Failure to warn a customer of the risks involved with laser eye surgery, which left a permanent injury to the cornea, led a judge to criticise the sharp sales practice by a high street optician who was ordered to pay the injured claimant more than £500,000 in damages.
In a bid to prove the claimant, a book dealer, had exaggerated the extent of the damage the surgery had caused, the opticians hired private investigators but they were unable to find any evidence of an exaggerated claim because the claimant never removed their glasses while being filmed during observations.
At the court hearing, the judge described how the claimant had been “enticed” and “tempted” into the optician after seeing their advert and cost for eye surgery. However, the claimant was quoted more than seven times the advertised price, to which the judge also expressed his doubt as to whether eye surgery could be provided at such a low price.
The court also heard how the staff were instructed by the optician’s guidebook to “meet and greet” clients, “manage their expectations”, “encourage them to proceed” and “reduce price objections” by reassuring customers “they were in excellent hands.”
The judge commented that it was “not appropriate” procedure for a patient to sign a consent form immediately before an operation and ruled that the claimant should not have paid £2,790 for an operation, which “on any objective basis” should never have taken place.
The claimant was awarded total damages of £569,287, including £30,000 for the 'pain and suffering' caused and over £400,000 for lost earnings.
The claimant, who is now forced to wear dark glasses at all times, commented that the optician had been, “aggressive throughout the litigation and used every tactic to try and make me abandon my claim. They have never apologised for what happened to me. It has been an extremely challenging few years.”