I was taken today to a high street department store by one of my favourite PRs (oh, I’m not meant to have those!) for what was supposed to be a treat – a manicure. Right now I’m not going to say which store, but I will say the concession was Nails Inc. The experience was SO bad it ended up being downright funny, but the serious side of things is that if I had been a bone fida paying customer, I’d be livid and let down by such a shockingly bad level of service. It’s made me wonder (in my cocooned world of press priviledges) if that’s really what paying punters have to accept as grooming ‘service’. First of all, the ‘nail technician’ – and I use that title in the loosest possible sense, and largely because it was what it said on her badge – could not have been less interested making the experience anything more than basically functional. Orders to sit and wait at the nail bar were followed by lots of chatting with her colleagues about what items they needed to stock up on – in fact, other than barking a couple of orders for me to turn my hands over, wipe off the excess hand cream, and clean under my nails myself, she never spoke to me at all. No hello, no please, no thank you, no nada. She did, however, hum and sing to herself, chat with the nail technician seated next to her and wander off mid-manicure to find missing items. The manicure itself was kind of brutal – she hurt one of my fingers removing the cuticles and didn’t so much as bat an eyelid at my obvious flinching. When it was over, I was told to sit and wait for it to dry. Not even a goodbye. In fact, she did yell across the bar (before she’d even applied my colour) to a waiting customer that she’d be free ‘in a couple of minutes’. Sorry, but two colour coats and a top coat should take just a tad longer than 120 seconds. I think that the fact she was wearing latex gloves is fine, but she made me feel embarrassed and kinda grubby that she wasn’t prepared to clean under my nails (wasn’t expecting to do it with her teeth, by the way, just an orange stick as normal) and I’d have to do it myself. My PR friend who looks after the store died a million deaths while this took place – the best that could be said of the experience was that at least I got to have a nice chat with her! It’s appalling to say the least that someone looking for a luxury, an indulgence or a relaxing experience could be expected to pay for something so shoddy with a professional clearly so detatched from her job there’s no chance of her returning to base. Please, if you get this kind of service, don’t just sit there and take it – leave. Manners are a plain life basic and if you can’t even get that very fundamental level of service, you’ve really nothing to pay for. It’s worth mentioning though that my friend had a different experience; although she was right next to me, she was offered her file and orange stick to keep and didn’t have to clean under her own nails. Her manicurist was chatty and friendly and definitely ‘involved’ in providing the service being paid for.

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