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Atlanta Santa's Recessionary Moves

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Bah, humbug -- I guess even Santa's buckling under the recession.

Santa Clause holding money

Vivian Manning-Schaffel: According to the Peach Buzz blog from the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, Atlanta's popular Phipps Plaza Mall is slapping double-booking and no-show parents on the wrist with a $15 pose fee -- of which only $10 goes toward the purchase of your photos. The remainder covers their website and credit card fees -- you know -- the very tools that enable them to charge you more money. Oh, and advance online reservations begin today, October 7, at

They explain this act of high-douchery with this message:

"We pride ourselves on our service and the products we offer to our customers. Over the last few years, our Online Appointment System has become extremely popular and convenient, but in 2008 we experienced almost 500 "No-Shows" and/or "Multiple-Bookings" (families who booked more than one appointment but only showed up for one without canceling the second).

"In an effort to eliminate this and make sure as many families get to visit with Santa each season as possible, we will be charging a $15 appointment fee at the time you book your appointment online.

"We are confident that this will help eliminate the problem, thus making more appointments available for all of our new and existing customers."

Or, it will piss them off enough to go to another mall.

Um, charging for mall Santa photo-ops? It's not like the pix are a bargain, but if you're trying to recoup costs, why not just hike up the cost of the photos five bucks?

And what message does this send kid believers? Surely some of them will learn of this charge. Aren't cookies and milk enough anymore?

What's next? He'll expect a tip in their stockings? Charge shipping for bulky gifts?

I expect a lot of Atlanta's kids'll be half-expecting to find coal under the tree.

next: Dad Jailed for 'Abducting' His Own Kids
5 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous October 7, 2009, 7:14 AM

I can hear it now: “I can’t get to talk to Santa, we can’t afford it.” Nice. Douchery, indeed. If I lived in Atlanta - and had more money than I do - I’d be giving every kid who was told they couldn’t afford it $15 just so they COULD sit on Santa’s lap. What a rip-off. Hopefully they get enough static from this stupid idea that they’ll drop the policy before Christmas actually rolls around.

Anonymous October 7, 2009, 7:45 AM

Do they charge for kids who just want to sit on Santa lap and tell him what they want for xma but don’t want pictures? I have done it both ways with my kids. I think they should just increase the price for the pictures and not do an online reservation…make them stand in line forever like we used to do before computers.

Photo Mom October 7, 2009, 9:22 AM

I’m not sure about the “extra” $5 fee, but charging a nonrefundable down payment makes sense to me. As a photographer myself, a no-show is not only a huge inconvenience and waste of my time but I also lose the revenue I would’ve made had they only cancelled and allowed me to book someone else into their spot.
Charging to sit on Santa’s knee?? Shame on you. Requiring people who have made a committment to follow through (or at least TELL you that they aren’t?) that’s just good business.

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