This Little Miggy Stayed Home: Confronting Bad Service

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Confronting Bad Service

I scheduled a hair cut earlier this summer at my favorite salon. It's a popular place, but I was still a little surprised that my appointment was a a month and a half out. Finally, a couple weeks ago I went to get my cut and I was really excited as my hair needed some serious TLC. I wasn't going to my usual guy (because his schedule was even more full) but I was going to a guy who had cut my bangs before and had done a really good job.

We talked extensively about my hair getting thinner on top and what I can do about it (he recommended starting with Nioxin). Then we talked about what I wanted in a cut. I wanted to keep my bangs longer as I was liking the longer, split-down-the-middle Bridgett Bardot type bangs, but I needed a few inches off the bottom as my hair was especially thin and straggly around the bottom. I told him I didn't like to have short layers around my face--I mentioned that a few times as it drives me batty! I showed him 2 different pictures of cuts I liked (that were similar to each other). They were both "lob" style cutes (long bob) and I said, "Like that, but longer."

You know where this is going... as he was cutting (and while he did a olaplaex treatment) we chatted a lot. Then I remember at one point my gut sinking as I thought, " he cutting the front short?" Now I didn't explicitly say "please don't cut the front shower than the back" but I had thought I made it clear with my no-short-layers-around-my-face talk. And honestly that sinking feeling remained during the cut, but I kept trying to block it out. Maybe he's just layering a little, maybe it's not as short as you think...just give it a chance I told myself. When he finished I knew I wasn't happy, but I hid it, smiled and bounced out the door.

He had kept it long, but only in the back. And long in the back, shorter in the front is one of my personal hair pet peeves. Truly, I HATE this cut on me. Throughout the day I was still trying to tell myself it wasn't that big of a deal--but by evening I was really upset. It was much, much shorter in the front and overall just not what we had discussed.

Mainly I was upset because HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN TO ME SO OFTEN? I swear, getting this particular cut even when I have talked and talked to the stylist in depth has happened to me so. many. times that I am starting to believe I'm part of the problem.

However, in this particular instance I did not know what to do. Not only did I wait a long time for this hair cut, I also paid a lot of money for it. And I didn't like it at all. Historically, hair has always been where I spend the most of my beauty money. Even in college I always managed to spend a little more than I should have on a good cut. Hair is just so personal and that's one of the things that I was having a really hard time with--this cut left me with hair that did not feel like me.

In general I'm not a shy violet and can confront people when I feel it's warrented. I have no problem letting a server know if my food came out wrong and even with our bathroom renovation we had a really difficult situation when we had to ask them to rip out the floor and do it all over again (another post for another day!).  But for some reason confronting my stylist felt harder than either of those scenarios. Food, for one isn't a very high stakes thing. The server is just the middle man and if something is wrong, it's not necessarily his fault--and either way it can be fixed relatively easily. Now the bathroom was very high stakes. Ripping out the floor and doing it over was AWFUL--for them, for us, for everyone. BUT, it was something I was willing to put my foot down because the results would be permanent and we're paying a lot of money.

But a haircut? First, this particular cut couldn't really be fixed because there was already too much length taken off. And will always grow back right? RIGHT? Ugh, my stomach was honestly in knots about it. Additionally, the idea of criticizing his work (which for many stylists is something they love and have a lot of pride for--as they should) also felt very difficult. A cut is less easily fixed than a hamburger, but also not as permeant as a bathroom floor, but I didn't want to let it slide! Not this time! I decided just to write up an email and see. Maybe just writing an email would make me feel better. Then I took to FB and asked friends if they have ever confronted a stylists after a bad cut?

After a lot of encouragement, I sent the email. EEK! And then I got a response.

He was SO gracious, kind and apologetic. He completely admitted being at fault for not asking more in depth questions and really fleshing out what I wanted. And he said that in hindsight he can see where he went wrong. He refunded me the full cost of the cut and olaplaex treatment, offered the next two cuts for free and even offered to buy the Nioxin product for me as well as a gesture of goodwill. He also thanked me for confronting him and letting him know I wasn't happy, rather than just letting it go.

PHEW! I have to say, one of the reasons I love going to this particular salon (and in general "nicer" salons) is the culture there is one of kindness, generosity and really wanting you to feel your best. Even though I was sure I would get a kind and positive response, I was still pleasantly surprised with just how above-and-beyond he went to make restitution. I mean even by the end of his email I was like, dude... it's just a hair cut. Kidding. Truthfully, I was very relieved and also very glad I spoke up. Obviously I was as kind as possible, but its still hard to come off as kind when telling someone you don't like what they did to your hair, but even in those sticky situations kindness goes a long way.

Why is confronting bad service so hard--or is it? Is it easier just to let it slide? Do you not want to come off as mean or worse, bitchy? Is it harder for men vs. women? Personally, I think it really depends on the type of service, the cost, longevity and how personal it feels. I think that the higher the stakes, the harder it is to confront. Something really personal like hair is much harder, than a plate of food. Then there are things like home renovations which  are personal, costly and long lasting! A trifecta of difficulty to confront. The only other time in recent memory I can think of when I confronted bad service is when I went in for a massage and this lady was giving me the worst massage of my life! So after she had already started I was like,"I'm only going to have time for a 30 minute massage instead of 60 minutes today--thanks!" Do you have a hard time confronting bad service? Like me, do you find it harder to confront a bad haircut than almost any other service out there? Ha! What's your most difficult story of confronting someone when they gave you bad service? 


  1. Oh boy loved this post of yours because I feel the same way about my hair and had the same experience!! I did nothing tho and thought now I have to find another salon or go to another stylist at the same one but make sure the one I go to is not working when I am there!! Is that not crazy!! Since I was visiting my daughter in Utah ( land of darling hair cuts) I went to a salon and got a darling cut and color - for 1/3 of the price I pay for something I hate. I live in NJ - you would think I could find someone that I love to go to as I did when I lived in Tx!! I am thinking I might have to make it an all day affair and go to NYC and get my hair cut there !! Maybe you know a good salon you could recommend!

  2. Good for you for speaking up and sending that email. Hair is SO personal and if you're like me, it really affects how I feel about myself. I even wrote about it in my blog recently -- humidity - makes me hate my hair and feel awful about myself. I had a bad hair color experience one time and I should have said something, but didn't want it to get worse, but I never went back to that salon. My daughter takes sugar bear hair vitamins and thinks it is helping her (already gorgeous) hair!

  3. Whoa!!! Good on him trying to make it right!!

  4. Anonymous1:47 AM

    This happened to me a month ago I was really upset.My 24 year old daughter said 'i t will grow, its only hair' my best friend is bald due to cancer that helped to put it into perspctive. Now one month down the line I have a super hair cut.He really knew what he was doing .I had better stick to teaching !! I'm no hair dresser. I couldn't say anything to him but will tell him the story next time. Liz