ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Jeremy Telman
Oklahoma City University
School of Law

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Ephemeral Tattoos Won't Go Away!

Cat Tattoo
Tattoo I Would Get if I Were to Get a Tattoo
Image by DALL-E

If you pay for a temporary tattoo, aren't you getting a great deal if it turns out they last longer than their estimated 9-15 months?  So you might think, but as Callie Holtermann reports in The New York Times, some purchasers are dissatisfied and are seeking compensation.  

In Williamsburg, Brooklyn, there was a shop called "Ephemeral" where you could get a tattoo guaranteed to fade after fifteen months.  If I were making up this story, Williamsburg is where I would put the tattoo parlor, but actually they popped up across the country.  Ephemeral's slogan is "Regret nothing."  Regretful customers feel like they have been misled.

Two years later, the disaffected tattoo-curious are lodging complaints.  Some of their tales of woe can be found in 's story in The San Francisco Chronicle from last November.  They have founded a community on Reddit to express their displeasure.  Ephemeral co-founder Brennal Pierre has joined the group to assure them that their tattoos will fade . . . eventually.   

Cat Tattoo Faded
If it faded. . .
Image by DALL-E

But do they have a claim?  According to The Chronicle, Ephemeral's customers sign a consent form which warns that the tattoos should fade in nine-to-fifteen months, but they may last longer and they won't fade evenly.  As one perhaps not-entirely-dissatisfied customer put it,  “There is a period where it looks like you got this tattoo 20 years ago, you know — in prison. They’re open about that.”  Again, depending on the person, having what looks like a 20-year-old prison tat might be a feature, not a bug.

As of February, the tattoos now come with a "Regret Nothing Guarantee" -- if your tattoo does not fade within three years, you can get your money back.  Ah, but can I get my arm back?

I am looking forward to the next re-make of The Paper Chase.  Imagine Professor Kingsfield updating his casebook by substituting Tatt00-Curious v. Ephemeral for Hawkins v. McGee.

Mr. Hart, what did the tattoo parlor promise?

And the result of the operation?

How should the court measure the damages?  What should Ephemeral pay Tattoo-Curious?

Cut to Mr. Hart desperately entering a bathroom and inspecting his still-intact chest tattoo that reads "I eat organic chemistry for breakfast!"  He gets out his phone, places a call and says, "Babe, I just figured out how I'm going to pay for law school!"

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