Question: What is the difference between a good haircut and a bad one?
Answer: about two weeks.
  • A man will perhaps typically be less bothered about a disaster at the barbers shop than a woman who has paid a prince’s ransom for the hairdo of her dreams. In any event however, anyone who has suffered badly at the hands of a hairdresser feels rightly aggrieved. If you pay good money and emerge from the salon looking like a scarecrow you feel hard done by having parted company with your hard-earned cash.
  • The difficult thing about a bad hair-cut complaint is twofold (i) the issue of what constitutes a bad hair-cut can be very subjective indeed and (ii) the relationship between you and the person who has cut your hair is very much a one-to-one and your complaint is personal.
  • So what can you do if it all goes horribly wrong? This is one type of complaint where, contrary to my general advice, you have to complain there and then on the spot. Although you won’t think of it in legal terms, the arrangement between you and your stylist is a contractual one. If the stylist fails to cut straight, fails to adhere to your instructions or, on any view, turns your mop into the hair equivalent of a car crash, then you should refuse to pay. This is your contractual right. Be polite, give your name and address but withhold payment – if you fail to be transparent you could commit a criminal offence – so be careful. In theory you could claim damages for the cost of putting the defective handiwork right and for the embarrassment/inconvenience but this will be difficult.
  • If the shop in question is part of a large chain then you could right to the head office or if you have been a long-standing customer then you should trade off the value of your future custom if you believe that the hair-cut from hell was an extraordinary departure from the salon’s normal high standards. It is possible to imagine circumstances in which the problem was so so bad that the complaint would warrant an claim in the small claims court – a calamity just before a wedding or one involving personal injury but in truth that would be a remedy of last resort.
  • One final word on the subject. If you chose the bad-haircut, be it a mullet or a pink punk creation – don’t complain, get a life instead.