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junio12

Hair Salon Appointment Deposit

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Is it legal for a hair salon to charge new customers a 50% "deposit" of the service they are scheduling in order to make an appointment? 

 

I live in Washington state. I have tried to figure out the answer to this question on my own by checking RCW 18.16 and 19.86, but I'm not a lawyer, and haven't seen anything that seems particularly applicable. I do know that it's not legal for auto mechanics in this state to charge deposits for work  they haven't performed.

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You've looked in the right statutes. I took a look, too.

 

If there is nothing in either of those statutes (and I can't imagine were else it would be) prohibiting the practice then it's legal.

 

The reason for the practice is simple. If the hairdresser works by appointment and blocks out an hour or two for you and you don't show up there isn't likely to be any way of replacing you at the last minute.

 

I'll bet the deposit is non-refundable if you don't show up and says so on the wall or on the receipt.

 

Obviously you know about the practice in advance so you can either agree to it or take your business elsewhere.

 

So nothing illegal is happening.

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I definitely understand the rationale behind the charge. Obviously they are just trying to prevent missed appointments, and I'm guessing this is more common with new clients since there is nothing at stake for them missing the appointment. 

 

However, intent and rationale doesn't actually matter when it comes to consumer law. They could be doing something totally illegal with the best of intentions and still be in violation of the law.

 

Charging over the phone for a service you have not yet performed does actually seem a little shady to me, from a consumer point of view--especially when you are only doing it to new clients who have never seen your facilities and have to take it on good faith that you can actually perform the services you are advertising. 

 

Personally (seeing as I'm not an inconsiderate craphead), I wouldn't mind being charged a cancellation fee if I'd missed a scheduled appointment due to reasons within my control--even as a new client. I think the same business goal of discouraging no-shows could be accomplished by representing their policy (assuming *this* is a policy that is legal) this way to clients of any kind when making appointments. That is, simply stating to clients when booking, "If you need to reschedule, please give us 24 hours notice. Our policy is that cancellations within 24 hours will be considered a missed appointment, and we charge a cancellation fee of $x for missed appointments." In this case, I was never informed of any cancellation policy, just told that I'd need to pay 50% in order to book the appointment. 

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intent and rationale doesn't actually matter when it comes to consumer law. They could be doing something totally illegal with the best of intentions and still be in violation of the law.

 

 

True.

 

But as I already wrote, if it's not prohibited by law (it isn't), it's legal.

 

If you still aren't sure about that you can call the state licensing agency and ask.

 

 

 

Charging over the phone for a service you have not yet performed does actually seem a little shady to me, from a consumer point of view--especially when you are only doing it to new clients who have never seen your facilities and have to take it on good faith that you can actually perform the services you are advertising. 

 

 

 

That bothers me.

 

If you make the appointment over the phone without every seeing the facility or meeting and evaluating the people, then whatever problems you have with the service are nobody's fault but your own.

 

 

 

 

Personally (seeing as I'm not an inconsiderate craphead), I wouldn't mind being charged a cancellation fee if I'd missed a scheduled appointment due to reasons within my control--even as a new client. I think the same business goal of discouraging no-shows could be accomplished by representing their policy (assuming *this* is a policy that is legal) this way to clients of any kind when making appointments. That is, simply stating to clients when booking, "If you need to reschedule, please give us 24 hours notice. Our policy is that cancellations within 24 hours will be considered a missed appointment, and we charge a cancellation fee of $x for missed appointments." In this case,

 

Collecting the deposit up front is a hell of a lot easier that trying to chase down somebody and collect a cancellation fee after the appointment has been missed.

 

 

 I was never informed of any cancellation policy, just told that I'd need to pay 50% in order to book the appointment. 

 

Well, did you?

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junio12,

 

Thank you for the post. Most illegal practices for deposits stem from real estate transactions or major purchases. For the most part, most of these laws don't outright prohibit the taking of a deposit.

 

Is there something particularly noteworthy about the place? That might be a reason for the requirement of a deposit.

 

If you ask them to explain it maybe you will get better clarification.

 

Please feel free to continue to post your legal questions at our forums,

 

-The FindLaw.com Team

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