Saturday, April 23, 2011

cautionary tale: not all hair salons are created equal; and not as nice


You know how when you try something new for the first time and the experience was amazing, you almost can't believe it? And then you take it further to think well, if it was that good my first time, maybe I can find better! 
Getting my hair washed in my seat; "Dry Shampoo"
I'm talking about getting my hair washed & styled in Shanghai. The first time I ever went was to a salon right by my house called Mei & Rain. China is notoriously for offering these sort of 'luxury' services on the cheap. They washed my hair while I was seated in my chair in a processed called 'dry shampoo.' They don't actually use dry shampoo, it just means you aren't laying down at the washer's station. It's a great experience because along with the wash, they also massage your scalp for a good 20 minutes.

Then my hair was styled by a well dressed young stylist named Jerry. I told him to make it curly at the bottom, and he gave me the sweetest curls using only his brush and dryer. I was in lust with my hair and Jerry was top of my very short list of top stylists in Shanghai. It all came out to be 35RMB, roughly $5.50 USD.  Sometimes I feel so guilty knowing how cheap it is. In addition, China is not a tipping culture, so you do not tip for services! 

I decided to test my luck and try another salon on Fuzhou Lu (a place close by where lover works). One thing to note when getting these services is to get the price first. They quoted me 38RMB for wash and style. Knowing I did not speak any Chinese, the lover instructed them on how I wanted my hair done and confirmed the price before he left. As soon as the girl started washing my hair, she asked, "You want a massage?" Which of course comes with the wash, so yes. Duh. Little did I know, she was a sly one.

The wash ended after 15 minutes and the stylist took his position. He was shorter than Jerry, and as soon as he started styling my hair I could tell immediately that he lacked the skill to do anything spectacular to my locks, skills that cannot be dictated to by a girl who doesn't speak any Mandarin. Woe is me because I can never hide the expressions on my face. I sat through the whole ordeal with a slight frown. I tried to signal "more volume" or "more big" with my hands, which he understood. He kept blow drying the same parts over and over again only to fail at the intended affect. It was just not within his capability, which was a bit depressing. I missed Mei & Rain and Jerry.

This is where the cautionary tale of the story comes in: When I got up to pay, the girl took out a calculator and inputted 125, meaning 125RMB. I balked. No freaking way did it go from 37RMB for subpar service to 125RMB. She tried to explain that the massage cost 88RMB. (Did you know can get a full body massage at a very nice spa for 88RMB...more on that later.) I immediately took my phone and called the lover, who sternly spoke to the manager and the girl. Through her protest he said, "You did not tell her that the massage cost extra when you offered it. It comes with the wash. You know very well she doesn't understand Chinese so she couldn't have consented to anything. Do not try to take advantage of her. She's paying 37RMB and leaving."

Which is what I did. This is China. Some people (not everyone) will take advantage of you if you are a foreigner. It's a disgusting part of the culture am starting to dislike.

Lesson learned; When you've got a good thing on the first try, don't question it or see if you can do better. Just go with it and count your blessings.

After the ordeal, I returned to Mei & Rain: 


Tada! After "Jerry" styled my hair. I told him to make it curly or whatever he thinks looks good. I trusted his judgement at this point.
Mei&Rain Hair
256 Yuyaun Lu
Shanghai, China
021-62480817
*Highly recommended*

*When getting my hair done, I try to skip places that cater to only foreigner/expats because the quality is not always better, but the price is always 3 times as much. The only benefit is that they speak English.


2 comments:

Tanya said...

aw love you look so beautiful with your hair curled and voluminous! <3

Ms. Givens said...

Its becoming like that everywhere these days.
I am being scammed by people all the time, especially Realtors since I am trying to sale my house without a Realtor.
Its a shame. I am glad you didnt back down.

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