June 20, 2018
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Businesses find value in providing reading glasses for customers

By Russ Van Arsdale, Executive Director, Northeast CONTACT

For most of us, things seem to get a bit harder to read every day.

We joke about needing longer arms, or blame the printers who seem to be using ever-smaller type in order to cram more words into thinner columns on shrinking pages.

In truth, our eyes are aging, and we don’t always have our new best friends — our reading glasses — with us.

Which is where a recent trend comes in. At three places of business we’ve visited in the past couple of months, a small container has been placed where visitors can find it (even without our glasses). In that container were several pairs of reading glasses, of differing strengths, for patrons to borrow while conducting their business.

We first noticed this service at a dentist’s office in the midcoast area. Just before the start of the new school year, a mother had brought her son in for a checkup. Asked to fill in the usual forms, she was digging through her purse in search of her reading glasses. After saying she would need to go to her car to get them, the receptionist offered to let her borrow one of several pairs the practice had on hand for just that purpose.

It was a convenience, to be sure, and will be more so as winter weather makes running to check the car glove box less appealing. At a medical practice, where forms consenting to treatment are the norm, providers want to make sure patients don’t misunderstand anything. Offering them a better look at what they’re signing makes both practical and legal sense.

The lending of glasses likely began in dimly lit restaurants, where patrons had trouble reading small print on menus. At one Bangor-area eatery, managers noticed an item in a recent trade magazine; for the past six months, a tumbler near their cash register has held several pairs of glasses in different strengths. We’ve seen similar displays at coffee grinders and other shops with printed matter on the walls.

One eye doctors group north of Baltimore has partnered with area restaurants in a program called MenuMates. The group gives participating restaurants several pairs of readers in varying strengths. Some enterprising dealers in glasses are cashing in on the trend. One Virginia-based seller offers a set of eight pairs in a case lined with satin, costing a mere $65 (shipping included). Some dealers offer glasses equipped with tiny lights. Some sellers suggest giving patrons the option to borrow or buy the glasses.

Such services are bound to be appreciated, not only by seniors but also by people of any age who are using smaller and smaller screens every day.

Consumer Forum is a collaboration of the Bangor Daily News and Northeast CONTACT, Maine’s membership-funded, nonprofit consumer organization. Individual and business memberships are available at modest rates. For assistance with consumer-related issues, including consumer fraud and identity theft, or for information, write Consumer Forum, P.O. Box 486, Brewer 04412, visit necontact.wordpress.com or email contacexdir@live.com.

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