WWYD: The Bad Haircut

In this installment of “WWYD,” being unhappy with a service, but not saying anything:

Last weekend I got a really bad haircut — waaay shorter and a totally different shape than the stylist and I had discussed. I’ve told many people about how unhappy I am with the cut — but not the stylist or salon. I know this is not what you’re supposed to do, but it never seemed like the right time to say anything!

During the cut, my hair was wet, and it was hard to tell exactly what was happening. I felt like we’d had a good conversation beforehand about what I wanted, and I didn’t want to him to feel criticized or judged while he was doing his job. By the time I REALLY suspected that the stylist was cutting off too much, it’s not like he could re-attach it, so I sat in silent panic.

It looked awful when he finished, but I still paid for the cut & gave a normal tip. It seemed silly to complain or dispute the payment after the fact, because nothing could be done (other than making it even shorter!). Besides, I hadn’t spoken up during the cut — when I was a waitress, it was hard to take customer complaints seriously if the customer had eaten the entire meal before voicing his/her dissatisfaction! So, what should I have done? What can I do now? — S.

The only haircuts I’ve regretted getting were ones I paid $10 for, and my response was simply to run away, never to return. Now, I’m a working adult who can afford to spend more than $10 on a haircut, and have been going to my place for the last six years. I’m treated well — the owner gives me a big, warm hello every time I go in, and I’ve had positive experiences with each of the stylists I’ve had there over the years.

At the end of each cut, the stylist always asks me what I think about it it, and though it’s usually positive, I’ve always said something when I felt it wasn’t what I wanted: “I think we could go shorter,” for example, or, “The back looks funny to me.” And the stylist has always done his/her best to make the correction. Salons want you to be happy with your cuts, because if you’re happy with your cuts, you’ll come back — hopefully for many more years. I think it’s clear to you what you should have done (spoken up, rather than sitting in silent panic), and the thing you can do now, and the thing that I would do, is go back to the salon and say something (as politely as possible, of course).

Let’s go back to your example: Would you take your customer seriously if she were a regular diner who ate at your restaurant for years, and she said something? If she had said, “I’m sorry, I know I should have said something when I noticed it, but the salmon I had was really overdone”? I’m sure you would have also liked her to say something when she noticed it, but you’d also want to find some way to make sure she didn’t walk out unhappy. Customers become regulars when they’re happy with both the product and customer service. (See this comment from September from DeepOmega.)

From Logan, as told to Mike:

When I was in high school, I went to a salon where my mom was a regular and knew the owner, and I ended up getting a haircut that I hated. When I told my mom about it, she took me back there so I could let them know, and they ended up letting me get my hair cut again for free. At first, they asked me to see the same stylist so he could fix his mistakes, but I told them I was too embarrassed to see him again, so they let me see another person, who ended up making my hair look better. END OF STORY.

Can you go back and let them know you’re unhappy with the cut? Yes, especially if you’re a regular, they’ll likely want to figure out a way to make things right — if not offering to fix it there, like with what happened to Logan, perhaps offering a discount or to comp your next haircut. And if they don’t offer to do anything, well, it is your right as a customer to not have to visit that establishment again if you don’t want to.

Email me your WWYD experiences to me with “WWYD” in the subject line. See previous installments.