22 September 2015

In the hairdressing, barbering and beauty industry, most client complaints are easily sorted out, but salons need to be aware that clients have new rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, which comes into effect on 1 October in England and Wales.

  • Clients can ask you to repeat or fix a service if it’s not carried out with reasonable care and skill, or get some money back if you can’t fix it
  • If you haven’t agreed a price upfront, what clients are asked to pay must be reasonable
  • If you haven’t agreed a time upfront, it must be carried out within a reasonable time

Complaints should be resolved within 8 weeks. If the complaint hasn’t been resolved by going through the salon’s complaints procedure, you must provide the client with details of a certified Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) provider.

Alternative Dispute Resolution involves using a mediator as an alternative to taking expensive legal action, for example the client or the salon going to the small claims court. A mediator is an independent third party who listens to both sides and helps the salon and the client work towards a fair and reasonable compromise which, if agreed, becomes legally binding.

Salons do not have to agree to use mediation – but you are obliged to tell clients who to go to and whether you would be willing to use the mediation service to settle the dispute. Although you do not have to use ADR, your refusal would have to be reasonable.

NHBF chief executive Hilary Hall said:

Because keeping loyal clients is so important in our industry, we’re good at solving client complaints, so much so that we rarely reach the ‘dispute’ phase.

But complaints can be tricky to handle and the Consumer Rights Act now makes it crucial that salon owners have a written complaints policy and a well-defined procedure they consistently follow, backed up by signposting to a certified ADR provider. We’ve taken the heat out of this for NHBF members, with guidance on how to handle complaints – always a difficult topic – plus a template complaints policy for salons to use. We’ve also negotiated a ‘pay as you go’ service at nominal cost from a certified ADR provider for NHBF members.

The NHBF offers members access to a 24/7 legal helpline plus commercial advice, where members can get legal guidance around key issues, including customer complaints. Click for more information.