Bostonista Gripes: Blowout Ambiguity

1205438295Forget the credit card or Comcast gripeswe think the worst hidden costs are buried in the recesses of Newbury Street salons. Bostonista was reminded just how dangerous hair appointments can be when, after a recent cut at I Soci, we inadvertently coughed up $70 for 16 ounces of Kerastase shampoo and conditioner.

This, of course, is one of the least egregious examples of salon pricing issues. We were, admittedly, stupid. We know Kerastase is expensive (though we were expecting more in the $50 range). When we picked up the bottles and didn’t see prices, we should have asked before plunking down our card.

Mentioning the incident at work, however, solicited a barrage of similar mini-outrages, mostly related to Blowout Ambiguity. Are blow-drys included in cut and color? Are they not? Andmost importantlywill the stylist alert you to the fact that eight minutes with a round brush is going to run you an extra $60?

One of us recalls spending $300 on color at Umi. After the highlights, the stylist immediately started a full-on blowout, rather than the standard quick sweep of the dryer to show the color results. When asked if the styling was included, the hairdresser literally removed her brush, stepped back, and said, “No. Do you want me to stop?” Well. At this point, it would obviously be a little awkward. And we would obviously look like cheap idiots. So of course we shook our heads and muttered, “Oh, no, it’s fine.” Even though the extra $80 charge was in no way fine.

After hearing countless stories, Bostonista decided to do a (very little) bit of investigating. After randomly phoning a few Newbury salons to inquire about cuts and blow-drys, we found that this response from Emerge was fairly typical:

Bostonista: Hi, I was wondering if a blowout is included in the cost of a cut.

Emerge receptionist: Yes, it is.

Bostonista: Really? Great.

Emerge receptionist: Well, it’s included, but it costs more.

She went on to explain that because stylists need to gauge the dried results of their work, a blow-dry is required for cuts and color. And that the blowout is an extra charge of $55-$65. This directly contradicts Emerge’s website pricing, which clearly lists “cut only” starting at $60.

We’re confused. And we suspect that most salon patrons are, too. Far be it from us to question Newbury stylists’ costsBostonista has benefitted from their expertise hundreds of times. We appreciate that many of them have decades of experience. And we love the results. But we’d also appreciate a clear description of what, exactly, we’re paying for…before we get to the register.