The first quarter of the year almost always inspires even the most self-assured city girl to treat the new year as a new chapter to write, a fresh start to an otherwise awesome life story, and a chance at self-reinvention. Undoubtedly, one of the easiest (and budget-friendly!) ways to shrug off the cobwebs of the past year is to head to a salon to rock a new hairstyle. As any go-getter achiever knows, investing on a reputable salon is permission to close one’s eyes, smell the luxurious ambiance, enjoy the relaxing massage, and trust the skill and good taste of the stylist.
Except a stellar track record does not guarantee perfection one hundred percent of the time. In fact, salon experience varies from person to person, and disaster can unfortunately befall any one when one least expects it.
Even the goddess Angel Locsin is not exempt from this misfortune.
We share with you tried and tested ways of handling salon nightmares without losing your composure.
1. Within 10 minutes from end of salon session, confront the stylist.
Customers vary in degree of micromanaging a stylist in the course of a salon session—some discuss the hair concern that is intended to be resolved or a general idea of the look or outcome that is intended to be achieved, while others bring pictures of what the end result should be and talk the stylist through the entire process. Regardless of where one is in that spectrum, it is reasonable to expect the stylist to clarify what the customer wants from the salon visit, and to speak up if the expectation is not clear. Also, certain treatments yield expected results that should approximate the descriptions provided in the salon menu of services.
If the end result is short of what had been agreed between you and the stylist, or what has been represented by the stylist to you, the best time to bring this up is immediately upon seeing it while the stylist is right beside you. Suggest you start with: “Hmm. I am not sure this is what we talked about.” Then proceed to recount what you agreed with the stylist and compare that with the end result. After that, ask the stylist: “What do you think?”
In confronting the stylist, it is best to speak calmly and avoid asking questions that appear to embarrass or to challenge the skills of the stylist. Use a criterion or basis for complaint that is quite objective, like the expectation you talked about with the stylist at the start of the session or the description of the service provided to you by the stylist. Otherwise, a simple complaint may escalate to an ugly conflict.
It is also helpful to already know what you want out of the confrontation—do you want your money back? To receive a discount? To learn tips and tricks on how to mitigate what you do not like about the service, like hiding the wrong color or growing out a bad haircut? Or do you simply want the stylist to know that you are not happy? After allowing the stylist time to explain, clearly state what you want. Suggest you say: “I understand what you are saying, but this is not what I expected from what we talked about earlier. Since we cannot undo this, it is fair that [state what you want].”
While the stylist is thinking about your demand, suggest you start taking pictures of yourself, for future reference. Should the stylist be able to provide you a satisfactory solution, then thank your lucky stars and courteously express your gratitude to the stylist and the staff. However, if the stylist refuses to budge or to try to reach a middle ground with you, then thank the stylist and request for an audience with the salon manager or owner. If this is not possible at that particular moment, take down the name of the stylist and support staff, note the date and time of the salon session and the services availed, then have the stylist sign your salon receipt.
2. Within seven days from end of salon session, write a formal letter of complaint to the salon owner and management, copy furnished the stylist.
This is where your signed note/salon receipt comes in handy. In writing the letter, make reference to the details of your salon session and attach a copy of the said signed note/salon receipt to establish the identity of the offending stylist. Suggest that the tone of the letter be cordial but firm to show that your complaint relates only to that particular experience and not an attack on the reputation and good name of the salon. Describe in clear rational terms the distress that you are suffering because of that unfortunate salon visit—do you feel humiliated whenever you meet with friends because of the disastrous color that you cannot remedy without damaging your hair and scalp? Do you have uncomfortable skin irritation because of the kind of products that were used on your hair? Did you have to visit a dermatologist and incur further costs in order to remedy painful scalp or falling hair or any adverse reaction to the treatment that was represented to you as mild?
End the letter with a clear demand and a date by which the salon should either comply with your demand or provide a formal response to your letter. Then say: “Otherwise, I will be constrained to consider other remedies available to me, including seeking legal assistance on the matter.”
Suggest to hand deliver the letter to the salon, keeping for yourself a signed receiving copy. If this is not something you are willing to do, sending by overnight courier is another option since this service allows tracking of the parcel and proof of receipt by the intended recipient. Keep copies of these proof of sending and receipt, and monitor the calendar to make sure that you do not miss the deadline that you have set.
Should the deadline pass without you receiving satisfactory response from the salon owner or management, suggest to issue a second demand letter of a stronger language. The second demand letter would make reference to the first demand letter and its failure to elicit any response from the salon owner or management, the stress and detriment on your part in respect of your complaint, and the call for action on a specified deadline. At the end of the letter, state that the same is your final demand and warn that you will not hesitate to take full advantage of all remedies available to you under prevailing laws.
3. Within a reasonable time from end of salon session, consult a lawyer and agree on the appropriate legal action.
For grave complaints such as actual physical harm arising from the unfortunate salon experience, suggest to immediately seek legal assistance. Bring with you proof of your salon appointment and details of services rendered, as well as recount the instructions that you have given the stylist as regards the services and agreed results. For allergic reactions and illness resulting from the salon treatment, bring information to substantiate that prior to such salon treatment, you have had no history of any skin sensitivities that should have otherwise required you to be more circumspect in the choice of salon services and products.
If you are at a loss as to whom you should refer your legal query, or if you would like to explore legal assistance from practitioners not affiliated with the bigger law firms, suggest you request from law schools a list of law firms that offer internship programs to law students. Please understand that it is not unusual for law firms or solo practitioners to receive “cold calls” inquiring about their services and/or legal options available for a particular issue prior to formally signing an engagement contract and paying legal fees. Please also note that an exploratory meeting with a lawyer on a legal matter does not automatically require you to hire his or her services—if you do not feel comfortable with a particular lawyer you met, you are free to meet with other lawyers. However, once you have made a choice, suggest that you be faithful and forthcoming with your lawyer in order to fully enjoy the benefits of your professional relationship.