Graeber Salon and Spa

November 1, 2015

**See update as of 11/14/15 at the bottom of this post.

I decided to try a new hair salon in downtown Boise, and after a lot of research and asking around, I made an appointment with Graeber Salon. Little did I know at that time how big of a mistake that was.

In my research I found that Boise Weekly had named Graeber best salon for the last several years. Also, I had several people say they got their hair done there or knew people who did and were satisfied.

If you follow us on Instagram or here on the blog, I’m sure it’s very obvious that I’m a natural redhead. Always have been. This means I’m pretty limited with what I can do in terms of hair color. I had been feeling the itch to attempt a little bit richer of a red for fall, which led me to making an appointment at Graeber.

Even with my research and referrals, I was still a bit nervous and hesitant about trying out a new salon. I made sure to prepare in advance by talking to friends in the field about the correct terms to use (i.e. “sombre”, “balayage”, etc.) as well as gathered specific pictures that depicted what I was wanting to achieve.

Basically, I wasted my time with all that prep work. Sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll explain my experience from start to finish.

My appointment was scheduled for 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning. I arrived a few minutes early and was greeted by a young lady at the front desk. There were already several other women standing in the cramped waiting room full of Aveda products. When my stylist came out to meet me, she asked if I would like either water or coffee to drink. This was definitely a nice gesture and exemplifying pretty good customer service, so I started to relax a little.

Red Hair Inspiration | DitchingNormal

This was the richer hue of red I was wanting to try. I told the stylist somewhere between this color and what I currently had.

When I sat down in the chair, she asked about what I was wanting for today. When I had called to schedule the appointment, I let the girl on the phone know that I was seeking a balayage with a richer color on top, so I reiterated this info to the stylist. I also pulled out my phone and showed her pictures, explaining that the first one was the balayage I had last year that I loved, but I felt a bit more daring this year and wanted to try something perhaps similar the second photo for the top of the  balayage.

After a few minutes discussing this, she said she would go mix up the color and be back to apply it.

EEK! I was so excited at this point. The next several minutes were spent with the stylist working like a mad scientist slapping color all over my head. She was extremely sloppy about it, but I think that is only because she was feeling rushed. The front desk girl came back to her station 2-3 times to give her updates on her next client. i.e. “Your next client is on her way.” Then ten minutes later, “Your next client just arrived.” I think these updates and the fact that she was a little behind schedule all led to the stylist feeling rushed which in turn made her sloppy.

So sloppy in fact, that she got a giant glob of dark dye on the side of the chair I was sitting on and a giant glob on the cape I was wearing. I believe this is what led to dark dye being splattered all over my favorite jeans. Yes, of COURSE I wore my favorite jeans to my hair appointment-I was prepared to walk out of there feeling fabulous! I wasn’t aware that I needed to wear my paint clothes to go to the best salon in Boise. Not only did she get dye on the chair, the cape and my pants, somehow it also got on my leather purse, which was sitting on a second chair at her station a couple feet away. I saw later there was also dye on her mirror. I pointed out all of the dye she had gotten on my pants and she tried to get the splatters out with hair spray, but that didn’t even make it fade. She even made the comment “It looks like you weren’t even wearing a cape!”

After she had painted my ENTIRE head (I went in for a balayage, remember, which does not require all over color) and my hair was dripping with dye, she let me know that she had another client and I would need to sit in a waiting chair while she attended to her next client. At this point I also noticed that there was dye all over my hand as well. That shit was everywhere. I glanced around to find an open chair while trying not to get dye in anymore places on my outfit. I asked if I needed to move my personal items from the second chair at her station (I had my purse, coat and scarf on the second chair). She said yes I would need to, but didn’t offer to assist me with it, even though I had dye all over my hands and my hair was dripping with dye.

I grabbed my personal items with the hand that didn’t have dye on it and walked to a waiting chair. It was at this point I realized she hadn’t clipped my hair up at all, and my hair is longer than the cape covers in the back. Since my pants and purse were already ruined, I wanted to at least try and save my shirt, so I sat very awkwardly stiff and tilted my head back slightly so as to not have the ends of my hair touch the back of my shirt. I sat like this for OVER AN HOUR as I watched her cut and style (and give a neck massage) the hair of her other client. I don’t have a lot of experience with this, but from asking around and in the few I’ve had, I have never heard of a stylist leaving color on for over an hour. I don’t think she would have left it on that long if she hadn’t had a client scheduled at the same time as my appointment. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all about efficiency, but I’m also about customer service. There are so many ways this could have been handled better (even just helping me with my purse and coat would have helped).

When my stylist was finished with her other client, she took me over to the sink to wash out my color. When I was sitting back in the seat in front of the mirror I started to have a little mini panic attack (I’ve never actually had a panic attack, but I totally freaked out on the inside). The color on my previously strawberry blonde hair was BLACK. Or so it appeared to me. Never in my 28 years have I ever been anything but a redhead. I was in shock, and not in a good way. She asked what I thought about the color and I just started shaking my head “no” and let her know that it was too dark. She assured me that it looked dark just because it was still wet and once she started to dry it, it would lighten up and be red. I didn’t say anything and just crossed my fingers she was right.

I watched in the mirror as she dried my hair and it stayed dark. Super dark. With not a hint of red in it. When about half of my head was dry, she asked again what I thought of the color. I blinked back tears like a little kid and told her it was way too dark and not what I had asked for, as there was no red to be found. Her response was very defensive, stating that she “thought it looked good”. I am not a confrontational person, so I just sat silently for the remainder of my appointment, blinking back tears like I was 6 and someone had just stolen my favorite toy.

By the end of the appointment once she had trimmed my hair and finished my blow out, I think she had come around and felt a little bad. She offered to set up another appointment to try and fix it (umm, no way I’m going back and spending MORE money at that salon). She also tried getting the dye out of my pants with pure rubbing alcohol, but that didn’t work either. She gave me her personal phone number and said if I couldn’t get the dye out at home, she would buy me a new pair of pants. I give her credit for that one, but I’m sure she knew I wouldn’t take her up on that offer. How awkward would that be?! I can see it now….”Hey, remember that girl whose hair, pants and purse you ruined? The one who cried in your stylist chair? Yeah, that’s me and I would like you to buy me some new jeans.” No thank you I would rather not.

I will also give her credit (kind of) for only charging me for the color and not the trim. The only reason I’m giving her partial credit is because it was a nice thought to not charge me for the trim, however she shouldn’t have charged me anyway because my hair is still full of split ends. I think she trimmed maybe 4 hairs total on my head. Oh but don’t worry she dyed ALL of them the wrong color.

I was checking out and paying at the front desk when the overly chirpy front desk man asked how my appointment was. In my head I was screaming “My hair is ruined, my pants are ruined and my purse is ruined. How the hell do you THINK my appointment was!?!?!” But instead I responded with “It was ok.” Then tipped over 20% and sprinted home to cry to my husband.

I originally wanted to write this post as documentation of a weird (hopefully funny in the future) instance in my life, but I turned it into a review of Graeber. I did this because a few days after my appointment I wrote them an email just to let them know about my experience. Want to know what they said back? Nothing. Not a damn word. Not even “Oh sorry about that.” I’m not asking for a refund, although I think it’s definitely deserved, but to not even acknowledge the terrible experience I had? That’s not very good customer service, and from what I experienced, I have no idea how they are the number one salon in Boise.

Needless to say I have an appointment to get my hair fixed, and it is NOT with Graeber.


**As an update, the co-owner of Graeber contacted me on 11/3 and offered a complimentary color fix. They also refunded me in full for my appointment as well as provided a gift card to replace my ruined pants.

Graeber Sign | DitchingNormal

Graeber Sign | DitchingNormal

Lacey Before | DitchingNormal

This was the balayage I had done last year and loved.

Lacey After | DitchingNormal

This was taken after I cried on my walk home from the salon. I was mourning the loss of my strawberry blonde hair.

Graeber Stained Pants | DitchingNormal

This picture only shows half of one of my pant legs. The dye got all over both thighs.

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  • Ally Turner November 1, 2015 at 11:31 pm

    I am so sorry you had such a bad experience! You still look beautiful though! I can only imagine how awful that was to see it was still dark. I also hope they responded to your review. You handled the situation like a trooper, I definitely would’ve cried like a baby!!

    • ditchingnormal November 2, 2015 at 6:26 pm

      Thanks Ally! Yes it was quite traumatic!

    • ditchingnormal November 2, 2015 at 8:56 pm

      Also…it’s been two weeks and still no response from Graeber to my email.

  • Claire November 2, 2015 at 7:00 pm

    Ummm you are way way way too nice! This I already knew about you but you deserved to raise hell! Many hair salons I have been too stack clients so they can make more money by getting more hair done at one time. Every time these stylists have assistants or an apprentice to help out so they never have a client unattended. Also- legit stylists stand by their work and if you aren’t satisfied they fix it free of cost until you are satisfied. Hello- you are a walking billboard for them. Write a review on Yelp, trip advisor and anywhere else you can. Give the stylists name in these reviews so hopefully she hears about your terrible experience but also so future people don’t make the same mistake by going to her.
    Luckily you are beautiful no matter what. ?

    • ditchingnormal November 2, 2015 at 8:55 pm

      Claire you are too sweet!!!I didn’t know that when salons stack clients they usually have assistants or apprentices-that makes WAY more sense! Nope…that definitely wasn’t the case at Graeber. I think I am going to take your advice and write a review on Yelp.

  • Shelby Bills November 3, 2015 at 9:01 am

    Hi Lacey,
    I am one of the owners of Graeber & Company. I am completely mortified by your experience in our salon. We pride ourselves on our work, customer service and our guests experience and after reading the review we did not measure up. We want to make this right for you on every level. I didn’t receive an email from you or I would have contacted you immediately. I am so sorry about your service. We can only get better and because of your detailed review of the experience we have an opportunity to learn from it not let this happen again. We truly appreciate your business and hope that you will give us the opportunity to show you the true Graeber experience and of course it will be complimentary. My direct email is [email protected] and my number is 208-343-4915. I will look up your I for as soon as I get back to the salon and call you. Thank you for your feedback.

    • ditchingnormal November 3, 2015 at 5:16 pm

      Hi Shelby! Thank you for reaching out; I appreciate the gesture. I will be in touch with you regarding your offer.

  • Sarah November 4, 2015 at 9:35 am

    Holy crap! What a nightmare. You look beautiful no matter what, but I can imagine the absolute devastation. And your jeans?? What the heck?? I wanted to cry when I saw the dye on your denim. What an experience. .
    I’m going to Euphoria Salon tomorrow. I’ll let you know how it goes! Keep your chin up! You can pull off any hair color with those beautiful blue eyes!

    • ditchingnormal November 4, 2015 at 5:13 pm

      Sarah you are too sweet! Yes, I think I was equally sad about my jeans as I was my hair! 🙁

      Let me know how it goes at Euphoria! Good luck!

  • Shea November 4, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    I just had to share a similar experience I had- after getting highlights since I was 16, I decided when I was about 21 that I wanted to dye my hair my natural color to see if I liked it-that way I wouldn’t have to get my hair done so often. So the stylist used a color swatch and matched up my natural hair color, which was a medium brown. I figured it wouldn’t be very hard for the stylist to do, and I would still have dimension with my color since this would be going over the highlights I already had. I walked out of the salon with pitch black hair- not a hint of brown to be seen. And of course there’s no way to fix this without bleaching my entire head, and I didn’t want to put my hair through that. So I found a new stylist and I slowly, over the course of about a year, got back to being blonde by weaving bleach back into my black hair. Now we both know that just because you are going to a salon with a good reputation doesn’t mean the stylist you are going to lives up to that reputation! I hope you can get to the red you wanted in the first picture in this post, that color is beautiful! And I agree with the others, you could pull off any color, even black;)

    • ditchingnormal November 4, 2015 at 5:11 pm

      Oh man! Isn’t it devastating/shocking?! I hope mine doesn’t take a slow process to go back. 🙁 Was the stylist that did this your regular girl?

      • Shea November 6, 2015 at 12:43 pm

        She wasn’t my normal girl, but I knew her and trusted her! She acted like nothing was wrong, and so did I of coarse! I never said a word. The only good thing was I could pull off more dramatic eye makeup cause the hair was so dark!

  • Jessica November 9, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    What a nightmare and horrible customer service. The sample image looks identical to the finished product if you ask me.

    • ditchingnormal November 9, 2015 at 4:37 pm

      Thanks for the comment Jessica! Oh man I WISH my hair looked identical to the pictures I provided the stylist. It does appear in the after picture to show a hint of red at the bottom, but that must have been the way the light is hitting it, because there is no red to be found. The top is actually so dark that stylists I have seen since my appointment have let me know that in order to get it back to what I wanted, my hair will have to be bleached to lift the super dark color that is currently on it.

      I am NOT excited about that. 🙁

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