October 8, 2012

Optician´s in Munich

The time has arrived when I really need new glasses. I did not know where to start because I usually buy my contact lens online @ LinsenPlatz so I had no reference at all to which opticians were good in Munich. 

I asked a few friends and they all directed me to the big chains… but which are they? So I decided to do some research to get a list of the largest opticians in the city; then I visited the ones that have stores nearby, talked to a few of them and learnt about their promotions. 

After the “gathering info” operation, all that is left for me is to choose one and make an appointment. Although I need an afternoon free to do so, which means I will need to wait until next week. But in the meantime, I have put together a summary for you about the options we have here in Munich when looking for new glasses.

According to SPECTARIS (the German Opticians´association): 40 million adult Germans (>16 year old) use glasses and almost 3 million use contact lenses in the country, which should give you a feeling that these guys do know about myopia, farsightedness and astigmatism. The industry has sales over 3 billion € per year and the export rate is approx. 48%, mainly to Europe but also to other areas (exports to Asia are around 10%). 

Fieldmann and Apollo are the two largest chains in Germany. However, there are other optician´s that are also well established with a presence in Munich that one should consider. 

Besides I have also seen a couple of TV spots from an online shop called Mister Spex. Apparently this is the “Amazon” for glasses in Germany. By choosing the shape of your head and face, your nose and forehead, as well as your preference in color, price, etc. you get a list of suggested frames that would fit you. 

But if you are like me and would like to try on-site the frames, instead of fishing for suggestions online, here you can find a list of the most popular and established opticians in Munich:

Fieldmann with over 500 subsidiaries has several stores in Munich. The two ones that I have visited are: in Haidhausen (Weißenburger Straße 21) and in Karlplatz (Sonnenstrasse, 1).

Apollo has the largest network of stores with over 700 shops across Germany. To celebrate its 40th birthday they have a number of special offers these days. 
There is one Apollo on my way to the gym in Westenhellweg 64 (close to the Lenbachpalais) and another one in Neuhauser Straße 21 (close to Karlplatz).

Pro Optik: also in Karlplatz (Sonnenstrasse,3) is also celebrating its 25th anniversary since they opened their doors in 1987. They have around 100 subsidiaries in Germany.

Matt Optik has a store in the Munich shopping mall MIRA in Feldmoching. Too far away from me to visit, but in case it is close to you, here are the details: MIRA, Schleißheimer Straße 506.

Aktivoptik has one store in Neuhausen and another in Starnberg. They are both too far away from me to go and check, so I´ll leave you with the website for further information.

Krass: is another large optician chain with 47 subsidiaries across Germany and the only one that I am familiar with, since they have one store at the end of my street.

Other large optician chains in Germany that are not present yet in Munich are Optiker Bode, Binder Optik, Abele Optik and Eyes and More.

I understand that you can request a free of charge sight check in all of them, but of course this is a hook to get you to buy/update your glasses/lenses afterwards with them. 

The so-called “Nulltarif” is apparently very popular these days in many of the above, since they usually offer it in one way or another. 

I have known this promotion for years thanks to the international French optician chain Alain Affleou. Afflelou´s started many years ago offering the second pair of glasses for just one euro more after the purchase of the first pair. It was a sort of revolution in France, as well as in Spain when they expanded. Nowadays the promotion has evolved and I believe that now you can actually get a third pair free of charge (or again at 1€). 

Of course the second and the third pair must be chosen from a specific frame collection that is branded under the Afflelou name (no Prada, Rayban, etc.) but still is very practical to have a backup and the frame quality is not bad. The glasses are standard, which means that you usually (at least in the Afflelou´s promotion) need to pay for the extras: anti-reflection coating; etc.

Some of the largest opticians in Munich have the “Nulltarif” or similar promotions, so the way to go is to identify which ones are close to you, visit them to check that they have a good range of frame options and pop in inside to see if they are nice. Yes, this is important, because not all of them are. During this research, I visited two stores with a friend who was looking for new sunglasses. In both stores the sales people were inattentive and cold. This is the reality in Germany: the client service treatment is different to the US or the south of Europe. It has nothing to do with how professional they are or the quality of the product; it is just not as warm and attentive as you would expect...  

Do you know other opticians to be considered? Please let me know. 

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