Hello New Friends,

I apologize for this being my first post without contributing or properly introducing myself. But this is quite the dilemma and I don't know where else to turn.So first a brief intro, my name is Amanda, I've been an esthetician since 2002 but have worked mostly in other fields up until about 4 years ago. I was an Arch Expert with Benefit in Ulta for 3 years. I left because I wanted the opportunity to do facials and body waxing which was not an option at Ulta.

Enter the spa from hell.

I don't even know where to start. I was hired on as an employee, not a contractor. That being said, they are responsible for providing supplies.

I do not have a steamer. I do not have proper wax. I do not have muslin. I do not have proper robes or dressing gowns. All of our towels are yellowed and stained. No tissues, no distilled water. I am not kidding.

It doesn't end there. There are stains on the walls of the treatment rooms. I saw a roach in the waiting area. The salon is equally shabby. Cabinets broken, hasn't been painted in years, no one changes their barbacide, etc.

This is not some low-priced shack in the middle of nowhere. We are in a major department store in an iconic building. I won't say more than that.

Now about the manager. First of all, he is fully aware of all of these issues. He will not take action. Second, he said that if I brought clients there was a hire on bonus. I brought him 100 clients. No bonus. They have given me 10 clients in 4 months.

He has verbally abused other staff members, calling them stupid, putting his finger in their faces, etc. He has blocked out time on my books and had another esthetician come in to do facials in my room while other rooms are available. I'm paid hourly so that means I am losing money. Sometimes these facials are comps that the company pays for (the other esty is on commission and she gets half of the menu price even if it is comped.) So he's causing the company to lose money. His immediate supervisor is much like him. She is aware of these things as well.

What do I do? I live in an at-will employment state so if I quit, I probably won't qualify for unemployment. I need the money. But the conditions are unbearable. I'm looking for a new job in the meantime but really, every day is horrible there. Is there any action I can take? Thanks and sorry for such a long post!

p.s. The pics were taken in my treatment room. One is of the wall (behind the broken steamer) and the other is the vent which is above the treatment bed.

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File a complaint with the state board and please quit. Like now.

As a licensed esthetician it is our duty to protect our clients and their interests. We are their advocate when it comes to their skin and health. If conditions are unsanitary, you need to let the board know. We have professional standards to uphold and our licensing boards expect us to uphold them. We are to blame if we are found practicing non-compliant with regulations. They will get hit too but we will be held accountable as individuals as well. Protect yourself, protect your clients. As for everything else, they're just bad at their jobs. Lots of places like that. You'll have to fine tune your instincts when it comes to avoiding these places. The good news is that they're pretty good about throwing up a bunch of red flags during the interview process. If they come across as unprofessional, bad-mouth the last or current employees, or skip the interview process altogether and just bring you in, those may be red flags. There's no fixing this from your position so don't waste the effort. Get promises in contracts.

OMG, yes, I did not even have to do a technical. He hired  me within 10 minutes. I thought it was a red flag but I assumed it was because I was coming from a place just 2 blocks away and had been there 3 years. I figured he just didn't want to risk losing all the clients that would follow.

I think a lot of us get into these places at least once. It's because it's so easy to get hired. They make it sound like the last person was incompetent, or that they're quick to hire us because they can just tell we're awesome, or they're just so busy they need you like right now! And then we get in and realize that's just not the case. I've figured out that I have a lot if value to any employer because of my work ethic, my reliability and passion, and because I treat every employer I've ever worked at "like it's my own business" even if I have no stake. That's why when I go into any interview I have the mindset that I'm actually interviewing them as much as they're interviewing me. If an employee just wanted to skip the interview, how would that fly with you as an employer? You can't bounce around in this profession. Loyal clients may follow you but it will slowly chip away at your clientele. So pick where you want to work first (do the footwork) and then apply at your top three places. And if they don't hire you right away, be persistent. Make sure they know who you are. Update your resume, send thank you cards for interviews (even quick ones). Make it clear you want to be there and you're not going away unless they tell you they will never hire you. It took me four months of repeatedly doing these things to get hired where I wanted and I think it should be hard to get into a place that's worth working at.

Great response!

You are absolutely right Samantha!

Let's separate the facts from the opinions


The place is dirty and not maintained as a high end establishment.  Reason enough to quit. Period.

is it in violation of the Cosmo Board Regs? Haven't a clue. If you are going to report your employer, better make sure a citation will follow.  in FL, you just need to have a can of bug killer on the premises. Having bugs alone is an act of nature, not a violation of the code.


You have 100 clients willing to follow you to a new location.  Why on earth are you bothering working for anyone else and not opening your own skin care studio.  If a client averages a facial each quarter, that is 400 facials a year just from your existing client base.  That is almost two a day, five days a week for an entire year, and you capture 100% of the revenue and tips.  

Fact - any bonus promised to you for bringing in clients should have been in your terms of employment. Everything in writing always!

As for the opinions...

He has blocked out time on my books and had another esthetician come in to do facials in my room while other rooms are available.

its not your room, its the spa's room to do as the spa sees fit.  Whether or not this is the best utilization of the room and labor is unknowable.  I bring in commission contractors when I have employees at the spa -- to whom I guarantee x number of appointments a week -- on a regular basis. Did it today in our of our NYC spas in fact, and it meant I freed up my employee to take another 80 minute service that was a walk in.  Happens all the time, and I don't lose money by any means.

 I'm paid hourly so that means I am losing money.

You just contradicted yourself. If you are hourly, you are always MAKING money.  You only lose money if you take money out of your pocket and give it to someone else.  You may not be making as much money just standing around as you would doing a service, but make no mistake, you are generating an income, not a loss.

Sometimes these facials are comps that the company pays for (the other esty is on commission and she gets half of the menu price even if it is comped.) So he's causing the company to lose money. 

there are several reasons to comp a facial.  Service Recovery to make up to a client and prevent losing them forever. Comps for the media to promote the spa and services to generate future business.  In our hotel spas, we do comp services for the hotel employees to promote the spa to guests -- and our people get their full commission.  I don't see it as losing money, I see it as an advertising expense. 

Also, there are times my employees have not met their guaranteed number of appointments per week, so at the end of the week they are doing complimentary services for hotel employees, friends of mine, whomever.  I was going to pay them to twiddle their thumbs, why not get some value out of it?  Does not "cost" me a penny more than having them stand around collecting their hourly.

Managers are held accountable for the P/L of their spa. If he is "losing money" they will lose him, and fast.

Does a good manager communicate these practices to their staff -- sometimes yes, sometimes no. But don't just assume these practices "lose money" or are sub-optimal unless you know all the details of everything the spa does. Managers are paid to manage and lead -- which means making decisions. They don't always share their information on which the decision is made or their reasoning. Nor should they always do so.

 I live in an at-will employment state so if I quit, I probably won't qualify for unemployment.

You definitely won't qualify, but thanks for being Exhibit A the political argument that extending unemployment benefits only extends people's willingness to be unemployed.  I would never hire someone that would not quit a bad job because they would rather get fired so they can collect unemployment.

Relax and rejuvenate. This is not the correct forum for political debate. I think your statement could be misconstrued as not very nice. If you would like to discuss unemployment please message me. Otherwise, stick to topic.

Amy, I don't think Relax and Rejuvenate was attempting to be rude or not nice (although I do not know them personally). But I appreciated the comments and their perspective. Sometimes it takes a a little tough love for people to learn how things work in this business. I am a spa owner myself and I have over 20 employees. Not one of them has ever owned a business, nor do they know the ins-and-outs of what it takes to own and run a spa, but that doesn't stop them from thinking that they know what is best for my business. I think it is important for service providers to have a bit of perspective. I wish I had someone in my early years as a massage therapist/esthetician to inform me of how things work on the business end. 

She actually was attempting to be rude. She puts our great info on business but it always comes with a derogatory slant towards us "lowly" employees. I actually do care to know the business perspective. My opinion was valued by those who employed me because we were a team and they knew I had the best interest of the business at heart. As a team we had a lot of ideas and I always had great managers that even if we didn't use my idea, they at least listened and allowed me to contribute. I will always love and respect them for that because it gave me personal and professional growth in my field. When I open my own spa in several years I will also use that model with employees who show interest in my business. There are leaders and talent everywhere and even a business owner doesn't come up with ALL the good ideas.

Hi, Thanks for the advice from a manager perspective.

When I said I am losing money when he uses the contractor, I meant I am expected to clock out and my book is closed for that period of time. Also, no one in the spa be it employee or contractor is guaranteed any level of business. 

All I meant by the unemployment comment is that I do not have the option of quitting regardless of how bad these circumstances are which is not a good position to be in. I am looking for a new job very actively.

Also, what about the fact that this manager is not doing the very basic functions of his job such as providing basic, necessary supplies?

To be honest, it sounds like you are probably a good manager and can't even fathom that someone could really run a business so poorly. But believe me, it's actually worse than I'm describing. This place is owned by a large spa chain that seems to have washed their hands of the place.

All in all it's a crying shame that some people in the spa business don't have the knowledge or even really care about #1 safety of there customers and #2 supplying there employees with everything they need to take care of the guest and have a safe and sanitary enviroment. 

With that being said I am sorry you can not Run................... as fast as you can and Never look back!

Definetley call and report this spa for not complying with sanitation if this is the case. Yes instuments need to be properly sanitized after each guest. He will probably get a slap o the hand but at least you have a clean concious about keeping the general public safe. Good Luck and I hope you find the right place for yourself and your clients. Xo 

Explain commission contractors

So do they bill you at the end of the week?
Do they bring their own supplies?
Do you book their appointment?

Are your Commission contractor really legal? Check the law


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