Spa customer service treatment with a smile – even when things go wrong…

How a company can provide good service

Companies always make mistakes. After all, they’re made up of humans and to err is human. What is important to me, as a consumer champion, is how companies deal with the mistakes and get them resolved.

A couple of years ago I took out a course of pro-active facial treatments with Clarins. The deal was 6 sessions for the price of 4, at the Debenhams store at Lakeside, Thurrock. I don’t go to Lakeside very often so was taking a very long time to use up the sessions! But you should know that this does not matter as if you have any issues up to 6 years after purchase consumer law is still on your side.

So what happened?

Well, when I went for the second one there was no head massage whilst the mask was applied. I was told that this was no longer part of the treatment.

various Clarins treatments

When I paid for the 6 facials I was told that this was included. You may find this very trivial but those facials aren’t cheap and I know what I paid for!

So, I wrote to customer services. I told them that to remove it mid-program is against consumer law. The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 to be specific. I told them I felt that I had been misled into making a transaction I wouldn’t otherwise have made if I had had all the information, i.e. that part of the service would be removed without refund. In addition it is against the Consumer Rights Act 2015 as an unfair contract, as they had changed the terms and conditions without my consent.

Therefore, I expected a partial refund for the last facial and partial refunds for the remaining sessions. However, my preference was to be given what I paid for, which was the head massage whilst the mask is applied for my remaining facials. As regards the last facial, which did not include the head massage for which I had paid, I expected a partial refund.

small Clarins tubes

I made the point that I had no issue with any of the therapists. It was quite clear it was a change in policy not in quality.

The complaint was passed to the Area Manager. She told me that they had not had any similar complaints. Hmmmm.

She could see from their records that I purchased My course in May 2015 and had a Tri- Active Facial on 14th December 2016 – whereby the therapists had assured her that she explained the new procedure to me. I then had another Tri-Active Facial on 11th December 2017. (As I said, I didn’t go to Lakeside very often). They fed my comments back to the Spa regarding my disappointment with the new treatment, and also to the London Training team who apparently welcome all customer feedback as they were apparently “disappointed” that I felt I had been misled.

So that was that. Of course it flipping wasn’t!

In fact, the Consumer Rights Act didn’t apply because I had actually bought and paid for the course of treatment before the act came into force on 1st October 2015. But other consumer laws including the CPUTRs did apply. So, off I went again.

It was also unfortunate that someone at Clarins appeared not to have read my email properly either.

I agreed that the therapist explained the new procedure after I asked why the head massage was not applied. I said so in my email. But as I had clearly stated, the head massage had been removed from the program AFTER I had paid for it. Therefore a breach of contract had taken place. Had I known that the massage was not going to be included (where it once was) I may have made a different decision. This was a breach of The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. I pointed out that I provided this information, to which she had not referred in her reply.

I reiterated what I expected as redress. Then, of course, added my standard ending: “Should I not be fully satisfied with your response I will not hesitate in taking the matter further. This will include, but not be limited to, informing my credit card company, Trading Standards and going through the Small Claims Court. I will also share my experience on social media and relevant review forums.”

The Area Manager for Lakeside confirmed that I had spent £268 on my course in 2015. Since then, I had had 2 x Tri-Active Facials which would equate to £140, leaving £128 on the course value – without the two free treatments as it was purchased on the 6 for 4 promotional offer.

She wanted me to note that the store policy on refunds is for customers to provide a proof of purchase and valid receipts. However, the Skin Spa Manager said that he/she would be happy to offer me the following:

  • 2 x Scalp and Foot Massages for the previous two treatments which you I had in 2017 and 2016.
  • 4 x Scalp and Foot Massages to be included in the remaining treatments that you I had booked.

Yay, so that was good, and that was the end of the matter… or so they thought…

Of course it wasn’t. Because, dear reader, as much as I like to spread the word about consumer rights to consumers I like to inform thVarious Clarins beauty products on black work yopose working in customer services too.

I informed her that one does NOT need a receipt. One only needs proof of purchase. They clearly had this from their treatment records.


So, in the end I got a little more than I was legally entitled to (2 scalp and foot massages!) but that is how it should be, particularly when it took a few emails to resolve.

So, in summary, never just accept changes in services! But it did all come out well in the wash as it were!

See Top 20 Tips for complaining effectively to be able to do the same.

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For lots of advice, tips, consumer rights, stories and template letters:

GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!


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If you want help with improving your customer service see The Complaining Cow Services 





Not such an Easylife customer service

How to complain on principle about customer service

I often get asked about the last complaint I made and I always say  it is about the principle of complaining however much the amount.  I complained about less than a fiver on behalf of my mother. Here’s the story!

The Easylife order

On the 12th January she ordered from Easylife: gloves at £14.99, boots at £14.99 and a wallet for £9.99, making the total £39.97

She had a voucher for free P & P if spending over £30. However! After ordering and payment taken, she received an email with only the boots and wallet with p and p added totalling £29.97. When she queried this on the 12th January she received a response 4 days later on the 16th January at the end of the day to say that the order did not include the gloves because they were temporarily out of stock. However, there was no explanation for why my mother was not informed of this before submitting the order. Breach of Consumer Rights Act 2015. Easylife is not allowed to make changes to an order without agreement by the customer.

Easylife processing payments incorrectly

On the 12th January £9.99 plus a further payment of £19.98 total £29.97 was taken from my mother’s account. On the 23rd January my mother emailed Easylife to say that she had been to her account where it said that the items should be dispatched within 5 days. It had been 11 and that the tracking system was not working. On the 24th January my mother received a reply to say that the wallet was out of stock and the items would be despatched together. Interesting that Easylife could process an order for one item that was out of stock and not another. Breach of Consumer Rights Act 2015 for not providing services with reasonable skill and care. This was demonstrated further as on the 5th February my mother emailed to say that she had actually received the wallet but not the boots! She requested a refund for the postage and packing and clarity regarding the other item given that Easylife incorrectly said that the wallet had not been dispatched.  On the 6th February a further £9.99 was taken from the account, making a total of £39.96. In effect Easylife has charged my mother for all three items but not sent them. This is a breach of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and is fraud if Easylife has no intention of actually sending the items as it would appear it doesn’t. Easylife has not provided services with reasonable skill and care. Easylife did not have the courtesy of even sending a standard response to my mother’s email of the 6th February. On the 8th February she found that £14.99 had been put back on her card. No-one at Easylife has had the manners or common sense to send any correspondence as to what this referred.

Still with me?

So after advising her on how to complain I had some fun.

The Complaining Cow complains to Easylife

Ok, ’twas time for me to step in, ‘cos….

The administrative errors, lack of undertaking services with reasonable skill and care and the absolutely dire communication which was downright rude, annoyed me. Won’t have my mum receiving treatment like that thank you very much.  So I wrote to the CEO, addresses at – In short, I requested that my mother received all her items within 5 days. I also expected something for the inconvenience and stress that they had caused.

I forgot to add my mother’s account details and so actually sent another email straight after. (That’s important to remember!)

hands in gloves Easylife making customer service difficult

Two weeks later, I’m not sure how or why I waited that long, was very busy! I had had enough and sent an email with “Email before action” in the subject line. I told the CEO  that I had not received an acknowledgement never mind a satisfactory response. Told him that I was on BBC Breakfast, ITV News and Channel 5 News the previous week regarding customer service and complaints. I was asked in one of these programmes about the importance of complaining and I mentioned this story. I informed him of legal action and that he may like to resolve the matter and provide a comment for my article on the issues. It was also likely that the story would feature in the next book “The Worst Customer Service Known to Man”, in addition to a couple of conferences I would be speaking at the following month.

That is the first and only time I have ever used my persona The Complaining Cow. Too near the “Do you know who I am?” kind of rubbish. But here it was good to mention that I had actually used the story in the media because their service was so bad!

The Easylife response to complaint

Two hours 35 mins later I got a response from Customer Services! A useless one but a response. I was told by, let’s call her Sarah, that she had written to my mother and that if I had any further questions to contact her. I did, so I did. Meanwhile my mother told her to deal with me!

Sarah said that she had checked with their bank and could see that my mum had been charged and refunded and then charged again for the Boots, but the item has not been dispatched. She had checked with the warehouse and the item was no longer available. Therefore, she cancelled the order and refunded her for the item. They were hoping to source the boots and send them to her free of charge. (To date this has not been successful). The gloves were removed from the order as they had run out of stock and they had no date for replenishment. However, this should not have been done without my mother’s authorisation, so they sent these out to her free of charge.

Sarah refunded the postage cost of £4.99 and additionally a generous £10 for the inconvenience caused.

I noted that she blamed most of the errors on systems. However, she did not say that my mother should not have been charged the postage and made no reference to the human who told her that the amount was correctly charged. Why would a member of staff give the reason that they did? Although I put this to Sarah I did not get a response. I also asked why, when I emailed the CEO, Mr Caplan two weeks previously, twice I got no response but this time I got a reply within 3 hours. Was it the mention of court? The media? Conferences? Next book?

The chase

I didn’t get a reply so a few days later I emailed again. I told Sarah that I gave a short presentation at an awards ceremony on complaint handling and included this story. I was discussing how, if a company can’t even get these basics right, the CEO ignores correspondence regarding breach of consumer law, provides appalling service and it takes threats of legal action to get anything done (albeit a response lacking in substance) how can it possibly do things right for more vulnerable customers as that is where the challenge is for most decent companies, ensuring that they respond to all not the most damaging. I said “They are here tonight….” that got a good laugh round the room. So thanked her for providing me with material for future conferences.

I gave her until 9.00am on the Monday to provide a comment.

The next response from Easylife

Despite specifically saying only correspond in writing, they tried to phone me. The Head of Customer Service, let’s call him Jarvis, emailed after I refused to answer the phone. I told him that I would only deal in email and please could he have the courtesy of answering my queries. The response was almost comical. It included the following:

“The order was received via an order form and owing to it containing credit card information was securely shredded immediately upon completion, therefore I accept in good faith that the order was requested for 3 items:

5921 gloves £14.99

9566 boots £14.99

6535 wallet £9.99”

Seriously? SERIOUSLY? They don’t keep records of orders? Who believes that? Anyone?

Women's feet with black ankle chunky heeled boots

“It would appear that the agent” (“Agent”?  A secret one perhaps?) processing the order saw that the arthritis gloves were out of stock with no restock date and, in the agent’s belief of enhanced service, removed the gloves as they believed these would never be fulfilled. As already acknowledged, this was an error on the agent’s behalf and this has been addressed with the agent and the entire order form placement team.

This resulted then in the order falling below the free postage & packing offer, hence an additional £4.99 was charged. Unfortunately, our order processing system was not updated with the arthritis gloves and to anyone subsequently looking at the order it would appear that £4.99 was indeed chargeable for delivery as there is no reference to the gloves that would have taken the order above £30.

I acknowledge and apologise for the delay in response you received from your original email, that would be due to Mr Caplan being on holiday since 3rd Feb. However, even then he does forward (and believed he had in this instance) all necessary communications to relevant parties to handle. In this instance it appears that forwarding failed” (twice remember) “and hence no response was received by yourself. As to why [Sarah] was handling your query is quite simple: she is the most experienced within the head office team across all aspects of account management and hence does the investigations where errors occur and responded directly as neither Mr Caplan nor I were available.” (Remember she ignored many queries).

“With regard to payments made and received:

  • Your mother has been charged and refunded for snow boots twice
  • Has been charged and refunded for postage
  • Has been charged for aluma wallet
  • Been credited a goodwill payment of £10

= net £0.01 in [her] favour.”

Yup he’s actually pointing to the fact that she is 1p in credit. How generous. In addition if they can get the boots they will send them to her. Still not arrived. She actually received the gloves so she is in credit for more than 1p but honestly how bad is this company?

There was no comment provided for the blog post, so make your own mind up!

Not such an Easylife huh?

If you are struggling getting redress for faulty goods, poor service etc. see Top 20 tips for complaining effectively.

Top 20 Tips for Complaining Effectively

Logo cartoon cow at a laptop of book cover. How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!


For more advice, laws, stories and templates GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!




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If you are a company that provides poor service and want to improve to increase sales and loyalty check out The Complaining Cow Services.