Customer stopped cheque - what can I do?

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Hair Affair
27 May 2010
Rebecca Knott from
Hair Affair

Hi there, hope someone can give me advice/opinion on here!

I am a mobile hairdresser. Recently I undertook a booking for a new client who wanted hi lights, cut and finish to her long below shoulder blade length hair.

The client explained on the phone that since moving to the area she had not been able to find a hairdresser who could do her hair as well as her Northern stylist. I arranged a Consultation at her home to look at her hair, take a sample of it to do some colour/strand tests to see what lift of colour I could achieve (good working practise!) I spent half an hour with the client then went away, worked with the samples applying colour and bleach products to see what I could achieve for her. Took the samples back to show her and then returned for the planned appointment. I had quoted her £50.00 for the service. I never charge for consultations as I build this into the cost of being 'mobile'.

The appointment day arrived, I did the meche hi lights, as agreed that the bleach was the best lift in colour, she wanted really blonde. The overall service took 4 hours. The client looked at her hair and said it was 'fine'! (this worried seemed a little dismissive!) She paid me by cheque the £50.00. Of I went.

2 hours later I get a text saying "I am really not happy, it is not as blonde as I wanted and the roots are really dark, It doesnt look any different. I am very upset!"

I replied stating that using bleach can damage the hair...he hair was lifted as high as possible using the 'hi-lift' bleach product... for the longest amount of time, any longer the hair can become damaged!!

Saying that though, a client can NOT have bleach on her hair for over 30-40mins and it NOT LOOK ANY DIFFERENT.....It did look different...much lighter!

She relied "so my hair is that what you are saying!!!"...."NO" I is NOT damaged, it is fine..BUT leaving the product for too lon g to process CAN damage your hair!! " I am sorry you are not happy with the work I did on your hair...can I please come back and do a Tsection ( which is the crown and forward area of the head) NO EXTRA COST involved, as I would rather you were left happy, than unhappy with my work!

SHE NEVER REPLIED...I paid the cheque into my account...IT HAS BEEN STOPPED BY HER...

Is there anything I should do or can do??

I have a feeling she may of done this before...and maybe never had the intention of paying me anyway..and thought that she could get away with this because I am MOBILE!!!

Regards to anyone who can comment



Hi Becks

its a bit irrelevant if she has done this before or not.

the answer is simple you have done the work and need to be paid

1. Go on line, to your local court and take out a small claim action. its not expensive and only takes a few minutes to do.

some people will use any old excuse not to pay up don't let them get away with it!

Kind regards



I know someone who could....

actually no better not!  

It's annoying but a fact of business. You're going to come across people like this.

So... don't get mad, get even. Put in a small claims case.

You know what? You might not end up any better off, but you will be satisfied.



I agree with the previous responses.

The law works in mysterious ways (as we all know)! As you have provided a service, you are entitled to be paid for it. What the Client needs to do to successfully recover any money from you for any alleged "bad workmanship" is to issue a claim against you! Sounds strange I know but the Client needs to get the hair "put right" - well, to her satisfaction, and then to attempt to recover the costs of putting it right from you. This is called mitigating her loss.

Untill she actually pays out to have the situation rectified or unless she can show that you have fundamentally breached a contractual term (unlikely on this small scale) then she must pay you the £50 and then undertake the process I've described above. The burden will be on her to prove her case against you which, obviously, takes the pressure off you.

So I agree with the others - issue a small claim. Use Money Claim Online as it's very simple to use for a simple case such as this. If you need any pro bono assistance then please do get in touch


Hi Becks

As you were paid by cheque and this was cancelled you are entitled to sue on the basis of the cheque under the Bills of Exchange Act 1882.

This is because a cheque is a promise to pay and she broke that promise.  When you issue all you need to do is give details of the cheque and the fact it was cancelled.  The claim then cannot be defended on the basis of her being unhappy etc.

Feel free to PM if you want any assistance.



Excellent advice. I never knew that.

Learn something every day in here!


Agreed - very good advice! Personally I just feel that a simple debt recovery action may be more simple in practice but it's always good to have options


Suing on the basis of the cheque is debt recovery but your claim form contains details of the cheque rather than details of the service you provided.  The process is exactly the same.


Sorry I didn't really make it clear what I meant - certainly in my County Court if you started to explain the subtleties of Bills of Exchange to a DJ or DDJ they wouldn't necessarily understand. Debt recovery on the basis of non payment for services is far more common and IMHO more understandable for the Court.


I've never known a Judge not to understand this, it is rather a basic point of law!

Perhaps not always suitable for a litigant in person though if they cannot fully explain it.


Please come and visit our C/C's! Being careful what I say for obvious reasons, I have encountered some DJ's and DDJ's in this and other areas who couldn't (or didn't want to take the time to) understand even more basic concepts...


I'll bear that in mind when I've got a case in Bristol!


Hi all

please don't be critical of district judges in my experience they have always been great!

with a sensible approach and huge level of common sence for me any anyway have always made

concise and correct judgements and have always understood the rules.

good luck Becks

kind regards

Phil   Lightweight Movers


In no way was I criticising DJ's or DDJ's and I am only speaking from 13 years experience. What I was saying was that the Courts - and I'm talking about nationwide not just Bristol as I have experience in the Courts in London as well - like claims to be straightforward and well pleaded. 

In my experience - and I repeat that this is just my experience - a simple debt recovery action along the lines I suggested may well be preferred by the Court especially if the DJ or DDJ is relatively inexperienced. The Courts are hassled for time as it is and I was just wanting to warn Becks that often, a more simple way forward is an effective way forward. 

As with any profession, including my own, there are good and bad Courts and Judges - at the end of the day they are only human and if they don't have the time to read the case or don't like the way it's pleaded or don't like you, then a case you may ordinarily win in one Court, you may lose in another.

I have nothing but admiration for DJ's and DDJ's however the human factor cannot be totally ignored and I just wanted to put my experience forward.