Hairdressing: What you can do when it goes Wrong!

A visit to the hairdressers should leave you feeling like a million dollars. Your hair is your crowning glory – and when you’ve spent a lot of money on a cut, colour, blow dry, or some other salon treatment, the last thing you want is a disaster on your hands.

Unfortunately, a trip to the hairdressers can go wrong from time to time. It can range from something relatively small such as not liking the streaks in your hair, or the new cut, to something major, like a dye causing some hair breakage. When a hairdressing experience doesn’t go the way you desire, what can you do about it?


© JackF / Adobe Stock

According to the National Hair and Beauty Federation, there are more than 43,000 hair and beauty businesses in the UK – an increase of 1,000 in the past 12 months. Most are small businesses – 94% employ less than ten people and more than two-thirds have less than five employees.

Around 10,000 people started hair and beauty apprenticeships in the UK in 2018/19 and salon businesses have a higher survival rate after five years than most other businesses.


How many clients complain?

Whereas consumers aren’t slow to complain when it comes to buying faulty goods, or having a bad experience in a retail store, it seems we’re less likely to say anything if we’re unhappy with a hairdressing experience. Surveys have revealed 20% of customers have cried due to a bad haircut. However, a massive 80% of British women say they have had a bad experience at the hairdressers at some point in their life – so why didn’t they complain?

Almost 50% of us have been to a professional salon, 23% go to a friend or family member who’s a qualified hairdresser, 14% go to an unqualified friend or family member, 12% use the services of a mobile hairdresser and the remainder does their own hair.

Despite suffering a bad experience, most have gone home pretending to be satisfied, with 55% of dissatisfied customers secretly trying to fix their hair themselves afterwards, instead of complaining at the time.

The women who didn’t complain were asked why: 49% said they knew the hairdresser and didn’t like upsetting them; a further 33% said, in true British fashion, they “didn’t want to cause a fuss”; and 18% “felt too awkward” to say anything.

However, industry chiefs understand how getting a bad haircut can ruin your week, particularly if it’s cost you a lot of money. Anyone unhappy with their new hairstyle should never be afraid to complain and shouldn’t have to pay for something that is below-par.


Do customers have legal rights?

Hairdressers are governed by the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982, as they provide a service. Like any other business, they have to carry out their services to an acceptable standard. If something disastrous has happened at the hairdressers, you can refuse to pay.

For example, if your new hair dye hasn’t worked properly and you’ve ended up with orange hair instead of that golden blonde you imagined, this would be a good reason. If you complain at the time and say you’re unhappy, you can give the hairdresser a chance to do something about it, free of charge.

However, if you refuse to pay, storm out without giving the hairdresser a chance to rectify the problem and then go home and slate them on social media, they are within their rights to sue you for the payment.


What about serious complaints?

If something more serious has happened, for example, if a dye or perm has caused an allergic reaction, made your hair break off, or burned your head, this becomes far more serious than a hairdressing complaint. Suffering an injury, such as a burned scalp, can be devastating.

Having highlights is something hundreds of men and women do all the time, and nothing goes wrong, but occasionally, something serious may happen. One 18-year-old customer received £20,000 compensation after having highlights put in her hair. She suffered extensive scalp burns and hair loss from the bleach and later required a skin graft. This is an extreme scenario!

More often than not, complaints relate to the way the hair has been cut or dyed. It’s usually a simple case of the customer not liking the end result, because it doesn’t look how they expected.


What’s the best course of action?

If you look in the mirror and hate what you see, what should you do?

A survey of stylists revealed most of them would prefer the customer to let them know if they were unhappy, to give them a chance to rectify the problem. Don’t smile sweetly in the salon, say you love it and then go home and cry.

Although you might feel awkward and uncomfortable, the best approach is to tell your hairdresser what the problem is. After all, your stylist wants you to be satisfied. Your hair is their work of art and it’s more upsetting for them to find out afterwards, when they read your online review.

Top salons have offered advice on complaining in the right way. Meredith Morris, owner of Maven Beverly Hills, says it pays to build up a good relationship with your stylist, so you can speak freely. Even the most conscientious stylist may create a style you don’t like. If you already have a good rapport, it’s easier to admit you’re not happy.


Will your stylist fix your problem?

If your hairdresser asks you, partway through your appointment, how you’re liking it so far, take their prompt if you’re unhappy and tell them it’s not for you. The stylist may have asked because they could sense by your demeanour something was wrong, so share your feelings while there’s still enough time to change things. After all, your hairdresser isn’t a mind reader!

Every hairdresser surveyed agreed that they wouldn’t want their customer to lie. If they can’t fix your hair there and then, as a customer, be flexible if your stylist is willing to work with you. Take an appointment when the salon isn’t as busy, so they can devote all their time to making you happy.

Never leave the salon feeling miserable. Your complaint will pretty much lose all credence if you walk out with a big smile, thanking them – only to return two weeks later with a complaint. It’s far better to get it out in the open there and then.

The key to fixing a problem is by being honest and speaking up – nicely. Don’t rant and rave – be polite. You’re far more likely to get something done if you don’t lose your rag.

Every hairstylist will be keen to resolve any issues, not only because your hair is their art form, but also because they wouldn’t want their reputation ruined by receiving a bad review, with no forewarning. Always remember your hair will grow, so it’s highly unlikely it’s going to be ruined for good, even though it may seem like it at the time!

So, guys! Have you had any recent experiences, good or bad, at the hairdressers? Share your story with our unique online reviews platform.

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