Ask Angel

Attitudes and Policies

Ask Angel

Elayne Angel

A few topics have come up recently that I wanted to address, so this month’s column is a discussion rather than a Q & A.

A woman contacted me for an online consultation and I was quite shocked at the placement of her piercing. She’d gone to a local studio for a triangle piercing but ended up with a long barbell through a small amount of tissue at the juncture of her inner labia and clitoris, which was far south and forward of where it should have been.

I messaged the piercer (which I often do for my consult clients) and sent him an image that the piercee had provided. I annotated the photo to show where the piercing should have been located. I inquired about the source of his training and also included a link to the page on my site that covers the triangle piercingi. I explained that it was my intention to share information in the hopes that he would be amenable to learning and improving. He responded:

Thank you very much for bringing this to my attention, and for doing so in a professional and positive manner. My mentor was a woman and she trained me on genital piercings, including triangles, during my apprenticeship back in 2000, so I’ve been doing this for very near 20 years now. But you made me realize that I had no idea what I was doing when it came to this piercing.

I’m more than happy to give the client a full refund and I’m going to stop offering this service until I can get some further education. I plan to get properly trained up so this won’t happen again. I’ve followed your career for many years and have lots of respect for you. Thank you for everything you do for this industry.

I really appreciated this piercer’s honesty, humility, and desire to learn. This approachable attitude earned my full support, and I’m doing everything I can to help bring him up to speed. I offered to share my PowerPoint presentation about the triangle piercing, which he eagerly accepted. I’m confident that the course materials will clarify where the piercing should go, though I issued some disclaimers: the information was not a substitute for hands-on training with a qualified mentor; and, viewing my seminar content in no way meant that he had been trained by me.

He appreciated my disclosure about a similar incident from years ago, when another piercer had the same reaction to being contacted about an improperly placed triangle. (I see a lot of them.) He later told me it was just the wake-up call he’d needed, subsequently got suitably trained, and is now a respected colleague to whom I refer clients!

On the other hand, I had another situation recently in which a woman received a triangle by a different piercer. That piercing was much closer to properly placed, but one side of it was too far forward. This resulted in the jewelry resting at an outward angle on that side, causing excess irritation and discomfort.

Even this gentle message I sent was met with a much less amenable response:

I want to say that we are all human, and we all do piercings that don’t come out as intended, myself included. It is evident that you do know where a triangle piercing should be placed, and I believe that you planned to position it perfectly. But that’s not how it turned out. (I can only imagine how hard it is to do a triangle piercing freehand!)

In any case, the client returned, and you agreed that the piercing was off enough to redo it, which was my assessment as well. I think it is always reasonable to offer a redo. However, she was uncomfortable to have you perform it again, which is also understandable. Therefore, I believe it is entirely appropriate to give her a full refund for the piercing fee.

Even if you have a general “no refunds” policy, I feel that this would be a time to circumvent it. Would you reconsider your decision and return her payment for the service fee? That seems an appropriate solution to the issue and would satisfy a client who did get a misplaced piercing.

This piercer became defensive. She talked about having an extended consultation in which she assessed the client’s anatomy as “borderline.” She said that the woman’s VCH was “barely healed (possibly a bit tight/swollen), which complicated things.”

She defended her “no refunds” policy, feeling it sufficient to offer a complimentary redo in cases where placement is off. She said, “In this case, our policy is more justified after the consultation I had with her expressing my concerns about her anatomy.” But, after hearing this history, I believe that the piercer should have declined rather than perform the piercing—at least at that time. When a customer desires a certain piercing (even if adamant about getting it), we are not obligated to accommodate them. It seems the best thing for everyone would have been for the piercer to postpone.

My opinion is that we should never perform piercings we don’t feel good about. In researching this article, I saw surprising number of piercers stating that they wouldn’t offer a refund on a piercing that was placed where the client insisted (but in a spot they didn’t approve of). Every piercing you do should meet your standards for placement, and each piercee should fulfill all requirements for suitability, regardless of how persistent or pushy they act.

I wouldn’t want my name and reputation associated with any sub-optimal piercing, whether related to their requested placement or inopportune timing. You should politely decline if the piercing would be unaesthetic. And you should postpone if there’s a fresh piercing nearby, as in

the example above, or due to ill health, or any known lifestyle factor that might contribute to healing complications such as upcoming travel to the beach or intensive athletic training.

I also want to touch briefly on the topic of “fault.” I frequently hear the victims of poorly placed piercings reflect the voice of the practitioner saying, “Oh, it is my fault because I moved.” Unless the piercee moves just before the puncture commences, I blame the piercer. We pierce every day—that’s our profession. We should know that, in response to being stuck with a sharp object, some clients will move. Therefore, I feel it is our own responsibility to prepare for that eventuality, and to be skillful enough to manage our procedures effectively and safely. Please don’t blame your clients for your own errors, and be accountable for your actions.

Naturally, when a piercing doesn’t turn out right through the fault of a piercer, the patron should have the option to be repierced at no cost. But piercing is a service industry that commonly entails a fair amount of anxiety (or genuine fear), and discomfort (or some actual pain) for our clients. Therefore, I feel very strongly that if the piercee does not wish to undergo to the needle again, they should be entitled to receive a full refund of the service fee.

Finally, I want to encourage all of us to remain open to learning, improving, and growing as piercers. Seeking ongoing education and being receptive to constructive input can only make us better at what we do. i


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