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Angry vent -- Mall Santa Claus -- JAWM (Updated)


PeachyDoodle
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Note: This is the JAWM-iest of all JAWMs, so if you want to tell me what I already know -- that we should have walked away from the beginning -- please keep it to yourself. TIA

 

DS has never asked to see Santa Claus before, although we've taken him a few times over the years, but this year for some reason he really wanted to go. We don't have a mall anymore in our immediate vicinity, so the only options close by are one-off special event-type Santa appearances, not the kind with standing daily hours, and we haven't been able to go. But this afternoon, dd needed to be in a nearby city, so dh and I thought this would be a good opportunity to take ds to the mall to visit Santa while we waited to pick her up.

I checked the mall's website and was disappointed to see that Santa's Workshop closes at 6 p.m. on Sundays (it's later on other days). DD needed to be dropped off across town at 5:30, which gave us limited time to make it to the mall, but it was doable if we hurried. So we dropped dd off a couple of minutes early and high-tailed it over to the mall. We made good time and arrived at 5:40 to find the end of the line to see Santa blocked by a gate. The last family in line proceeded to inform us that "they" (by which I assumed was meant mall employees) had closed the line early in order to be finished at 6:00 and we were not allowed to enter.

Now, at this venue, the line to see Santa is outdoors, with Santa sitting inside a small house. There were no Santa's Workshop employees stationed outside, and no sign saying "Closed," just this little piece of freestanding fence placed at the end of the line. So we considered it for a moment and decided to get into line anyway, with the hopes of being able to speak to an employee at the door. The family ahead of us was clearly angry that we did this, and the dad dropped some foul language within earshot of his own kids and ours, but we just ignored him. The line was not long; it took up about 1/3 of the area roped off for people to wait in. While we were waiting, another woman and a little girl approached the line and were told in no uncertain terms by the family ahead of us that they were not allowed to enter. So they went away.

After about 10 minutes, a teenage elf came outside. He seemed perturbed that we had joined the line, but he said that they would end the line after us, but could not take any more families. Which seemed fine with me, being as people weren't exactly breaking down the barriers trying to get in. I then overheard him discussing us with the man in front of us in line, where they each made a few comments about "people who just can't follow rules," and I got the impression that the elf had asked this guy to be charge of enforcing the line closure. Again we ignored them since the elf was just a kid and, again, we figured we would discuss the unfairness of an early closing with an adult at the head of the line, and ask for an exemption.

Finally we arrived at Santa's door. The family ahead of us went inside and visited with Santa. Then, the elf stuck his head out the door and said, "Sorry, we're closed." There was literally ONE CHILD -- ds -- in line, and it was not even 6:15. We explained that we'd arrived well before closing time and, really, couldn't ds just speak with Santa for a moment? There was no need for them even to take photos or anything, we said; they could go ahead and start closing up shop, but Santa was RIGHT THERE -- ds could look him in the eye! Nope, nothing doing. We're closed.

So we did the only thing we could do; we left. (Well, dh might have had a few choice words on our way out.) By the time we made it to the car, ds was in tears and asking if he was on the naughty list and that's why Santa turned him away. We've spent the rest of the evening reassuring him, and I've written a letter from Santa for our elf on the shelf to deliver tomorrow, apologizing and promising that ds is still on the nice list. 

I am a rule follower; I always have been. It is not in my nature to buck the system. And I get the need for rules. But honestly, if you say Santa is open until 6, doesn't it make sense that if you arrive before 6 you should get to see Santa? And even if it doesn't, and dh and I messed up, why on earth punish an 8yo boy who just wants to talk to Santa Claus? 

My heart is torn in two for ds. He is such a sweet, sensitive little boy who always tries to do the right thing, and he just got rejected by freaking Santa Claus.

Edited by PeachyDoodle
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OMG, I would complain, complain and then take it up a notch.  I am not a Christian, but doesn't it go against everything Christmas stands for??  Yeah....I don't take lightly someone being so unkind to my child ESPECIALLY when it was so easily preventable.   

BTW, why should you have walked away from the beginning????  Just bc some dude who was somehow given some snowflake power decided to tell you to?  yeah, I don't think so

Edited by SereneHome
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Quote

So we did the only thing we could do; we left. (Well, dh might have had a few choice words on our way out.) By the time we made it to the car, ds was in tears and asking if he was on the naughty list and that's why Santa turned him away. We've spent the rest of the evening reassuring him, and I've written a letter from Santa for our elf on the shelf to deliver tomorrow, apologizing and promising that ds is still on the nice list. 

This part right here breaks my heart for you! That is utterly awful!

I’m a rule-follower, too, but I would have seen it as you did: Santa line is open until six. 

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Wow. How Grinch-y of them. 

Do you have Outdoor World/Bass Pro Shop nearby? (I know at least of one in Cary and Charlotte/Concord Mills). They have a great Santa experience (crafts, toys set out for any wait time, authentic-looking Santa, free photo). And long hours. 

Hope your lil' dude doesn't take it too hard. 

Edited by alisoncooks
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Since they let you stand in line and told you you would be the last one, I would file a complaint.  The Santa crew needs some serious retraining about what customer service is.  If they really weren't going to let you in, they should have made that very clear so you didn't stand in line.  Then you could have told your son a reasonable explanation rather than how it went down.  😕

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27 minutes ago, PixieLittle said:

There is an app my husband has where your kids put their finger on the screen and it scans and shows them if they’re on the naughty or nice list (you choose which it’s going to be beforehand). Maybe that would reassure him he’s on Santa’s nice list. 

 

...

Are there... are there actually people in this world who would pick "naughty" for their child? And then let them access this!?

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15 minutes ago, Tanaqui said:

 

...

Are there... are there actually people in this world who would pick "naughty" for their child? And then let them access this!?

I was trying to point out that it’s not random. 

For us, bickering or slugging a sibling warranted a temporary list reassignment, but they quickly were back on Santa’s nice list once the appropriate apologies were made. 

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If the employees want to be cleaned up and out of there by 6, the closing time needs to be advertised as 5:30. A 6 o'clock closing means they are open and assisting customers until 6. They clean up after the "store" is closed. And you never leave a child who's been promised a visit standing there with the door effectively slammed in his face. Because it's Christmas! So sorry your little guy had to deal with butthead elves. Please let us know how management responds.

ETA: I wouldn't necessarily take the word of other people in line about access being closed either. It's not their job to inform you. That's the responsibility of employees.

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Are there any local radio stations with phone-in Santa opportunities? Sounds like getting to an in-person Santa is going to be a challenge.

Sorry for the earlier disappointment. I haven't done the Santa thing in years, and wouldn't have anticipated the time needed, either. I believe those special event temporary staff only get paid for x amount of hours, and have to time shutting down the line with this in mind. If they let you jump in line, they pretty much have to let everyone do this.

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11 hours ago, itsheresomewhere said:

Santa’s boss and I would be having a lovely conversation along with a detailed post on the mail’s FaceBook page.  

Not ok/cool with the behavior of the mall employees. They should all have a refresher course on how to act with guests. 

This exactly.  I would bring it to higher authorities than the Santa group.  If they close at 6pm that means the doors close at 6pm - which means they don't necessarily get done until 6:20.  If I show up at 5:55 at  a store that closes at 6pm they let me in.

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UPDATE:

DH called the mall's corporate offices this morning, and spoke with the CEO's (or something similar) executive assistant, who was appalled and apologetic. She agreed that the line should be open until the stated closing time, and she said she would be passing along the message to her boss. She said dh might get a phone call from him/her as well, which is fine. An apology is all we wanted. There is no way for the mall to make up for ds's hurt feelings. But hopefully they will keep this from happening to some other poor kid.

Fortunately, the letter Santa sent overnight via our elf seems to have made ds feel a lot better. I don't think we will be trying to visit another Santa this year. There isn't much time in our schedule, and in desperation to console ds last night we ended up telling him that the mall Santa wasn't the "real" one, only his helper. That seemed to make things worse in the moment but now that the "real" Santa has sent a personal apology, he's happy again. I don't think he's interested in seeing any of the helper Santas again anytime soon though.

I've kind of wished for awhile that we hadn't started the whole Santa thing with our kids, but since we were in the thick of things I figured it would be better to ride it out. This could very well be ds's last year to believe, and then it will be over, which is one reason why I tried so hard to make the visit he asked for happen. All's well that ends well, I suppose. But it's going to take me a lot longer to get over this one that it has ds!

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