Watchdog attacks high cost of specs

Glasses cost average of €470 per pair with opticians having €275 margin – but shops say cost is less than a coffee a day

SPECTACLES cost more in France than anywhere else in Europe – at an average of €470 a pair – and a study by consumer watchdog UFC Que Choisir said opticians had an average mark-up of 233%.

However, opticians hit back saying the price amounted to less than a cup of coffee a day and that the majority of single-vision lenses were sold at €30-€90.

The study came as the government is looking at new regulations on spectacle pricing but it also highlighted the poor reimbursement from the health system. People paying €470 for glasses would get only between €4.44 and €31.14 reimbursed by Assurance Maladie. The average cost to a patient was €205 – rising to €445 if they did not have complementary mutuelle health insurance.

UFC accused opticians of “exorbitant margins” of sometimes more than 300% on some glasses and said the average optician sold just 2.8 pairs of glasses a day.

A pair of specs is sold on average at €393 before tax (€470 tax included) and UFC said this was 3.3 times the optician’s purchase price of €118, with a margin of €275. Marketing costs amounted to €60 per pair.

Despite 11,400 shops selling 13 million pairs of spectacles each year prices had not fallen. The spectacles market was worth €4.7billion in 2012, with €3.29bn for lenses and €1.38bn for frames. Including contact lenses, sunglasses and care products it amounted to €5.7bn.

UFC called on the government to allow mutuelles to set up their own network of linked opticians to lower costs.