Small claims help

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charlottecobb

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Hello all,

I have a little dilemma! I have been hairdressing for over 20 years and this is the first time this has happened to me!

I had a new client that came to me at home for a full head of highlights. Her boyfriend paid and put the money by bacs into my bank. When she arrived her hair apart from an inch regrowth was damaged beyond repair, we were to be using Olapex but even that would have its work cut out! She said to me that she had home bleached her hair herself and that she needed her roots to be highlighted.

Before carrying out the highlights I stated that I would not bleach over-bleach as it would cause her hair to break, I, therefore, called it a work in progress. When I was doing the treatment she was complaining about every hairdresser she had in the past. Then I just knew I should have just said no straight away and refunded her.

When we had finished she looked in the mirror in front of my husband and she was so pleased!

A week later I had a pm on Facebook from her boyfriend to say that she was upset and felt she had missed bits could I help. I then explained to say that she had highlights not and all over bleach and her hair was in such bad condition that I would need to take advice 'touching up' areas. He was very understanding and knew where I was coming from re the damage.

She then messaged me and said that she told him not to message but he did. Then she went on to say that it was a little area that was not close enough to the scalp. Could I just touch it up. I did say I would and made an appointment to have a look and rectify any issues - as long as she signed a declaration that I have told her the risks and it would not be down to me if her hair suffered further stress.

The day of the appointment she cancelled and demanded I refund her all of her money, I said that I would give her a partial refund as I had to buy the Olapex and the other products. She then gave me a barrage of text messages on how a salon was going to put it right now. I have been professional in the way that I did not want to damage her already frazzled hair.

A week later she splashed photos of my personal Facebook profile, apparent images of where I missed and needing advice on where to go now, saying I am a crook and that I should not be trusted. She did this on 20 Facebook groups - I was in pieces! My husband tried to calm me down saying it will be old news tomorrow. I then tried to forget about it but continued getting panic attacks as my friends kept showing me.

5 weeks later I receive a small claims letter with her claiming - I paid for a service that wasn't delivered to the required standards. She is claiming £215 - A full refund, the cost of her salon 'repair' and the costs for the claim.

How do I deal with this? Does she have a case? Counterclaim for defamation and harassment? I am lost totally blown my confidence.

Advice would be lovely.

Thank you
 

Trinity

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I smell a scam artist, try not to take it to heart.

There was another thread with a similar issue recently, there's plenty of good advice on it, I'll see if I can find it for you.

 

charlottecobb

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Thanks for the reply, I did have a look on that feed first. However, I never photograph clients so I don't have before and after pics. Also, it does not elaborate as I have had a claim issued from the small claims court so I just need to know what to reply to them as she has only stated that I did not deliver to the required standards.
 

TheDuchess

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Go straight to your insurance company.

Take screen shots of all your correspondence via messenger, text etc. This is very important as they can be deleted.

It sounds like she went to a salon, and they were horrified by the condition of her hair and assumed that it was your work. And that, I expect is what has set her off. She must feel very upset because it isn’t cheap to go to a small claims court. From the small claims Court documents you will hopefully have the details of the salon that she went to. Can you go and see them? You can look up defamation and slander and ask whether there is any possibility that they might have damaged your professional reputation in the conversation they had with your mutual client.

If you dont have any insurance and no legal helpline for advice, speak to a solicitor. You will need to respond to the small claims court very professionally as your client will win if you don’t.

You can’t counter claim. I’m so sorry for all the distress Photos would have been a great help.
 

TheDuchess

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Go straight to your insurance company.

Take screen shots of all your correspondence via messenger, text etc. This is very important as they can be deleted.

It sounds like she went to a salon, and they were horrified by the condition of her hair and assumed that it was your work. And that, I expect is what has set her off. She must feel very upset because it isn’t cheap to go to a small claims court. From the small claims Court documents you will hopefully have the details of the salon that she went to. Can you go and see them? You can look up defamation and slander and ask whether there is any possibility that they might have damaged your professional reputation in the conversation they had with your mutual client.

If you dont have any insurance and no legal helpline for advice, speak to a solicitor. You will need to respond to the small claims court very professionally as your client will win if you don’t.

You can’t counter claim. I’m so sorry for all the distress Photos would have been a great help. I think you can take out an injunction re harassment- a solicitor will advice you best.
 

charlottecobb

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Go straight to your insurance company.

Take screen shots of all your correspondence via messenger, text etc. This is very important as they can be deleted.

It sounds like she went to a salon, and they were horrified by the condition of her hair and assumed that it was your work. And that, I expect is what has set her off. She must feel very upset because it isn’t cheap to go to a small claims court. From the small claims Court documents you will hopefully have the details of the salon that she went to. Can you go and see them? You can look up defamation and slander and ask whether there is any possibility that they might have damaged your professional reputation in the conversation they had with your mutual client.

If you dont have any insurance and no legal helpline for advice, speak to a solicitor. You will need to respond to the small claims court very professionally as your client will win if you don’t.

You can’t counter claim. I’m so sorry for all the distress Photos would have been a great help.
I have all the screenshots from her admitting the hair was in bad condition from previous damage, she didn't give the salon details on the claim either. There is very limited information on the claim. I see from the papers the cost of going to small claims is £35 which she wants me to pay and also the service she received from the salon.

I do have insurance and I will give them a call for advice tomorrow. I am thinking that she is under the thinking that I won't bother replying and she will just win. I am so glad I kept the screen shots sometimes you just get a gut feeling!
 

Trinity

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How do I deal with this? Does she have a case? Counterclaim for defamation and harassment? I am lost totally blown my confidence.
1) Are you sure it is legitimate Small Claims court paperwork not just fake stuff downloaded from Google images?

2) If it's real then this website tells you how to deal with it:-

3) Check with your Insurance company before replying to anything as per @TheDuchess brilliant advice (as usual)
 

Haircutz

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1. A week later I had a pm on Facebook from her boyfriend to say that she was upset and felt she had missed bits could I help. I then explained to say that she had highlights not and all over bleach and her hair was in such bad condition that I would need to take advice 'touching up' areas. He was very understanding and knew where I was coming from re the damage.

2. A week later she splashed photos of my personal Facebook profile, apparent images of where I missed and needing advice on where to go now, saying I am a crook and that I should not be trusted. She did this on 20 Facebook groups

3. 5 weeks later I receive a small claims letter with her claiming - I paid for a service that wasn't delivered to the required standards. She is claiming £215 - A full refund, the cost of her salon 'repair' and the costs for the claim.

“… Could I just touch it up. I did say I would and made an appointment to have a look and rectify any issues - as long as she signed a declaration that I have told her the risks and it would not be down to me if her hair suffered further stress”.
1. Bearing in mind Data Protection laws, you shouldn’t have discussed anything about her hairdressing appointment with the boyfriend, regardless of the fact that he paid for the service. Next time a simple, ‘I’m sorry I cannot discuss individual clients details with a third party due to data protection law’ would be sufficient.

2. That could cause harm to your business standing and action for defamation is covered in law. You could pay for a cease and desist letter from your solicitor or send your own letter initially with a threat to sue if she doesn’t remove the posts immediately. In 9 times out of 10, the person will remove the offending material.

3. It’s incredibly difficult for a client to win a case like this in the small claims court. She has to prove her case, and she needs hard evidence that any serious damage to her hair was caused by you. Having evidence of seriously damaged hair isn’t enough because she could have done this herself afterwards. Yes, you have to defend the action but stating that you are qualified to x level, have been in business for x number of years and always work to the highest professional standards with x number of very happy clients, should be more than enough. As other have said, you should probably pass it on to your insurers to deal with although they may decide to pay her off, if they don’t want to risk defending the claim.

However, drafting your own disclaimer for her to sign was not your finest hour and it’s a good thing for you that she cancelled her appointment! Disclaimers might be used in some countries to protect the hairdresser but it has the opposite effect here. A Disclaimer can be used as evidence that you willingly carried out a service knowing that it was risky and against your professional judgement. I really hope you didn’t email it to her to sign?

Always write up detailed notes of any news client that comes to you with damaged hair, especially if they’ve been doing it themselves. Next time someone tells you they’ve been to X number of hairdressers or complains that no-one can ever cut/colour their hair properly, your alarm bells should be ringing very loudly. Stay professional and insist on taking photographs of the finished look at the end, even if you haven’t taken any before shots.
 

charlottecobb

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Thanks for your reply, just to clarify your points :)

2. My friends reported her to Facebook and I believe the posts have been taken down. I have not heard anything since that first week.

3. On the Facebook messages that I have kept she has admitted to her previously damaged hair so I will forward these when I speak to my insurance company. I didn't in the end send her a disclaimer (this was my husbands idea to send one). I used it as a just in case!

I am actually giving up hairdressing now as I have been taking a degree in something else, change of career and I have now got a full time position! it is just such a shame that it has happened just as I am at the end of my hairdressing journey.
 

gc2233

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Hi
It seems to be a growing trend for people to do this - it makes
so mad the upset these people cause.
People look on Instagram and think everything’s done perfectly in one appointment and if they’re not happy just think they’re owed the world. I think you just have to accept they’re just one of those people and not beat yourself up for it.
It’s not very nice getting court papers though. It’s only cost her £35 to submit and is in the lowest band for compensation.
I’m not a legal pro in any way but I’ve filled one in myself and taken legal advice on it before so this is just a little help in case you can’t get legal advice as I know how hard it is at the mo.
Do not forget to submit your defence by the date on the paperwork they’re really strict usually.
If you need to ask for more time to submit your defence you can extend it by another 14 days.
There’s sometimes a mediation option too - both parties discuss options and negotiate a settlement without going before a judge. sometimes the less stressful option - it’ll probably mean you give her full refund if she’ll accept that in negotiation.
You have to way your case up - is she paying for a solicitor? I highly doubt she would on a £35 small claim but you’d be liable for that cost if you lost & court cost & her £35 fee. So look into that first.
It’s difficult not to get emotional but try and keep your defence factual.
Brief outline on yourself - Hairdressing for ‘x’amount of years, with qualifications in ‘x’ and ran mobile hairdressing business for ‘x’amount of years etc show you are a professional!
State your complaints procedure - i.e. timescale of dealing with complaints / offer of appointment to rectify
Usually complaints are made quite quickly in hairdressing - within 2-5 days of the appointment - she’s waited longer from what you’ve said which is unusual. refund only given as a good will gesture. Also cancelled appointments procedure - I.e. app cancelled less than 24hrs before booking will incur charges.
Outline the clients hair condition and procedure explained and Make very clear a full head home bleach cannot be rectified in one appointment and the client was aware of that. She had extremely damaged hair and you treated her hair with caution because of that.
And don’t worry about the disclaimer thing - disclaimers are used everywhere - we used to use disclaimers for colour patch tests and for every client that walked in the door for a colour procedure. They’re common practice.
Note the costs of the additional products you paid for. Outline what olaplex is briefly - not everyone uses it, it’s a specialist product to repair,very expensive and the best on the market. You offer the best care for damaged hair.
She then went online and slated you everywhere. Courts do not like online abuse so anything she has written online about you keep and submit in your defence. Outline the effects of the abuse to your business and the effects on you personally.
She should have given you the chance to rectify before going elsewhere (and if it was any normal considerate person she would have done that!) but she went elsewhere and that was her decision. you shouldn’t need to pay for that.
you offered a refund as a good will gesture and feel you have been treated unfairly and been targeted online as a result.
add all relevant messages/ pics etc

listen - it’s stressful - every hairdresser on the planet would be lying if they said they hadn’t had a foil bleed or a colour go wrong - we are not robots. But in a fair and decent world we wouldn’t have to be spoken to or treated like this.
Consumer law is unfortunately often on the side of the consumer in that if a person pays for something and doesn’t get it they are entitled to a refund. You can prove by the condition of her hair prior and the fact it’s going from a full head to highlights to protect her hair that you have done what you set out to do and it was always a work in progress. You were being fair and reasonable to offer a partial refund given the circumstances. And of course another hairdresser will add more highlights - she’s getting paid to!
So you have to stand up and be proud of your work and don’t let one person bring you down.
best of luck 🤞
 

Haircutz

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I am actually giving up hairdressing now as I have been taking a degree in something else, change of career and I have now got a full time position! it is just such a shame that it has happened just as I am at the end of my hairdressing journey.
Best of luck with your new career and don’t let this one unfortunate incident mar your happy hairdressing memories. :)
 

House Beauty

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I sincerely hope you are changing career because you want to and not because she has scared you off. Hope it all goes ok
 

charlottecobb

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Hello All,

In relation to my above dilemma, we have been put forward for mediation, this Wednesday. I had a week's notice and asked if they could re-arrange as I am working full time and can't just take 3 hours out of the middle of my day. They have just come back to me and basically said no and can I get somebody to do it on my behalf!

I spoke to my insurance company who just said pay the money as it is not worth my time but a) I don't have that kind of money just sat in my bank and b) why should she get away with it?

I have said that i would give her the money back that she paid me just to go away but I really don't even want to do that! I feel I am stuck and I really don't want to go to court!

Any ideas?
 

Trinity

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I'd go to the mediation, present your evidence, it's your opportunity to have your say and be heard. I'm sorely disappointed in your insurance company, that's appalling service.

I agree she shouldn't get away with it, but unless you go to mediation she will.
 

gc2233

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Definitely go!
I know it’s intimidating but in reality they’re just a bunch of people no different than you talking it out. This isn’t court it’s mediation - it’s less daunting.
You’ve already agreed to offer her her money back (as a no fault /good will gesture) so you have shown you are willing to negotiate and been fair and decent. Stand your ground and go say your bit or it will fall in her favour.

Remember
1. the condition of her hair prior to your appointment
2. The fact it was a work in progress with a view to ‘x’ amount of appointments and it’s not up to you to pay for the rest of the work to be done by another hairdresser!
3. she didn’t give you the opportunity to see or put right what she says you had done wrong if anything

With your experience and how long you’ve been running your own business for and how many times have you had this sort of experience? I bet never! She has then slated you online and tried to ruin your business. So get mad and get your fighting hat on and go girl!
 

Haircutz

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Essentially her legal argument is that you didn’t provide a service of a reasonable standard of a basic qualified hairdresser.

As you have considerable experience and additional training/qualifications, therefore, your work is of a very high standard. Can you get a couple of clients to write a short testimonial about how good you are perhaps?

Presumably you have your client notes? Run through exactly what you did from the detailed consultation that covered the fact she’d tried to lighten it herself and that the ends were clearly damaged. Explain what options you gave her and what course of action she ageeed to. Finally, that you carried out the service to your usual high standard.

I’d also mention that during the appointment she told you about not being happy with other hairdressers and see if you can ask her if she’s ever tried to sue any other hairdressers previously. That will be very telling!!

I strongly suspect she’s a vexatious litigant who has made previous claims knowing that in the majority of cases, the salon will simply pay up to save any additional hassle.
 

gc2233

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Would love to hear how you got on…..
 

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