Two friends and I were approached at our uni a few months ago by a representative who sold us those card deals where you pay $45 for the $500 package (hair consultation, head massage, colour/gloss, treatment, and blowdry) and then another $80 on the day for the cut. We thought it seemed like a good deal and liked that the staff was honest with us about why the salon was offering it (they said they wanted to appeal to uni students so that when we do make a lot of money, we come back there and spend it at full price - fair enough).
We had no trouble getting a booking for a Saturday a few months after that. The staff were reasonably friendly and polite when we came in, so no problems there. Our experience definitely wasn't as bad as some of the shockers I've read about below but it definitely wasn't a great experience. For a place that reckons it can charge $500 for the abovementioned package, the service and overall experience was about as good as you'd get paying around $100 at a hairdressers in a suburban. First of all, the 'consultation' pretty much consisted of the stylist asking me "what do you want?" and me telling staff "a trim". Great 'consultation'. I would've thought a consultation meant more them telling me what kind of styles might suit my face shape, or some products that might be good for my hair type, but nope. A staff then took me up to wash my hair, and the water was boiling hot - surely any amateur hairdresser knows you check the temperature against your hand, or ask the customer first if it's okay? Staff was also super rough and yanked out quite a lot of hairs. The 'head massage' consisted of staff rubbing my head roughly for about two minutes. They put a 'gloss' treatment in my hair as I didn't want it coloured, and I sat with the gloss in my hair for far longer than they had said it would be (was meant to be 15min, I ended up sitting there being ignored for about half an hour). Then back up for another shampoo - one of my friends at this point had to have her hair rinsed twice, as the staff didn't rinse all the bubbles out the first time and the stylist sent her back up. Also, at the beginning of our visit this same staff had offered us a coffee each, and about 45 minutes later the coffee still hadn't appeared, so staff apologised and said they'd get it soon.
I then sat in my chair with a towel on my head for about another 35-40 minutes waiting for my haircut while my friends had theirs cut. It was weird because staff outnumbered customers in the salon, it just seemed like a lot of them weren't doing much (walking around, sweeping hair, manning the counter, outside on their phones). The other staff who eventually did get around to trimming my hair was really lovely and did a quick trim, then a very thorough and nice-looking blowdry which I was happy with. The coffee never did appear and no-one explained why.
All in all it was an alright experience, something I'd be happy to pay about $80-90 for. Not $125 (i.e. $45 + $80) for, and DEFINITELY not at $500+! I don't want to complain too much because they didn't mutilate my hair thank goodness, but it definitely feels like they really talk themselves up when they describe their services and tell you the price is that high, and then don't deliver anything better than what you could get.
They didn't destroy my hair but I'll never go back because they charge way too much for a totally average service.