I didn’t have a good time at a spa. What do I do?

Apr 24 2013

Stylish Spy

3 min read

Bad time

For most of us, a spa experience is a treat, something that we invest in emotionally as well as financially. If things go wrong, what's the best way to put those things right?

How to complain

Obviously, we hope that you'll never need this advice but, just in case you do, follow our five-step guide to get a positive resolution.

1. Decide what you really want

What you would like to happen as a result of your complaint? Do you want your money back? A voucher for a return visit? Or just an apology? If you know what you want, it will be easier for the spa to resolve the situation. Make it clear exactly what it is that you're complaining about. "I'm not happy" is vague. Be definite about what happened, and why this fell short of the service and experience you paid for.

2. Complain at the time

Try to sort out your complaint on the spot at the time. While you're in the spa explain carefully, but firmly, what happened and what you would like to happen now. If the staff don't agree with what your request, ask them what they could do instead. Decide whether what they offer is acceptable to you.

If you can't speak to the spa manager, a day spa should have a duty manager. At a hotel spa there will be a duty manager in the hotel. If they can help, great; if not, then you may need to escalate your complaint all the way up to the spa owner if necessary.

3. Make your complaint in writing

Firstly, you'll need to find the details of the right person to contact. A day spa will normally have several different directors; operations and/or marketing are both good to try. If it is a hotel spa or part of a health club, go to the general manager. It is also worth trying to find the details of the spa owners, although this may be harder to find out.

When you write to the spa directors or owners, clearly explain:

  • the details of the problem
  • what happened at the spa
  • what you wanted
  • what was offered instead.

By law, a company has to respond to your complaint as swiftly as possible, but there is no legal time limit. So set a time limit, usually 7-14 days, for sorting out the problem. Use recorded delivery mail and follow up after the time limit you set if you haven't heard from them.

You can find sample letters, advice and details of your rights as a consumer at the Citizens Advice Bureau online guide.

4. Keep a record

If the dispute is not immediately resolved, keep a record of all the communications between yourself and the spa. Get the name of the person to whom you've spoken, and the names of any staff involved in your complaint. Keep a copy of any letters or emails that you send and any replies that you receive. Keep a copy of your receipt or voucher, too.

If you're still not able to come to an amicable agreement, the county court smaller claims procedure is the last stop, but should be your final resort. Spa complaints fall under the 1982 Supply of Goods and Services Act which says that: "... any service must be supplied with a use of reasonable care and skill." For more information, the Citizens Advice Bureau is again your best route.

5. Stay calm

Be polite, but be firm. It's just human nature: if you're reasonable and courteous, the spa staff will take you seriously. If you shout, your behaviour gives people an excuse to not deal with you.

Can a spa charge for cancellations?

Yes. Like hotels, spas usually have cancellation policies. The times and penalties vary from spa to spa. Check with the spa where you're booked.

If you're cancelling a long time ahead, there may be no penalty. Some travel insurance policies will cover a stay booked at a residential spa, too, and some spas also offer insurance against having to cancel.


Stylish Spy

24th April 2013

Spy Likes:

Minimalist lines; organic products; facial massage; tranquillity; interesting people-watching.

Spy Dislikes:

Discarded towels on loungers; steam rooms that aren't steamy; mobile phones.

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