WWYD: The Bad Haircut

In this installment of “WWYD,” being unhappy with a service, but not saying anything:

Last weekend I got a really bad haircut—waaay shorter and a totally different shape than the stylist and I had discussed. I’ve told many people about how unhappy I am with the cut—but not the stylist or salon. I know this is not what you’re supposed to do, but it never seemed like the right time to say anything!

During the cut, my hair was wet, and it was hard to tell exactly what was happening. I felt like we’d had a good conversation beforehand about what I wanted, and I didn’t want to him to feel criticized or judged while he was doing his job. By the time I REALLY suspected that the stylist was cutting off too much, it’s not like he could re-attach it, so I sat in silent panic.

It looked awful when he finished, but I still paid for the cut & gave a normal tip. It seemed silly to complain or dispute the payment after the fact, because nothing could be done (other than making it even shorter!). Besides, I hadn’t spoken up during the cut—when I was a waitress, it was hard to take customer complaints seriously if the customer had eaten the entire meal before voicing his/her dissatisfaction! So, what should I have done? What can I do now? — S.

The only haircuts I’ve regretted getting were ones I paid $10 for, and my response was simply to run away, never to return. Now, I’m a working adult who can afford to spend more than $10 on a haircut, and have been going to my place for the last six years. I’m treated well—the owner gives me a big, warm hello every time I go in, and I’ve had positive experiences with each of the stylists I’ve had there over the years.

At the end of each cut, the stylist always asks me what I think about it it, and though it’s usually positive, I’ve always said something when I felt it wasn’t what I wanted: “I think we could go shorter,” for example, or, “The back looks funny to me.” And the stylist has always done his/her best to make the correction. Salons want you to be happy with your cuts, because if you’re happy with your cuts, you’ll come back—hopefully for many more years. I think it’s clear to you what you should have done (spoken up, rather than sitting in silent panic), and the thing you can do now, and the thing that I would do, is go back to the salon and say something (as politely as possible, of course).

Let’s go back to your example: Would you take your customer seriously if she were a regular diner who ate at your restaurant for years, and she said something? If she had said, “I’m sorry, I know I should have said something when I noticed it, but the salmon I had was really overdone”? I’m sure you would have also liked her to say something when she noticed it, but you’d also want to find some way to make sure she didn’t walk out unhappy. Customers become regulars when they’re happy with both the product and customer service. (See this comment from September from DeepOmega.)

From Logan, as told to Mike:

When I was in high school, I went to a salon where my mom was a regular and knew the owner, and I ended up getting a haircut that I hated. When I told my mom about it, she took me back there so I could let them know, and they ended up letting me get my hair cut again for free. At first, they asked me to see the same stylist so he could fix his mistakes, but I told them I was too embarrassed to see him again, so they let me see another person, who ended up making my hair look better. END OF STORY.

Can you go back and let them know you’re unhappy with the cut? Yes, especially if you’re a regular, they’ll likely want to figure out a way to make things right—if not offering to fix it there, like with what happened to Logan, perhaps offering a discount or to comp your next haircut. And if they don’t offer to do anything, well, it is your right as a customer to not have to visit that establishment again if you don’t want to.


Email me your WWYD experiences to me with “WWYD” in the subject line. See previous installments.



24 Comments / Post A Comment

Fig. 1 (#632)

That’s probably the best answer: offer them a chance to fix it. Alternative take if you’re a busy person: it’s just hair, and two months heals a lot of wounds.

Fig. 1 (#632)

(@Fig. 1 obviously some of that episode of Felicity was lost on me, as someone who got their hair cut often and badly)


Megano! (#124)


WaityKatie (#1,696)

@Megano! They are both good but *Felicity As Russian Spy* is better than alllll of these.

EM (#1,012)

Go back! I think waiting a few days to ask for a fix is not unusual, especially since often stylists put product in your hair and the cut looks way different after you’ve washed and styled it yourself. Just go back and say it’s not working and explain why and they should work with you if they’re not awful.

On a related note in high school I begged my mom to let me get highlights– I asked for “honey and copper” (ugh high school me) and the stylist gave me bleach-blond and neon-red streaks. It was awful. I said nothing and pretended it was what I wanted because I was embarrassed. REGRETZ.

Elsajeni (#1,763)

@Michelle Oh man. I also tried to get coppery highlights (well, lowlights, I guess, since I’m blonde?) in high school, and came out with PINK STRIPES. NEON GODDAMN PINK. I didn’t say anything at the time either, but I started crying in the car and my mom just rolled her eyes and turned around and drove back.

littleoaks (#1,801)

There’s a big, big difference between “The sandwich I ate here yesterday wasn’t to my liking; I want a refund/replacement” and “The haircut I got here yesterday is really different than what I requested; would my stylist/another stylist be able to make a few changes to it?” And if they’re not willing to work with you, seems like a good sign to find yourself a new salon.

One time I asked my stylist to give me red highlights. He was like “no I see blonde for you, don’t worry there will be no bleach.” I (naively?) accepted this turn of events.

I then asked him to style my hair curly and I wanted to see how it was done. He agreed, then proceeded to blow out my bangs first and then cover my face completely with them, then style the rest of my hair curly.

Finishing touch was at the end: see how great your highlights look? and I only used a very mild bleach!

Because I am a wimp (clearly) I did not do anything about it, but hey, it did grow out and I never went back. And to be fair, the highlights did turn out very nicely albeit they were kinda really boring.

WaityKatie (#1,696)

@redheaded&crazy I, too, went in for red highlights once and got BLEACH. In my HAIR. Then he sort of painted the red on top of the horrible mutilated bleached strands, which did not work, as about a week later the red started to go away, leaving gruesome blonde streaks in my hair. Very Bride of Frankenstein. I never went back there because I was too afraid of what they would do to me next, and just tried to survive over the next few months using one of those red-depositing shampoos. SIGH.

Megano! (#124)

Yes! Go back! Unless they are jerks they are usually more than happy to fix it.
Although, this never happens to me even though I go to Supercuts and other dirt cheap places, because I ALWAYS bring a picture. Always always.

Chel (#2,960)

The summer before middle school I convinced my mom to let me get a spiral perm. All the cool kids had one and I was convinced it would make me popular. It looked great but didn’t take, totally straight two days later.

My mom took me back to the salon (I’m sure she called first) and had another stylist redo it. She left to run errands while i was there. The stylist told me the reason it didn’t take was that my hair was too thick and we should cut layers into it before processing. I agreed, having no idea what she was talking about.

After the perm, the shortest layers were two inch spirals sticking out of the top of my head. The longest layer was just above my shoulders. Curly Sue was playing at the local theater, and that was my nickname for all of middle school.

I think my mom demanded a refund, I was in tears so I don’t imagine we would have just left. The curl held for the entire year and I refused to get me hair cut until my senior year of high school.

AitchBee (#3,001)

If this were a “What should you do?” yes, totally, on a rational level I agree with everyone else

But let’s be real: what I WOULD do is complain to my friends, grow it out, go back to the same stylist four to six months later and begin the cycle all over again (see: definition of insanity).

RosemaryF (#345)

If someone does a crappy job* cutting my hair, I’ll be damned if I ever go back to them.

*I have naturally curly hair, so I’ve suffered through growing out some absolutely miserable haircuts. The last miserable one was from a salon in my office building and the owner would see me walking by and try to convince me that I didn’t like it because it would look better straight and that I should stop by & let them straighten it so I could see. I finally had a very blunt conversation where I said “If I wanted a straight hairstyle I would have told her I wanted a straight hairstyle. I said I never straighten my hair and she did not have the skill to deal with that and should have bowed out right there.”

@RosemaryF What do salons have against curly hair?

I had an awful haircut once. I went in with dirty blond hair that, when dry, curled up to my shoulders. I asked for a trim and to go a shade darker than my natural color. I walked out with black hair with chunks that curled up to my eyebrow and the rest hung around my neck. Also, even though I told her that I never wear my hair straight, she tried to blow out my hair. Without any product. I still paid and tipped because I didn’t know what else to do.
So that night, I ended up calling the salon and complaining. I was brought back in the next day where another stylist gave me nice highlights to try and lighten my hair up a bit. She tried to even the cut out but just ended up making things worse. I asked her to cut my hair dry so she could see how it would react but she kept going on and on about how it had to be wet to make sure it was even. So it just ended up even shorter. I tipped her because well, the highlights were really good and I could tell that working with curly hair was foreign to her.

I ended up trimming my hair myself and it looked 100% better than what the salon did.

e (#734)

@RosemaryF I strongly agree. This happened to me and everyone said to go back but since I’d asked for more layers and keeping the length and he gave me no layers, chopped off all my hair into a triangle, and then curled it all up so i couldn’t tell till I washed it, dried it, saw what happened and cried like a baby…I couldn’t bear to. Instead I called around to various salons, checked them out on yelp and got the receptionist to tell me who was best at fixing something like that. And at that salon I’ve had nothing but perfect haircuts from people who read my mind. Look, if it was a sandwich I’d say go back, but it’s your already too short head. If they mess it up again are you going to walk around for 6 months hating it?

RosemaryF (#345)

@e I found a stylist using the naturallycurly.com boards and I will go to that man until I die. Lord help me if he ever retires. (He was the second one I tried off the boards. The first one was ok, but I wasn’t blown away like I am with this guy.)

Faintly Macabre (#1,043)

@RosemaryF I’ve had friends go, “Why are you waiting until you’re back home in a few months to get a haircut? That’s silly–you’re so picky!” Even when I explain that there have only been two people who’ve ever done a good job cutting my hair (and even then it wasn’t perfect–my hair plays tricks), they just don’t understand. After the first good haircutter I found (through naturallycurly!) moved away without a trace, I spent about a week researching salons online. Until I was 18, I had a center part, no layers, shoulder-length or longer, and was told by ignorant hairstylists that my hair was coarse and thick when it’s actually fine, just very curly. How we suffer!

This happened to me last year. I bought a Groupon to get my hair styled at a pricey salon, so I went and asked for some blonde highlights. The dude was like “let’s experiment with the balayage technique”. It actually looked great in the salon but once I got home I started seeing the weird spots throughout my hair. I called the next day to get it fixed. I saw the same guy and he was confused but felt bad and tried to fix it. He used foils this time, and he didn’t charge me again. I did leave him another tip (only $10), but ultimately I was still not happy with my color. I haven’t been back.

@Tatiana Jimenez@facebook I had a similar experience with a Groupon for a pricey salon!

ennaenirehtac (#199)

I recently had my hair cut badly at a salon. I brought in a picture and everything! Anyway, the next day I came back and requested a fix from the same stylist. She made it better, but still not great. I requested that she add more texture at the bottom and she said that it wasn’t possible with my hair (which is untrue, as I’ve gotten a textured bob so many times in my life). I ended up going to a different salon that gave me a real haircut (and great color, too!). In conclusion, giving them a chance to fix it is great, but sometimes you’re just going to have to go elsewhere.

cmcm (#267)

I used to go to the same stylist for years because I liked him, even though sometimes he did not really listen to what I wanted (it’s probably my fault for being vague and then getting embarrassed and being like, “I dunno, do what you want!”)

Anyway, the one time I very specifically said that last time he made my hair flip out too much and it was too Rachel-y he somehow heard that as GIVE THIS GIRL THE RACHEL.

And I never went back. The end.

Titania (#489)

I read somewhere that it takes about two weeks to adjust to how a new haircut looks, so that’s usually how long I wait. If I still hate it after two weeks, I go back and ask them to fix it.

I know exactly what I would do because I have done it! I cried. A lot. It was super-embarrassing, but I couldn’t help myself. They cut way too much off and tried to put in tons of layers (even though I have very fine hair and I always tell them it can’t take much layering) and I essentially had a hole in the side of my hair, three months before my wedding.

They comped the haircut (and I tipped anyway, because I’m a wimp) and I never went back.

I don’t recommend this way of dealing with it (or anything).

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