How Bad Does a Haircut Have to Be Before You Ask For a Free One?

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I don’t mean to disparage my favorite value-priced haircut chain, but I just got a clip that was not—what’s the right word here?—great.

I almost walked out of the building without getting my hair cut, by the way. It was like, as soon as I went in, I knew something was wrong. I didn’t recognize any of the stylists, and all the prices had gone up, and everyone looked a little tense.

This place has turned, I thought to myself. It was like taking the lid off a gallon of milk and just barely noticing a smell. But fine. I’ll get one more haircut, and then I’ll move to Ballard and find a new place.

The person who cut my hair told me that my regular hair stylist was gone, or at least that’s what I understood him to be saying because he kept using the past tense. “You mean the man who used to work in the corner station? Yeah, a lot of our customers liked him.”

When he finished my haircut, he gave me the hand mirror to check it out, and I immediately said “I don’t think it’s even.”

“It’s even,” he told me. “I measured it.”

Then he explained that it just looked uneven because I hadn’t styled it yet, and that—he whispered this last part—he’d like to style my hair but, “you know, we can’t do that…”

“Of course,” I said. It made sense. Prices had gone up, people were looking unhappy, and they were no longer allowed to style my hair and try to sell me on products that would give me beachy waves. He blow-dried my hair just enough to keep me from catching cold, and I tipped him $15 on a $17 tab.

But it wasn’t an even haircut. This is what it looks like now:

Nicole terrible haircut

I am at least vindicated in my ability to accurately perceive hair length. (Also, notice that one weird piece dangling out of the short side.)

So, Billfolders, since you’ve given me advice on plane tickets and furniture shopping this week, here is one more request: what would you do?

A) Go back to the discount hair chain and ask someone to fix it for free. Advantage: free. Disadvantage: I’m not sure I want to tell people who already seem stressed out that they’ve done something wrong.

B) Go to the more expensive hair place that I went to once and pay $50 for a better cut and style. Advantage: probably a better haircut. Disadvantage: $50, which I’d rather not spend on top of the $32 I spent on the first haircut. Also, I wanted a shoulder-length bob and I’m afraid I’d end up with a chin-length one.

C) Do nothing, just let it grow out and get it re-shaped in six weeks. When I kinda scumble up my hair, add product, and tilt my head a little, it looks like this:

Nicole's hair is maybe okay

Which I could probably tolerate until mid-November. (Plus, I really want to keep it long enough so I can do the French twist thing and the bun thing on those wet, windy Seattle days.)

Have any of you gone back into a salon—or a discount hair chain—and asked them to fix your haircut for free? Did it work? Were you satisfied with the results, or was it more like “eh, whatever, it’ll grow back?”

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