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Photos With Santa

This photo is from Bass Pro Shops.

I’ve been sitting on this post for two days, hoping that my feelings about it would fade and I’d just send it to the trash and forget the whole thing.

I’m so not about drama, and the first half of this post is all drama. If you want to skip the drama, head down to the Bass Pro Shops heading.

The Capital City Mall Drama

On Monday, my car’s battery died, and the girls and I went to Sears to have it replaced. The technician said it would take an hour and a half or two hours.


We walked around the Capital City Mall for a little while and painted pottery at Color Me Mine. After painting, Grace asked if we could stop and see Santa.

I’d picked up a coupon at Color Me Mine for $3 off any photo with Santa package, and I said she could.

Santa was lovely. He is 100% Santa. He has a quiet and kind nature and a real (cool) beard. Grace was enamored and climbed easily up on his knee (for the first time in her whole life). Allie wasn’t sure about Santa, but she let me set her on his other knee.

I confirmed with Xavier, the assistant manager of the photo shop, that my coupon would make the smallest photo package $16.99. He said it would, so I agreed to get it – one 5×7 and two 3x5s.

The girls finished their visit with Santa. He gave them little coloring books and sent them on their way.

And then Xavier said he couldn’t honor my coupon. The one with Capital City Mall and expires December 14, 2012 printed on it. The official mall coupon I’d picked up minutes earlier in a mall store.

We bickered a bit about the coupon, and Santa came over. “Just give her the discount,” he urged.

Xavier was firm. He called his manager, and they agreed that they’d give me a free 5×7 photo and charge me the regular price.

The photos were lousy, and I didn’t want an extra 5×7 photo.

What made them lousy?

The camera was slightly crooked, so the photo was slightly crooked. The camera was off-center as well, so Santa and the girls were off-center in the photo. The flash was too bright, leaving an overexposed glare across the girls’ foreheads and washed out colors in the rest of the photo.

So. An impasse.

Xavier called his manager back and told him that I didn’t want a free photo.

Then he handed me the phone.

Scott, the manager, proceeded to tell me that he wanted to give me a free photo – a $14.99 value! – for only $3. It’s such a deal! He’s being so generous!

I politely but firmly told him that I wanted the advertised price, not a free photo. At this point, he became rude and eventually hung up on me.


Xavier had a few more words for me, and I told him I wasn’t paying full price for the photos. I put the photos on the counter and left.

The woman at the mall’s customer service center was appalled by the treatment I’d received, and she promised that either she or the mall’s Marketing Director would get back to me by the end of the day.

Guess what.

No one got back to me at all.

The bottom line is that the photo manager won’t honor the coupons that mall stores are handing out even though the coupons are completely valid.

Bass Pro Shops

Later in the afternoon, the girls and I were in Harrisburg when Grace saw a billboard for Winter Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops. She asked if we might be able to keep the pictures from Bass Pro.

That stung a little. A lot.

I confirmed that we’d be able to keep the pictures.

The Santa as Bass Pro Shops was just as quiet and kind, looked just as nice, and had a long white beard just like the other one.  Mrs. Santa was also at Bass Pro Shops, and she was equally friendly. They spoke with the girls and gave each a coloring book.

At Bass Pro, you get a free photo. The girls working the camera gave us our photo in a folder, and the girls skipped off to play. The colors in the photo above look a little off, but it’s my scanner. The original photo looks much better.

The girls rode the carousel, played with remote-controlled trucks, shot arrows (okay, Allie didn’t shoot arrows), and played with a toy train. We spent an afternoon playing in the Winter Wonderland.

For free.

Later, at home, I looked up the photo prices. For $9.99, I could get a 5×7, two 4x6s, and four wallets. It’s a far cry even from the sale price (that they wouldn’t honor) of $16.99 for a 5×7 and two 3x5s at the mall.

The bottom line is that Bass Pro Shops’ Winter Wonderland is awesome and free. Why would you spend money for less at the mall?

This is not a sponsored post.


© 2012 – 2018, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.

13 thoughts on “Photos With Santa”

  1. I don’t understand why they wouldn’t honor the coupon. Why are they giving them out if they won’t honor them? Glad you got a better deal somewhere else!

  2. Hey Tara,
    I think the Santa at Bass Pro is wonderful and they keep the same Santa, I haven’t went to the Capital City mall Santa in 8 years, when Livy was 1 and getting her first pictures with Santa the staff was so rude so I just avoid it every year and go to Bass Pro, then we go over to see my brother at Applebee’s (he’s a manager there) because Bass Pro gives you those coupons that for each adult entree you buy you get a free kid’s entree. Plus all that extra fun stuff Bass Pro has we got to make crafts and ride the carousel and some other fun stuff! Bass Pro is definitely a much better Santa experience!

  3. Hello Tara: Am very glad that you wrote about your customer service experience. What a horrible experience for you and I do hope that Capital City Mall and Color Me Mine finds a way to make it right for you.

    I find the entire shopping experience with big name brand stores: Sears, the Bay (in Canada) where I am from to be almost non-existent. Sears repairs made a major gaffe with our range and the executive director from back east finally apologize and produced a $200 gift card for our troubles. Faith was restored, but only after my persistence and being the squeaky wheel. Late this evening, I was shopping with my family at the Bay who are advertising 25% off on ladies regular-priced winter boots. We specifically went after dinner and this evening to avoid the weekend madness when the sales assistants are run off their feet and customer service is reduced to taking a number and waiting in long cashier line-ups. Lucky me! I found 2 pairs of long boot: 1 dressy pair, 9-west on clearance (more than $100 off – no more discount needed or requested) and 1 pair regular priced (practical) flat boots for everyday. We went to pay and were told that I didn’t read the signage correctly – the 25% off applied to only on select styles and my regular priced boots weren’t the ones that qualified for the promotion.

    My husband was ready to walk away. I asked to speak to the floor manager. She listened carefully and communicated that I wasn’t the only one who had flagged the inconsistency and discrepancy in the sale wording and wanted to make it right. You could tell she was tired of defending a store marketing campaign that didn’t make sense. In this instance, it was a store manager going against company policy and willing to take the heat because she realized how confusing the signage and small print was.

    Unlike the Capital City Mall folks and the photo manager, this floor manager made the right call. I am appalled that the photo manager tried to make it sound like you were getting a bargain and force you into buying a package. I do hope that your blog post gets wide readership and the Color Me Mine finds a way to make it right. And, kudos to the Santa Experience team at Bass Pro. They deserve to be recognized.

  4. Follow up: I do realize that it’s a mall Santa experience and that Color Me Mine was the one who provided the coupon so that you’d use the Santa photo shop in the Capital City Mall. 🙂

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