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Watchdog: Salon customer says stylist removed half an eyebrow

By Victoria Advocate
Dec. 7, 2010 at 6:07 a.m.


HAVE A QUESTION FOR 'WATCHDOG?'To submit questions, e-mail watchdog@vicad.com, post them to the "Watchdog" blog or call Advocate Public Service Editor Gabe Semenza at 361-580-6519. No topic is off-limits.

BUYER BEWAREBefore obtaining service, Jim Cole, a Victoria lawyer, suggests you research the company. To learn if a company is in good standing with state agencies or has complaints filed against it, contact the following:

Better Business Bureau at www.BBB.org and 361-827-7151.

Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation at www.License.State.Tx.Us or 1-800-803-9202.

Lisa Brown says a Victoria stylist carelessly removed half her eyebrow.

Instead of showing compassion or remorse, Brown contends, the stylist laughed about the mistake with other coworkers.

Now, Brown, a 30-year-old nurse, says she is embarrassed to show her face in public. She's even angrier about the salon's unprofessional response, she said.

What would you do if you were Brown? Would you shrug off the incident or seek some sort of justice? What legal or other options are available?

Last week, Brown visited Regis Salon inside Victoria Mall to have her eyebrows waxed. During the waxing, Brown said, the stylist focused more on conversations with coworkers than she did on the grooming.

Once the stylist finished, Brown looked in the mirror and saw half her eyebrow missing, she said.

"No one ever apologized. All they did was giggle," Brown said. "I know people can make mistakes. The thing that really bothers me is they were laughing about it. I have nothing to gain by telling you this. I just want to let them and the public know that what they did was wrong."

Because the salon's manager was out of town, Brown requested contact information for the salon's regional office. The stylists refused, she said.

Upon returning home, Brown searched online and found the regional office. Her calls there have yet to be returned, she said. Her calls to the Victoria salon - to obtain the stylist's cosmetology license - were equally unfruitful.

So Brown filed a complaint with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, the agency that regulates salons.

Similarly, if a dry cleaner burns your jeans, a mechanic dings your car or the cable guy breaks a vase, your best option is to file a complaint, said Jim Cole, a Victoria lawyer.

"You could sue, but the cost of filing the suit would probably exceed any expected recovery," Cole said. "If (Brown's) eyebrow wasn't going to grow back that's one thing. Chances are, though, the hair will grow back."

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation reviews all complaints it receives, said Susan Stanford, the agency's spokeswoman.

Unhappy customers can file a complaint anonymously at www.License.State.Tx.Us, but attaching your name to the complaint helps to speed the process, Stanford says.

Customers can also file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau by visiting www.BBB.org.

A search of bureau and licensing department records shows the Victoria Regis Salon does not have any poor marks. Regis Corporation, the salon's national parent company, boasts an A+ Better Business Bureau rating, the highest the bureau gives.

Even so, the bureau processed 157 validated consumer complaints against the corporation during the past 36 months. Of those, the majority, or 105, were customer service related - complaints of improper, inappropriate or inferior customer service.

As a disclaimer, the business bureau notes: "When considering complaint information, please take into account the company's size and volume of transactions, and understand that the nature of complaints and a firm's responses to them are often more important than the number of complaints."

The Victoria salon's response, at least to newspaper telephone calls, was minimal. Stylists refused for this story to contact the manager, who is on vacation.

One salon employee, however, said Brown entered the salon already having eyebrow problems - and then walked out after the waxing without paying.

Whether the stylist carelessly removed Brown's eyebrow or not, Cole, the lawyer, said you can learn a lesson from this story.

"It's buyer beware," Cole said. "Before you get a haircut or your car fixed, know who you are dealing with. Get references and understand that if you have a bad result with these kind of deals, there's probably not a whole lot you can do."

Gabe Semenza is the Public Service Editor for the Advocate. Comment on this story at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.

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