Take client complaints seriously and try to sort them out as quickly and efficiently as possible. If you handle a complaint well, you may be able to turn things around and transform an unhappy client back into a ‘loyal champion’ for your business.
NHF/NBF Members can download our free in-depth guide about how to deal with complaints.
If a client complains, follow these steps:
1. Understand the law in relation to complaints
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 (England and Wales) says:
- If a service was not provided with reasonable care and skill or as agreed, you must put things right within a reasonable time and at your own cost.
- If this isn’t practical, you should provide a full or partial refund within 14 days of agreeing to a refund.
2. Do your best to put things right
As a reputable salon you will be keen to put things right and stay within the law. For example, you could offer to:
- Redo all or part of the service.
- Offer a full or partial refund.
- Pay for your client to have things put right somewhere else – but you can only be expected to pay reasonable costs.
3. Still not sorted?
If you cannot come to an agreement about how to solve the complaint, your next step will be alternative dispute resolution (ADR).
What is alternative dispute resolution (ADR)?
If you cannot agree how to solve the complaint, the law says you must tell your client how to find a certified alternative dispute resolution (ADR) service. You must also tell them if you are willing to take part in ADR.
ADR providers must be certified by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute. A list can be found on the Institute’s website: tradingstandards.uk
Find out about the our ADR service for NHF/NBF Members only. (See below)
How does ADR work?
ADR aims to resolve a dispute by proposing a fair and reasonable solution which is acceptable to both parties. The process should be less stressful and costly than legal action.
Either party can withdraw from the ADR process at any time.
The outcome is not binding on you or your client unless you both accept the proposed solution, in which case it becomes binding.
If you don’t agree to the proposed solution, you or your client can still take legal action through the courts. The outcome of mediation may be different from a decision made by a court.
It is always best to try ADR before taking legal action as the courts look less favourably on cases where ADR has not been attempted. You can apply for ADR up to 12 months after the salon has told you in writing (letter or email) they cannot resolve the complaint or if you have had no response from the salon within 8 weeks of making your complaint.
Find out about Hair & Beauty Mediation, a certified service run by the National Hairdressers Federation (NHF) and its sister trade association the National Beauty Federation (NBF).
Hair & Beauty Mediation
Our certified ADR service, Hair & Beauty Mediation, is available only to NHF/NBF Members and clients of NHF/NBF member salons or barbershops. On request, we will inform clients whether or not your salon or barbershop is an NHF/NBF member. Clients can also view Salon Search which lists NHF/NBF members (if they have given their consent).
Hair & Beauty Mediation is cheaper than the fees charged by other ADR providers. You would pay £30 including VAT and your client would pay £12 including VAT (your client’s fee would be refunded if you refuse to take part in ADR).
Both fees must be received before the ADR process can go ahead.
Your client can apply direct to the NHF’s Hair & Beauty Mediation service if you are an NHF/NBF Member and do not respond to their complaint within eight weeks.
Your client must:
Quality & Standards Manager
Hair & Beauty Mediation
One Abbey Court
Priory Business Park
They must include:
- Their name, address, email, and phone number.
- The details of the complaint, including the name of your salon or barbershop.
- Any supporting materials such as photographs and receipts.
The ADR scheme rules are also available from the NHF/NBF as a PDF which can be emailed or posted to consumers. Call 01234 831965.
Remember: your client can only use Hair & Beauty Mediation if you are an NHF/NBF Member. For more information call the NHF on 01234 831965.
Hair & Beauty Mediation: process and timescales
1. First step
The Quality & Standards Manager will look at the complaint within ten working days of receiving it. If it cannot be dealt with by Hair & Beauty Mediation, the Quality & Standards Manager will let your client know and explain why.
2. Telling you
If Hair & Beauty Mediation can deal with your client’s complaint, you will be informed that ADR has started. You will be sent a copy of the complaint and related materials such as photographs. This will usually be via email.
You will have ten working days to respond and provide any evidence you wish to be considered. Your client will receive a copy of this.
3. Your client’s response
Your client will then have ten working days to look at your evidence. This is their final opportunity to submit further information if they wish to.
4. Considering the complaint
The Quality & Standards Manager will then inform you and your client that the complaint will now be considered and no further evidence can be taken into account.
The Quality & Standards Manager will normally make a decision about the case within ten working days. This timescale may be extended if the complaint is complex. You will be told if this happens and when you can expect a decision.
The Quality & Standards Manager will recommend a solution to the complaint and a summary of the reasons for the recommendation.
The recommendation will be sent to you and your client. The recommendation is not binding on you or your client unless it is accepted by both of you, in which case it becomes binding.
The most likely recommendation will be one or more of the following:
- A formal apology from you.
- You will redo the service or treatment free of charge. Where possible,* a different stylist/barber/beauty therapist will do this.
- A refund.
*Because some stylists, barbers and beauty therapists are self-employed, it is not always possible to provide an alternative.
You and your client will have ten working days to accept or reject the decision. If either rejects the proposal, you or your client can take legal action.
If you both accept the recommendation, you must comply within 15 days. You must tell the Quality & Standards Manager when you have completed the recommended actions.
Hair & Beauty Mediation: at a glance
|Don’t forget: you must be an NHF/NBF Member|
|Your client can submit details of their complaint to Hair & Beauty Mediation if:
You have been unable to resolve their complaint
You have not responded to their complaint within eight weeks If you send a letter to your client about the Hair & Beauty Mediation service, they must apply for ADR within 12 months of receiving that letter.
|The Quality & Standards Manager will look at the complaint. If it cannot be dealt with by Hair & Beauty Mediation, your client will be told why.||By day 10|
|If Hair & Beauty Mediation can deal with the complaint, you must submit your evidence within ten working days.||By day 20|
|Your client will have ten working days to look at your response and provide further information if they wish.||By day 30|
|Within five working days, the Quality & Standards Manager will tell you that the complaint will now be considered and no further evidence will be accepted.||By day 35|
|Within ten working days, you and your client will be told the Quality & Standards Manager’s recommendation and the reasons for it.||By day 45|
|You and your client have ten working days to accept or reject the recommendation.||By day 55|
|If accepted by both you and your client, you must complete the recommendation within 15 working days.||By day 70|
*Working days are Monday to Friday. Paper applications will take longer to process than online applications. If both parties respond more quickly than the maximum time allowed, the complaint will be resolved more quickly
Hair & Beauty ADR scheme rules
Hair & Beauty Mediation is owned and operated by the National Hairdressers Federation (NHF/NBF), the UK trade association for hair salons, barbershops and its sister trade association, the National Beauty Federation (NBF) for beauty salons.
Hair & Beauty Mediation is authorised by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute in accordance with the Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (Competent Authority and Information) Regulations 2015.
This document sets out the rules and procedures for the Hair & Beauty Mediation Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme. Download a copy of the Hair & Beauty Mediation scheme rules.
The scheme offers quick resolution for unresolved consumer disputes relating to hairdressing, barbering and beauty services or treatments provided by an NHF/NBF member. The scheme is designed to:
- Reduce the need for either or both parties to take time-consuming and potentially costly legal action;
- Reduce negative online reviews by providing a more effective channel for dealing with consumer complaints;
- Identify improvements which could be made to salon or barbershop service standards to increase consumer satisfaction and confidence
Hair & Beauty Mediation’s ADR scheme is intended to propose a solution to resolve the dispute which is acceptable to both parties. The outcome is not binding on either party, unless it is accepted by both, in which case it becomes binding on both parties. If one or both parties reject the proposed solution, either is free to take legal action through the courts.
The Hair & Beauty Mediation scheme is open to use by consumers in dispute with an NHF/NBF member provided:
- The consumer has attempted to resolve the complaint using the member’s complaints procedure.
- The complaint is not considered frivolous, vexatious or malicious in nature.
- The complaint has not already been considered by the courts or another certified ADR provider.
- The complaint does not involve matters which would be more appropriately dealt with via a public liability insurance claim or the courts eg injury, medical side-effects, criminal activity, compensation claims.
- The value of a service or treatment is under £1000.
- The hair or beauty salon or barbershop is in the UK and the consumer is resident in an EU member state (known as a cross-border dispute). The NHF is a member of the European trade association, Coiffure EU (www.coiffure.eu).
- The complaint is submitted and handled in English.
- The complaint was referred to the Hair & Beauty Mediation within 12 months of the hair or beauty salon or barbershop giving written notice (ie by email or letter) to the consumer that the salon or barbershop is unable or unwilling to resolve the complaint.
- Payment of the consumer fee* (£10+VAT) and the salon fee (£25+VAT) have been made within 7 days of submitting the complaint.
- The complaint does not involve cosmetic surgery or non-surgical aesthetic procedures requiring a level 7 qualification (eg Botox or similar anti-wrinkle injectables, dermal fillers).
*the consumer fee will be refunded if the salon/barbershop refuses to take part in ADR.
If a complaint is rejected for consideration by Hair & Beauty Mediation, both parties will be informed in writing within 10 days of receiving the complaint, including the reason why the complaint has been rejected.
4 Possible outcomes
The outcome will take into account current relevant legislation, including equal opportunities, industry standard practices, as well as what is fair and reasonable.
Depending on the nature of the complaint, the most likely outcomes to be proposed will be one or more of:
- A formal apology
- The service or treatment provided again, by a different stylist/barber/beauty therapist (where possible*), free of charge
- A refund for the cost of the service/treatment provided
*please note that some stylists, barbers and beauty therapists are self-employed, so it is not always possible to provide an alternative
The outcome is not binding on either party, unless it is accepted by both, in which case it becomes binding on both parties.
5 Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
Alternative Dispute Resolution is a formal process and salons or barbershops are required by law* to give consumers information about an approved ADR organisation who could help them if a complaint cannot be resolved.
NHF/NBF members have access to a complaints policy which encourages them to deal with complaints within 8 weeks. The policy clearly sets out their legal obligations regarding ADR.
6 Escalating a complaint to ADR
Consumers must approach the salon or barbershop before using ADR. However, if the hair or beauty salon or barbershop has not responded to the consumer within 8 weeks of them raising a complaint, the consumer may then escalate the complaint to Hair & Beauty Mediation.
If the salon or barbershop has responded to the complaint but has been unable to resolve it to the satisfaction of both parties, they must inform the consumer in writing (letter or email) that the salon or barbershop’s internal complaints procedure has been exhausted.
The email or letter will provide contact details for Hair & Beauty Mediation and details of Hair & Beauty Mediation’s web address and contact details, the fees to be paid by consumer and the hair or beauty salon or barbershop, and an undertaking that the salon or barbershop will take part in the Alternative Dispute Resolution procedure.
The consumer must notify Hair & Beauty Mediation within 12 months of receiving that letter or email that they wish to apply for ADR.
7 Materials to be submitted
The consumer must submit their name, their contact details (address, email address and phone number), the details of the complaint, including the name of the hair or beauty salon or barbershop, the disputed transaction and what the consumer is complaining about, any supporting materials (eg photographs, receipts), using the application form provided on the Hair & Beauty Mediation website and sending it by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to:
Quality & Standards Manager
Hair & Beauty Mediation
One Abbey Court
Priory Business Park
Hair & Beauty Mediation will only consider written and photographic materials submitted by the consumer or the hair or beauty salon or barbershop. Neither of the parties will be expected to attend spoken evidence sessions, and there will be no follow-up with potential witnesses. Materials submitted by the salon or barbershop or the consumer will not be returned.
8 Terminating a complaint
The consumer or the hair or beauty salon or barbershop can withdraw from ADR at any point.
All parties are expected to be honest in their dealings with each other and with Hair & Beauty Mediation. If the Quality & Standards Manager has any reason to suspect dishonesty, the complaint may be terminated as frivolous or vexatious or malicious in nature.
10 Confidentiality and data protection
Details of the consumer and the hair or beauty salon or barbershop (name, address, phone number and email address) will only be shared with the parties involved in the complaint, Hair & Beauty Mediation staff, NHF/NBF staff and bodies responsible for auditing ADR (eg the Chartered Standards Trading Institute).
See our privacy notice
Records of the ADR process will be retained for 6 years.
There is a fee of £10+VAT for consumers, and £25+VAT for hair or beauty salons or barbershops for taking part in Alternative Dispute Resolution. Fees are non-refundable, unless the salon/barbershop refuses to take part in ADR in which case the consumer fee will be refunded.
Consumers must make payment at the time of submitting their complaint to Hair & Beauty Mediation for ADR. If the consumer has not paid their fee within 7 days, the application and any evidence submitted will be deleted.
Salons or barbershops will be contacted by Hair & Beauty Mediation for payment. The salon or barbershop must also pay their fee within 7 days for the ADR application to progress.
12 Legal advice
Neither party needs to have a legal adviser, but they can seek independent advice or be assisted by a third party at any stage of the procedure if they wish.
13 Hair & Beauty Mediation - Quality & Standards Manager
Hair & Beauty Mediation’s Quality & Standards Manager is responsible for considering complaints, reviewing evidence submitted, making a decision on the outcome and communicating this to both parties. The Quality & Standards Manager will directly supervise anyone else involved in the ADR process and will review and confirm their decisions.
The Quality & Standards Manager is employed by or contracted to the National Hairdressers Federation to provide ADR services to NHF/NBF members. He/she will be impartial, have an in-depth understanding of the hairdressing, barbering and beauty industries, industry-recognised service and treatment standards, customer service standards, consumer law, quality monitoring, inspection procedures and reporting requirements.
14 Conflict of interest
The Quality & Standards Manager will declare and log any potential conflicts of interest relating to a case. In these circumstances the case will be reviewed by the NHF/NBF’s Director of Membership before any proposals on outcomes are made.
If a significant conflict of interest remains, Hair & Beauty Mediation may advise the parties to refer the dispute to another ADR provider. If this is not possible, provided both parties are aware of the nature of the conflict of interest and have no objections, Hair & Beauty Mediation will continue to deal with the dispute.
15 ADR process
Within 10 working days of receiving notification from a consumer that they are applying for ADR and the details of the complaint, the Quality & Standards Manager will review the information submitted to ensure the complaint is within the scope of the ADR scheme provided by Hair & Beauty Mediation.
If the complaint is out of scope for any reason, the Quality & Standards Manager will inform the consumer, giving the reasons why the complaint cannot be considered.
b) Notification ADR process has started
Otherwise, Hair & Beauty Mediation will contact the salon/barbershop (normally electronically) to inform them that an ADR application has been received and to confirm the salon/barbershop is willing to take part in ADR.
The hair or beauty salon or barbershop will be given copies of the consumer’s complaint and any associated materials submitted. The salon or barbershop will have 10 working days to comment on it and provide any evidence they want to submit in response. This will be sent to the consumer.
c) Further evidence
The consumer will have a further 10 working days to consider the salon / barbershop’s response and a final opportunity to submit any other written evidence the consumer wants to be considered as part of the ADR process.
d) Case complete
Both parties will then be notified that the complaint is complete and Hair & Beauty Mediation’s Quality & Standards Manager will consider the evidence submitted in order to make a decision on proposed outcomes. He/she will not take any other evidence into account.
e) Decision and reasons
He/she will make a decision and propose outcomes, normally within 10 days of receiving the full complaint and additional materials. If the complaint is complex, the Quality & Standards Manager may extend the time for making a decision, in which case he/she will inform both parties and provide a revised time when the decision and proposed outcomes will be made.
The Quality & Standards Manager will provide a summary of the reasons for the decision and proposed outcomes, the action he/she recommends the salon/barbershop to take, including any financial compensation (where appropriate). This will be shared in writing by letter or email with both parties.
Both parties will be given 10 working days to consider the Quality & Standards Manager’s decision and to confirm if they accept the proposals for resolving the dispute. If either party does not accept the decision, they will be free to refer the matter to the courts.
Otherwise, the actions proposed by the Quality & Standards Manager must be implemented by the salon or barbershop within 15 working days of accepting the proposals. The Quality & Standards Manager must be informed when the actions have been completed.
|Consumer attempts to resolve complaint with salon/barbershop.|
|If the salon/barbershop has made no response to the consumer’s complaint, after 8 weeks the complaint can be escalated to Hair & Beauty Mediation who will check the salon/barbershop is willing to take part in ADR.|
|If the salon/barbershop has responded but has been unable to resolve the dispute within 8 weeks, they will issue a letter saying their internal complaints procedure has been exhausted, confirm their willingness to take part in ADR and provide details of Hair & Beauty Mediation’s ADR scheme|
|Consumer applies to Hair & Beauty Mediation for ADR within 12 months of receiving the salon/barbershop’s letter.||Day 1|
|Quality & Standards Manager reviews complaint to check it’s in scope.
||By day 10|
|Salon/barbershop submits any additional information within 10 working days||By day 20|
|Consumer reviews salon/barbershop response and provides any further materials within 10 working days||By day 30|
|Both parties informed complaint case is complete within 5 working days||By day 35|
|Case reviewed and decision made on proposed outcomes within 10 working days||By day 45|
|Consumer and salon/barbershop notified of decision and reasons for it. Consumer and salon/barbershop accept or reject proposed outcomes within 10 working days||By day 55|
|Salon/barbershop implements proposed actions within 15 working days||By day 70|
*Working days mean Monday to Friday. Paper applications will take longer to process than online applications. If both parties respond more quickly than the maximum time allowed, the complaint will be resolved more quickly.
The Quality & Standards Manager may also make recommendations to the hair or beauty salon or barbershop to improve service or treatment standards to reduce the likelihood of further complaints and to increase consumer confidence and satisfaction. These will not be shared with the consumer, and it will be for the salon or barbershop to decide whether or not to implement the recommendations (except when required by law).
There is no appeals process.
18 Activity report
Hair & Beauty Mediation will publish an annual report of its activities, as required by the ADR scheme approval criteria on its website.