YOU AND YOUR RIGHTS

If a hairdresser messes up, don't just pay up and wait for your locks to grow back - complain, says Sandy Bisp

The image in the mirror resembling a panicked porcupine was mine. The shock of finding myself the recipient of a semi-Mohican - despite my clear request for a "soft, medium-length, casual style" - was total. Telling myself my hair would grow, I paid and scuttled off. But what should I have done? What rights do customers have?

Few, apparently, without recourse to law. Britain's hairdressing industry, employing 100,000 people, is unregulated, unlike most of Europe. Anyone can set up in business here without training or qualifications. Mobile hairdressers don't need shops.

According to the Office of Fair Trading, a haircut constitutes a "service" and anybody paying for one is entitled to certain standards. A service should be carried out with reasonable care and skill, in a reasonable time at a reasonable charge, if no price has been fixed in advance.

Before going to a hairdresser, you should be reasonably clear about what you want. But if you consider that too little skill has been displayed - or that the process has taken far too long - pay what you consider the service to be worth and ask for things to be put right.

If totally dissatisfied, don't pay. Leave your name and address in case an establishment wants to sue, and complain to your local trading standards office. If you want compensation, put it in writing, setting a time limit for the hairdressing company to reply. If no satisfaction is forthcoming, take your claim to a small claims court with photographic evidence showing the state of your hair. Maximum damages of about pounds 200 apply for a bad haircut. Your county court will help with this.

More serious injury from bleaching, tinting, perming or straightening can be grounds for claims, with damages of up to pounds 5,000 - above the pounds 1,000 small-claims ceiling. If a salon refuses to redress damage, your Citizen's Advice Bureau can advise. If damaged hair is cut, take along an independent witness, bag the hair, sealing and dating it for use as evidence.

The Hairdressing Council receives 3,000 complaints a year, almost invariably about non-members. The registrar, John Byre, says: "I fear it's the tip of an iceberg. We have made representations to government about regulating what is a pounds 2bn industry. I advise people to go to one of the 15,000 state- registered hairdressers."

Hairdressing Council 0891 517317.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 busi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 ...

Reach Volunteering: Trustees with Finance, Fundraising and IT skills

Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses reimbursable: Reach Volunteering: St...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent