Getting optical prints with film development is not something I have heard of in years. Even the pro labs I have used are using Frontier machines or the like and all of the prints are from scans. The scans that they use to print are not at all high resolution, just enough to print 4x6 from, really, and if you want better scans from which to make larger prints, there will usually be an additional cost.

I am curious to see what you find on your negs, because my suspicion is still that the scanning process at the lab was to blame and that you can get good prints from the negs once you have them. Sure optical prints would be preferable, but the cost will likely be more than you wish to pay when you are getting what amount to proofs with your film developing.