real life

"That time my hairdresser threatened to call the cops on me."

My hairdresser threatened to call the police on me last week.

No, I didn’t run at her with the scissors after discovering my haircut was more  ‘V for Vendetta’ than ‘Victoria Beckham’; and no, we didn’t just have a nasty disagreement over the temperature in the wash basin.

In fact, I’m not normally a public-confrontation kind of person at all, and I really didn’t see this situation coming.

The hair appointment started out perfectly nicely, with herbal tea and reality television chatter aplenty. You know the drill: your colourist asks what you’re after, you say, ‘half a head of foils, a little trim and don’t worry about the treatment because I’m on a budget, thanks very much’.

The sun was shining outside; I grabbed a magazine of the sort I’d never be seen reading in public; my colourist mixed her little plastic dish of ammonia-scented hair chemicals — and away we went, swapping life stories and news of our love lives.

But two hours later, when I pulled out my wallet to settle the tab, the situation became more Fight Club than Gossip Girl.

“That’ll be four hundred and twenty dollars,” the reception lady enthusiastically chirped at me, proffering a complimentary mint my way.

I started, my belly flipping anxiously. The price was a good hundred dollars more than my usual fee, and my bank balance was perilously low following a solid week of Christmas spending.

I asked for a price breakdown. Extremely Chirpy Reception Lady offered me a little slip of paper — which declared I’d been given a three-quarter head of colour.

I mentioned that I’d asked for a half-head only. Extremely Chirpy Reception Lady became Moderately Bored Reception Lady as she called over my colourist.

My colourist eventually reappeared — and that’s where things kicked off. We may have been trading anecdotes like the best of friends ten minutes prior, but it was clear our relationship had iced over in the intervening moments.

“I’ve called the manager, and the rule is that you pay for the service you’ve been given,” my colourist snapped. “And what we gave you today was a three-quarter head of colour.”

She was not interested in hearing that I’d only booked for a half-head. She was also not keen on my reiteration that I’d only asked for a half-head at the start of my appointment.

After a few awkward moments, she conceded that I’d only asked for the half-head — but muttered something about my hair being so thick, it was only fair to charge the service as a three-quarter service.

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Since that argument sounded about as legitimate as North Korea's democratic processes, I wasn't willing to budge.

A silence descended on the room. Extremely Chirpy Reception Lady breathed a heavy sigh of boredom that signified her transformation into Extremely Pissed Off Reception Lady. I had found myself in a stand-off of Titanic proportions, and I explained I simply couldn't afford the extra expense.

From there, things escalated quickly.

My colourist snatched my card from my hand and suddenly, was eagerly clutching it behind the till as she fixed me with an look that suggested I'd just admitted to enslaving Christmas elves as a hobby. I audibly gasped and, sensing drama, another customer snapped her neck around to tune into the tension.

Finally, eyebrows raised high, my colourist opened her mouth again.

"I don't know what to say. I suppose I could always call the police, if you refuse to pay for the service you've been provided," she declared.

Silence buzzed around the room. Pissed Off Reception Lady stopped sighing for a nanosecond and looked a little scared. The spectating customer practically twitched with glee while pulling out her phone, and I could almost see her cogs turning as she hatched a silent plan to start live-tweeting the incident.

My colourist's cheeks flashed red as she realised she'd inched our disagreement across some unspoken line: this was now, officially, next-level ridiculous.

Moments passed, blood ringing in my ears. The humiliation wasn't worth the $100, but I couldn't gather my words to end this awful interaction.

I shifted on my feet, and it felt like February by the time my colourist spoke again.

"Well, we've always looked after you, Jacqueline -- so I suppose we could waive that fee this one time," she eventually muttered, releasing my card from her haughty grasp.

I breathed out, slapped three hundred dollars on the counter, picked up my card and turned on my heels.

And as I walked out that door -- silently vowing to black-ban that salon for the entirety of my existence -- my colourist's last sentence hit me like a slap to the face.

"Of course, next time, we won't be doing you the same favour," she said.

Anyone else been hit by extra charges after a beauty appointment? What's the best way to resolve those awkward moments?

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