To Refund or Not to Refund—That is the Question!
Red and yellow and pink and green; purple and orange and blue—no, we’re not singing the “Rainbow Song” from preschool, we’re describing all of the fashion colors you have applied over the past couple months! The hottest sensation in coloring is all about painting those vivid pastel highlights or colorful base blends. For this BTC member, it was just another one of her clients wanting some vivid streaks on her ends. Unlike most clients, however, this one was 11 years old, and her mother wanted assurance that these fashion colors would last. “We agreed on $75, just so this girl could get her dream color,” recalls the BTC member. “I mentioned that I would mix the colors slightly darker to factor in some fading in hopes of it melting to a pastel tone eventually. The mother said ‘For $75, the color should not fade at all.’” Of course, she explained to the mother that these bright shades will fade—some faster than others—and after some back and forth, this stylist painted beautiful streaks of purple, green and blue throughout the ends. And they all lived happily ever after… for two weeks.
A few days later, the mom texted the stylist asking if chlorinated water would remove the color. Instead of saying yes—this stylist didn’t want to be the bad guy, preventing an 11-year-old from having fun at a pool party—she told the mom that she recommended against it, but had no conclusive evidence it would strip the color. Two weeks later, the now irate mother stormed into the salon demanding a full refund. The color-that-should-never-fade did what it was expected to do—it faded after weeks of shampooing with a store bought sulfate-free shampoo and letting her daughter swim in chlorinated water. Now the irate mother wants a full refund, despite the stylist offering a plethora of remedies. She could refresh the color or remove it entirely for free, or change the color for the cost of products used, which comes out to about $15. Still, the mother wants a full refund. Befuddled and worried, this stylist turned to the BTC community to ask what they would do if this situation arose in their salons.
The overwhelming consensus? Keep that money.
BTC member Erin Harris ensures this problem never arises in her salon by having her fashion color clients sign a contract. “When I do vivid colors, I always have clients sign a permission slip stating that they are aware that vivid ‘fashion colors’ fade and bleed, and exposure to chlorine, hard water, non-professional products and heat will cause more fading and bleeding,” explains Erin. Afterwards, Erin makes sure she carefully goes over aftercare instructions with these clients to extend the color’s life as long as possible. “In our salon, we guarantee our color services for two weeks, but we do not guarantee vivid colors from fading. I would never give a refund as long as the client was properly informed of the reality of vivid colors.”
Another BTC member, Jo Harris, believes that this circumstance is no different than any service one could receive and used this analogy to explain her thought process. “Do you get a refund at a restaurant when you eat all your food, then get heartburn when you go home [or because] your chicken was overcooked? No, the answer is no!” says Jo. Katie Robinson considers the fact that her hair still has color is a success in its own right. “Two weeks with a vibrant color on an 11-year-old is an accomplishment! No love lost,” praises Katie. With pink hair, Katie knows the realities of fashion colors more than most: “I go orange after two washes and a treatment. I wouldn’t even dream of a pool!”
A request for a refund truly upset BTC member Teagan Stapley, who believes the mother is abusing the situation and is simply cheap. “In reality, we work way too many lunch hours, way too many evenings, miss way too many sunny days at the beach, stain way too many cute outfits and find way too much hair in our favorite bras to deal with miserable people like this! We make people feel beautiful and we are all kinds of awesome for it,” says Teagan. BTC member Angela Sonoras–Parker agrees: “There will always be people trying to get something for nothing in this industry. You have to learn to not take it personally but take it as a learning experience—you’ll never agree to a high-maintenance color on an 11-year-old, don’t expect clients to care for their hair as you would and no refunds! You did what she asked.”