Kim Tran runs a nail salon in DeKalb County, Georgia. One day recently, Michelle Fonville came into said salon for a mani pedi and a bit of eyebrow work. Everything was just fine until Michelle got the bill. She was puzzled by the extra five dollars on said bill. When she pointed it out to Tran, this is what happened:
“I said, ‘I’ve been overcharged. She may have made an error,’” said Fonville. “She broke it down, then told me she charged me $5 more because I was overweight.”
That’s right. She was charged extra for being fat for a manicure. Why? Tran says it’s because fat people break her chair. She claims that the chairs will only hold 200 pounds and cost $2,500.00 to repair and that fat customers need to pay for the damage they are doing in her salon.
“Do you think that’s fair when we take $24 [for manicure and pedicure] and we have to pay $2,500? Is that fair? No,” Tran told Philips.
No, that wouldn’t be terribly fair. On the other hand, I don’t see how $29.00 covers the cost of repairing the chair, either. I don’t see why the work cannot be done in a chair designed to hold heavier customers. I don’t see why the standard costs of doing business (wear and tear on furniture and equipment is part of the calculation used to determine the price of a service, anyway) can’t be prorated across all customers. I don’t even imagine that every average weight customer is careful with the furniture. Does Tran think extra-lightweight customers should get a $5 discount because they place less wear and tear on the chairs? What about if they flop down hard on the chair or spill food or fail to take off their spike heeled shoes and rip the cloth? Do they get to keep on paying $24.00, or do they pay extra?
When Fonville protested the unfair extra fee, Tran did take it off her bill… and then told Fonville to take her business elsewhere if she wants her nails done.
I’m sure Tran thought that would be the end of it and she would never see or hear from Michelle Fonville again. But Fonville went to the press.
Look, according to the law of the land, there is nothing to stop Kim Tran and others like her from charging extra for dealing with a weighty customer. And there are a lot of people in this country who probably think she should just charge every fat woman who comes into her salon $2500.00 for a manicure. In the end, though, these people are flat out wrong. Charging extra for the same service is wrong. Just because airlines keep getting away with it (and guess what? They’re wrong, too!) Doesn’t make it right.
All we want is a fair shake. Extra charges for being fat are not fair.
Suck it, Kim Tran.
Oh, and Michelle Fonville? You are my new hero. How many other women would have simply left the salon, had a good cry, and went looking for another salon. You went looking for justice. Thank you.