A Northern Ireland hairdressing body has advised customers to switch salons if they feel they have been quoted too much for their first post-lockdown cut and colour.
en McClure, vice president of the Northern Ireland Hairdressers Association, made the plea after Peter Mark customers here accused the hairdressing chain of introducing "rip-off" prices.
Ahead of salons reopening here on July 6, the company unveiled three services for customers that may need to fix home dye jobs and longer-than-normal regrowth.
The cost to correct "patchy and uneven" colour caused by home dye kits is an additional £54, while to tackle root regrowth longer than 2cm will cost £38 - the same additional charge for clients who feel their colour faded during lockdown.
Online customers branded the move "disgraceful" and one angry Northern Ireland customer claimed they had been quoted £186 for an appointment.
Peter Mark had told this newspaper that it could not comment on the specific price quoted to the customer, but urged the person to come forward so they could "clarify the correct pricing for the services they are requesting".
Peter Mark also said customers have been appraised of potential additional costs.
"At the time of booking, Peter Mark has been advising clients that there may be an additional one-off charge to restore their hair to its former colour," they added.
"And if this is required, it will take extra time by the stylist and extra product.
"These services have always been available at Peter Mark but the reality is that normally they are not needed by clients when salons are open, as they would not have as much regrowth and would get their hair coloured more frequently."
Mr McClure said most salons would find price hikes unavoidable, and customers should expect some increase for their salon visits to cover the costs of providing personal protective equipment (PPE), hand sanitisers and Perspex screens, as safety measures are introduced.
However, he told the Belfast Telegraph on Thursday that if customers have been given prices they are unhappy with, then they should shop around for more competitive services. "Customers have had to wait three or four months for their cut and colour, so I would say to them that to wait a few more days to get a different hair salon wouldn't be a too much of an issue at this stage, if they're not happy with their prices from their usual hairdresser," Mr McClure said.
The east Belfast salon owner, who runs Kenneth Michael International Hair and Beauty, stressed salons are also facing having to spread out appointments so that there will be fewer clients at any one time to comply with social distancing rules.
"Salons have had to spend more in order to prepare to reopen, so customers should expect to pay a bit more," he added.
However, he said salons have to strike a balance with covering their additional costs, as well as keeping their customer base.
"We've had loyal customers coming to us for years and years. Our customers are very important to us," he added.
Meanwhile, salons across Northern Ireland are reporting being inundated with bookings ahead of reopening in two weeks' time, leaving some customers delighted but others frustrated.
Customers have reported spending hours on the phone in an attempt to get an appointment, prompting some salons to direct customers to book their trips to the hairdressers via an online booking system or through an app.
One woman posted on Facebook how she tried ringing her Belfast-based salon over 130 times in a single day to get booked, but to no avail.
Another customer issued a plea via Facebook to ask her hairdresser to put her on a waiting list.
"There's only so much more hacking I can do at my fringe!" she added.
One client who had managed to book a coveted slot expressed their joy, saying: "Never thought I would be so excited to get a hair appointment."