Just a little off the top, thanks ... errr ...

Just a little off the top, thanks ... errr ... Photo: Michele Mossop

I popped into a local barber the other afternoon. I had a meeting pencilled in for the next day and wanted a quick tidy-up. Five minutes work at most. "We're closed," they said. "We shut at six. Come back tomorrow."

I ambled back to the car and checked the time. It was 5.57. Bastards.

I thought about going back and demanding they attend to me. Perhaps pointing out that, as Fairfax's pre-eminent blogger on all things male and groomy, I deserved to be seen to. Immediately.

Then I thought the better of it. It wasn't solely that I didn't want to seem like a knob, it was more the fear of what might happen if, riled up, they came at me with some shears and a pair of scissors.

What would I say if I was left - as revenge for my temerity - with asymmetrical sideys or more of a haircut than I'd been hoping for? Would I complain or - like I usually do, and like you probably do to – slink away and say nothing?

I went to the meeting the next day shaggier, but wiser.

You speak up if you're overcharged by the bank and are quick to have a word about poor service at a restaurant. You'll drive across town to return a faulty bike lock, but what do you do when you receive a dodgy haircut?

Nothing. You say nothing.

You pay and walk out of the salon looking and feeling like crap. Sitting in a hairdresser's chair is one of the most disempowering experiences a man can have. We lose our voice and natural authority - we're out of our comfort zone even as we willingly seek good grooming and a little pampering.

"Hairdressers are in the position of power; the client is not," says Melbourne stylist Kristianna Michaelides.

"The most empowering thing to do is to speak up at the time. If you're not capable, call up afterwards. You don't have to speak to the stylist - speak to the receptionist.

"Sometimes the problem can be fixed. Sometimes fixing it involves waiting, and that's the hard part.

"Don't let emotions get in the way. Keep your cool and you're more likely to get a discount or a free haircut or adjustment."

But should you go back to the same stylist – the one who botched the job?

"It's a relationship – it's a trust and exchange but it can be hard. You could take advice from someone in the same salon," advises Michaelides, before conceding that may be awkward. "Or go to another salon."

But, really, a bad cut shouldn't happen in the first place. Before any scissors are wielded there should be a discussion.

"For me as a hairdresser the most important thing is the consultation," Michaelides says.

"I repeat back what we've discussed if I feel it's necessary to iron out any creases. Ultimately you can't please everybody. I know from my heart that I do my very best to my creativity and ability.

"Sometimes hairdressers don't listen. But remember, a change of mind is not the hairdresser's fault."

One of the Greek philosophers, Eratosthenes I think it was, once shaved off half his beard so that he would be too embarrassed to leave home and so could devote all his energies to his work.

Has a bad haircut ever left you too shamed to go out? Did you complain about it?