. I was told thet the optometrist examining me spoke to the senior optometrist when I was speaking to a receptionist in the other room. The reason, however, why I brought that senior optometrist issue was that I was told by their customer service team, when I booked my appointment, that I will be examined by a senior optometrist, which did not happen

• Other information – yes you are right I could ask for that, but when I booked my appointment I did not know what I should check. I read this on the internet later on

• They mentioned dry eyes, but said that this symptom is only temporarily and lasts only up to a few months, where you can find out from various medical articles/forums that up to 20% of patients experience to some extent permanent dry eyes symptoms and some sort of night time driving distortion after Lasik. The optometrist said that any post-surgery symptoms would only be temporarily. If I knew the full picture, I would not book the surgery.

• Blocked meibomian glands – I did mention that I cannot wear contact lenses as I experience dry eyes after some time wearing contacts and this is the main reason I am considering the surgery.

It is mentioned that if it is discovered at the day of surgery that the operation cannot be carried out due to medical reasons, they will refund the full amount paid.

 

Once again, thanks a lot for your advice.

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