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Laser eye surgery - best and worst companies

Laser eye surgery - advice before booking

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Laser eye surgery - advice before booking

Before signing on the dotted line at your laser eye-surgery clinic, you’ll need to ask some key questions about what you’re signing.

Our expert advice will help you look carefully at the documentation and contract you're given.

Some of the main things you’ll need to look at in the terms and conditions include:

• your right to cancel if you change your mind (clinics aren’t obliged to offer you a cooling-off period)
• when you need to pay in full for your surgery
• whether you are entitled to a refund if you change your mind after speaking to your surgeon
• whether there are any other fees you might need to pay.

You’ll also want to watch out for potentially unfair terms and conditions such as:

• those that do not allow you to get a refund if you change your mind after speaking to your surgeon
• non-refundable deposits and payments if you change your mind following a change in the type of procedure recommended
• those requiring you to pay additional fees, especially if these charges are for what you thought you’d signed up for in the first place
• those allowing the provider to make changes to your laser eye surgery without giving you the chance to reschedule or cancel.

Don't miss our guide to the best and worst laser eye surgery companies, where we reveal customer ratings for each of the main laser eye surgery providers. 

Advance payments for laser eye surgery

Your laser eye-surgery clinic may ask you for a deposit or even full advance payment to secure your operation slot. Before you part with your cash, consider the following:

• Have you had time to do the research you need to feel confident that the type of surgery and the clinic is right for you?
• Are you sure that the type of surgery is right for you, and that options are clear – for example, that it’s worth you paying more for Wavefront (technology to treat the specific shape of your eye)? 
• Have you been told about the potential complications and risks for your particular eyes, and the chances of them happening?
• Are you clear about, and happy with, the set-up of that particular clinic? For example, if you want to see the surgeon before the day of surgery, is that offered by the clinic? And will you be told who your surgeon will be, if you want to know?
• Are you clear about what happens if you change your mind about the surgery? For example, does the clinic offer a cooling-off period during which you can simply decide not to go ahead?

Cancellation rights

Our investigation into laser eye-surgery sales uncovered some dodgy selling practices, such as misleading sales pitches and pressure to book the same day, without adequate time for research.

If you sign up but want to cancel, many clinics offer a cooling-off period. Check the terms and conditions to find out if this is the case before you sign up for laser eye surgery, as you’re unlikely to be offered your money back after any cooling-off period has ended.

See our guide to how you can get your deposit back if you change your mind about laser eye surgery.

Optical Express cancellation rights

Following our investigation into laser eye surgery and contact from numerous customers, Which? lawyers wrote to leading chain Optical Express to share concerns that customers who changed their mind – sometimes because a surgeon gave them new information – were losing their full advance payment.

Customers reported losing substantial payments unless they cancelled within 72 hours of booking, and this could mean feeling pressured to go ahead.

A month later, our lawyers were pleased to see Optical Express’s revised terms and conditions, including:

• You now have seven days – not 72 hours – after booking to change your mind and get a deposit refund.
• You can now get a full refund within 28 days if you cancel for any reason after seeing a surgeon, including if the treatment you need changes.

However, seeing an Optical Express surgeon before your operation day still incurs a non-refundable extra fee (currently £150), unless the appointment is clinically necessary for your eyes. 

Optical Express will apply these terms retrospectively to customers who had already booked treatment.

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