Mobile hairdresser with an unhappy client - help please!

#1
Hi everyone,

I'm a mobile hairdresser and have done a balayage this afternoon which, I think, came out well. I coloured the root area with a Koleston 6/7, which unfortunately stained the client's hairline. I hadn't noticed it under artificial light, but when she came back 10 minutes after she left, I could see the staining in daylight. I spent an hour removing it with stain remover (the client kept saying she could still see it, whereas I was struggling to). I'd already offered to shampoo and blow dry it again, knowing a shampoo would likely remove the staining, but she declined. She said that she'll go home and scrub it, and that she "could cry". She had already paid me but then said she didn't want to pay me, so I handed her money back (£113) not wanting to deal with confrontation. She said she wouldn't leave me a bad review (I'd actually have been a bit annoyed if she had for a bit of staining).

I was upset about this as my clients are generally happy with my work and I have never, ever had anyone request a refund. My sister has since told me off and said I should contact the client requesting part payment for the services, as I'd obviously paid for products and provided a cut and colour she seemed happy with.

What would you guys do now in my situation? Put it down to experience or request payment? I'm annoyed with myself that I didn't offer a goodwill gesture at the time, but I just didn't want any hassle from her. Now I'm annoyed that I'm a pushover!

Thanks in advance
 

#2
I think you should request payment as the issue wasn't that big. And as you mentioned she was happy with the results.
 

Ruby S

Active Member
#3
This makes ME want to cry!! I’m not a hairdresser but i’ve had my hair coloured (pretty dark) since I was a teenager & I always have a little bit of stain on my hairline until I wash it (or scrub it like you said)... I would rather that than have my roots not covered properly! She seems like she’s taking advantage of your good nature... makes me angry. It may be too late to get your money but I would never book her in again if it were me.
 

Haircutz

Super Moderator
Staff member
#4
It’s too late to do anything as you’ve already waved that money goodbye.

Ask yourself - Do you want to avoid confrontation at any cost or to pay your bills?
You’re going to have grow a much thicker skin if you want to be successfully self employed.
Honestly, we can sympathise with you but no-one here can help you until you choose to help yourself.

Next time someone whines, you have to be prepared to stand up for yourself.
You need to be far more assertive with those sorts of clients.

Could you start by practising some role play with your sister to help you gain confidence in dealing with awkward clients?
 

#5
Thank you all for your replies.

YMCA - I'm going to send her a message. What's the worst that can happen? I'm kicking myself now for being an idiot.

Ruby - I thought staining was kind of a given with dark colours, but she was adamant she never gets staining... I think you're right, and I'm angry at myself! I don't think she'll be back, but yes, I won't do her hair again. She's really knocked my confidence. Fortunately I've just had a lovely message from a lady whose hair I cut last week, and she's really happy. Gives me a bit of faith that I'm not as rubbish as I feel at the moment lol :)

Haircutz - Yep, I suspect as much. I'm going to message her anyway, as what's the worst that can happen? If she leaves me a bad review, I have photos to counter it showing a lovely transformation. Thank you for the talking to, I needed it! I was actually meant to start CBT therapy this morning but they cancelled last minute - I had a few sessions a few months ago to help me be more assertive, and I was going to expand on it today. Typical lol. I know what I'm starting with next week! You sound like you're quite an assertive person - could I ask how you would have dealt with it please? Partial refund as a goodwill gesture? If so, how much? Or just tell them where to go? I've never had anyone request a refund before so it would be good to know how others would handle it.

Thank you all again :)
 

#6
I normally don’t comment on posts but I couldn’t help it on this one as I feel for you. If you’re catching every hair on the hairline and there is scalp showing through...it’s going to happen. If you have used barrier cream/not painted on hairless skin then you can’t do anymore. She would complain if you missed part of her roots for the sake of not staining her skin! The only advice I can give is check during processing how the hairline is looking and pre warn your client if there is going to be slight staining, and advise accordingly so that you have covered your own back. As for refunds...she paid for balayage-she got balayage, she paid for the cut-she got the cut, she paid for her roots-she got her roots done and you said she was happy with the finished look. If it were me I would offer a 10% goodwill refund in the hope she wouldn’t leave a bad review but...when this tint wears off in a couple days she is going to have weeks of lovely hair which she shouldn’t have for free. I used to work for a major high street retail company and if for example a pair of jeans had a fault, we would discount them by 10% and make them non-returnable...we would NEVER give them to the customer for free! Now you have refunded her, you cannot really ask for it back as she will probably refuse and cause you more grief. Just put it down to experience and have more confidence that you did your job and some people will complain about anything just to get discounts or freebies. Remaining polite, sympathetic yet firm but fair is always the key with complaints as you don’t want her to spread bad vibes about your work or your customer service and make you feel worse :) xx
 

ronray

Well-Known Member
#7
I normally don’t comment on posts but I couldn’t help it on this one as I feel for you. If you’re catching every hair on the hairline and there is scalp showing through...it’s going to happen. If you have used barrier cream/not painted on hairless skin then you can’t do anymore. She would complain if you missed part of her roots for the sake of not staining her skin! The only advice I can give is check during processing how the hairline is looking and pre warn your client if there is going to be slight staining, and advise accordingly so that you have covered your own back. As for refunds...she paid for balayage-she got balayage, she paid for the cut-she got the cut, she paid for her roots-she got her roots done and you said she was happy with the finished look. If it were me I would offer a 10% goodwill refund in the hope she wouldn’t leave a bad review but...when this tint wears off in a couple days she is going to have weeks of lovely hair which she shouldn’t have for free. I used to work for a major high street retail company and if for example a pair of jeans had a fault, we would discount them by 10% and make them non-returnable...we would NEVER give them to the customer for free! Now you have refunded her, you cannot really ask for it back as she will probably refuse and cause you more grief. Just put it down to experience and have more confidence that you did your job and some people will complain about anything just to get discounts or freebies. Remaining polite, sympathetic yet firm but fair is always the key with complaints as you don’t want her to spread bad vibes about your work or your customer service and make you feel worse :) xx
Agreed!! I have a client who has a 44/0 tint on her 100% white roots and she always stresses about staining. I always explain as she has an uneven hairline , some staining is inevitable, if I don't cover it well enough, you will still have white hairs in this area. I always used the back of my comb as a guard for the skin around the hair, do we could keep the staining neat and to a minimum. I have since discovered that our colour house does their own barrier cream, which protect the skin from staining, but does nit stop the hair being coloured, even if it touches the hair. Look in to it, I'm sure this is the general idea of barrier cream, but as it's new to me I'm not 100%sure. A real inexpensive way around it is to use vaseline around the hairline and ears prior to colour application.
 

Haircutz

Super Moderator
Staff member
#8
First of all, don’t beat yourself up about this unfortunate situation. Accept it, learn from it and move on. This could prove to be the best learning opportunity in your career!

A goodwill gesture would be to offer something like a free hair mask treatment with their next cut, or a small sample bottle of your favourite conditioner, etc. and link it to something that you could potentially sell her in the future.
Never lose an opportunity for increasing your future sales! ;)

Generally, I’d never offer even a partial refund because that gives the impression that YOU agree that you’ve made a mistake, which you haven’t. As others have said, some staining around the hairline when darkening roots, is inevitable, although barrier cream is very effective and I was taught to use that on my level 2 so that’s always been part of my approach.

Talking is very effective. During the initial consultation, you can ask lots of questions including about their hair history and ask them why they’ve chosen to book in with you this time. You can often gauge whether someone is going to be a tricky client from their answers and if they complain that no-one ever gets their hair cut/colour exactly how they want it, they are telling you in advance that they’ll be looking to find fault.

When performing the service, use flattery to reinforce positive expectations. So tell them how well the colour is going to suit their lovely skin tone, eye colour etc. Repeat and reinforce positivity throughout the service. One of the bonuses of working mobile is you can focus your attention completely on the client. Make them feel special with lots of eye contact and listening. Don’t wander off to check your phone if you get a text beep. Deal with that in the car afterwards. Make an effort to build a good rapport with them.
 

#9
Thank you all so much for your replies - you're all so helpful.

I contacted the client explaining that I felt like I was very unfair on myself for giving a full refund, in light of what was inevitable and pretty minimal staining. I worked hard to get the stain off, and when she left I don't honestly believe that anyone but me or her would have known there was a stain there, but she was unhappy/angry all the same. I requested part payment of the colour (£50 rather than the £95) and full payment for the cut. This was more than generous but I didn't want to create further bad feeling. She agreed, and then 2 minutes later said that she'd spoken to "several professionals" who were appalled and that she shouldn't pay me anything. She agreed to come to a deal. She then said she was sat in a salon who were "trying to rectify it, if it's even possible". As her message was getting increasingly guilt-trippy, I decided to just ask for enough to cover my products and the cut, but then asked which salon she was in, as I'd like to speak to them, and also proof of the staining after "two hair washes" as she was making out that it was still horrendous (which it never was in the first place). She agreed to pay, but hasn't and won't provide evidence or salon details. I've actually contacted all the salons in her village, which she could have got to by 9:30 this morning, and no-one knows of her (one even said they'd have kicked her out for being an idiot!).
I now fully believe that she's actually just taking advantage of me - she's got a nice hair cut and colour, so far for free, and is just being difficult and melodramatic when there's no need to be.

Haircutz - Thank you for the advice, I'll definitely use this as a learning opportunity. Your last paragraph I actually pretty much stick to. I'm always positive about how the process is going, always chat, even when it's like getting blood out of a stone. My phone only ever appears for a before and after photo. After each client I keep a little note of something they've told me which I can start a conversation with next time, as I'm a little forgetful but want to make them feel like I do remember our conversations (mostly I do, but it's just as a backup). I don't like feeling uncomfortable in a salon myself, so I try to be as friendly and as human as I can be, to make the client feel comfortable with me. I've had a lot of positive feedback from other clients so I don't think I'm at fault - this lady is just a bad egg, I think. Her messages are full of emotion but with little facts, and little truth it seems.

Sorry for the little essay, and thank you all for your advice - I really appreciate it xx
 

ronray

Well-Known Member
#10
Thank you all so much for your replies - you're all so helpful.

I contacted the client explaining that I felt like I was very unfair on myself for giving a full refund, in light of what was inevitable and pretty minimal staining. I worked hard to get the stain off, and when she left I don't honestly believe that anyone but me or her would have known there was a stain there, but she was unhappy/angry all the same. I requested part payment of the colour (£50 rather than the £95) and full payment for the cut. This was more than generous but I didn't want to create further bad feeling. She agreed, and then 2 minutes later said that she'd spoken to "several professionals" who were appalled and that she shouldn't pay me anything. She agreed to come to a deal. She then said she was sat in a salon who were "trying to rectify it, if it's even possible". As her message was getting increasingly guilt-trippy, I decided to just ask for enough to cover my products and the cut, but then asked which salon she was in, as I'd like to speak to them, and also proof of the staining after "two hair washes" as she was making out that it was still horrendous (which it never was in the first place). She agreed to pay, but hasn't and won't provide evidence or salon details. I've actually contacted all the salons in her village, which she could have got to by 9:30 this morning, and no-one knows of her (one even said they'd have kicked her out for being an idiot!).
I now fully believe that she's actually just taking advantage of me - she's got a nice hair cut and colour, so far for free, and is just being difficult and melodramatic when there's no need to be.

Haircutz - Thank you for the advice, I'll definitely use this as a learning opportunity. Your last paragraph I actually pretty much stick to. I'm always positive about how the process is going, always chat, even when it's like getting blood out of a stone. My phone only ever appears for a before and after photo. After each client I keep a little note of something they've told me which I can start a conversation with next time, as I'm a little forgetful but want to make them feel like I do remember our conversations (mostly I do, but it's just as a backup). I don't like feeling uncomfortable in a salon myself, so I try to be as friendly and as human as I can be, to make the client feel comfortable with me. I've had a lot of positive feedback from other clients so I don't think I'm at fault - this lady is just a bad egg, I think. Her messages are full of emotion but with little facts, and little truth it seems.

Sorry for the little essay, and thank you all for your advice - I really appreciate it xx
Just let her walk away, don't stress over it, and I wouldn't make any more phonecall to salon about this client, it could send out the wrong message, don't let her see that you care, I know you mean well that behaviour could seem quite possessive and stalker ish... Quite honestly I'd rather be at a loss than have to deal with her every 6 weeks. Just take this as your lucky escape, if she tries to return/rebook, decline!! You will get over this, and trust me it won't take that long. You may be £113 down but hopefully you'll have a busy enough week to recover those losses from decent, genuine clients who are more than happy with the service you provide and are happy to pay for the services received.
 

cmsuper

Active Member
#11
Don't worry about her and move on. To make you feel better we all have been conned at some point xxxx
 

cassies97

Well-Known Member
#12
She sounds pathetic if I'm being honest. Shes acting as if its some horrific tragedy and her hair has fallen out or gone orange... I mean come on you've got a bit of tint staining on your skin!

Try not to let her bother you as anyone who agrees with her is just as ridiculous!

Don't be hard on yourself but stand your ground in future. This is an experience from which you can learn a lot. Put your best foot forward!
 

TheDuchess

Well-Known Member
#13
I occasionally refund clients who complain about their experience rather than a fault with the treatment. There's a vicious review of me online about how I was grumpy in comparison to my chatty colleague. It's an unfair review - I was doing the chatty colleague's treatment so she didn't have to deal with the Cow who couldn't choose from 110 colours and decided to have a French and hadn't mentioned that she had black gel to remove when she booked last minute. Chatty colleague was chatting for the two of us whilst I concentrated. (I suffer badly from resting bitch face). I'd also just had a phone call and after the treatment I had to break some distressing and tragic news to my colleague. The photo of my work in her review was good enough to have on my website (I didn't know at the time, but I subsequently got lots of bookings from people looking at me significantly and saying that I'd been recommended for my French...)

She got a refund.

Not long after this French mani complaint I had a Russian lady come in for a French, full of complaint about her previous nail tech and her nails were very poor - didn't look a professional job at all. So I redid them but they weren't perfect because these were her natural nails. I asked her all the way through if she was happy with the length, the shape, the painting etc, her daughter translated but I didn't need to speak Russian to understand a head nod. 15 mins later her daughter returned with photos to complain and ask for a refund. I refused.

I take the attitude that I learn a valuable lesson from every complaint and refunding makes me remember.

If the lesson is to say "sorry I don't have time" I'll be saved a lot of future heartache. If the lesson is to stand my ground politely because I've practised this in my head and I know the value of my work - the refund has repaid itself.

You've paid £113 for a masterclass in how not to handle a difficult client. You'll do much better next time...
 

#14
Thank you all once again for your replies.

This delightful client last night still wasn't providing me any photos of her scalp which was apparently so horrendous, and was still refusing to pay. She then said she'd cover the cost of the products and asked me to confirm I was happy with that, but blocked me before I could reply! I'd already provided her with my bank details, twice, so she has no excuse not to pay, she just doesn't want to. I have a feeling she may be a serial non-payer.

Ronray - I don't think she'll be coming back! If she dares to darken my door again she'll be politely told where to go. It's annoying as I quit my day job last month to go self-employed so this is a big blow to me, but you're right, I will get over it.

Cmsuper - In some ways it makes me feel better, but in other ways it makes me feel sad that there are so many people out there to do this to people who work hard to get by :-( xx

Cassie - Yeah, she's really pathetic. If the worst thing in her life is a bit of staining to her scalp, which came off, then she's doing alright. For me, it's a valuable lesson learnt!

TheDuchess - That's awful. Why are people so unfair? Likewise, I'm happy to have the photos of the work on my Facebook page, as I was particularly pleased with how it came out. I probably won't display them now though due to the bad feeling I have surrounding it.
Thank you for the advice - seeing it as a masterclass is a really good way of thinking about it. I just need to practice being a bit more assertive I guess lol. I qualified nearly 20 years ago and I have never had anyone refuse to pay me. I hope I don't have that experience again.

Thanks everyone. I'm now going to draft up some forms requiring contact details for every new client I take on, and I'll be asking for a non-refundable deposit for all technical services. Hope you all have a lovely day! :)
 

#15
I am glad you are taking measures to not repeat the same mistake in future :)
Good luck
 
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