5 March 2015
Reports today that ministers are keen to encourage the public to record tradespeople, including their hairdressers and barbers, on their mobile phones to “make sure they stick to their word” as part of tough new consumer rights have the potential to set a very worrying precedent, the NHBF has said.
Consumer affairs minister Jo Swinson is quoted in today’s Daily Mail as saying people should make smartphone recordings of dealings with tradespeople to provide them with evidence in the event of any dispute under the new Consumer Rights Bill, which is due to come into force in October.
The bill will give the public much stronger powers to challenge firms that treat them badly, and Ms Swinson has argued recordings of conversations should form part of any legally-binding agreement with that business.
But NHBF president Paul Curry has warned this could create a worrying climate of fear, suspicion and potential litigation.
“A hairdresser must cut, style and colour a client’s hair as requested. Salons want to send people home happy; as people-centred businesses we survive on our local reputation. But hairdressing is not an exact science; a client can ask for a style and appear happy, but on reflection decide they’re not sure about it. And if a client is unhappy, most salons go the extra mile to try and sort things out – often reworking the style for free.
“Recording consultations as ‘evidence’ risks creating an unpleasant and anxiety-filled atmosphere. Hairdressing is about the relationship and trust between stylist and client. If a stylist is focused on potential complaints, it could stifle this creativity and bond of trust.
“It would be a very worrying, and depressing, step if hairdressing salons were forced to change from being friendly and informal places where people go to relax to becoming yet another example of ‘Big Brother’-style surveillance Britain.”