Most likely, the majority of your clients are people you enjoy, who give you energy, who make it easy to love your job. But there’s always that one.
NAILS has compiled some of your worst client stories, and you are going to love reading them. So go grab a warm beverage and get ready to laugh as you empathize with your peers. (See how many of these clients remind you of someone you know!) To vote for your favorite “worst client,” e-mail email@example.com with the name of the story by February 15).
I’m a germ-a-phobe, and I saw a client use her hands instead of a tissue to wipe her runny nose. I nearly flipped out! I stopped doing her nails and asked her to come back when she is feeling better.
DOMINIQUE STANTON, Candy Paint Nailz, Chicago
Forget Me Not
“Mary” suffered from a combination of bipolar disease and other issues. She would book appointments, but never remember them. After each missed appointment, Mary would call to re-book, and I would explain to her our salon policy about a $25 no-show fee. She would agree and sound like she genuinely understood. But then she would miss her appointment again. I even pre-charged her for six months so that I would be paid in advance if she no-showed! Still, after only a few appointments, she would become inconsistent again. Eventually I gave up serving her, because I felt so guilty about taking no-show money. The shame is that she loved anything and everything about nail art that I could put on her. It’s been three years since I’ve done her nails, but every six months or so she calls to see if I’m taking new clients.
AMANDA L. SCHISON, Outer Images, Brampton, Ontario, Canada
Assault and Flattery
I had a client who was mature in age but young in spirit. She was French, with a very chic sense of style, and a sympathetic, empathetic, and vivacious personality. One hot summer day, I came to work wearing a cami with a shelf bra. While I filed the nails on one hand, she reached over and grabbed and jiggled me with her free hand.
“Wow!” she said. “They’re very natural! Your doctor did a great job.” Then she let go of me. All I could do was gawk and think, “Oh my God! She just grabbed my boob!” When she saw my expression, she apologized profusely. We laughed about it later. To be fair, she wasn’t perverted. I suppose it’s much like grandmothers who assault young pregnant women by patting their bellies.
VICTORIA HUNTER, Ongles Chez Victoria, Montreal, Canada
After 22 years of working as a nail tech, I remember my worst client as the one who asked to have an affair with my husband. I was prepping her nail when she popped the question. I laughed, thinking she was kidding.
But she assured me she was serious. Now mind you, I had an e-file in my hand, which was very brave on her part. I stopped the service, handed her back her money, and told her she needed to find a new tech. She was horrified not only that I would deny her request for the affair, but also that I refused to finish her service and sent her away with unfinished nails. This woman was an old friend of my parents, making her at least 20 years older than me and my husband! Somehow she thought that since I had known her most of my life I would be OK with the arrangement she had cooked up in her brain!
MELODIE HAND, Tickled Pink Salon, Clayton, N.C.
One of Our Own
An acquaintance and fellow nail tech came in as a new client wanting a “fill” and “special art.” She arrived with four or five nails missing, cracked, and misshaped. The rest were barely hanging on because the regrowth was about seven weeks! I totally removed all the product, started over with a full set and gave her beautiful nail art. Though she misrepresented her needs, I honored the fill price as a professional courtesy. To top it all off, she didn’t even tip!
Mosaic Nails & Esthetics, Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada
Drunk and Disorderly
I had a client who would come to the salon drunk or high, often with a posse of people who were also loud and drunk. At the end of one day, she called to say she was stuck and needed help with her car, and I went to help her. When I arrived, she was in cuffs because she was being arrested! She called for help because she needed me to drive her 14-year-old daughter and the car to a friend’s house because she was being taken to jail!
BRI MCCLOUD, Happy Nails, Athens, Tenn.
I’ve been a nail tech for five years, and I can’t get rid of my worst client. She comes in every two weeks and never misses an appointment. Here’s the kicker: She’s the most indecisive person I’ve ever met. Her appointment is on Tuesday, but her nails aren’t complete until Saturday. She comes back every day to have her polish changed because she can’t make a decision. It’s the same deal every time. Lord help me if I get a new polish — that will set her back another week!
CRYSTAL L. JONES, Royal Treatment Salon and Spa, Lancaster, Ky.
Nag Nag Nag
I was doing the nails of a little old lady who was very particular. As a new tech, I wanted to please her, so I soaked up her recommendations and brushed off her criticisms. After listening to her nag for 45 minutes about how I wasn’t doing her nails right, I grew weary. I just wanted her the heck out of my chair. I polished her nails, placed her hands under the nail dryer, and then took off to the back room, telling myself I would never book her again. When I returned to check on her nails, I saw that the red polish had smeared on every finger. My eyes darted to the red streaks now visible in her gray hair. At first I thought I should tell her and clean up the mess, but instead, I sent her on her way!
LORI PENDERGRAFT, Nails by Lori (inside A Personal Design), Spokane, Wash.
A client came in for a full set and seemed genuinely happy when she left. She called to schedule a fill appointment, but then no-showed. She called again to reschedule. Again she no-showed. This happened four or five times. Finally, she showed up one day with no appointment. I felt bad for her, so I told her I could do her nails. Big mistake. Normally, fills take 20 to 40 minutes. These took two-and-a-half hours!
During the appointment, she complained about the shape and the length, finally taking the file and shaping her own nails. During the polish application she pinched back the sides of her fingers to make sure I covered the whole nail. Before I applied the top coat, she got up and ran over to my boss to complain, saying I am a messy painter. She refused to pay for the service and stormed out. Later that day, she came back and slapped quarters on my desk, saying that was my tip!
LILYANN NGUYEN, Znails Salon and Spa, North Hollywood, Calif.
Dine and Dash
It was my first appointment with my new client, whom I will call Cruella DeVille. She arrived 20 minutes late. I was not happy, but since she had been referred by a dear friend and client I simply asked if she had hit traffic. She sensed I was irritated, which irritated her. Cruella was a caterer and her first request was that I file out the avocado from under her acrylic nail. I politely handed her a nail brush and pointed in the direction of the restroom. Cruella talked throughout her appointment, mostly slamming my friend! When I thought things couldn’t get worse, she threw me a curve ball. “Lunch is on me today for the whole salon!” Cruella announced. What the heck? I thought Cruella must have realized she was late, rude, dirty, demanding, and self-absorbed. She brought in a feast from a nearby Mediterranean restaurant. Everyone began thanking her for her generosity — until we received a call from the restaurant saying her credit card had been declined! “I’ll mail a check,” she promised and breezed out the door. It will surprise no one when I say the check never arrived.
RACHEL JONES, Ravisante, San Mateo, Calif.
I inherited this client seven years ago from another tech. I should have heeded her subtle warning as she bid me “good luck” with an eye roll. The client is consistent and tips well, but during the whole appointment she gives off negative energy. She complains about working long hours (she’s unemployed), going to school more than full time (her choice), and how nobody respects her time (i.e.: “How dare my friend call me for lunch; I’m busy!”). She does homework and pays bills during her appointment, leaving the envelopes and trash on my desk. Plus, she constantly changes her appointment. Recently, she called to move her appointment by 15 minutes. I accommodated her by bumping my next client 15 minutes. When I called to confirm the change, she said 15 minutes may not be enough time, and she wanted to be sure she would have the full hour and a half in my chair. Then came the bloodpressure-raising sentence: “You know, I tip you really well, and I expect you to accommodate me once in a while.”
DANA GONZALEZ-KURTZ, Artistry of the Nail at Salon Shibumi, Portland, Ore.
Too Close for Comfort
I work from home by appointment only. One morning a client called for an appointment, but it was the holidays, and I told her I was totally booked. Just then, she walked in my door, which I had opened to let the dog out. I was in my pajamas with a cup of tea in my hand, catching my breath from cleaning the house. I hadn’t even brushed my hair yet! My client stuck her hand in my face and demanded I file her nails. Without realizing what I was doing, I did. Then I booked her fill for the following week, explaining that I was in my pajamas, and I hadn’t quite started my work day yet. She had no money with her, and the following week she refused to pay extra for the time I had taken to file her nails. To make things worse, she called me the most obnoxious person she had ever met. This happened seven years ago, and I still cross over to the other side of the street when I see her.
AVIVA BELFER, Aviva’s, Jerusalem
A walk-in client came to the salon for a full set. She wanted white tips with very thin acrylic applied over them. They were so thin that when I buffed her nails, the acrylic was gone and the tip was exposed below. I advised her that was not the proper amount of acrylic. After an hour of listening to her pick at every detail, I finally finished. She left saying she loved them and they look so much better than anyone else’s. Two days later she called, complaining that her nails were cracking and breaking at the stress area. She said, “I would like to give you the opportunity to fix your mistakes for FREE because that’s the kind of lady I am.”
TAHNEE REYES, Pinky’s Salon, Porterville, Calif.
I had a client who would spend her whole appointment talking about her endless problems but wouldn’t think to tell me she “forgot” her money until I was finished with her nails. She would cry and complain about her life constantly. One day she called to say her car wouldn’t start, and she asked me to send my husband over to help her get it started. I said no. Recently, she called to say she had dropped her electricity bill in my mailbox, and she asked if I could pay it so that her electricity wouldn’t be shut off!
MELISSA CARTWRIGHT, Salon 36 at Aldinga Beach, South Australia
Rhymes with Witch
A client called to book a full set and to ask if it would be OK to bring a baby, as she was babysitting for a friend. She insisted the little darling would be taking her afternoon nap during the appointment. When I asked her to wash her hands, she told me she washed them before she left the house. I insisted. So, grumbling, she picked up the baby, the diaper bag, her purse and her drink, and she went to the bathroom. She returned 20 minutes later. Betty decided it was a good time to feed the baby after all her tips had been applied. After she dug inside the diaper bag and retrieved a can of powdered formula and a gallon of water, I noticed a couple of her tips were gone. Sixtyfive minutes were wasted on her shenanigans. Then she told me the reason the salon is called B*tches (her personalization of our real name, “Beaches”) is because in order to work there you have to be a b*tch, and then she left. A few minutes later, I received a call from the gym next door, asking why the police were outside our building. Apparently she had called the police to tell them I was a b*tch.
LUCIA ETCHAMENDY, Lucia’s Hair and Nail Salon, Hesperia, Calif.
A client came in from a different salon with nails that were brownish-yellow. She couldn’t remember what had caused it, but said every time she went to the “other” salon, it would happen. Three days after I filled her nails, she asked why her nails were again turning brown. I asked if she was tanning. Yes, she said, but she wore gloves. Finally, she remembered she had applied self-tanner. A week later, she called again to say I hadn’t applied enough gel. When she came in, I looked at her nails and asked her what type of project she had been doing. She said she had washed out a brush filled with wood stain. Now I was frustrated. She asked for a new set, and I agreed to give her one. Right after her appointment, she went home and filed her own nails and then called to tell me her nails were not even on one side and she wanted me to fix them for free!
LORENA RODRIGUEZ, San Antonio, Texas
This client makes me grind away my sealants. She refuses to let me use clippers because her hyponychium grows past her finger tips. Instead, she makes me file her nails down right to the tip of her hyponichium while randomly shouting, “Watch out!” (This is nerve-wracking and dangerous.) Also, no matter how many times I tell her to let me know what she wants “fixed” before her nails have cured under the light, she never remembers to point things out until after her nails have cured. Plus, for some reason, she can’t simply keep her hand flat under the light, so whenever I remove the sticky residue, half of the color wipes off, doubling my work. Two hours later, I finish her nails feeling drained and mentally violated. Needless to say, I am now always “booked” whenever she calls.
JENNY ARNAIZ, Be Gel’ous by Jenny, San Francisco
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