Articles > WWYD- What Would You Do? > What Would You Do: Refund An Unhappy Client?
Last updated: August 14, 2019

What Would You Do: Refund An Unhappy Client?

close formula

Unhappy clients happen…so how do you handle them? When is a refund appropriate? And what if the client threatens a bad online review? One of our BTC friends asked this question and your responses were so great! Keep reading for fantastic advice, plus some horror stories from fellow stylists that will make you say, “Yep, I’ve been there!”


“Every now and then, everyone gets those clients who want their money back…maybe because they ask for a cut or color and the client ends up not liking it. Do you give the money back so they don’t write a bad review? Or don’t give the money back and live with a bad review? I just hate when this happens because it’s not our fault that we gave them exactly what they wanted and they end up not liking it!”


Need some advice? DM us on Instagram and Facebook!




Refund RARELY, And Instead Offer Another Service

“No refunds! We never try to give the client less than 💯% right? They pay for the service provided and that’s that. Offering to fix or tweak the said issue is a better compromise.” – @jc_hairologist


“If a guest is ever ‘un-happy’ I will invite them back to discuss what it is. To be honest, they usually just want more attention or feel they should have gotten more (in their mind) for what they paid. Usually offering a treatment, a toner, a couple foils or even just going in dry cutting and letting them move the hair and you snipping a piece here and there can make a huge difference in setting their mind at ease. Especially if they are new and haven’t had great service in the past and are now paying for great service, it may be a shock for them at first. But set their mind at ease and show them you care and you’re not like the rest. It’s what sets you apart! It can be the difference in having a guest for life and a one-and-done.” – @hairby.nikole


“I’m suite rental, so my policy is to offer a free redo at first, if they continue to be upset I’ll offer 50% of the money back and free redo. The one and only time I’ve had someone want money back, they were OK with the 50% back. I try to keep them happy to avoid a bad review, but if a bad review happens then move on from it. Have good friends/loyal clients leave extra good reviews to make up for the one bad review.” – @bk_johnson


“The only time you should ever be giving money back is when YOU f*** it up. If you did everything you were supposed to do, and it’s exactly like or VERY similar to an inspiration photo, that’s on the client.” – @mandawestcoast


“Fixes, if you contacted me within a week, are complimentary. I try to honor that even if they just decided what they chose wasn’t for them. That’s just good customer service and typically no more than a glaze. But if they need a big change (a girl asked me to redo full head of extensions because she changed her mind about what side she wanted her part on) or take longer than a week to complain, then they have to pay for a new service. No refunds.” – @haircolorkilla


“It depends. We’re they polite in letting you know that they didn’t like the result? Do you want to keep them as a client? If the answer to those questions are yes, then offer a HALF refund. Tell the client you must charge for the product and labor. Put yourself in the position of the client. What would you want if you were her? Buyer’s remorse is annoying, especially if you gave them what they wanted, but say half is fair. If the client is being disrespectful or unreasonable, then I would offer a FULL refund, and refuse further services.” – @celebrity_hair_ninja


“We need to be able to run a business without living in fear of bad reviews. I suppose you have to get to the root of the problem (no pun intended). Don’t ever issue a refund over the phone. We have them come back in if they’re unhappy so we can assess the situation. If one of our stylists truly didn’t deliver the quality of work we pride ourselves in, we’ll offer a correction by the owner or a refund. If the client dictated the service and they’re unhappy with what they’ve chosen, we’ll usually offer an adjustment and just charge them for products used, but no refund. Just keep as much of your correspondence in writing as you can so you can blast them right back should they leave a bad review.”  – Peter Lewis


“If I’m told within THREE days that something’s up, then I schedule a redo appointment (blow-dry is not included) and it’s JUST for adjustments, such as a few extra foils, a darker shade or toning. After three days, it’s a charge. I also have it posted that I have the right to refuse and absolutely no refunds.” – Marian Nissan


“Give them their money back and leave a review for THEM. One negative review, for a stylist, can be potentially detrimental to success. Make other stylists aware of potentially predatory clients.” – @xosaraxo



Up Your Consultation Game To Avoid This Issue

“Consultation is the key. I will spend an enormous amount of time making sure we are on the same page—explaining tones, looking at photos and giving my professional opinion on what would look best on that specific client. From cut to color and style, you and your client should be knowledgeable on realistic goals and expectations. Once that is intact and you feel confident in what you have agreed upon, if that client is not happy with the result, I will do my best same-day to get that client to a desired goal. If I have delivered exactly our predetermined goal, I will not give money back—however, if I can tweak anything that is troublesome to that client, I will. Good and appropriate customer service can stop a bad review from ever happening. I pride myself in that consultation because it creates happy clients that are completely knowledgeable in what they are receiving in that service.” – @kcstudiossd


“I always go back to the consultation and explain it’s what they wanted. I’ve never given money back. I have, however, offered to bring them back if I have time between clients and, for example, re-tone or re-cut if they aren’t 100% happy for whatever reason. Keeping that relationship is important to keeping us happy behind the chair as well as our clients!” – @r.rosshairdesign


“You need to have a consultation card where you write what is asked for and note what you agree to and what you did. Note what they say when leaving and have them initial it. Then if they change their mind, you can offer to tweak it, but if they ask for a whole different look, you charge them. Don’t give money back. Don’t redo unless you messed up. Own your mess-up by not charging in the first place. And own when you didn’t mess up and be confident about it. The public is so used to walking all over stylists they go from salon to salon getting freebies it needs to stop. And it will only stop if we have a paper trail and call them on it.” – @danagarmon


“Requiring extremely thorough consultations with clear communication and sometimes, negotiation, has helped me completely eliminate these scenarios. I have also stopped giving people dramatically different makeovers for this reason, in favor of gradually adjusting their appearance. Almost no one likes a dramatic change, even if it’s exactly what they ask for. This also saves me time and effort if we start moving in a direction that they decide they don’t like. If it’s gradual, then I can save their hair integrity and it’s often much less challenging to take them back to their original point.” – @uggoff




Now Let’s Hear Some Client Horror Stories 😜

“I JUST had this happen to me. The lady, for one, couldn’t make up her mind on what she wanted and showed me multiple pictures of balayage. I did a pre-consultation via text, and every single picture she sent of her hair looked light and she said she just wanted to be a brighter blonde. You got it. So after finally narrowing it down, I gave her exactly what she wanted. She didn’t tip me, and I told her I would gladly tweak anything for her since she was as blonde as she wanted to be. Later on that day, she texted me saying I made her look like she was trying too hard to get into college (she’s 36 so I’m assuming making her look younger is a horrible thing for her), and she bashed everything I did after spending 5 HOURS on what should’ve only taken me 1 hour, tops. So no, I have zero sympathy for clients wanting refunds when we bust our asses to give them exactly what they want and it’s not our fault that they’re indecisive and or just plain rude. I would’ve happily fixed it for her if she didn’t go talking s*** about it. She wouldn’t even send me pics to see what she was talking about 😂” – @scissor_demon


“Had a girl I’ve known for years but had never cut. Gorgeous long, blonde hair. Has a pic of a cute wavy bob. I asked if she was sure as that would be quite a bit cut off! We went back and forth a little, and I agreed to do it. We were both a bit excited…it was gonna be a huge change! As I’m cutting, she’s changing it somewhat. I tell her not to get too crazy because it will change the look. Finished the blowout and put some wave in it…exactly what she said she wanted. B**** threw a fit! Dropping the F-word…saying she looks like a third-grade teacher…on and on! I was PISSED! I calmly said that I did EXACTLY what she asked for. She ranted a bit more and I just looked at her…she opened her purse to pay me and I said Oh no, you don’t owe me a thing, but I’ll never be guilty of having you in my chair again. I’ve never heard a word from her since. My coworkers still tell the story!” – @roycrager


“I have a good one. A little over a month ago, this someone booked an appointment for a unicorn color. She missed that appointment, and when the booking site charged her card for no-show, it was declined. I let the fee slide. She booked two more times and was no-show on both AGAIN! Card still not charged. She used a middle man to relay messages back and forth to me. I let her book one more time but I said ONLY if a deposit and one of the no-show fees were paid. She used her middle man to bring the money. This time the appointment was canceled by me due to inclement weather, and I told her to reschedule it to whatever suits her schedule. She then decides to wait a month and ask for a refund…🙄🤔😶 My policy is clear and not sugar-coated. She got mad because it is no refund on such, and threatened to go to court on me and everything. 😂🙈😐 I gave her two choices. Come get your hair done or call it a loss. She took the loss…the Creator knows what You need and I didn’t need her terrible vibes!” – @anastaciastylezz


“Once had a client who wanted to go from a good 4-inch black root with bleach blonde color, who wanted to get an in-between color but refused a skin test. So after two stylists putting in a full head of foils, she complained it’s not what she wanted. Even then she still refused a skin test or have us try to correct it. Will never take a client that high maintenance without that patch test. She only got 50% refunded as she had already posted about us all over Facebook.” – @marcwilliamshair


“I have only ever had this happen once, and the woman had her hair come out exactly as asked. I even confirmed with other stylists in the shop. Her hair looked exactly like the picture she brought in. She was extremely rude and loud. I finally refunded her and told her to NEVER return to our salon or I would call the police.” – @torsmom


“Man, I know when I haven’t come through, and I take care of it then. But sometimes, you can have the best consultation, and they come back later and complain. I had someone do that to me years ago, and I felt gutted because I felt I had done a good job. But part of me wanted to forget it ever happened so I gave her back her money (tip included!). On her way out, a fellow stylist pulled me by the arm and said she had done the same thing to her! I wanted to effing run her down with my car!! Lesson learned.” – @hairbender5488


“I worked with a gal who had a guy keep coming back for a re-perm or his money back. The third time, she took him to the shampoo bowl and poured perm solution on and started combing. He asked, ‘What are you doing?’ She said, ‘If you want your money back, I’m taking my perm back!’ Problem solved!” – Marnie Barabe


“I had this happen to me a few weeks ago…first-time client said she liked it, then four days later, she came in and said it was too dark. I put in some highlights free of charge. Then a week later, she came back saying it was too light. I asked her what she wanted me to do. She said, ‘I want you to put more dark color in free of charge or I want my money back.” I said, “I’ve done your hair twice and you didn’t like it, so chances are you won’t like it if I try once again. Instead of doing another free service, I will refund you 100 dollars.” I explained to her that sometimes people just don’t connect, and I think she should find another stylist. All money isn’t good money, but at least I felt I did the right thing. She can’t say I wasn’t fair. I’ve only had this happen three times in 30 years. You can’t please everyone 100% of the time.” – Carla Wood


“I had one who wanted a discount or for me to pay for her white blouse she wore for a color appointment…after she refused a robe and was wearing a very expensive shirt. Capes and towels aren’t enough when you’re moving so much.” – Mireya Rodriguez


And From The Client Side…

“I was the client in the situation as this happened just last week to me! The stylist made my Level 4, icy blonde balayage hair ORANGE, not warm, but a very splotchy orange. Very unwearable and had to spend hundreds on a color correction. She did not even offer to fix it at all, and I asked for a refund and I never heard back from her again so I wrote her my very first bad review. So curious to see if maybe I’m just a horrible client or if this stylist was in the wrong! The stylist who fixed my hair said they’d be absolutely ashamed to handle a situation the way she did. 🤷” – @kristinaliviniuk_



But Just Remember This…

“Why are we haunted by the one or two clients who have crossed our career paths that didn’t like our work? We fail as stylists to remember the hundreds or thousands that have blessed us in our careers. I love my choice of career, and try hard to focus on how lucky I am to do what I do. When you look at the big scheme of things, these people are usually unhappy in all aspects of life, not just with us. I feel sorry for them, throw back a glass of wine 🍷 and smile 😁. Feeling blessed once again and carry my head high.” – Elaine Flatland