Sunday, November 25, 2012

Taking Pictures is Not Allowed in a Mall???

If it was true (according to a security personnel in one of the malls in Mandaluyong City) that the mall has a policy that disallows any mall goer (or any person really) from taking pictures (of any of its properties including the Christmas decoration), then the mall should inform the public.  They should put up posters and signs like this one above on the entrances and exits of the mall.  They should also put up this sign beside their Christmas Tree.   I would certainly follow and respect their policy, and most likely change my mind about the mall... forever!
It's downright ridiculous!  I am quite sure that you won't see this kind of notice in any shopping mall let alone a public place.  While taking pictures of the mall's Christmas decoration hanging in its grand atrium and the giant Christmas Tree in its lobby last night, I was rudely interrupted by a security personnel of the mall telling me that taking pictures is not allowed.  I was able to take 3 pictures only.  I asserted that I was just taking pictures of the Christmas decoration.  The security personnel continued that "all properties of the mall including the Christmas decorations are not allowed to be photographed".  I do not care about the stores.  But the Christmas decorations?  The first thing that came to my mind was the word RIDICULOUS.

ridiculous (adjective) - laughable, silly, absurd, ludicrous, senseless, foolish, idiotic, preposterous, nonsensical, ill-thought-out.

After finishing my DVD marathon of the Korean Drama series Pasta, I ached for a hot and delicious bowl of Vietnamese beef stew noodles.  I do not know any Korean restaurants so I would happily settle for Pho Hoa, a Vietnamese restaurant.  I traveled 10 kilometers from my place in Pasig City to a mall in the neighboring city of Mandaluyong.  It was already 6 o'clock in the evening.  Going out just for a bowl of noodles seemed frivolous so I decided to submit my documents to the outlet in the mall of the telephone company where I applied for a cellular postpaid service.  I also  thought of buying some sparkling fruit juices from Healthy Options.  I brought my digital camera as well so I could shoot some pictures of the mall's Christmas decorations for this year.  My sole objective of devouring a bowl of Vietnamese white flat noodles, briskets, tendons, flanks, and meatballs became a complete list of chores.  I thought it would be enjoyable since I already spent the day slouching while watching PastaAlas!  One of the mall's security personnel completely ruined the experience for me!


From a rather good vantage point on the 4th floor of the mall, I took three pictures of the mall's 2012 Christmas decor.  Before I was able to click the digicam for the fourth picture, I was insolently interrupted by one of the mall's security personnel.  I was in utter disbelief of what I heard from the security personnel.  He said that I could not take pictures of the Christmas decorations.  I was obstinate that's why I asked if there was any sign or notice that says so.  Obviously, there was none.  The security personnel insisted that it's their policy.  At this point I was beginning to become indignant.  So, in order not to make an "#amalayer" scene, I asked where I can make a complaint.  He directed me to the security management office on the 5th floor.  But before proceeding to the 5th floor, I asked for the security personnel's name.  He raised his ID short of shoving it to my face.  I pushed it back to clearly see his name.  While on the escalator going up to the fifth floor, I looked back to the security personnel.  He was talking to his walkie-talkie.  I thought, for sure that he was giving a heads-up to his superiors in the security management office to where I was headed.

While on my way to the security management office, I thought hard.  This incident is actually inconsequential.   A really small thing.  But I kept thinking.   Isn't it that big things come from small beginnings?  Isn't it that a small grain of rice can tip the scales?  (LOL!  Borrowed from the Emperor in the Disney movie Mulan.)  Isn't it that tiny drops of water that continuously fall can bore a hole through a solid rock?  Even bad people start small.  A stolen penny here and a dime there.  Before you know it, millions are pocketed.  So, I kept thinking.  How would one know what has been done wrong if it wasn't spoken of and dealt with?  The security personnel will surely continue doing to other mall patrons what he has done to me until someone tells him and their management that some people (such as myself) consider his action and such policy altogether wrong and unjust.  I think, no matter how trivial an incident is, the most important thing is to SPEAK UP!  So, I went ahead.


At the security management office, I witnessed what I was conscientiously avoiding with my clients as a service provider.  Have you ever heard of the phrase, "Customer is King"?  I am a long-time customer and patron of the mall.  Experiencing such poor service and abysmal customer relations is a pure, unadulterated form of disappointment.

When I was recounting what happened, my voice began to increase in decibels.  I explained to them that it's not because of anger or misplaced resentment.  It was frustration!  Instead of being apologetic, the person (customer service-in-charge) who received me was defensive.   Instead of putting on effort to pacify me (the long-time customer and patron of the mall) or quell my discontent (so as not to proceed with a formal complaint and slide this incident altogether), he further agitated me.  As such, I became even more determined to express what I felt and thought as a ridiculous policy to the mall's management.  I also felt this nagging feeling to convey my disappointment on the customer service-in-charge's remission in proper customer relations.

Imagine hearing the following things from the customer service-in-charge (they were spoken in Filipino and these are translations) - "We do not let people take pictures because they might copy our decorations.  From what mall are you?", and  "If you want to take pictures, you have to ask for a formal permission."

I restrained myself from shouting at how absolutely moronic these assertions sounded!  First, why would malls copy other mall's decorations?  This is so stupid!  And why would the customer service-in-charge assume that we are from another mall?  Again, this is so stupid!  Second, why would you put up decorations and not let people take photographs unless a formal permission is secured?  Wow!  If this is true, what a complete load of crap!  Almost all tablets and cellular phones have powerful cameras.  Hence, if you will observe people passing by the mall, most of them are clicking their gadgets to take snapshots of the decorations.  Would you stop them?  Let us say that a group of tourists are taking pictures beside the Christmas Tree.  Would you stop them because according to the "alleged" policy of the mall, taking pictures is not allowed?  That if they want to take those pictures, they have to get a permit?  I do not have enough words to tell you how crazy, cretinous, boneheaded, and stupid this "alleged" policy is.

Here are the clinchers - the things I find most outrageous.  First:  the security personnel lied about the incident.  The cutsomer service-in-charge said that the security personnel reported that I was taking pictures of stores.  When I heard this, I was so indignant that my hands are shaking from utter disbelief.  I showed them my camera and the three pictures I took.  My irrefutable proof.  They were Christmas decorations.  And, why would I take pictures of stores?  The security personnel did not check what I shot when he interrupted me and while on the discussion.  He apparently told a blatant lie to his superiors.  I can't help but question - what kind of security group does the mall have now? 

Second:  when I asked who made this policy, the customer service-in-charge said that it's from their Marketing.  My goodness!  Wouldn't a picture depicting the beautiful decoration featured in a blog generate public interest?  Wouldn't that interest translate into people going to the mall to see the actual decorations?  Wouldn't those people translate into sales of stores inside the mall?  Revenues!  Isn't this what marketing is all about?

It is probably my fault!  I overestimated the mall's capacity in providing excellent customer service and relations.


Other bloggers would have ranted on how bad the experience was from a mall that's rather considered high-end thus, is expected with a high-end kind of customer service and relations.  Some may even irrationally lambast the mall's security personnel.  And on the far end of the spectrum where exaggeration dwell, other bloggers would have campaigned for people not to shop at that mall.

As you can see, I chose to present the facts, lay my story, and my sincere and honest opinion.  I did the proper thing and filed a complaint on paper.  If the mall chose to respond to my complaint, it would show that they care about their customers and value their customers' experiences inside their mall.  That would be great!  If not, you can draw the conclusion.

If you were in my shoes, what would you have done?


  1. I also had quite the same experience. But the security personnel who approached me was not disrespectful but not apologetic either. It was at the Enterprise Bldg in Makati. I asked my friend to take a picture of me with the bldg's christmas decor as my background. I was kinda disappointed too. What could be their reason?

    1. They just ruin the fun and experience, don't they? I guess they are just protecting the nearby establishments (building tenants) that may be captured on film. But why do they put up decors in those spots if people could not even take snapshots of them? Sounds stupid to me, really!

      They should have put up specific spots where people could actually take pictures like what Megamall, Market Market, and Glorietta are doing. These malls are sensible enough to provide their customers with great experiences and memories. I like the fire place setup of Megamall and Market Market some years back that's complete with a live Santa Claus where people (especially kids) can click away to their hearts' content. Now, that's excellent customer service, don't you think?