After a long day of shopping last Saturday, Tracy and I packed our bags and headed down six flights of escalators in the Xidan shopping center to catch at taxi back to Beida. We were on the first floor and almost out the front door--so close!--when Tracy was grabbed forcibly on the arm by a male person and dragged down the plaza. She turned around and gave me a sort of, "What the hell is going on?!?" look and I ran after her and her abductor.
Of all places, we ended up in a hair salon, and abductor guy (who, admittedly, had pretty stylish hair) was joined by his abductor friends and they sat both me and Tracy down in salon chairs and started spraying water and shampoo into our hair and massaging it and washing it. We still had no idea what was going on, but they didn't seem to care much about our protests and just assured us that they just "wanted to show us what our hair could look like" and it was a special promotion and completely free service.
After a few minutes, it came out that the "showing" was free but any cutting would cost us 30 RMB. Ok, 30 RMB, around $5 USD, that was a decent price for a haircut. We both agreed, especially since it was kind of pleasant getting our heads thoroughly massaged, and since they'd sort of already started cutting our hair by this time. Ten minutes later, I looked over at Tracy, and she had little foil things all over her head....umm...did haircuts usually require the use of foil?!
Aha. Here was their trick, then....they had told us our hair would "look good if it were lifted" and tried to perm our hair without explicitly telling us they would. They were just hoping we'd obliviously go along with it and then accept their 300-500 RMB bill afterwards, and they almost succeeded before Tracy realized that she was going to be charged for the silver foil things in her hair and demanded they remove them.
Long story short, we ended up with unexpected (but cheap and pretty decent) haircuts. But it was such a strange experience. What a marketing technique.