Thursday, December 04, 2008


So I pick T up from school today and take him and Jayden to go see Santa. We went to the MEADOW GLEN MALL in Medford ma. They would not let me take a picture of the kids with Santa. They wanted $21.99 for the cheapest picture they had. I don't know about you but that is 1 or 2 Christmas presents for us. I was so upset. The guy practically jumped in front of my camera. He said it was mall policy. So off to the mall office I went, I spoke to TIM the marketing director. He said that was the policy of the company they contract out with. He also said there were signs posted. There were no signs I looked twice. I am so upset, it seems crazy to me that they want to charge $22 for a picture, $5 or $7 I could see but I think the price is excessive. We are mommy bloggers we can do anything, let's do something about this crazy practice. It burns my butt that families that can not afford to pay those outrageous prices will not have a Santa picture memory. This mall is a urban retail properties LLC managed shopping center. Phone # is (781) 395-6710 Customer Service Center (781) 391-9402 Fax.


Miscreant said...

You know, in my profession, I frequently hear concerns about pricing for various products or services. Certainly, I have learned to empathize with people feeling that certain things are a "rip-off." On the other hand - when was the last time you stepped back to consider the modern costs of running a Santa operation? First, you have the wages (remember, we live in the jurisdiction of "Living Wages," not minimum wages) of Santa and all of his helpers. You also have their health insurance (mandated), and most likely some level of life insurance. Add to that death and disability insurance and general liability insurance... not to mention some type of special protection from frivolous lawsuits from parents that think Santa made suggestive glances at their kids. We haven't even begun to talk about the cost of the Winter Wonderland setup and uniforms - storage costs in the off season as well as transportation costs and cleaning fees. Let's say, conservatively, you're looking at $2,000 - $2,500 per day to run the whole show. Who pays for that? If free photography is allowed, you create a commonly studied game theory problem. Everyone benefits from Santa being present, but nobody is forced to contribute to the cost.

I'd also like to point out that even without a photograph, your children were allowed the benefit of visiting with Santa, sitting on his lap, and listing their Christmas wishes. There are something on the order of 100 million children this year around the world that won't even have 3 full meals on Christmas.

So I'm very sorry that the mall didn't afford you the luxury of a free instant digital photograph of your kids with our God of Consumption - or for that matter that Apple didn't provide free iPods for those who couldn't afford them - or Uggs isn't selling $2 boots to the homeless - but the holiday season used to be about being thankful for the things we take for granted: our health, our family, and the wonderful opportunities we have living in this truly blessed state and country.

Valerie said...

Miscreant read my post again you ignorant shit. I said why don't they offer a reasonably priced picture? Not that I wanted one for free.I would have gladly paid 5 or 7 dollars but $21.99 is excessive. There were no helpers for Santa just him and the photographer. As for you saying about the kids who won't have meals this christmas, we give to a food pantry and to toys for tots. What if anything have you done to help? I never said I wanted something for free I said I wish they had a reasonable alternative. BTW Santa is privately contracted out do they are not required to have health insurance. Oh and I do not take my family or my health for granted as for this truly blessed state, Massachusetts is many things but I don't think blessed is one of them.

jenne said...

Our local mall has a similar policy - you can only take a photo if you buy one of thiers. they also, unlike the place you wnet to, had a GIANT sign stating that policy. We have a few opportunities (my workplace holiday bash being one) for our daughter to have a free photo with the Big Guy and that is where she'll have her visit with santa. At the mall we just wave and walk on by.i can spend the money i would have on the one photo on many other things :)

kellyjmf said...

For a picture opportunity for free, try one of the municipal tree lightings. Generally, if they have an appearance from Santa, you can take a picture of him with your child with your own camera.

Zephra said...

"Let's say, conservatively, you're looking at $2,000 - $2,500 per day to run the whole show. "

No way. The suit is used year after year until it falls apart and is not cleaned as often as you think. Contracted companies are not required to pay insurance costs.

The set up is used year after year too. There is usually one worker helping Santa. All that said, Santa gets paid whether there is someone taking pictures or not. He was still there for the kids to sit on his lap. Do they need to start charging for that too?

Why can they not offer something more affordable? Why can they not charge a small fee for taking your own pictures? Why can they not offer an option that does not cost $22.00? Walmart offers things at a more affordable price and they seem to be doing quite well.

Shame on this mall and all the other ones who practice this terrible policy.

Miscreant your last paragraph was just down right nasty...and for no reason. Val's statement of "I am so upset, it seems crazy to me that they want to charge $22 for a picture, $5 or $7 I could see but I think the price is excessive." shows that she in no way expected something for free. To insinuate that she did was unjust and unkind.

Your not TIM the marketing director are you? That would explain your attitude.

ivoryfrog said...

I certainly think that $22 is way too much to be charging for a santa photo!

I guess I am really lucky that the shopping centre in my town has a santa come in on 2 days before christmas (usually a saturday and sunday around the middle of the month) for free. There is a well known (in our area) professional photographer that comes in for those 2 days and takes pictures of our kids for free. We can then pick up these pictures from one of the shops within the centre. No cost at all..... the kids even get a gift (colouring book advertising the store and a pack of crayons) and a sweet from santa when they visit.

There is no way that my family could afford to pay $22 (that would be around £10 yes?) for a photo with santa so we really appreciate the free santa we have in our local centre.

I would be tempted to hire a santa suit and get someone to wear it for a day - invite friends and family and others with children along to have an opportunity to take a picture with your own free santa.... maybe the mall would be persuaded to lower their price if they had fewer customers. :-)

datty l. said...
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Marsha McAllister said...

Miscreant, your guilt trip attempt where you state that she shouldn't care about the Santa photos because some people don't get enough food is silly. People can care about more than one thing at a time. There's no need to set up a false dichotomy just to get all self-righteous on a blog.

As to the cost for Santa, our local mall re-uses costumes and all decorations year in and out. There are 2 assistants to Santa, both already mall employees (janitors, info booth attendants, or whatever) so there is no extra insurance cost. Extra wages for the few hours they work but that's it. I don't know who the Santa is. The photographer is local and is contracted out, so there may be some cost there, but nothing close to $2,500 per day.

StandardTime said...

If you take a step back and read what Miscreant said, there is a lot of validity to it. Ok, $22 is pretty excessive, but you are still getting the experience of Santa for free, and the beautiful thing about the free market is that if that Santa isn't serving the needs of the market, he will be forced to lower prices, or go out of business, as other Santa's in other malls and locations compete for their business.

All that aside, I think at the heart of Miscreant's post is a truly valuable lesson. Be joyful this season for the gifts with which you are blessed. So many people in this world would kill just to have a child this holiday season, but for one reason or another, cannot, or perhaps they have lost a loved one and they will be without them this holiday season. How about the families who can't afford to have a digital camera, because they have to pay their health insurance first. What about the families who won't have a Christmas tree of their own this year, because they were just kicked out on the street after their missed a few mortgage payments? Some mothers don't have time to hang out in the mall, because they're out working second jobs to keep food on the table. Don't lose perspective of the important things. It's just a picture at a crummy mall with a teenager in a dirty old Santa suit.

Cleary Squared said...
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Amy said...

The thing about photography is that it always seems overpriced, but that's the nature of the business. You could pay $22 for two 5x7" pictures from Santa, or you could pay $100 for two 5x7" pictures from a top name photographer.
There's no way that I could take my child to a professional photographer, have them set up their lights and pose my child in with their backdrops and props, and then ask them if I could just use my camera instead so I could get the shots for free (or even at a discount).
That said, I too wish they would provide some "smaller cost" alternative (I don't need a picture PACKAGE, a simple 4x6" would be just fine thankyouverymuch), but I can understand why they don't. It's not worth it to them because there are far more parents who will cough up the extra money than walk away without a picture.

Zephra said...

It is amazing to me how being upset about a price gouging Santa photo can turn into a commentary about how she should stop complaining about the money cause there are those out there who have a sadder story.

1. It is her blog and I bet this is her outlet for things that make her mad and happy in life. A lot of us actually use our blogs for that purpose.

2. $22 bucks for a pic with Santa? Come on. That is a ridicules amount of matter how good Santa is or how much Money the malls pays him.

3. Anytime someone complains about anything, you could say "come on, it could be worse". If I complain about my husband cheating on me, are you going to tell me to suck it up because other people don't have husbands? How about if I talk about my kid is doing drugs or killing someone? is that going to earn me a "at least you have kids" comment?

Bottom line is that her kid was dragged off Santa's lap crying because he wanted a picture with Santa. Is that the spirit of Christmas? Is that going to be his memory of Santa? Had there been a visible notice that pictures could not be taken (and there isn't) then she could have avoided the whole messy scene to begin with.

It is her blog and she has the right to speak out when she thinks something is not right.

Lainey-Paney said...

I don't care how much it cost to run the whole santa operation. Fine, you don't want to allow free pics---I get it. But $22 is a f*cking rip off, no matter how you slice it.

$5, fine.
$7, fine.
$10---you're pushin' it.
$22---you've lost your damn mind.

Lainey-Paney said...

Zephra: #3 on your list....LOVE IT!

Lainey-Paney said...

Miscreant: you don't even have a blog.

Lainey-Paney said...

My husband's response b/c I just told him about this:
"Sh*t's expensive these days."
followed up by,
"Santa's gotta get paid."

He'd clearly be one of the idiots who'd pay that.

Delenn said...

Zephra said some things I was going to say. I think I will call the CSC, cuz that is an excessive amount for a picture. Other options should be available.

Jerri Ann said...

Damn skimpy that's ridiculous. I thought it was absurd that my kindergartener's school was having pictures with Santa and they were $12. I was so hacked that I carried my other son and got both in the photo because how ridiculous...and they even let me make my own too. Really that is just nuts!