FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive) – It wasn't a very merry experience for people who waited to see Santa at Glenbrook Mall. Dozens waited in line for hours, and even pre-paid for photo packages just to be turned away by mall security.
Ken Meyers of Huntington calls the incident apathetic, selfish, and a disservice to the public. He says he bought a photo package prior to taking his two daughters to see Santa at Glenbrook Mall over the weekend. Meyers says by paying in advance, he got a discount and thought it would make the process easier.
However, when Meyers got there it wasn’t a jolly experience. Meyers claims, like other families, he and his family got in line more than an hour before the line was supposed to close. Glenbrook advertised Santa would be available from noon until 6 p.m. on Monday. He says around 5:30 p.m., the employees of Worldwide Photography called mall security to come and clear away the line of angry parents and crying children. Meyers says although he had already paid, he was told by an employee that he would not be getting photos with Santa. He says when 6 p.m. struck, the employees turned off the display lights and equipment, and left.
"If people are in line, and they've waited, they should be able to get their picture taken. And if you pre-paid, maybe instead of pre-paying they should've given a discount coupon print-out in line, as opposed to taking your money and telling you that can't get your picture taken,” said Meyers.
Meyers says many parents brought their children dressed in nice attire, and he talked to people in line who traveled from Ohio just for the occasion. Meyers’ 11-year old daughter, Toriana, says she thinks it was a cruel thing to do to children around Christmas.
"I was mad myself inside,” said Toriana. "I was just mad that they'd do something like that to little kids who had no say in it. I just thought that was really cruel to do that."
21Alive called Glenbrook and was told by their General Manager Brian Cote that World Wide Photography is working with customers to get the situation sorted out. Cote says he is looking into the Santa display and how it is run. He proceeded to say that Glenbrook values their customers and hopes the mix up with the photography staff won't keep people from shopping there.
As for Meyers, he says he was finally able to get his photos taken with Santa, but it didn’t go without some persistence. He says Cote called and apologized to him personally and offered him a $50 gift card to the mall.
21Alive contacted Worldwide Photography and they released the following statement:
"It has come to our attention that a Worldwide Photography cast member acted out of character in the presence of guests. While this is disappointing for families, it is even more upsetting to Worldwide Photography, who doesn’t tolerate such inappropriate behavior. Preserving the innocence of children and the magic of childhood is one of WWP’s highest priorities. WWP will be examining this case to determine an appropriate course of action for the employees involved. In the meanwhile, a different cast member will be in place at this location. WWP will take all measures necessary to ensure that all current characters maintain the utmost integrity so that every child’s experience visiting their beloved childhood characters is as wonderful as they imagine. For the few customers who purchased online packages prior to December 22nd, and were unable to redeem them WWP is happy to offer a full refund or extend the expiration for all of 2014."
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