Hair Salons: Beauty or Pain?

May 10, 2019

Consumers have high expectations from hair and beauty salons because they believe they are dealing with professionals. However, disappointment and frustration sets in for many consumers when the desired look and effect is not achieved after the hair or beauty treatments. Many times, a visit to these beauty and hair salons can cost an arm and a leg. 

Salons in Fiji now offer a host of new and attractive beauty and hair treatments compared to what was available a decade ago. And with these, the Consumer Council of Fiji has unfortunately noted a tendency by some unscrupulous salons that do shoddy work despite charging hefty amounts. 

They also show a complete disregard for consumers’ health and safety as some of the products used in hair, nail and beauty salons contain a number of hazardous chemicals posing health risks. 

Complaints received by the Council 

The Consumer Council of Fiji has received numerous complaints against hair and beauty salons in the last five years, which amounted to close to $13,000. The complaints ranged from hair loss after treatment, unsatisfactory make-up work done, no or slight change after hair treatment and hair started to turn grey after coloring done at the salon. 

A consumer also complained of burns on the chin during laser treatment while some raised concerns about ear burns during hair straightening. The Council also received complaints of over-charging by some salons, dissatisfactory nail work, and refusal to provide refund to consumers. 

One of the distressed complainants, Mumtaz called the Council on the toll free helpline 155 earlier this year to complain about a hair salon in Nakasi. She had protein hair treatment done by the salon at a cost of $80 and was advised to wash it off on the third day. Despite following the salon’s advice, Mumtaz noticed that instead of any positive changes, the treatment made her hair worse as it started to break. Mumtaz was also not issued a receipt after she paid for the hair treatment. 

When the Council intervened, the salon argued that the consumer had not followed instructions. The Council advised the respondent that despite the consumer following the instruction, the treatment did not work. The respondent then agreed to provide a full refund to the complainant after liaising with the hair stylist. The Council also warned the salon to provide receipts to all its clients, as it is their responsibility and consumers’ right to be issued with receipts. 

Something similar happened to Achal who had paid $120 for permanent hair straightening at a salon in Lautoka. The salon had done sub-standard work on the complainant’s hair. The hair treatment that was supposed to last for months, returned to normal texture in less than a week.

After Achal raised the matter with the Council, a mediation was conducted. The complainant said she had not done any other treatment on her hair prior to getting permanent hair straightening and regretted wasting her precious dollar. The salon agreed to provide a refund of $80 and offered free protein treatment to the complainant. 

Salons urged to be professional and maintain standards 

The Council is urging traders to refrain from misleading consumers about the quality of their work. They must ensure that health and safety of consumers is paramount at all times which will in turn build consumer confidence in their services. 

Hair and beauty salons are reminded to inform their clients about the products they use on their hair, body and face during the procedures performed on them. They should be mindful that consumers deserve nothing than the best for the money they spend at their salons. 

The Council is reiterating to salons and barbershops to maintain a good standard of hygiene, act professionally, be accountable for the services they provide and sterile all equipment used in the daily business. 

Consumer advice 

Consumers have a right to demand to know the brand of the beauty product used on them, its origin and the contents. Consumers also have a responsibility to inform the hair and beauty professionals of other treatments done on them. 

Consumers must do thorough research about the salons and read customer reviews online to make an informed decision about the service provider. They should also clear any doubts on the price set by the salon and enquire about the salon’s redress mechanisms. 

Touring the facility can be useful as this will help identify great brands of machinery and inputs used so consumers can be confident that their hair will be treated well. Another indication of this is that the salon has invested well to provide the best services to its clients. 

Consumers are encouraged to call the toll free National Consumer Helpline 155 to lodge complaints against unprofessional hair and beauty salons.