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Waxing and Waning

By Michelle Martin

Prepare to absorb two themes simultaneously. The first is that good customer service is a dying art, and the second is that waxing is weird. You can just imagine how these two topics converged.

I recently went on a shopping rampage that took me to many stores of varying levels of costliness, sophistication and size. Let's name names here: Macy's, Nordstrom, Ann Taylor, The Gap and several boutiques. So many transgressions were committed that I haven't room to list them all here, but here are a sample few:

  • Salesperson talked on phone at register counter for an extended time while I'm standing waiting for service on an OBVIOUSLY PERSONAL CALL. (Nordstrom)
  • Shoe department was so ridiculously understaffed that more than 6 people stood around register with hands full of shoes that needed to be retrieved for trying on. I asked the clerk if he was the only one on duty and he breezily said there were a couple of other people around. Didn't look for them, didn't get at all alarmed about the crowds, didn't even realize that people had stood there for almost 20 minutes - I timed it! (Macys)
  • Shoe clerk sold me the wrong size shoes. Error #1. When I returned them and gave my little spiel to the register person, he didn't say a word. No "Hello", no "I'm sorry", not one word to me. I just stood there and waited for him to say something, and he finally said something like "This guy will help you" and then walked over to a cluster of employees who were standing on the floor talking. (Nordstrom)

But that all pales in comparison to my experience at the Body and Soul Salon in San Carlos. I needed to get a couple of things done before my recent trip to Vegas, where I planned to spend time poolside in very little clothing. So I called to schedule a bikini wax and an eyelash tint. Mind you, I'd never been to this place beforeheard about it from a friend who had never been there either. I got a recorded message saying I had reached the salon, and if I wanted an appointment to please leave my name and number. So I did just that. I got a message back awhile later from a woman at the salon who actually sounded testy. She said she couldn't schedule an appointment for me because I hadn't left my desired time and service that I needed. Well, the message didn't say for me to do that, godammit! But I called her back and made an appointment.

So, when I got the snotty message I assumed I was dealing with a hip spot where appointments are hard to come by and I'm lucky to be let in the door and that sort of thing. So I was surprised to see a one-woman establishment, a little two-room thing that didn't even try to look like a salon. It was charmless. But I thought, well, this proprietress is a no-frills kind of woman. That's her business.

We got down to the business off her poking dye in my eyelashes and painting hot wax on my bikini line, which is rather personal, as you might know or imagine. Total stranger seeing parts of you normally only revealed to sex partners. But that's the way it works. And it hurts!So she did what she had to do, and I told her I had heard about her from a friend who was the mayor of San Carlos. She launched into a bitter diatribe about local politics and several times said very insultingly the mayor was "playing politics." This is a man who is sending her business!

We also made the usual small talk about what other services she offers, and I said I'd like to make an appointment for a facial. I asked to make it for Tuesday the 7th of August, theorizing that my skin would be thrashed from my Vegas rampage and all its concomitant smoke, alcohol, dry air and late nights, and that Monday I'd be too tired to do anything but sleep. So I made the appointment, paid her and left.

On Tuesday the 7th I called to see if I could bump the time up to an earlier slot, like from 6 p.m. to 5 p.m. I left a message to that effect. I got a message back saying I was "confused" and that my appointment was Tuesday the 15th. Well, first of all, I wanted it on the 7th, had written the 7th in my calendar and probably said that as well. But even if it WAS my mistake, rather than the likely scenario of her flipping to the wrong week to write in the appointment, she should not have accused me of making the error, and should have said something like "I have you down for the 15th. Sorry for the confusion. I can/can't accommodate you today, the 7th." Don't you think? Well, at that point I decided, FUCK HER. She gets no more of my money. So I called her not that day, but Tuesday the 15th to say I just wanted to let her know that I couldn't make it on the 15th, and that the 7th was what I had wanted. She got angry and said she would have appreciated a call (presumably at an earlier time than the call I placed to her, which was about 4 hours before the appointment she had in her book) and I said that's what I was doingcalling to make sure she knew I wouldn't be there because I had expected an appointment the previous week. She was livid and ended the call with a pissy, huffy grunt of the sort that usually precedes someone calling someone else a bitch. Mind you, I was composed during this chat and didn't even accuse her of any wrongdoing with the appointment snafu!

Truly she's the least pleasant woman I've met this year. Okay so this wasn't so much about waxing. That's very personal. I guess I'm not ready to share that stuff with you yet.