Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Customer is Always.....Crazy.

Like any business that has to deal with the public, we have our fair share of nutjobs. Now, let me first say that the vast majority of our clients are delightful, charming and reasonable people, with whom it is a distinct pleasure to do business. In fact, I have a couple of clients that I feel badly about charging, because I have such a good time while they are in my chair that I am more than compensated for my labours.) Then there are the tiny percentage of clients that make my head burst into flames.

One woman insisted she had to get her hair done on a particular day, because it would be a new moon that day, and “everyone knew” that your hair grew slower on a new moon than on a full one. (If I hadn't been the one to take the phone call, I'd have been sure someone was making that one up.)

I remember one day when we had a woman call, very upset, to tell us that we were, under no circumstances, to cut her daughter's hair. (You can imagine our confusion....usually if people don't want us to cut their hair, they don't come in. It's generally a very reliable system.) It turns out that here estranged husband had their 3-year-old daughter for the weekend, and intended to bring the daughter in for a haircut. (Clearly, this was just one of many, many barroom brawls in this couple's lives, and we wanted no part of it. Usually, if someone who isn't visibly drunk or in need of psychiatric help comes in, wants a haircut and demonstrated an ability to pay for it, we'll do it.) She threatened us with all manner of legal action, character assassination and karmic retribution, but we trimmed the kid's hair anyway, and everyone lived to tell the tale.

We had a woman walk in one Saturday who had just had her hair coloured and cut at another shop on the street and although the job they had done wasn't too bad, she was unhappy with it and wanted us to fix it. (Now, changing a new colour job isn't for the faint of heart; it can be tricky, especially going from darker to lighter, lest one end up with khaki coloured straw on their head.) The colour tech spent about an hour and a half on it, and the client was very happy with the result. She was, however, very unhappy with the fact that we were going to charge her for it; she felt that she had already spent enough money on the original procedure, and thought we were being unnecessarily harsh in wanting money for the job we had done.

Clients that ask me to cut a millimeter or a quarter of an inch off their hair baffle me. A quarter of an inch is the size of the "capital I" on your keyboard; a negligible amount. I offer to just wave the scissors over their head and they can pay me $40. It will look exactly the same as if I actually touch their head.

A client called to complain that she had had her hair coloured a month before, and now she could see grey at the roots. She felt that with the amount of money she had spent, the colour job should have lasted longer. No amount of explaining that her hair had grown in the month and that's why she was seeing grey at the roots would convince her....the last place she had gone, the colour job lasted three months. We suggested she go back there.

I understand that our prices are at the higher end of things, and that not everyone would choose to spend what we charge. However, much like the restaurant industry, standards and expectations differ wildly in our business, and your experience will be very different depending on the establishment you choose to patronize. I did a woman who complained bitterly about how much we charge for our services, and couldn't understand "how we lived with ourselves, charging those prices". When I suggested that she might be happier going somewhere else, she replied "but they don't do as good a job as you do."

Invariably the response to "I'm sorry, the person you would like to make an appointment with is all booked up" is "But I really need to get in with her!" Just once, I'd like to be able to reply: "Oh, wait a second! I had forgotten about my powers over time and space! Let me conjure up a two hour appointment for you out of thin air! There you go!"

Wedding parties and brides are a whole nother deal....it's usually their movie and we are all just bit players, but sometimes it's more than you could ever imagine.
We had a wedding party show up two hours late for their hair and makeup appointments. Not only had they missed their allotted time altogether, but we were already working on our next clients....they wouldn't have even been finished at our place by the time the wedding was to start! They thought we were being particularly unreasonable in not fitting them in.
One bride wanted to book her party on a day where we were already booked, and couldn't fit them in. She wanted us to give her the other bride's phone number, so that she could call her and "see if they could work something out”. (We said no.)
Another woman called wanting her money back. It seems she had come in for her son's wedding, six months earlier, to have her hair blow-dried. She had liked it on the day of the wedding, but now that the pictures had come back from the photographer, she wasn't so happy with it, and wanted her $18.00 back. I think that's the only time I've seen the Mister actually hang up on someone.

So, when I was at the mall today and heard a young woman ask the clerk at the frozen yogurt stand if their product had any dairy in it, I nodded my head and said to myself "I'll bet you only want a quarter inch of it, too.".

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