Legal advice for dealing with difficult hair and makeup clients this Christmas

Sarah Garner, a solicitor at DAS Law, provides all the information any person working in the beauty industry needs to know.

6th December 2018

With Christmas nearly upon us, people are booking their hair, nail and makeup appointments to ensure they look their best over the festive period. Hair stylists, makeup artists and beauty professionals often go above and beyond to make sure their clients are happy and provide the best service they can, but unfortunately customers don’t always leave with a smile on their face.

If a client doesn’t like their hair or makeup, do you have to offer them a refund? Can you sue or get them to take it down if a client wrote a defamatory post online? What steps can you take if a client leaves without paying? And can you legally charge a booking fee to hold an appointment?

What are the laws surrounding refunds for beauty services, such as hair, makeup and treatments?

If you have provided a service to a client in accordance with their instruction, to a satisfactory standard, and with reasonable care and skill, the client is legally bound to pay in full.  If they fail to pay you would be able to argue that they are in breach of contract and pursue them for the value of the services you provided.

After their hair/makeup was completed the client requested a refund as they didn’t like it. Do I have to offer them a full or even a partial refund?

If you have provided the service that the client has asked for but they do not like it, you have no obligation to provide a refund or partial refund.  Businesses do sometimes offer a goodwill gesture payment to resolve customer dissatisfaction and to retain the custom from a client, but this is not a legal obligation.

A client wrote defamatory things about my business online, how can I get them to take it down or can I sue them?

Defamation is an untrue statement published or spoken which impacts on an individual’s or business’s reputation in the community/society.  You can serve a ‘cease and desist’ letter on the client and, if they fail to remove the post, there is the potential that legal action can be taken.  Defamation claims are issued in the High Court and the legal fees to pursue such a claim are very expensive so it is not a course of action to be taken lightly.

A client left without paying for the hair/beauty service I provided. What legal action can I take to get the money that is owed?

If a client fails to pay for a service provided they will be in breach of contract and your course of action would be to make a claim against them for breach of contract. A case of this type would be pursued in your local county court.  Claims can be issued via the money claims online service which can be located on direct.gov.uk

I charge extra for bridal hair/makeup. I informed the client of this but I later found out they booked me for their wedding. Can I charge them extra?

If a client has booked an appointment and you have made it clear that it is more expensive for bridal hair/makeup then you would be entitled to charge them extra.  If, however, you have provided your normal service for hair/makeup and later discover that the services were for their wedding it would be very difficult to pursue them for the additional fee.

A client initially booked hair/makeup for themselves, but on the day they turned up with more people and didn’t want to pay extra. What can I do?

If you have agreed to provide a service to a client for a fee this forms a legally binding contract under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.  You are therefore only obliged to provide the service for the client you agreed to provide the service for. If additional clients are requesting any of your services they should pay for the services they receive.

Am I legally allowed to charge clients a booking fee to hold their appointment?

You are entitled to charge clients a booking fee, but the client should be made aware of this charge before the contract is entered into and the fee should be outlined in any terms and conditions.

If clients book an appointment and don’t show up, or cancel their appointment outside of the terms of the contract, can I charge them the full fee? How can I enforce this?

If a client fails to show up for an appointment that they have booked, you could argue that they have breached the contract and recover the losses that you have incurred through the county court.  A court would however expect you to mitigate your losses by trying to fill the cancelled appointment with another client.

Do I need insurance to do hair and makeup? And if so what insurance do I need?

You do not legally require public liability insurance but it can provide protection should a client issue legal proceedings against you for injury or damage caused by the services you provide.  If you employ any members of staff, it is a legal requirement for you to have employer liability insurance.

A client wasn’t happy because they are allergic to one of the products I use and they hold me responsible. What can I do? What legal steps should I take?

If a client is able to argue that you have been negligent in providing the service - for example you have failed to carry out a patch test that is recommended by the product manufacturers - the client may be able to pursue a personal injury claim against you for damages.  In the event that a client threatens a claim against you, you should contact your liability insurers to see if they can assist.

Disclaimer: This information is for general guidance regarding rights and responsibilities and is not formal legal advice as no lawyer-client relationship has been created.

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