Starting on Friday, Harrod's department store in London will open the doors to its Christmas Grotto, a "snow-covered woodland filled with sparkling surprises that will leave little ones mesmerized" through Christmas Eve, including a visit with Father Christmas himself. But those little ones will need caretakers with fat wallets: Per CNBC, a closer reading of the fine print reveals only those who've attained "Green 2 Tier" status will be eligible for an invite to the grotto. What Green 2 Tier status means is a customer has to have spent at least $2,500 in the store from Jan. 1 of this year to Dec. 31. Plus, an added catch, ostensibly to fend off a rush of last-minute shopping to make sure one's kids get face time with St. Nick: that customer loyalty level of $2,500 had to have been reached by Aug. 26. Harrods, which notes on its site that the grotto is already fully booked, explains it's all about demand.
"Each year, we are overwhelmed by requests for this special experience, which we make every effort to facilitate," a store rep tells CNBC. "We care hugely about making a visit to the grotto as magical as possible, therefore tickets are extremely limited." The Guardian reports that locals who've long made the grotto a holiday tradition are ticked about the elite invites, but following that ire, Harrods is now giving out a total of 160 free tickets drawn from a "wishing well" to non-Green 2 Tier patrons; the rep tells CNBC this isn't "a response to customer reactions of any kind." The Guardian did the math, showing the 160 lower-tiered tickets make up less than 4% of the visits with Santa. "Harrods is behaving like the Grinch who stole Christmas," says one dad who's brought his teen son since he was a baby. The Metro notes in 1955, when the grotto opened, the experience was free; now it's $25 per kid. (Read more Harrods stories.)