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Your Rights if a Tattoo Procedure Goes Wrong?

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 26 Sep 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Tattoo Health Safety Quality Problems

Tattoos are for life, and although that’s a very obvious thing to say, it goes without saying that if yours goes wrong, it’s a very expensive mistake to make. Not to mention a permanent one.

Before you have anything tattooed, check to make sure that the person you want to do the job is registered with your local council. Most local authorities have a registration and inspection scheme – give them a call before you set foot in a tattoo parlour and find out if they have been registered.

Tattooists have a general duty to carry out their work properly, and they must also comply with all health and safety laws.

What is Reasonable Skill and Care?

Anyone who carries out any service for you is bound by the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982, which states that anyone carrying out a service should do so with ‘reasonable skill and care’

This means that If the tattooist makes a mess of your tattoo, consumer law says he or she is in breach of their contract with you and you can claim financial or physical compensation. This is easy to do when you’re talking about a car repair that didn't work, but obviously it’s harder to know what reasonable compensation would be for a tattoo not turning out quite how you expected.

It’s also worth remembering that the tattooist would also be liable for ‘consequential loss’ if your failed tattoo ended up costing you money to put right elsewhere, or you had to have it removed. The keyword is ‘reasonable’ here. No tattoo artist is going to pay for you to have something removed if you just changed your mind.

When Designs Go Wrong

If it’s just the design you’re not happy about, talk to the person who did it for you. Tell them why it’s not what you expected and see if they have any ideas about how they can put it right. They may be creative enough to somehow alter the design, although you’re putting your faith in someone who has disappointed you once so the other option is to find another tattooist who is willing to correct it. In this case, you could be entitled to ask for the money to cover the extra work from the original artist.

Alternatively, if there’s no way back for this tattoo, you can opt for laser treatment to remove it. Laser removal isn’t a cure-all - it’s costly and you may end up with unsightly scarring. If you do want laser treatment, you are entitled to ask for the costs from the original tattooist.

It might be wise to keep photos of the original work, just in case they dispute the fact that there was anything wrong, too. You may end up having to chase the matter through the court system, and if you have proof of exactly how bad it was, and why you needed it removing, you will have a better chance of success.

Health and Safety

Obviously, tattoo parlours have to operate under strict health and safety standards. Any competent tattoo artist should go through a list of medical questions before attempting to ink you, and if they don’t, be wary. There should be a health and safety certificate on display, and if there isn’t, ask to see one.

A new, sterile needle has to used on every customer, the artist should wash their hands thoroughly, and wear disposable latex gloves. This reduces any risk of infection or even hepatitis, tetanus or HIV.

Potential Medical Risks of Tattooing

As mentioned above, the serious risks, if health and safety rules aren't followed, are HIV, tetanus, or hepatitis. Other, less serious problems include:

  • One of the most common reactions is actually to the latex gloves worn by artists! Take an antihistamine before you go, as this can help reduce any reaction you might have. If you know you have a serious allergy to latex, let the artist know before you go, and they can source alternatives.
  • Using red ink can leave the skin sore and itchy for some time after a new tattoo, due to the pigment. If this happens, all you can do is ask your GP for a topical cream.
  • Tattoos are wounds – and must be kept absolutely spotlessly clean for the first few days. If it becomes infected, you’ll notice discolouration either on the tattoo or the skin around it. If you notice that the surrounding skin is red or inflamed, visit your GP.

Tattoos are not for the faint-hearted and so if you have any doubts about whether you want one after all – and especially if you have concerns about the artist about to ink you for life...don’t do it!

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I got a paw print tattoo done a few months ago at a parlor in porterville ca, it is very mishapen, and its also not in the color i wanted. I dont know if there is any rights as a customer that i would have? I dont want a refund, just want it fixed. Its supposed to be a paw print, but looks like a 3 year old did it. Had i gone to someone with no experience or at someones private residence i would understand it being messed up,but i went somewhere that was supposed to be professional
Savanah - 26-Sep-17 @ 11:14 PM
Ree- Your Question:
Hi my fiancé and I recently had special engagement tattoos done in Spain, within 2 days I noticed the lines were inconsistent on mine and as the scabs came off you could see the tattoo hadn't taken in places, he'd barely scratched the surface of the skin. I returned to the shop and he redone the missing bits. Now we're home and they're healed but so faint and bitty.gutted! :( I've contacted them, sent them pictures and asked for a full refund as we now have to pay out to have them redone here as they look ridiculous but I have a feeling I won't see a penny.they've suddenly gone very quiet. Can you tell me what my rights are please? Feeling very stupid for having it done but felt reassured at how professional and clean the whole set up was.

Our Response:
As Spain is in the EU, under EU rules, a trader must repair, replace, reduce the price or give you a refund if goods you bought turn out to be faulty or do not look or work as advertised. If the trader is not responding however, you may have to contact one of the Spanish consumer enforcement bodies - here is some more information
BeautyTreatmentExpert - 25-Sep-17 @ 11:27 AM
Hi my fiancé and I recently had special engagement tattoos done in Spain, within 2 days I noticed the lines were inconsistent on mine and as the scabs came off you could see the tattoo hadn't taken in places, he'd barely scratched the surface of the skin.I returned to the shop and he redone the missing bits. Now we're home and they're healed but so faint and bitty....gutted!:( I've contacted them, sent them pictures and asked for a full refund as we now have to pay out to have them redone here as they look ridiculous but I have a feeling I won't see a penny.....they've suddenly gone very quiet. Can you tell me what my rights are please? Feeling very stupid for having it done but felt reassured at how professional and clean the whole set up was.
Ree - 23-Sep-17 @ 5:38 PM
Don - Your Question:
I got my eyebrows done semi permanent however the artist has made one higher than the other, one darker than the other and they are also blue certainly not the colour I wanted ?? Also I asked for a hairstroke look but they don't look anything of a sort just a complete mess ?? I've asked for a refund but she said she will not do that. She wants to rectify them but I have lost confidence in her and don't trust she is capable of making them correct. I want a refund so I can get them fixed with another salon. How do I make sure I get a refund? Thanks

Our Response:
Did you mention it at the time of paying? What did they say then? Usually you should give the salon a chance to rectify a badly done beauty treatment. If you don't trust them to do this, they should refund you. Ask to speak to a senior manager or salon director. If they refuse, the small claim court might be your next course of action.
BeautyTreatmentExpert - 5-Sep-17 @ 10:36 AM
I got my eyebrows done semi permanent however the artist has made one higher than the other, one darker than the other and they are also blue certainly not the colour I wanted ?? Also I asked for a hairstroke look but they don't look anything of a sort just a complete mess ?? I've asked for a refund but she said she will not do that. She wants to rectify them but I have lost confidence in her and don't trust she is capable of making them correct. I want a refund so I can get them fixed with another salon. How do I make sure I get a refund? Thanks
Don - 2-Sep-17 @ 2:02 PM
Hi guys so the problem I have and would like advice on is a tattoo artist started a piece and is refusing to finish it or give me the money back for the hours he hasn't done leaving me with a terrible half done tattoo on my arm this tattooist is from Exeter he is American and goes by the name of billy if anyone comes across him I would stay well away
Exeter - 23-Aug-17 @ 9:46 AM
ALOHA - Your Question:
I've tattooed my eyebrows twice before and throughout the years it faded. I just recently tattooed my eyebrows again a couple days ago. I'm currently in the scabbing phase and a huge piece of that scab discarded itself yesterday. It looks like my skin did not accept the ink. I was assured that I would be able to touch up a few times to get them to actually look like eyebrows. So, I will definitely be scheduling myself for that touch up ASAP. What bothers me is that prior to the procedure, I wasn't given documents to sign regarding the tattoo procedure nor treatment from this salon. Isn't that weird? I had to fill out documents from my prior treatments years ago. What happens if the tattooist won't be able to repair my eyebrows? I would like to inquire information to protect myself. Please advise.

Our Response:
There is no real obligation on a salon to give you anything to sign before a procedure. Please follow the advice in the above article if this your treatment is not rectified or you're unhappy with it.
BeautyTreatmentExpert - 4-Aug-17 @ 2:41 PM
I've tattooed my eyebrows twice before and throughout the years it faded.I just recently tattooed my eyebrows again a couple days ago.I'm currently in the scabbing phase and a huge piece of that scab discarded itself yesterday.It looks like my skin did not accept the ink.I was assured that I would be able to touch up a few times to get them to actually look like eyebrows.So, I will definitely be scheduling myself for that touch up ASAP.What bothers me is that prior to the procedure, I wasn't given documents to sign regarding the tattoo procedure nor treatment from this salon.Isn't that weird?I had to fill out documents from my prior treatments years ago.What happens if the tattooist won't be able to repair my eyebrows?I would like to inquire information to protect myself.Please advise.
ALOHA - 3-Aug-17 @ 8:42 PM
I went in for a tattoo today, with my picture, she completely changed most of the tattoo, it looks nothing like it was supposed to, she changed the design, I'm devasted it's awful, completely changed it!!!! im devastated, at the time I just smiled and said yeah, but I hate what she's done!!
Gaynor - 26-Jul-17 @ 2:42 AM
I recently got a cover up tattoo on the back of my hand it's been over a week since I had it done however it's not healing at all it's very red, swollen and hot to the touch it's all shabby and crusty some places it's oozing with yellow matter, and i have pins and needles up my arm I went back to the tattoos yesterday he said to give it another couple of weeks and go back he will touch it up as their is places he has missed and some of the colour has not taken. I'm scared it's gone bad ways but too embarrassed to go to a Doctor to look at it. I certainly don't want it touched up It looks a mess and hurts like hell. Can I get a refund off the tattoist?
Shirl - 21-Jul-17 @ 10:03 PM
Kate - Your Question:
I got my eyebrows microbladed, however the artist has made one higher than the other, one darker than the other and they've healed patchy. Also I asked for a hairstroke look, but she gave me a block shadow. I've asked for a refund but she said she will not do that. She wants to rectify them but I have lost confidence in her and don't trust she is capable of making them correct. I want a refund so I can get them fixed with another salon. How do I make sure I get a refund? Thanks

Our Response:
In general you should give the service provider one chance to rectify the work and then if that fails ask for a refund or claim back the cost of another salon doing the repair work.
BeautyTreatmentExpert - 6-Jul-17 @ 1:53 PM
I got my eyebrows microbladed, however the artist has made one higher than the other, one darker than the other and they've healed patchy. Also I asked for a hairstroke look, but she gave me a block shadow. I've asked for a refund but she said she will not do that. She wants to rectify them but I have lost confidence in her and don't trust she is capable of making them correct. I want a refund so I can get them fixed with another salon. How do I make sure I get a refund? Thanks
Kate - 5-Jul-17 @ 8:58 PM
Just got my tattoo today and the guy messed up the word on my arm. In the middle of the session he said "ohh I almost messed up!" After the end of the session I look at my arm and he messed up the lettering. This tattoo parlor has 5 stars on google/ yelp, and the guy has been doing this for 20 years! They also did not have me nor my friend sign release papers.. I've been wanting this tattoo for years and he messed it up.. what do you guys suggest I do?
Mikaykay - 17-Jun-17 @ 7:28 AM
I'm quite annoyed the tattoo guy pj messed up the tattoo he was doing I asked him over nearly a month to please sort this he just made excuses and said it was my fault i must of done it ,how I left the tattoo was like that and he said it would heal and go back to normal it never did now that face is distorted and he is laughing at me, not once was i wasrude to this guy how ever, now I asked for a refund because it's so badhe point blank said no, what's really annoyed me is he said he would forward my number to his boss, funny thing is he is self employed and has no boss not even the owner wants to know so what can I do can someone help
Tan - 11-May-17 @ 8:39 PM
Sorry I forgot to add some ,So I went into get a tattoo today I got a special date on my leg I told them 5.3.14 in romain numericals they said no problem we can do that for you ,so he drawed it up and said you happy I said yes ,got it tattooed on ,and when I come back home my fiance said that is the wrong date I was like what he looked up on Google on they have put 5.5.13 instead of 5.3.14 after a number of times telling them the dates they have messed up , I've been crying my eyes out I hope you can help .
Sj - 5-May-17 @ 8:24 PM
So I went into get a tattoo today I got a special date on my leg I told them 5.3.14 in romain numeralsand they said no problem we can do that for you ,so he drawed it up and said you happy I said yes ,got it tattooed on ,and when I come back home my fiance said that is the wrong date I was like what he looked up on Google on they have put 5.5.14 instead of 5.3.14 after a number of times telling them the dates they have messed up , I've been crying my eyes out I hope you can help .
Sj - 5-May-17 @ 8:11 PM
k.r.e. - Your Question:
My son recently got a Tattoo on his inner arm and after the artist did the main part, he said that my son needed a couple weeks to heal and for the swelling to go down and make sure no scabbing. He went back and the artist said he needed a couple more weeks since he said was not quite healed yet. when he went back, the guy touched it up some but still did not finish it and at that time, the artist asked for the remaining money due and the tattoo will be finished the next time my son comes in but as it turns out, the guy left for a family emergency out of state and my son or that company has not heard back from him. He paid for the whole tattoo plus tip and it is not finished. My question is, should that tattoo company be responsible for finishing it or what is our next step?

Our Response:
Yes if your son paid for entire/complete tattoo then that's what he should have received. Tell him to write to the company requesting the job is completed, if it's not, the small claims court should be the next step.
BeautyTreatmentExpert - 2-May-17 @ 12:50 PM
My son recently got a Tattoo on his inner arm and after the artist did the main part, he said that my son needed a couple weeks to heal and for the swelling to go down and make sure no scabbing. He went back and the artist said he needed a couple more weeks since he said was not quite healed yet. when he went back, the guy touched it up some but still did not finish it and at that time, the artist asked for the remaining money due and the tattoo will be finished the next time my son comes in but as it turns out, the guy left for a family emergency out of state and my son or that company has not heard back from him. He paid for the whole tattoo plus tip and it is not finished. My question is, should that tattoo company be responsible for finishing it or what is our next step?
k.r.e. - 1-May-17 @ 9:56 PM
Trev - Your Question:
The tattoo artist messed up my tattoo twice in a row when they had the picture in front of them.im not willing to go back a a 3rd time because it's not fixable.what can be done in this matter?

Our Response:
If they've attempted to rectify the issue and it hasn't worked, you can claim a refund from the service provider under the Consumer Rights Act.
BeautyTreatmentExpert - 6-Apr-17 @ 10:54 AM
The tattoo artist messed up my tattoo twice in a row when they had the picture in front of them.im not willing to go back a a 3rd time because it's not fixable.what can be done in this matter?
Trev - 4-Apr-17 @ 4:54 PM
A woman I know is piercing ears at home using the same needle for every one she claims she sterilised the needle everytime,she asked if she could pierce my son's ear I told her straight away no,she's not trained in any way shape or form,is she breaking the law?
Barry - 17-Feb-17 @ 7:07 PM
I have a tattoo I got over a year and a half ago. My tattoo after healing has gone raises making it look like it's 3d. I've been back to the tattooists any showed them and they said they've never seen anything like it before and might be a reaction to the ink colour. Any help and advice would be great as I keep getting questioned when people see it as it is on my wrist ??
Lynz - 25-Jan-17 @ 11:40 AM
I got my tattoo after 35 years of debating. Dec 2016 I got my two Tatts on my arm to represent my two baby grand daughters. Congealed blood. I gave him 5 designs and he did his own thing. I have been miserably unhappy and saddened that they won't even look at it since they scared me. They refuse to talk to me. Or send me an email. Or a message. Where and what to do in Australia for a botched up tattoo ?
lulu - 24-Jan-17 @ 11:23 PM
I wanted to point out tattoos are no longer permanent and you do not need laser treatments. Treatment I am going to use it basically tattooing without ink. The tattooist will brake open the skin block by block over the months and use a solution that eats out the ink. Takes about 1 year for 100% completion.
Defected - 20-Jan-17 @ 12:21 AM
I had azombie tattoo doneon my lower back over a year ago which he had quoted me £250 ,I'm now up to £360 and still not finished I asked him how much it would take to finish he told me a further£300 but it it's more like a zombie hulk which I never asked for I wanted the walking dead zombie ,I've asked othertattoo artists to help me but have refused due to bad scaring and no depth to the tattoo ,I've now have to face laze treatment to try and fix it which causes more problems ,this was going to be my last tattoo as it was to fix two more mistakes underneath this one , I do not know what to do
Debs - 16-Jan-17 @ 11:13 PM
Hi My other half got like a lower arm sleeve and it looks great but they didn't get it finished in his day session so they booked him an appointment to finish it off 2 weeks later for free. He messaged 2 days beforehand to check everything was still OK and they saw his message but didn't reply, we travelled up on the train for over an hour to find out they had doubled booked him and won't finish his tattoo. Obviously he needs the tattoo finished and by the same artist but it's extremely unprofessional to book someone in and then book in a different person and not inform one of them that they can't do theirs, is there anything he can do about complaining/getting any form of compensation? (he had won the £100 tattoo voucher for the studio, only reason why he had to travel so far to get it done. So apart from the train fair he only paid £50 for the tattoo)
Holly - 29-Dec-16 @ 11:57 AM
i get a tattoo 5 months ago and the tattoo is completely raised and i have really bad allergies in this tattoo what can i do?
fernandez1998 - 24-Oct-16 @ 10:27 PM
Squinz - Your Question:
Hi there! So ive gotten 3 tattoos by the same artist. He has 20 years of experience. The first tattoo I got was great and I loved how it turned out! So of course for the second one the design was great however this second one hurt the most out of any tattoo ive ever gotten. I have a pretty high pain tolerance and was still able to sit through it. After eveything was said and done half of my forearm arm was bruised and almost all of my upper arm was brusied badly for a tattoo on my inner arm. I have quite a few tattoos and after I carefully took care of this during the healing process the tattoo blew out on parts of it and its quite noticeable as I am very pale. I just saw him for the third and last time, I showed him it and he said who did that tat on you? And I said you? He didnt remeber, he had smoked weed before he tattooed me. So this last chance I gave him(i know he did not smoke), he free hand drew something simple on my arm, and I agreed to it. However while he was tattooing he changed it up by adding some things and taking some things away. It didnt hurt nearly as much as the second one because I told him not to be so heavy handed. At the end of the third tattoo I was upset. I had found out he had been drinking beer before and when we took breaks he would drink. As a person, he is really nice. But he shouldnt tattoo people. Hes the manager of the shop, not the owner. Ive tipped him 100 or more every time hes tattooed me and I wasnt given any deals or anything, I just wanted good work and for him to do a good job. Is there a way to report him for drinking and smoking while doing tattoos? I dont know how to contact the owner. Thank you.

Our Response:
As a tattooist he would need to be licensed by the local authority. If you contact them (licensing department), they should be able to take action by speaking to owner etc.
BeautyTreatmentExpert - 12-Oct-16 @ 2:43 PM
Hi there! So ive gotten 3 tattoos by the same artist. He has 20 years of experience. The first tattoo i got was great and i loved how it turned out! So of course for the second one the design was great however this second one hurt the most out of any tattoo ive ever gotten. I have a pretty high pain tolerance and was still able to sit through it. After eveything was said and done half of my forearm arm was bruised and almost all of my upper arm was brusied badly for a tattoo on my inner arm. I have quite a few tattoos and after i carefully took care of this during the healing process the tattoo blew out on parts of it and its quite noticeable as i am very pale. I just saw him for the third and last time, i showed him it and he said who did that tat on you? And i said you? He didnt remeber, he had smoked weed before he tattooed me. So this last chance i gave him(i know he did not smoke), he free hand drew something simple on my arm, and i agreed to it. However while he was tattooing he changed it up by adding some things and taking some things away. It didnt hurt nearly as much as the second one because i told him not to be so heavy handed. At the end of the third tattoo i was upset. I had found out he had been drinking beer before and when we took breaks he would drink. As a person, he is really nice. But he shouldnt tattoo people.Hes the manager of the shop, not the owner. Ive tipped him 100 or more every time hes tattooed me and i wasnt given any deals or anything, i just wanted good work and for him to do a good job. Is there a way to report him for drinking and smoking while doing tattoos? I dont know how to contact the owner. Thank you.
Squinz - 12-Oct-16 @ 4:49 AM
Brookie - Your Question:
I had a tattoo done a few months back the design was nothing like the stencil that was drawn up and out on my body the Colours were not the ones that we had discussed and the whole thing is a complete mess not to mention he didn't even finish the tattoo because he was leaving for another shop to working out of state and said that another one of the guys there could finish it when he left the owner was embarrassed about the work and couldn't believe how it turned out while I was in tears he promised me he would fix it after rescheduling too many times I privately message another tattoo artist that I had work with before and asked if there was anything I could do legally not mentioning any specifics about the owner or his shop the owner then contacted my boyfriend and said he was washing his hands of it because I didn't keep my mouth shut the artist I had privately messaged had sent the owner screenshots of our conversation I have a horrible un finished tattoo and I've been messaging with this man out of state for weeks getting the runaround waiting for a money order that never showed. Is there any legal obligation the shop owner has and or anything I can do legally on my behalf

Our Response:
Please read the section above entitled "when designs go wrong". That should give you all the information you need.
BeautyTreatmentExpert - 4-Oct-16 @ 10:15 AM
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