accessAtlanta

City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Phipps Santa to charge naughty parents a fee this season

 

This year, Santa comes with a service charge.

This year, Santa comes with a service charge.

Apparently, the legendary Phipps Plaza Santa Claus  is borrowing a business practice from Ticketmaster this holiday season.

The Buckhead mall’s popular head elf will be charging parents a $15 service fee when his advance online reservations begin on Oct. 7 at 12:01 AM at phippsatsanta.com.

Explains Santa’s surly spokeselves at santaatphipps.com: “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.”

Ouch, Santa.
Of the advance fee, $10 will be applied to your picture package and/or DVD purchase. The other $5 bill “will cover website services, the appointment system and credit card fees,” according to the Website.

Santa makes his grand entrance at Phipps Plaza on Nov. 7.

Santa aficionados are encouraged to make reservations early. The photo ops on St. Nick’s knee routinely sell out far in advance. Some frazzled parents also will no doubt recall that the Phipps Santa’s popularity  has caused the mall’s website to crash in past years as a surge of reservation requests overloaded the North Pole’s computer systems.

In other words, Merry Christmas.

So parents, what’s your take on Santa’s service charge? Is it an extra unnecessary expense in a recessionary holiday season? Or should parents have been more responsible last year and not wasted St. Nick’s precious time?

91 comments Add your comment

sethook

October 1st, 2009
12:21 pm

Will there be a baggage fee if you want your child to have a wrapped gift in the picture?

Elizabeth

October 1st, 2009
12:30 pm

I miss the original Phipps Santa. Rest in Peace Ray. . .you were truly the real Santa.

Bruce

October 1st, 2009
12:38 pm

It’s a shame that a few spoiled brats (the parents, not the children) ruin things for everyone else. What Phipps is having to do is the nature of business because of those 500 who know no ethical behavior.

Matt the Brave

October 1st, 2009
12:40 pm

Is it any surprise? I love Santa and the childhood honesty that the character shows, but honestly? A fee to see Santa? Of course, I guess that this causes less of an uproar than mentioning Jesus at all during the Christmas season.

Paul

October 1st, 2009
12:40 pm

Easy solution to everything. No reservations. Wait in line. Deal with it. Even my local barbershop went and started taking reservations. Are our lives THAT busy that we can’t wait? ‘Christmas Story’ had it best. Wait 30-45 minutes to get told that you are going to shoot your eye out. THAT is what Christmas is all about.

Chief Wiggum

October 1st, 2009
12:41 pm

Typical Buckhead. Charging fees to see Santa. I’m shocked. Shocked. Whatever happened to showing up and getting your butt in line like everybody else? I’m surprised that there’s not a “premium package” that includes valet service, with champagne for the parents.

Of course, the whole thing about reservations is so that those super-frazzled, running-all-over-the-place-for-the-perfect-gift Buckhead idiot parents can maximize their time, and not have to stand in line with the “common people”.

Chocolate Doll

October 1st, 2009
12:46 pm

LOL @ Paul’s comment. You are so on point! Wow, reservations at your barbershop?!? What the hell is that all about!!!
BTW, thanks for mentioning one of my favorite movies of all time :)

nita

October 1st, 2009
12:46 pm

Parents are so foolish, why would you make an appointment to see Santa. Wait in line like we did in the old days, if your kid is important,it is worth the wait. This is some stupid mess. What has the U.S. done. We have lost our bleeping minds.

Roekest

October 1st, 2009
12:50 pm

I didn’t think Christmas could be MORE commercialized than it already is. Time to bust out my copy of A Charlie Brown Christmas…..

Chocolate Doll

October 1st, 2009
12:50 pm

@ Chief Wiggum….shhhh, don’t give them any ideas. I’m shocked they don’t offer that “package” already…lol.

John

October 1st, 2009
12:53 pm

My family has been going to Phipps to see Santa for 15 years when my family first moved down here from Chicago and everyone said you have to go to Phipps for Santa. From someone that has done both – stand in line starting at 5:30 am to the current reservation system – the current system is much better. As for the fee, as long as you get to put most of it toward the purchase I think it’s acceptable.

Thank you, John...

October 1st, 2009
1:00 pm

…for bringing some semblance of normalcy to this situation – I agree with your sentiments wholeheartly!

$5 is a small price to pay for this, and the author (bah, humbug to him) of the article contributed to the “grief” by using such words as “Santa’s surly spokeselves at santaatphipps.com”, when all they are doing is trying to maximize their profits during a profitable season of the year.

Kim

October 1st, 2009
1:01 pm

Enter your comments here Perhaps the unfortunate children whose parents cannot afford the fee will be advised to visit Santa via Facebook!

Christina

October 1st, 2009
1:04 pm

I hate that they felt they had to implement this policy, but I can’t blame them. It’s a business, and you’ve got to be business savvy.

Also, regarding the comments that reservations are a bad idea, I disagree. Given the choice between standing in line for 30 minutes (or hours) with a toddler, and having an appointment so you might wait only a few minutes . . . come on, people, it makes sense to have the appointment. Yes, in the old days there were no reservations. There also were no cars, no internet, no DVR, etc, etc, etc. But these conveniences have made our lives easier, and how many of us are willing to go without any of them? (I’m not saying all of us have all of the above, but everyone reading this comment has at least one of those conveniences–internet.) For some parents, it’s not about being better than the common folk standing in line; it’s about minimizing the chance of a child’s tantrum, and making everyone else in line experience it with you!

Now, the idea that we’re all so overscheduled we have to “pencil in” something as innocent as a visit with Santa . . . yeah, most of us are. And it’s a terrible shame. I believe that is part of what has brought this country to where we are today (and I’m not talking about the recession). But it’s a fact of life, and it’s a debate unto its own.

jg

October 1st, 2009
1:07 pm

I say stand in line and wait your turn like everyone else – that is the fun of it – fa-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra

Ashley Houmes

October 1st, 2009
1:11 pm

Whatever happened to the spirit of Christmas? Charging fees for Santa? In this economy? Shame, Shame, we will be going to see another Santa!

Pauly

October 1st, 2009
1:11 pm

Produce the REAL!! Santa and I’ll pay $15.00. Happy Holidays

Jack Frost

October 1st, 2009
1:11 pm

Nice knowin ya Santa. Maybe we’ll come back next year if you change the policy, maybe.

Nativeson71

October 1st, 2009
1:12 pm

Who shop’s at Phipps?
Who do you like better…Santa or Jesus?

P

October 1st, 2009
1:14 pm

My kids are grown but I have an hour long video of them visiting the original Santa at Phipps through the 80’s and early 90’s. We (mom and dad) took turns standing in line and usually went on Christmas Eve (the worst time of year). It was worth it but if we had a chance to pay $15 with $10 of it going towards the annual video we would have jumped on the idea!

P

October 1st, 2009
1:15 pm

It’s not a fee to see Santa. It’s a convenience fee to not have to stand in line. Dummies..!

@Nativeson71

October 1st, 2009
1:15 pm

Santa. There’s a 1% chance he’s real and legit. Can’t say the same for that other guy.

P

October 1st, 2009
1:16 pm

Also, my guess is with a $15 charge the appointment times won’t fill up as much and they will still take walk ups (willing to stand in line).

Nativeson71

October 1st, 2009
1:18 pm

directed to @Nativeson71 ….I agree with you.
They are both metaphors….I think.

Nativeson71

October 1st, 2009
1:21 pm

Hey Sonny and Shirley …idea for revenue stream…

Could certain state agencies adopt this technology?
I could pay a fee for an appointment at the Drivers License office, or the Social Security office…..anything to keep from standing in an endless line.

B

October 1st, 2009
1:34 pm

What’s wrong with having your picture made with one of the other “Santas” around town. Some of the pictures I treasure most are the ones of me as a child, the ones of my child and now the ones of my grandchildren with Santas who are obviously not the real thing.

SP

October 1st, 2009
1:35 pm

Excellent idea! No Santa deserves the shaft. Frankly, I think he should charge $25 per visit.

Now if we can only have restaurants charge parents for ignoring or not controlling their obnoxious brats…

Jacks Mum

October 1st, 2009
1:45 pm

We’ve been going to the Phipps Santa for seven years now. I cherish the visits, as does my child. The short (20-30 minute) wait for your appointment is heavenly compared to the several hour wait one experiences with walk-ups. If your child is tired and grouchy by the time they get to see Santa, it takes away some of their fun. This also allows Santa to take extra time with the children instead of rushing when the lines are longer.

It is unfortunate that greedy people over-booked and no-showed. Grabbing up all the appointments you can to share with friends or determine which is more convenient for you is poor manners, but then neglecting to cancel the ones you no longer need is down right selfish and narcissistic. Too bad they cannot flag those parents and charge them a $15 fee on every appointment whether it’s used or not!

Miss Hip hop

October 1st, 2009
1:57 pm

they have really lost it.They are taking the fun out of Christmas. I think it is more of the parents that don’t want to stand in line. Who’s getting the benefits of this the parent or child.

Reds

October 1st, 2009
1:58 pm

I agree with you Elizabeth. I miss Ray. He was the first and only Santa we ever saw. Our paths crossed from time to time in the “off” season, and as a child I was always in total awe of him, and immediately snapped into shape, because it was clear that he was always watching! He was the perfect Santa!

Susan

October 1st, 2009
2:04 pm

Enter your comments here

We also LOVED the previous SANTA, Ray, and miss him terribly. He looked just like ole Saint Nick! Thank goodness our children are too old to go see Santa as is was so simple to see Santa when he was first introduced to Phipps Plaza. Can’t believe that many people would book and not even call to cancel if not able to make it. Don’t blame the company as they aren’t local but from a surrounding area of Atlanta and it certainly not the Christmas spirit on the parents part either to take advantage because they are too lazy to cancel an appointment and just don’t care! BA HUMBUG!

B-Slap

October 1st, 2009
2:06 pm

When Santa starts charging to sit on his lap for 15 seconds, I say it’s a sad state of affairs. NEVER would I pay this fee (and yes, I can afford it). My kids can go to one of the hundreds of other Santas situated throughout the city/county/state.

Jack Schitt

October 1st, 2009
2:07 pm

The $15 “service fee” is nothing compared to what they screw you for on the pictures with Santa. It really is all about the money…and nothing about the “Reason for the Season”! Once again, GREED trumps everything else. I will not be shopping at Phipps Plaza this year or any year. Now they can truly say they know Jack Schitt.

Grammy

October 1st, 2009
2:09 pm

There are many “real” Santas scattered around. Check your local newspaper. Show Phipps that you refuse to fall prey to this scam. The only way I would pay to see Santa is if ALL of the fee went towards the photos, and those that pay and don’t show up lose their fee. Simple. Don’t punish all for the mistakes of a few, which seems to be popular with this new “administration” in D.C.

Michael

October 1st, 2009
2:15 pm

For all of you who insist that Jesus should be kept in Christmas, take a history lesson. Jesus was born in April, not December. I work at Phipps and am grateful for all of you who come out to see Santa and eat in my restaurant. It helps make my commercial Christmas better!

Shannon

October 1st, 2009
2:18 pm

My husband lost his job this year and we are looking at VERY lean times, however, I have been setting aside a little bit of money when I could for Christmas – including a visit to the “real” Santa at Phipps, which is a holiday tradition I have kept up in the four years since my children were born. I cannot, however, justify an extra $15 for an already expensive visit (even though some will be applied to the picture package) when the money is really needed elsewhere. Thank you, Phipps, for making a sad, bad, difficult year a tiny bit tougher.

The Grinch

October 1st, 2009
2:29 pm

That’s Kringle for you. Always puts himself first. I’m tired of that guy.

Stan Smith

October 1st, 2009
2:32 pm

Maybe we should outsource Santa like our IT jobs, and just have an Indian santa take his place. It would only be $1.00 instead of $15.

Rod

October 1st, 2009
2:35 pm

Those folks complaining on here (including the writer Richard Eldredge) obviously haven’t had to wait in line for a Santa in a while.

Phipps is known for always having the “best” Santa in the Southeast. After the last one died a few years ago, they searched long and hard to find this gentleman. He’s terrific.

With a reservation system (some other malls do it as well), you only have to wait a few minutes – they’ve done this for years. You’re only paying a $5 fee for being able to make a reservation (if you lose the whole $15, then that means you bailed without cancelling and deserve to lose the $15). $5 for being able to only stand in line 20 minutes? GREAT. Without a reservation system, lines at Phipps would be several hours long – he’s that popular.

Don’t want to pay $5 for a reservation? Go see the Northlake, Southlake, North DeKalb, etc Santas and wait 2+ hours with your child standing quietly (yeah, right). You’ll get what you pay for.

Jim

October 1st, 2009
2:36 pm

Shannon – it’s not $15 (unless you plan to bail without cancelling), it’s only $5.

Atlanta Newbie

October 1st, 2009
2:42 pm

This is an “October Fools” joke, right?
The first page of a Quentin Tarantino remake of “It’s a Wonderful Life”?
“I’m just too busy to stand in line with my toddler,” is a CHOICE. And a pretty appalling one. I’m sure your toddlers will find ways to express their appreciation as they grow older.
While the scummy parent behavior described by Phipps Plaza rings true, the fee seems like a troubling way to respond. An automated system can refuse multiple reservations from the same identifier or can be programmed to reject multiple reservations from the same last name/street address or last name/phone number dyad. The fee, it seems to me is further catering to the “well it’s a small price to pay for the convenience’ crowd while offering the collateral benefit of keeping away the riff-raff who don’t find is a small price to pay.

And Shannon, best of luck to you and your family. I’ve been looking for work since mid-April and just today told my partner that if I had to stop putting gas in my car for a few weeks, I was going to find a way to send out Christmas cards this year. No matter how lean times get, we find the thing that isn’t expendable.

SHUT IT

October 1st, 2009
2:44 pm

IT IS FIVE BUCKS PEOPLE….GOOD GRIEF. THIS CITY IS FULL OF WHINERS.

LydiasDad

October 1st, 2009
2:45 pm

I wonder if the Phipps Santa will be allowed to say “Merry Christmas” this year, or will we need to pay extra for that? Last year he WAS NOT ALLOWED to say it, in case it might offend someone. Nothing of the decorations even mentioned Christmas. Now, what kind of person is going to see Santa if they’re offended by Christmas? Everyone needs to let Phipps have it for this.

Susan

October 1st, 2009
2:54 pm

I guess that I can slightly understand that appointment thing for those who (sadly) may not have enough time to wait for hours. But isn’t there a larger problem here? Whatever happened to controlling children and making them behave? Do we now let our kids determine our schedules in the sense that “oh, well, I don’t want to wait in that line because my child may become grumpy”?! They’re kids! Since when could any of us stay still long enough to wait for Santa? It’s SANTA!! We all wanted to rush up there to tell him our hopes and dreams for what we wanted. So what happened to parents controlling their kids? I remember waiting for ages to see Santa, and I dared not act up lest I wanted to be told that the consequence for my behavior was leaving the line and not getting to see him! I just feel like we’re not properly training our kids these days. Instead of teaching them patience and respect, we teach them to demand an appointment time so that they can get whatever they want, whenever they want it.

And does anyone remember the Santa at Rich’s downtown?! He was my favorite and I always think of him at Christmastime. We’d get to see Santa and then go up to the roof to ride the Pink Pig. :)

Peace

October 1st, 2009
2:54 pm

I have heard of the grinch who stole christmas but not of his
brother Phipps Santa who charge you for christmas. Why don’t we
all stay away from Phipps during christmas.

blkshephered

October 1st, 2009
2:54 pm

With all the videos online, tv specials, books, not to mention I am sure all the middle schools will have plays and shows, how much more do you have to feed into a man that Is not real? Santa has nothing to do with the REAL Christmas anyway (nor Dec 24th for that matter. get real!
When I was a kid back in 1965(7yrs old) it was a treat to watch Rudolph the red nosed raindeer(which had Just shown for the first time) frosty the snow man, the little drummer boy all came later. plus my mother bought me all the toys I could play with. I wasnt thinking about seeing NO department store FAKE Santa who would only issue you a carboard toy and ushered you off his lap for the next kid. Baa HUM BUG! As a child I could care less about santa. My toys made me forget all about some over weight fat guy in a red suit that I knew full well wasnt coming to my house. Especially since I lived in a tenement house and only had a fire escape and one Door to enter and exit. Where was he going to land the sleigh? Where I lived in brooklyn chances are if he parked that contraption on the street the bums would have stolen it along with the reindeer and mugged him. stealing all the gifts. Santa Never once visited the ghetto. And the ones I did see looked like old drunks with pillows stuffed in their red suits! HA! no thanks. save your 15 bucks towards another Gift for someone that is REAL. like a Friend or relative.

Angela

October 1st, 2009
2:56 pm

$10 goes towards the picture? Good gosh! How much does it cost to get a picture!?!?!

Chris

October 1st, 2009
3:10 pm

for all the whiners and complainers – why don’t you just take your kid to one of the other 20 malls in this town with Santa…hey there is even one across the street.

Jacks Mum

October 1st, 2009
3:11 pm

Susan – my son gets rave reviews on his behavior. While I do insist on good behavior (not just during the holidays) and using his manners, I also try to understand his limitations. Waiting in line for 1-2 hours to see Santa is brutal on any small child. If paying $5 to set an appointment to stand in line for only 20 minutes, is bad parenting, then call me a bad parent. This is a small price to pay to ensure my child has awesome memories of seeing Santa. It’s a small window of time in a child’s life that they believe and see Santa in that special light. I am committed to ensure this time is magical in every way.

Bob

October 1st, 2009
3:21 pm

Don’t be shocked people. It is Phipps we are talking about! The days of expecting freebies from that group is over. I’m surprised they don’t change $50/hr to park as well and a $5 “Entrance Fee” to shop there! I’ll stay at Perimeter Mall thank you very much.