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Like cheap contact lenses? You won't like this

Major contact lens manufacturers are setting price minimums for some of their products, which critics say will eliminate consumers' ability to find discounted lenses.

By MSN Money Partner Aug 11, 2014 12:40PM

This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News.


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyShopping around to find a good deal on contact lenses is a thing of the past, for some lenses anyway.

Woman putting in contact lens © Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images
Three of the top four contact manufacturers have set price minimums for some of their lenses, a controversial move that prevents discounts for consumers.

According to Consumer Reports:

We've noticed that three of the top four companies -- Alcon (aka CIBA), Bausch & Lomb, and Johnson & Johnson -- have already adopted resale-price maintenance policies for some of their products. And the fourth, CooperVision, might not be far behind. The four account for 97 percent of all contact lenses sold in the United States.

The Senate Judiciary Committee's antitrust panel recently met to discuss whether the contact manufacturers' new pricing methods amount to anti-competitive behavior.

"The only winners with this pricing strategy are manufacturers, high-priced retailers, and doctors, who would no longer have to compete with discounters," CR said.

Contact lens makers said instituting uniform prices may actually result in some cheaper lenses. One company said it's combating "showrooming," where people find out about lenses from their eye doctor but then buy them from online discounters, according to Reuters. It's estimated that 10 percent of contacts are sold online.

My contacts are manufactured by Alcon, one of the proponents of price floors. I typically buy my contacts once a year through 1-800 CONTACTS. After shopping around for the best price, I found that 1-800 CONTACTS offered the cheapest lenses. Now I have to wonder: Will that still be true in the future?

What do you think of contact lens manufacturers' price-floor plan?

More from Money Talks News

Aug 11, 2014 3:23PM
Yeah really surprising? What isn't going up? But I can tell you what is going down....nothing but the buying power of the US Dollar!
Aug 11, 2014 2:40PM
Prices on contacts have been going up for a couple of years now. Time for more competition.

Aug 11, 2014 2:18PM
Lovely. I hope this doesn't affect my pricing too much. I use Ciba-Vision, but I buy them from my optician. Their prices were right on par with 1-800-CONTACTS, so I wonder if they'll be going up too.
Aug 11, 2014 4:30PM
Once the industry spreads around some "campaign donations"  the senators will see their view point more clearly than if they wore contacts.
They can raise the prices if they want. No one actually has to have contacts. You can get glasses. It's not like contacts are heart medication; you can live without them. Once people stop using them they'll go back to the old prices.
Aug 12, 2014 7:18AM
I wonder if our Congress can get all of their sponsors names on their coats anymore. They are shaming NASCAR. We all suffer when price fixing and buyouts  are allowed.
Aug 14, 2014 11:06PM
Hmmm .... like they don't make enough money.
Aug 11, 2014 4:50PM
Greed the bottom line.  Look at the prices of eye glasses!!!  Mostly made in China!!
Aug 11, 2014 4:28PM
Just in time before kids go back to school. This is dirty as hell. They are making wheel barrels of money. Greedy Mother F****ers. So Now I have to pay more for my whole family. Who all wear contacts but me. This is nothing short of greed. I am so damn ticked off. They already hit you up for exams, care products they push, extra appointments the insurance company does not pay for, and so now the doctors and manufact's can manipulate your optical wallet ANY way they choose.
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