Illustration by Chris Murphy

Illustration by Chris Murphy

I have a client who comes in regularly for fills. All of a sudden broken, lifted, and cracked nails were appearing on her hands. I suggested we do a full set, get some new acrylic on them and see if that helps. Not long after that, her nails began breaking again. I mention that I’ve been so busy clearing out my closets and doing spring cleaning. Then she says that she’s been doing stuff around the house – refinishing chairs and tables and painting the inside of the house. Here I’d done a free set of nails because I thought it was my fault. Well, I finished her fill, repaired her broken nails, and charged her full price. Then, I fired her as a client. I thought I was doing something wrong with her nails, so I had done her nails for almost free every two weeks! That’s when I stopped blaming myself and started charging every client for everything.

Karol Singleton

Feather Sound Salon & Day Spa

Clearwater, Fla.

Lies… Lies… Lies…

Over the 15 years that I’ve been a manicurist, the confessions regarding a broken nail haven’t changed much. I think the most common lie that I hear is, “It just popped off!” This is usually the most obvious lie as well. Occasionally, I run into a creative type of client. The run-of-the-mill excuse just will not do for these clients – they tend to stand out in a crowd. I am likely to hear a very involved story about how she was talking to her best friend and as she was just about to hang up the phone there was an explosion just outside of her back door. In her haste to come to the aid of her fellow man, she trips over her son’s tennis racket (and she has warned him repeatedly not to leave it lying about, but you know kids!). Well, the next thing she knows she was tumbling down the porch steps. Personally I’ve learned to enjoy my little group of clients who tell creative stories. They certainly aim to impress if not to please. And they absolutely refuse to have you believe that they just broke a nail or that it was their fault.

Audrey Lulowy

Nails by Audrey Lulow

Woodbury, Tenn.

Usually, they tell me that the nail just fell off. They say that they didn’t bump it or slam it in a door, even though it is obvious there was some trauma done to the nail. Or I will get a story, “It fell off about an hour after you put them on, but I didn’t have time to call you until now.” This is a week or two later, when they are just about due for a fill. I guarantee my nails until their next fill. I offer to reshape them within the first week if they feel they are too long or they decide they don’t like the shape. Some clients have been known to take advantage of that and suddenly appear about fill time and say they didn’t have time to call. Usually they are trying to get a fill for free. Sometimes I will do it the first time but warn them the next time it is a per nail charge. Suddenly they become very careful with their nails. I had one woman who packed boxes as a job and was a severe nail biter. Her nails always seemed to just fall off. Because it happened so frequently I stopped guaranteeing her nails. She went through all of the other techs in the salon and had the same experience with them.

Annette Sather

Just Nails

Madison, Wis.

We actually had a client swear up and down that she broke three nails off just by picking up a roll of paper towels. We had another client who waited six weeks to come back for a fill and couldn’t understand why she lost three nails. There was another client who waited until I was through with her fill and acted like she had forgotten her checkbook. One client complained about fuzz in her polish. She called the next days and said she had a nick in her nail polish. She comes out the fuzz with a Q-tip and remover. Last, but not least, a client wanted the latest appointment possible. And the only time she could come in was 5:00 pm. After doing her nails, I find out later that she was off from work that day.

Paula Parrott  & Gayla Rottgering

The Beauty Shop

Paducah, Ky.

The funniest tale a client has told me about breaking a nail was when she was a t a formal in New York and had to use the ladies room. The stall required her to deposit a dime. While inserting the dime, her nail became lodged in the coin slot and couldn’t be removed. She waited until someone came in and they used scissors to cut it off. We hear it all.

Sharlene Stewart

Merle Norman

West Chester, Pa.

Recently, a client claimed that her nail had just fallen off. “I was walking across the parking lot, just now, and it fell off!” She didn’t know that I saw her through the front window in the parking lot with her finger in her mouth.

Katherine Freeman-Fahrig

Applause Nail Salon

St. Louis, Mo.

I have heard it all! The most outrageous story was when a client told me she was picking up a tissue and the nail just fell off. I guess that’s why about half of her natural nail was missing!

Shelley Gierisch

Beauty Essentials

Albuquerque, N.M.

I probably get dozens of excuses, but one that stands out in my mind was about seven years ago when I first opened my salon and I had to deal with a difficult client. She was just a royal pain and I eventually had to fire her. I had finished her manicure and she left. About an hour later, she came back insisting I re-polish her nails at no charge. She said that when she got into her car and drove off, a bee flew into her car. She was swatting at it and she kept hitting the roof of her car therefore, she really messed up her polish. Or so she says.

Jo Laki

Jo’s Naughty Nails

Hamlin, Pa.

I had a client tell me that her nail broke when she was rubbing cuticle oil on her nails. The thing that is even worse about this was that her own nail was broken all the way through. There was no way she did this from rubbing in her oil. The sad thing was that we think she really believed that was how it happened. I explained to her that she had to have hit her nail rather hard for that to have happened.

Cindy Davis

Visible Changes Salon

Ridgecrest, Calif.

I once had a client on whom I did a set of acrylic overlays. When she came in for her fill, there were several nails that had come off. I asked what happened and she said, “I was sitting on the couch and they just rolled off my fingers.” I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. She was serious and continued to insist that they had rolled off on their own while she watched TV, I just laughed some more.

Kathy Mason

Nails In A Snap

Roseville, Mich.



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