Dealing with Complaints
From the 1st October 2015 Consumer Law in the UK changed and some of these changes are very important for our industry.
The new Consumer Rights Act covers many areas, but the sections that are important for us are where it states:
- the service must be carried out with reasonable care and skill
- information said or written to the consumer is binding where the consumer relies on it
- the service must be done for a reasonable price
- the service must be carried out within a reasonable time
The Act goes on to say that, services should match up to what has been agreed, and what should happen when they do not, or when they are not provided with reasonable care and skill.
This is the first time that there are clear rules on what should happen if a service is not provided with reasonable care and skill or as agreed. The act states that, “the business that provided the service must bring it into line with what was agreed with the customer or, if this is not practical, must give some money back.”
Although generally to be welcomed the concern is that with many hair and beauty services the outcome could be seen as a matter of judgment, e.g. does the client ‘like’ it or not, and the new Act could lead to some customers feeling they have an automatic right to a refund, which isn’t the case.
Dealing with Complaints
Under the Provision of Services Regulations 2009, you are under a legal duty to respond to consumer complaints as quickly as possible and to make your best efforts to resolve those complaints. This means that you must respond to emails and letters of complaint and must return phone calls. Where a complaint appears to be valid, you should try to put things right promptly. However, if you dispute liability, then you should give a clear explanation of the reasons.
You do not have to offer a refund to every client that complains. However you do need to investigate every complaint, and should you feel that the complaint is not valid, you need to give a clear explanation of why not to the client.
We’d suggest that you have a formal complaints procedure and policy in place, as this helps everyone at the salon deal with a complaint professionally and consistently, but also highlights that you are taking your responsibilities towards consumer rights seriously. If you don’t have one then Good Salon Guide can provide a draft complaints policy as part of your membership.
We believe that the new laws reinforce the need for a through consultation with each and every client at every single appointment, however long they have been coming to the salon. We recently spoke to one salon owner who had a client of 15 years complain, so it’s never too late to offer a consultation. If you have agreed something verbally this is considered by the act to be ‘binding where the consumer relies on it’, so it’s well worth repeating back to the client what’s been agreed, and although not realistic for every client, it may be worth making a note of what was discussed and agreed for new clients or where something more ‘radical’ is going to take place. In some cases, you may decide to ask the client to sign their agreement on the consultation card / form, but this may not be desirable in most cases as it doesn’t help build a trusting relationship between you.
Have a look at “The Importance of a Consultation”.
The Act also specifies that, “the service must be carried out with reasonable care and skill” and this is a broad enough phrase to leave room for argument with some clients (especially as they feel informed and educated having used Google). It reinforces the need to carry out a scalp test where necessary and to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using any chemicals or electrical treatments. Furthermore, we would advise that a full record is kept of all staff training achievements and training courses attended as this may help.
For further information a website has been setup by the Government for businesses, it can be found here.
Alternatively please give us a call or download out fact sheet here.