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Lawmakers: Board of Cosmetology bad at customer service

JACKSON — Do a better job with customer service. That’s what some Mississippi lawmakers are telling the state Board of Cosmetology.

Senators held a hearing Tuesday at the state Capitol to discuss complaints they have heard from people back home, including cosmetologists who say they’re having trouble getting information from the regulatory board.

Sen. J.P. Wilemon, D-Belmont, said the board does a poor job of answering phone calls and returning messages, and that has left some of his constituents frustrated.

“What disturbs me more than anything is they cannot talk to anybody,” Wilemon said.

Sen. Nickey Browning, R-Pontotoc, is the main sponsor of a bill that could give the Legislature more control over the Board of Cosmetology by changing the way the board is funded.

Under the current system, the board receives money from licensing fees that cosmetologists pay. Under Browning’s proposal, fees collected from cosmetology licenses would go into the general state budget, and legislators would decide how much — or how little — money to allocate to the board.

Browning said if the bill doesn’t pass this year, he will file it again next year if the problems at the board persist.

Cynthia Johnson, the board’s executive director, said she shares lawmakers’ concerns about customer service.

She promised to try to make sure things improve. She said the agency is short-staffed, and most employees were hired within the past six months. The agency has a backlog of work in issuing licenses, she noted, although she didn’t say how long it would take to catch up or how many people have applied for licenses but not received them.

Leisa McElreath of Oxford, president of the Board of Cosmetology, said the board doesn’t have enough staff members to properly investigate whether applicants for cosmetology licenses are truthfully representing their education and experience.

Sen. Dean Kirby, R-Pearl, was among the lawmakers asking tough questions of the Board of Cosmetology on Tuesday. Before he started, he lightened the mood by telling them: “All of you have really nice hair.”



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About Megan Wright


  1. I’ve been lic. Cosmetologist 29yrs. 23in Ms. And the last 6 in Tx. And been trying for two months to transfer my lic. Back to Ms. They just told me it would be 3more months before I even get an interview date. My Tx. Lic. Expire in Dec.
    Ive got a job that’s already hired me at j c penny salon in Hattiesburg ms. But I can’t work because of state board. If they can’t do their job we should b allowed to work on my current Tx. Lic. Or a temp. Permit they could email and we would print out!! Something has to be done because no one wants to hire a hairdresser that’s been doing hair for 30yrs to do anything elsebut hair!! I smell a lawsuit!!!!

  2. I have been a cosmetologist myself for 28 years. I have tried to call & I renewed my lic. & never received my new ones . I was told that mine had lapsed & I would need to retake the test after 25 years . Right!!!! That is so crazy !!! I need help I mean !!

  3. The whole Cos Board is a joke! I also moved back to MS from from another State. I applied for reprocity. Months and months went by. I called and called and called and called. When I would get a real person, they would either put me on hold for ever and then disconnect me or transfer me to a line that would ring, ring, ring. I got so desperate tp speak to someone that I would have my 70 year old, retired mother call and call. When she would finally get an answer, she’d hang up and text me at work. Call now, she’d say. A real person just answered. I would fly out of the treatment room, call and nothing! You talk about man? OMG!

    Finally, some many months later, I got a notice that I had to appear in Jackson. They gave me no options. I called to reschedule, as I had a life and a job. To no avail, nobody called me back and nobody would answer. I had to fly to Jackson, get a hotel, rent a car and go downtown for an interview. I’ve been licensed for 11 years! When I got there, I was not very cordially greeted by the receptionist, who was on her cell phone the entire time I sat waiting. Now i know why nobody answers the phones! They’re on their cell phones. Then she went to lunch and left me sitting there. TWO hours later, I guess when they all returned to lunch, I was called back to read a statement that took all of 2 mins. that they “recorded”. Less than 5 minutes later, I had my license in hand and left. Absolutely totally and completely ABSURD, that I had to go to that expense to get a license. I would have rather just paid more for the license, then all that b.s..

    Ok, so then, because I live in N. MS, near Memphis, I sent a letter to the Board of Cos asking them to send a license verification to TN, so that I could get my license there and work in Memphis. I specifically wrote a letter and said exact details of what I needed them to send directly to TN. Months later, TN has received nothing. I get a letter in the mail from MS Board and they’ve sent the damn, notarized license check info to me directly, not TN. I opened it, because I didn’t know what it was. Well damn, I basically broke the seal and it was null and void. I finally just gave the Hell up! I went back to cosmetology school in TN for a full license, instead of just esthetics because it was easier to go to school, get the hours and TEST, then dick around with MS Board and wait for them to send it to TN. They are a bunch of idiots.

    Also, for the record. I know SO many unlicensed practitioners in MS that are never visited by the Board. Some of them have never even had a license (or gone to school) and are working on the public and making a living, not paying taxes. It burns my butt that I do the right thing and they get away with murder. I have wanted to turn in several, but in MS, unlike other states, you are not anonymous, when you report. You have to get a notorized statement to report someone and then the board will tell the person that it was you who reported them. NUTS! Seriously, I would be afraid for my life if some of these thugs found out I turned them in, but it is scary that some of these people are touching the public. The Board really needs to rethink that and let whistle blowers be anonymous. It is not like that in other states. No wonder MS is on the bottom in everything. Such a joke. The whole damn Board needs to be wiped clean and get a new one who actually gives a beep about their cosmetologists.

  4. I agree whole heartedly with A.J. The MS Board of Cosmetology is a joke! I have been currently waiting over 8 wks now for my license renewal. They took my money but didn’t send my license. Every time I call, I get the run around or either get told a bold face Lie! I don’t get it. I’ve been told for the last 3 weeks now that my license is being processed. Also when you call, the customer service is zero!!! They could care less that you are needing something. I’ve had them, argue me down, hang up on me, transfer me to a line that just rang and been spoken to so nasty, when I’m just calling for information and telling you back what was said to me the last time I called. It’s really a shame.
    I have lost a job waiting on my license. It’s not fair to us. I’ve been told, only one person per department works there at a time. Is that person is out, for whatever reason, that department basically shut’s down. How?? So you don’t cross train your employees?? How does printing stop bc the lady that does is on vacation… Then when it’s time for her to come back, oh, she got fired/quit, so now you just gotta wait, we don’t know how long!! This is not right. What recourse does the stylist have in these situations?? Please let me know. I’ve been told by a worker that I could complain to the board if u want but if I come to a meeting they won’t entertain my complaint bc that’s not what they do… What does the board do? What’s the purpose of their meetings if they don’t do anything, if nobody does what they are suppose to be doing.. This department needs a class action suit filed against it! Something needs to be done. They can’t continue to operate like this.
    I’ve left 3-4 messages, in the last week or so, for the so called exec director, Eric or David Derrick and he won’t even return my calls or answer his phone!! It’s ridiculous! You’re not doing anything else, the least you could do is answer your phone.
    The governing body over the state boards need to look into this and find a solution. Them make it happen.. Like last year! Someone should be held accountable! If you don’t have staff, hire them! Get a better licensing process, do something… My God! I tell you what tho, if I have to leave my profession bc of this, heads will roll!! Anyone having anything to do with this entity will be hearing from me! #HighlyPissedOff

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