News & Opinion | May 2, 2021 6:21 pm

An Infamous Eyeglasses Seller Might Be Back Online

Or there might be a new and unethical player in the game

Buying glasses online can be a contentious experience.
Volodymyr Hryshchenko/Unsplash

If there’s an advantage to buying things online, it largely comes down to convenience in one or more forms. That could mean price, that could mean speed or that could mean a relatively smooth purchasing experience. Buying something online should not, as a rule, involve heated arguments, online harassment or doxing. And yet…sometimes it does.

Writing at The New York Times, David Segal has the story of a few customers who had a terrible experience with an online eyeglasses retailer. Complicating matters somewhat? Certain details of those customers’ experience reminded Segal of an earlier online eyeglasses retailer — one whose proprietor ended up spending time in prison.

One of the customers Segal spoke with, Samin Beringer, bought a pair of what were ostensibly Chanel sunglasses from the website Eyeglassesdepot for $322. The glasses she received appeared to be something other than the genuine article, and Berninger returned them — and eventually published a negative review on the website Trustpilot. This led Berninger’s customer service contact at Eyeglassesdepot, known only as Arsenio, to send a series of emails, including one threatening a lawsuit.

For Segal, this sounded very similar to two earlier online glasses shops, DecorMyEyes and OpticsFast, which were both run by a man named Vitaly Borker. Borker was sentenced to prison 3 times in the 2010s for fraud, sending threatening emails and a parole violation.

The Times investigation noted that Eyeglassesdepot shares 95% of its source code with OpticsFast. Borker’s lawyer sent Segal a letter denying that he was Arsenio — but there certainly seem to be a number of similarities between Borker’s earlier behavior and that of whoever is running Eyeglassesdepot. While the old saying about letting the buyer beware might apply here, that’s usually not meant to be taken this literally.