The eyes have IT

See your way to cheaper contact lenses

Remember the halcyon days before Wap and b2b, when people used the low setup cost of the internet to sell the same goods cheaper? Well, for a limited time only, they're back. Launching under the auspices of rip-off Britain, 2eyes.co.uk says it will undercut any contact lens seller in Britain and match any promotional prices, producing savings of up to £70 a year for lens wearers. High street opticians are ripping off consumers through gross margins of 70 per cent, says Peter Williams, co-founder and MD of the site. By buying direct from manufacturers and working on lower margins, Peter reckons he can have the same success as in the US where 15 to 20 per cent of the market is online sales. The idea came when he set up a postal service for Dolland & Aitchinson - one of Britain's leading opticians - and saw the profit involved. The site sells a wide range of lenses from daily to monthly. Simply input your prescription and 2eyes claims it will have them to you within five days. Of course, we've seen this sort of thing before - everything's rosy until the retailers gently persuade the manufacturers that it would be better not to sell to the offending party. Peter isn't worried: "We went to all the main manufacturers and told them what we planned to do. Some said right out that they wouldn't supply us, so we made sure we could get their lenses from elsewhere." Can he forsee any problems? "No." Fair enough, but we're a little concerned that under UK legislation, as we understand it, contact lens suppliers are responsible for the eye-health of their customers, which isn't the case with specs. Call us picky, but flogging contact lens via the Web doesn't quite get to the heart of that responsibility, it seems to us. ®

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