Want to Save Big on Services? Here’s the Scoop on Using Students in Training

A $9 hair cut A massage for $30? Car repair for the cost of parts only?

Yes, it’s true. Some services can be bought for a fraction of the retail price if you are willing to trust your hair, car or whatever to students who are nearly the end of their professional training. Emma Johnson with the Retail Me Not blog turned to BBB and other experts for the low-down on low prices.

“Beauty school blowouts are just one of a number of professional and trade school programs that offer services to the public at prices drastically lower than their retail counterparts. Many people swear by beauty school haircuts, meat butchered by the local high school agriculture program and an occasional $30 massage by a practicing therapist.

“For hair care… professional instructors closely supervise cosmetology students, so you should expect quality services. [However], it is not reasonable, for example, to expect spa-quality facilities or a stylist who offers expert advice. Instead, go in with clear instructions and reasonable expectations. Also, plan on the service taking longer than at a professional salon. There are hundreds of beauty schools around the country, so you likely have easy access to inexpensive cuts, facials, waxing and mani-pedis. Find a local program accredited by the American Association of Cosmetology Schools. Many schools promote their salon-service prices on their websites.

“Dental schools offer lower-cost care of all kinds, from cavities and extractions to root canals and implants. To find a school, contact your local dental board or search the American Dental Association’s directory. If you are looking for routine cleanings and X-rays, the American Dental Hygienists’ Association lists its schools nationwide.

“Getting a professional rubdown is a splurge for most of us. But for about $25 an hour, you can enjoy a session with a professional massage therapist in training who must complete a certain number of hours of practice before qualifying for certification. There are hundreds of schools listed on the website of the American Massage Therapy Association as well as on Natural Healers.

The article goes on to suggest discounts on butchering, baking, counseling, auto repair, acupuncture and even gourmet meals. BBB’s advice is featured, as well:

“It’s a good idea to first check out such programs with the BBB. ‘The BBB believes schools are obligated to give you fair service, even if no money changes hands, so we do accept complaints about problems with services delivered by students,’ such as auto-repair programs in which customers pay for parts but not labor.”

NOTE: Retail Me Not is a BBB Accredited Business.

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About Katherine Hutt

Katherine R. Hutt, Director of Communications and Media Relations with the Council of Better Business Bureaus, is an award-winning communicator who has been helping nonprofit organizations tell their stories for the past 25 years. She was a CBBB consultant on numerous projects for more than a decade before joining the staff in 2011.