If you dye your hair at home, don't be blonde and read this important information

Here's why you should do that strand test recommended by the manufacturer

08 August 2019 - 09:16
Consumers are liable for their own costs at salons if they need to fix a home hair-dye job gone wrong.
Consumers are liable for their own costs at salons if they need to fix a home hair-dye job gone wrong.
Image: THAPELO MOREBUDI

All boxed hair dye brands advise consumers to do a preliminary “strand test” - but relatively few bother, opting to apply the concoction to their entire head of hair immediately. That “what-could-go-wrong?” attitude has cost one local woman in more ways than one.

The “light blonde” dye turned out to be a very vibrant red, which forced her to spend about R7,700 at a professional salon to have her hair restored to blonde.

The incident is included in the Consumer Goods and Services Ombud’s latest newsletter as a cautionary tale.

“It’s a consumer’s obligation to take steps to mitigate any loss that they may suffer, and, in that regard, hair dyes come with instructions in terms of which consumers are advised to perform a strand test before proceeding,” the ombud said, in dismissing the woman’s complaint against the retailer.

“If the complainant had adhered to the instructions, she would have discovered that the colour of the dye was not as indicated on the box, and any further damage would have been prevented.”

Neither the blonde nor the retailer is named in the case study. The product is not identified either.

When investigating the complaint, the ombud discovered that the woman had also lodged a complaint with the manufacturer of the hair-dye product, which paid her R2,700 “as a gesture of goodwill”.

But she wanted the retailer to pay the remainder of her “make right” hair salon bill.

Unhappily for her, the ombud sided with the retailer, which argued that the product is shipped to it in sealed pallets by the manufacturer, and then sent from its distribution centre “as is”, before being unpacked in stores and placed on the shelves.

The retailer could only have known that the code on the bottle of dye inside the pack did not match that on the outside of the pack if it had opened that particular sealed pack. Clearly, that was not going to happen. Also, no other consumers had reported the packaging mix-up.

As the manufacturer is a reputable international supplier, it is reasonable for the retailer to rely on the manufacturer’s quality standards, the ombud found.

And then there’s the consumer’s obligation to take steps to mitigate any loss they may suffer, and the blonde’s failure to do that strand test, as advised, made her partly responsible for her loss.

Most off-the-shelf hair dye users appear to think the strand test is a waste of time.

“I just throw it on. Ain’t nobody got time for strand tests,” said Karen Mitchell (2karenatmitchell) on Twitter.

“Never even thought of doing the test,” said @zuxx. “If it does go wrong, I’ll just shave my head again.”

Tracey Ward (@bantingbant) also paid dearly for not bothering with the strand test. “Made wayyy too many mistakes because I never applied the test. Cost me buckets more than going to the hairdresser, so now I never do box - straight to the salon.”

Given that so many consumers are feeling financially squeezed, are hair dye manufacturers enjoying increased sales?

Clicks spokesperson Susann Caminada confirmed that the retailer had seen a “slight” increase in sales in the past few months.

* In the three months ending June 30 this year, of the 1,340 cases dealt with by the consumer goods and services ombud’s office, 59% resulted in positive outcomes for the complainants: 51% were fully in favour, 4% partially in favour and in 4% of cases some form of assistance was provided.


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