DEAR HARRIETTE: I went to my neighborhood hair salon because I was desperately in need of a new hairstyle. I spoke to my hairstylist and told her what kind of haircut I would like to have. She liked my idea and began to create my new hairstyle, but when she finished, my hair was a total mess. The stylist cut my hair way too short and colored it too dark. I am so upset right now because the hairstylist did not listen to my directions. I feel like taking a few weeks off until my hair grows back to its original length. I would like to know if there is a way the hairstylist can refund my money, or do you think I can ask for a free haircut the next time I come back to this salon? -- Splitting Hairs, Chicago
DEAR SPLITTING HAIRS: I have many questions in order to help you through this. Is this your regular salon? Is this your regular stylist? What type of relationship do you have with the salon? Most important, did you express your disappointment with your cut and hair color before you left the salon?
If you have a long-term relationship with the hair salon, your chances are greater that they will try to accommodate you and help you figure out how to be comfortable, either by recoloring your hair or restyling it. They might also be willing to give you a free cut in the future. But these "ifs" are dependent upon how much they value you as a customer. If you did not say anything before you left the salon, it may be harder for you to go back days or weeks later to complain. Handling complaints in the moment is the best strategy. Before you go back there, make sure you feel confident that someone can fulfill your styling needs.