Friday, 8 September 2006

If you say so

I’ve been sitting here, waiting for the next post on this blog, wondering why it wasn’t appearing. Duh!

I’ve been unusually unstressed and peaceful in the last few days, but today a friend told me something that made my blood boil.

Suppose you’ve got an appointment to have a seaweed wrap at a beauty salon (no, I’ve never had a seaweed wrap in my life, nor any other wrap; I haven’t even had a facial; I’m not terribly fond of being pummelled by strangers – anyway, we’re not talking about me, we’re talking about you). Today is Tuesday and you have an appointment for next Wednesday, but when you made the appointment you didn’t know you wouldn’t be able to turn up that day because you’re going on holiday tomorrow until next Wednesday (no, not me: I never go on holiday). So, you phone the beauty salon, talk to Zelda and ask her to postpone the appointment to the following day instead. She says fine, thanks for calling. You breathe a sigh of relief, congratulating yourself for remembering to call: the salon charges the whole price of the treatment if the appointment is cancelled with less than 24-hour-notice .

When you get back on Wednesday, there is a message from the salon on your answerphone. It was left yesterday by Priscilla: she was just calling to remind you that you were coming in tomorrow Wednesday for a seaweed wrap. Aaaargh! You pick up the phone straight away and tell silly Priscilla that you talked to Zelda last week and that your new appointment is now for tomorrow Thursday, and it should be written down in the book anyway. ‘Oh, yes, here it is,’ she says. ‘That’s all right, then.’ Relieved, you can now unpack your bags and rest after your journey.

‘Le lendemain, elle était souriante…’ – don’t mind me: it’s a funny French song that seemed relevant just now. The following day, you turn up at the salon, ready to be wrapped in seaweed, but Priscilla’s not there, and Zelda has had a lobotomy in the meantime and cannot remember anything about your conversation or anything about any cancellation. She’s the boss of the salon and she’d like to get an extra £500 for the missed appointment. Isn’t that what a seaweed wrap costs? Non? I haven’t got a clue. You remain firm and insist that you did cancel the appointment last week, and in the same breath you curse the absent Priscilla for not telling Zelda about it and Zelda for not believing you. You can tell she doesn’t: she’s got this sour expression on her face and she goes, ‘If you say so.’ If you say so?! Is this how you treat a customer? (I’ve just watched a TV programme about how bad customer service is in this country. You don’t say!)

So I’m slapping Zelda and anyone who, instead of accepting their staff may have made a boo-boo, assumes the customer is lying and openly expresses their disbelief, thereby making the customer feel yucky and not wanting to be wrapped in seaweed after all.


  1. I expect they must get lied to a lot. But they should either continue the argument until it is resolved (so that the customer can walk out if she chooses) or decide to accept what's said and carry on with the treatment in a nice way. Half and half - grudging 'I'll believe you, thousands wouldn't, OK, take off your clothes then' is terrible customer service.

  2. I got palpitations reading this. I'm paranoid enough about my once yearly haircut. Now I learn all beauty professionals mistrust and dislike their clients. I'm terrified and horrified.

    I'd be crying so much by that point in the disagreement, I mean discussion, that I'd be unable to undo my zip to allow seaweed access.

  3. reminds me of some poor service i had a couple of weeks ago...

    a friend and i went to order a takeaway indian meal and were told to return at 8.30 (at the same time, a couple turned up without a reservation and were told to return at 8.40 for a table)

    we went to a nearby (smoke-free! this is scotland!) pub for a drink, leaving half of our drinks untouched when we realised our take-out would be ready

    got back at 8.31 - the waiter was indignant... him: 'no, i said 8.40!' us: 'no, you said 8.30', him: 'no, you've got it wrong - i even wrote it on the chit!' us: 'what chit? i think you're muddling us up with the couple who wanted a table who you told to return at 8.40' him: 'no, i'm not - sorry, i told you 8.40'

    at which point some very irritating people at the door waiting for a table chipped in: 'come on! it's only 10 minutes! what's 10 minutes to wait for such great food?'

    boy, were we angry! it was my first trip to the restaurant and, despite the fact that the food was good, i'm disinclined to go ever again

    i mean, even if we had got it wrong, he could have been 1000 times more gracious


  4. L, maybe they shouldn't charge the whole price of the treatment when someone forgets to cancel in time; a small penalty perhaps, but not the full amount. People might not be tempted to lie.

    JvS, I don't think there's anything worse than not being believed by some supercilious 'professional'. I'd be jumping up and down with frustration and refusing to let it go and I'd probably end up being thrown out of the place.

    UC, I've had a couple of experiences with restaurants not finding my name in their book. In such circumstances my stomach produces so much acidity that I can't digest the subsequent meal. Why is it always up to the customer to prove their good faith? Maître d's are always so 'superior', aren't they?

  5. I won't deal with people who pull this kind of bullsh*t anymore. I've had hair stylists who I've walked away from because of this, and they were Good.

    It just is not worth it to me. It makes me angry and gives me a really bad feeling sitting in their chair. Like I need them so much, that I have to put up with ...whatever. NO. Ditto to the Sales Associates (and I'm not saying it's All, just Some) in Makeup and Perfume that decide to be snobby and idiotic. I don't want Anything that bad.

  6. You're right, T, we shouldn't put up with this kind of attitude, but it's not always possible to walk away. It wasn't really a seaweed wrap my friend had booked for: it was a small but slightly embarrassing procedure that she'd had to psych herself up for in the first place and that was putting her in 'patient' mode. It's very difficult to argue effectively when you're feeling a bit vulnerable.


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