Beauty Beware. Be Cautious of the Beauty Discount Bait & Switch

April 24, 2009 • Beauty


I personally become aware of a rather disturbing trend during this economic meltdown…the beauty treatment discount bait and switch. Spas and salons are really taking a hit during the recession and as a result, some are getting creative in trying to lure women 9and men) back in for treatments.

During SpaWeek two weeks ago I booked a $50 facial at a local NYC spa that normally charges $100. Once I arrived and was already in the chair with my face scrubbed, my facialist told me I must have a peel and that would be an extra $45. I felt trapped. Of course by the time I said something, the peel was already on my face. So I sat there stressed out the remainder of my treatment (which by the way was good) wondering what other surprises were in store for me.

Facial There was more…she then proceeded to try to sell me a package of 6 facials for the amazing price of $95 (remember she had tagged on $45) per if I paid by the Friday before SpaWeek was over. Needless to say, I ran out of there and will not be going back.

When I contacted SpaWeek, there response was disappointing. While they don't condone it, they do nothing to stop it either. So will I use SpaWeek to book services again? Probably not.

So I asked some others if this has happened to them.

One person told me under anonymity she went to Ted Gibson Salon for their new Recession Tuesdays for a $75 partial highlight. She confirmed with receptionist prior to her appointment that she was for the special deal and then told the colorist she only wanted partial.

She got her partial, but when she went to pay the bill it was $125. They had charged her $50 for a finishing gloss which she did not ask for, nor was she informed about. They just did it. Now a gloss in basically a color bath to neutralize hair color, which in most salons is something colorists do to adjust their work and is factored into the price of the service. Even so, she should have been told. Now, do you think she is going back?

Another woman told me about a discounted mani/pedi deal she thought she was Mani getting from a high-end nail salon she had been dying to go to, but was a little out of her price range. When they offered the package for $45 she jumped at it. When she got the bill it was $65. They had charged her for their 'special' foot scrub and massage, but did not tell her until it was already done. She actually put up a fight and got them to take off the added $20, but do you think she will be going back? I doubt it.

I am not saying all beauty deals are suspect, in fact, I have heard some feedback from thrilled and happy beauty bargain hunters…I am saying buyer beware. If it sounds too good to be true, it could be.

How about you? Have you had this happen to you recently? What did you do? Share your story.

– Lauren Dimet Waters

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3 Responses to Beauty Beware. Be Cautious of the Beauty Discount Bait & Switch

  1. I’ve been caught in that trap before, too, but I’m the type that will argue the point until they either remove the cost or have driven out so many potential walk-ins that they’ve lost more than if they’d just given me the price I was quoted.
    The funny thing is, I don’t mind paying more if I’m given the chance to consider it. But pushing a product or service in the middle of what was supposed to be a relaxing facial? Ridiculous.

  2. divaliscious11 says:

    I don’t have a problem with them offering additional services, which gives me the option of asking is this included or an additional fee, but I be very upset if they performed additional services, or removed traditional services from te base cost and upcharged them without telling me. And I’d likely not pay nor come back. I’d also spread the word like wildfire!

  3. Lauren - Second City Style says:

    Hi Divaliscious,
    I don’t have a problem with them adding services if they are transparent, upfront and don’t make you feel bad (cheap) for saying no.
    My experience is exactly why I am spreading the word. If anyone wants to know the name of the salon I went to, I would be happy to tell them 🙂

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