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HOT! Getting Toasty! Lukewarm Starting To Melt Ice Ice Baby
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I received a very interesting question from a reader and thought instead of trying to answer it on my own, I would share it with all of you…

Hi Collin!

I am a college student in my early twenties and have been inspired by this site for over a year now. Even before following this site I have made it a priority to optimize the value of my dollar and watch for sales and use coupons. Your site has helped me to save money on a whole new level and I am so appreciative of that!

My reason for writing in is to inquire about your thoughts on couponing obligations. Please read through this story that happened to me recently:

I purchased a certificate off of a local radio auction (their version of a Groupon) that was $25 for a hair color that was valued at $50. I was excited because $25 for a professional hair color seemed VERY reasonable. However, when I went to the salon she said it would be an extra $10-$20 because of my hair length. Immediately, I showed her my coupon and pointed out that there was no fine print that said additional charges may apply; she said sorry for the confusion, but I would have to pay more. After I took a few deep breaths, I wondered: should I fight this, because it was false advertising; or should I just pay the extra charge and realize that otherwise the beautician would be paying me to do my hair (e.g. cost of overhead, hair dye, time etc.) and she needs to make a living too.

My question is at what point do we, as couponers, step back and realize that we are part of a bigger picture, an economy that is struggling, and the free samples we request from companies, free bracelets where the proceeds would have gone to Haiti and the money we try to make on a variety of products is at the expense (please excuse the pun) of people trying to make a living?

I am not sure what the answer is, but it is a question I have recently been struggling with and would appreciate your thoughts. Thank you!

Before opening this up, here are a few thoughts of mine…. when a company offers up a *HOT* promotion, they want your business. Now through the promotion they may in fact lose money, but in turn they are hoping that you return because you like how they operate. For example, when you go get your hair done for the first time and have a great experience, you most likely will be back which means they’ve gained a new customer and hopefully more money!

I personally don’t see taking advantage of promotions, freebies, and other deals as us making it hard for others to earn a living. I think that we are actually helping this depressed economy thrive… when we request a sample and like it, we order it again! When we take advantage of a promotion and enjoy the service we get, we come back again, right?! …And one more thing – these companies are not forced to offer up promotions and/or special offers. They CHOOSE to do this.

Now your turn…

Join The Discussion

Comments 435

  1. Darla

    Speaking as the wife of a stylist at a top notch salon, they absolutely should NOT have charged extra for longer hair. It is costing them pennies for more color..seriously, pennies. I would have fought this. There are times when my husband requests certain clients book an extra 15 minutes to compensate for large amounts of hair, but that does not affect the price of the service. I would not return to that salon.

  2. Katy

    The salon should have honored that coupon for her, since the coupon should have stated longer hair extra charge, even if it did not state how much the extra charge would be.
    That said, my advice is that the coupon purchaser should speak with the manager to see if it can be resolved, and tell the manager if it cannot, she will complain to the states attorney in her state and the Better Business Bureau, as this is really a “bait and switch” kind of deal. No manager wants to have that and will likely eat their mistake (of not adding fine print), and will not likely make that mistake again.

  3. Leeanne

    I think they should have honored the coupon. It is like you said, they hope for repeat business when offering “Hot Deals”. Just like a store offers a credit card, hoping you will use it again and again, gift cards, the same thing. Loss Leaders in super markets, and on and on. If it was me, I would tell the manager, the Better Business Bureau and all my friends what had happened! That is just plain bad business!

  4. Kim Boone

    First of all, I 100% give kuddos to the college girl who is already using coupons and trying to save money! I cringe at the thought of how much $ I could have saved if I started doing this in college! YOU GO GIRL!!! As for her condition, yes, she should have stood up for herself. The coupon that she purchesed did not have any fine print about extra charges for longer hair. I think she should have contacted the manager. If it was not honored, then I would have asked for my $25 back and let them sell the coupon to someone else!

  5. Francoise Van Heusden

    I run a small business. Personally, I think it’s good business to provide the deals promised to customers. Advertising and marketing cost big bucks. And when those dollars and marketing effort actually succeed in getting someone into your business, ready to spend, why in the world would you turn them down? From a business perspective, it makes no sense to me to not try to always (well, almost always) satisfy the customer.

  6. Amy

    All I know is that no company or small business that gives me poor customer service gets my repeat business. I got so tired of dealing with one of my local grocery stores with Qs that I will drive past it to go to my other faves. I used to spend hundreds of dollars in there, now I spend zero. There are studies companies do to determine how much it costs to attract a new customer vs. keep an old one and it is much cheaper to keep the old. Especially when I have the capacity to tell many others about my bad experience, too.

  7. Caitlin

    honestly, having long hair everytime I did anything to my hair besdies getting it trimmed I did have to pay extra and I knew that. I am suprised that this girl did not know that. If she was getting it colored they have to use more than one mix of color and it does cost extra. I work at a restuarant where we have TONS of coupons and different promos and people are always trying to take advatnage of it. When you are at a store, you get paid a wage but as a server you get paid in tips and so when a table comes in and wants pretty much a free meal or heavily disconuted rarely do they tip on the price it was but rather the price they see. As a hairdresser it kinda goes the same way and people just have to realize that there are exceptions. I love to find great deals and coupon but honselty she was still saving money and isnt that the point?

  8. Erika

    As a hairstylist, I have personally done radio advertisement. We offer our services in exchange for advertisement & they in turn sale them as gift cards for money… A gift card is a gift card however, let me just put it like this… would you go to applebees with a $25 gift card & expect them to give you a $35 meal? The same concept applies to the salon scenario.. But on the other hand, I would have tried to work it out as best as possible for my client…

    • cami

      I agree with you!!! I am also a hairdresser. Hair color costs us.. so she would have been paying to do the girls long hair! While I am a couponer and believe getting free samples that a company has offered is totally fine… I agree Erika that you cant get a $35 meal for $25 gift card! Good point!!!

  9. Stacy

    Some people take couponing too far and do take advantage of the company. Yes, companies do offer coupons to entice customers to come in and hopefully purchase again but how many people that consistently chase the free deal actaully purchase again? People that provide a service like hair dressers usually have a lot of overhead and it is customary to pay more for longer hair. It is also very true about the servers in restaurants. If four people split two dinners and order just water the bill will be very low but you are still taking the server from other tables for the same amount of time as if you purchased four meals and four sodas. Your tip should take into account the time the server spent with you, not just 15% of the total.

  10. Lacie

    The couponer does not say whether or not this was her first hair color experience. Maybe she had been considering it for awhile and just decided to do it now because of the good deal. I myself have never colored my hair and I would have had no idea they might charge me extra for long hair. While I agree that hairstylists do need to make a living obviously, it clearly states on the groupon website that you are expected to tip generously. If that was this girl’s intention, then she would have been doing the right thing, and the stylist should be expected to honor the coupon. Since she compares it to groupon, she obviously is familiar with the rules of groupon, etc. I think the stylist maybe could have let it go this one time and let her know that “normally it would be (this much) extra, but with the “groupon” price I’ll let it go” or something to that effect, so that she knew if she wanted to return in the future it would cost her more. However, most groupons are worded as $25 for $50 toward a cut and color, or something to that effect, so if it was worded that way, then she would obviously be expected to pay the extra, as it was $50 to use at the salon, not cut and dried a $50 color job.

  11. alisonp27

    The coupon was most likely for $50 worth of a color job. I do hair for a living and we do charge more for longer hair because of the extra color used and the extra time it takes to do it. They should have specified that because most people would think it was a flat rate but you would still be getting a $60- $70 color for $35- $45 dollars.

  12. Kate

    I dont understand the confusion. If it’s $25 for a $50 color job, then if your color job would cost more than $50, you get $50 off what the service would cost.

    I bought a $30 groupon for a restaurant last week . I went to the restaurant and spent $40. Should I have asked them to forgive the $10? No way.

  13. Amanda

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