Sunday, October 18, 2009

When is a Haircut Not Just a Haircut?

I got my hair cut yesterday. The little family barber shop I like has a red, white, and blue barber poll, stuffed fish mounted on the walls, and plays oldies music over the intercom.

When is a haircut not just a haircut? When the Hair Technician can't cut your hair without creating a permanent record in the cash-register/computer that includes your name and ZIP code.

At least, that was my experience a few years back when I tried one of the hot-shot haircut chains because it was closer to the house than my traditional spot.

"What is your name?" the well-manicured hair stylist asked, her fingers poised over the register keyboard.

"You don't need my name to cut my hair," I replied.

It turns out I was wrong: she froze in her tracks, and a look of panic popped onto her face. She typed something in, and then asked, "OK, what's your ZIP code?"

"You don't need my ZIP code either."

She blinked her eyes a few times, typed something in, and then resumed her normal routine. At the end of the event I received a receipt, which showed my salon name -- Michaael, spelled with two As -- and a ZIP code.

I haven't been back -- not that I'm so much a mounted catfish fan, but I don't like being hassled for something that I receive no benefit from.

I understand how these matters work: the salon wants my name and ZIP code to better market their goods and services to me; they want to know where I'm from so that they can better gauge what locations need new salons, which products to stock on the shelves, that sort of thing.

My point being that my name and ZIP have value to the salon, which means that I should be compensated for providing that data. The fact that providing said information "costs me nothing," as one colleague put it, misses the point: I have something of value -- i.e. my name and ZIP code -- and if a company wants to get it from me, they need to make it worth my while. The fact that they ask for it is sufficient proof that it has significance.

A happy irony here is that I'd gladly provide my name at my family barber shop: they know how to ask for that sort of thing without being annoying.

8 comments:

Kindred Spirit said...

Sean, you are such a wonderful curmudgeon; I hope that you never change a hair of your head! :-)

Patti Petersen said...

Let me guess, Sean...you didn't tip the poor cosmetologist who cut your hair, did you? What a growley and unreasonable ogre you can be! (lol) My sister is a cosmetologist. She doesn't make beans - if giving a name and zip code can help the salon make a little more so that the cosmetologists can actually earn a living, I say do it in the spirit of helping the common good. Whattaya say to that, you cave troll?! :=))

Sean said...

I'm actually a decent tipper. But I say me and my gray hairs will stick with my bottom-feeding catfish.

Patti Petersen said...

You are fine the way you are, and I have always had a soft spot for crustaceans and catfish. Ah, well...just think, in a few years you probably won't have any hair to be cut. Bwahahaha!

Sean said...

My hair is just prematurely gray, it isn't falling out. :-)

dolorosa said...

How about if they gave you a buy one haircut, get one free? Would that be worth you giving them the information?

Sean said...

That would probably put them out of business. Anyway, I'm actually not that hard to please; I'd probably be happy with a lollipop.

Patti Petersen said...

I was just giving you a hard time, old man. I know that my hair has a lot more gray than yours...of course, being black it shows the gray a lot more!