Mom vs. Daughter vs. YOU: Who Wins?
It’s one of those client situations you dread the most: mom vs. daughter vs. YOU—and more often than not, no one wins. In this particular situation, an anonymous BTC-er asked for advice on how to handle this sticky situation:
“I had an underage client come in with her mom, and first wanted a toner to correct the yellow in her blonde, and then right out of the shampoo bowl, she asked me to bleach all of her roots for a platinum blonde. After that, she comes back for a purple shampoo wash (because she couldn’t afford to purchase the actual bottle—a red flag). I warned her that because her hair was so light, it might keep a slight purple tint for about 3-5 washes. I washed it one time and the slight purple tint was still in the hair and her mother freaked out and sent her back in the shop to pay me to wash her hair 3-5 more times until the purple faded. Then she asked me to tone down the platinum because it’s too blonde?! Obviously her and her mother wanted two separate things. The mother showed me a picture of lowlights and the daughter didn’t look too excited, so I did a level 8 lowlight just on the top, very light, to break it up. The daughter went home unhappy to her mother because it’s not platinum anymore and asked for a refund when I already gave her 50% off from the service because she couldn’t afford it in the first place. And then she threatened to blast the salon on social media if she didn’t get her refund! What do I do!? I almost want to give her the money back so her crazy ass leaves me alone!”
They’re At Fault
After getting hundreds of responses, an overwhelming majority of you seemed to be in agreement: the fault is with the clients on this one. “I think they’re nuts! I hate being put in the middle like that,” says Shannon Glover. “Show them a picture of platinum compared with the picture you posted. She got what she wanted. Tell them to get on the same page before you do another thing! Put them both in their places!” Ashley Goldhammer says, “[Both colors you did] are incredibly gorgeous! Save the pictures of your work and if she slams you on social media, so be it…you can’t please everyone all of the time. Do NOT give her money back—it’s a gorgeous color and you put hours into it. You should be compensated for that!” Michelle Hodge Tate agrees, saying, “Don’t refund…you did what you were asked to do both times. Just because they didn’t agree with what was being done doesn’t mean you messed up. Hopeful THEY learned the lesson! I wouldn’t refund her because they would take that as you assuming some guilt for what you did, which you should not! The fault was in communication between the girl and her mother—not in the results. Save the pictures so if it ever gets brought up, you can show the proof to cover your butt—and the salon’s.”
“I agree with all the above responses,” says Heather Presser. “Do not refund. You have photos of great hair. Be kind, but firm. Stand your ground. Your services are not free. If they are the type of people who need to “blast” you on social media, chances are the people on their “friends list” already know what kind of people they are.”
All in all, Kimberly Rae Bidwell sums up the majority of opinions on the situation: “Never discount your prices just to get a client in your chair when it’s their idea! Red flags were all over that [situation] from the beginning. And remember, if a consultation takes longer than 15 minutes, the client will never be happy. I say, do not refund the money, the service was performed and you did everything you could to make her (/them) happy, and you lost money already. It was a no-win situation there, between the two of them. If you take your car to a mechanic, do you get a refund if it’s not fixed? NO. The work was done, you pay. Sorry, you will probably be ‘blasted’ on social media, but [you can] blast THEM, too. The hardest thing for a hairdresser to tell a client is NO. A painful, but worthwhile, lesson.”
On the contrary, there were a few responders that argued that a difficult client (or two!) is ultimately the responsibility of the stylist. Jennifer Grifo says, “It was a poor choice on your part to allow the minor to make the decisions. Whoever is paying gets the final say, that way, you can avoid this type of situation from happening. If the daughter tried to change plans while the mother wasn’t there, you should have called the mother to verify if it was okay. You always need to cover your own butt. Sometimes it isn’t always about making the client happy. Some people will try to take advantage of you.”
“The consultation wasn’t thorough and they DID take advantage of you,” says Emily Waddell. “You saw a few red flags and proceeded to perform more services. I hope you can take from this that it’s okay to pass on a service. It will save you in the future. Work smarter, not harder!”
Nickey Ward Davis explains that, “No one will raise your value and worth except you! Your first mistake was a discount. If you [do a consultation], give them a total, and they can’t afford it, then they need to save money and get it done when they can. From what I read, she wanted one service and couldn’t afford it so you gave her a 50% discount. Then, at the shampoo bowl, she wanted a different service but couldn’t afford the first one! But you still did the second service also. Add on shampoo services, and now they want money back! You are already upside down with your time and product. Tell her AND her mom that their services are no longer needed. Lesson learned, I hope!”
Natalia Starr puts it simply: “Use my mantra from my very first boss, 30 years ago: ‘If in doubt, send them out!’”
If all else fails, however, some BTC-ers have suggested that the best thing to do is to walk away and be better prepared for the future. Gena Smith says, “Never, ever discount your work. If they cannot afford it, show them the door. Why would she respect you now? This error is yours. Give her the money back and send them packing.”
Mickey Long says, “Sometimes it’s worth cutting your losses to rid yourself of a crazy person. I hate giving refunds, but sometimes it’s just easier.”
“You need to get chemical release forms in your salon. I never understood the value of these forms until this situation happened with a high school girl. You only do the service if the guardian signs. And the guardian should be present for every single appointment if they insist on having an opinion on the outcome of your services. [The form is] an insurance policy, so you will never discount a service again,” says Samantha Dawson.
Leigh Boncey advises: “Tell the girl and her mother that if they continue to threaten you with slander and non-payment, that you only see fit to call the police. Non-payment is a crime.”
Finally, you can always play it cool. Corinne Burton says, “Next time this kind of thing arises, tell them politely that you need to do what you know how to do as a licensed/trained professional (which is why they came to you in the first place) and that this is the price, or you cannot do the service, plain and simple. Time is money.”
No matter who may or may not be at fault, to solve a sticky situation like this one, it’s important to remember to handle it with care. Know your rights as a stylist, know the laws in your area, and know what you can do to solve/prevent bad client relationships from bringing down your prices, your attitude, and ultimately, your reputation.