When a Deal Isn’t a Deal

by Chris Bjorklund

I love getting a good deal as much as anyone, so when an offer for 50 percent off a luxury manicure/pedicure floated into my email inbox recently, I couldn’t resist. Heck, I deserved a little pampering!

I called a couple days later. The owner was eager to schedule the appointment and emphasized getting there on time. When I showed up five minutes early, the salon was locked up tight. Ten minutes later, the manicurist dashed in, apologized and started setting up. That gave me time to observe the shop’s state of disrepair and neglect—empty display cases, cotton balls under couches, paintings askew. So far, the atmosphere was less than soothing.

When the owner finally arrived, my manicure was already underway and I was soaking my feet. I learned right away this was a mother-daughter team. The bickering between them was non-stop. I would have walked out but I was stuck. Instead of relaxing, I was making sure the equipment had been properly sterilized.

The last straw was when the owner found out I was a consumer advocate. She started telling me about her pending eviction notice and how she wasn’t sure how long she could hang on. She also complained about how “deal” services charge too much but she was betting the discounts would help her find new customers and thereby save her struggling business.

I left knowing I would never return. I didn’t enjoy the “pampering” and would never recommend the salon. The whole experience made me think about how often we jump at the chance for a deal just because of the price, when there are many other aspects we should also be considering. A deal isn’t a deal if the quality of the service is sub-standard and the overall experience is way below average. In other words, I got exactly what I paid for.