Memorial Day 2013
An Elder in Exile

What About Senior Discounts?

Yesterday morning, I received an email from a man who occasionally sends me a link to a website, essay or news story that is related to the kinds of things I write about here.

His email signature includes a link to his blog crowsperch where, until a couple of weeks ago, he had not written anything since 2011. His sig also includes this:

Tom Delmore

Wondering why I'd not done so when I have received past emails from Mr. Delmore, I tracked down a bit more about him. His blog tells us this:

I was born and live in Seattle, the youngest of 11 and I am an identical twin. I have been writing poetry, successfully and unsuccessfully since I was 17.

Delmore's next-to-last 2011 blog post expands on this:

”I was reminded that I have not written here for quite awhile. So a quick update. I got divorced and moved to Seattle and some healing. My latest book Tell them that you saw me but you didn't see me saw is being published by Moon Pie Press at the end of the month.”

You'll find that book with a poem sample at the Moonpie Press website. There is another, A Poultice for Belief at Amazon although currently unavailable. Librarything has another of his books, Child is Working to Capacity.

You never know who you'll meet on the interwebs and it's nice to know a bit about the people who are kind enough to write and give me suggestions.

What Delmore sent is a blog post at the Arts Journal website asking, Why do Seniors Get Discounts?

Since that essay, by Michael Rushton, is about pricing of the arts, there is a bunch of discussion in the post about elder poverty past and present, Social Security, Medicare and redistribution of wealth before he gets to an interesting thought about us old folks:

”...many discounts we observe in the market are targeted at seniors not because they are poorer but because evidence suggests they are careful shoppers, mindful of prices, searching for deals.

“The discounts at cinemas may be the result of (misdirected?) altruism by the owners, but it also could simply be a realization of different willingness-to-pay by seniors, a group that is easily identified and segmented by the presenter.

“Seniors pay less for groceries than non-seniors who shop at the very same stores, not because of discounts labelled [sic] “seniors discount” but because they take advantage of coupons, and random sales.

"In that case, the store recognizes different willingness-to-pay by a group but employs indirect price discrimination to provide the discount.”

Mr. Rushton, I believe, is on to something.

We old people have a lifetime behind us of purchasing mistakes due to carelessness, lack of knowledge and lack of time when we were working and raising a family.

Now, in retirement we have more time than younger people together with the internet that makes comparison shopping so easy.

Way back in 2005, I wrote about a TGB reader's and my own first senior discounts as a rite of passage into elderhood. Mine had a been a movie theater discount and I routinely ask for them now.

But except for movies, mostly I forget to inquire. Some elders, however, refuse discounts even when freely offered. On that 2005 post, Millie Garfield of My Mom's Blog left this story in the comments:

”I was waiting in line at the movies one day when the woman in front of me said to the cashier, 'you gave me too much change back.' The cashier's response was that was the senior rate.

“The customer was so mad she insisted on paying the full price! I guess she was not a senior and was insulted that she was taken for one.”

Mr. Rushton wrote his blog post to refute another that quite forcefully stated it's not elders who need discounts, but millennials:

”You’ve seen them on the bus, in museums, and at movie theaters: senior discounts. As a reward for being old, senior citizens pay a quarter less for bus fare, a small fortune less for movie tickets, and receive discounts generally all over the place.

“If you’re a twentysomething, or part of what some journalists have colorfully called “the screwed generation,” you may be wondering: why not me?


“It's Millennials, not seniors, that are vulnerable today. Yet it's still the seniors that receive discounts on public services and benefit from price discrimination by private companies.

“So if you’re a twentysomething, the next time you see an adorable old lady paying less bus fare with her senior discount, demand that you receive the discount instead of her. Tell the driver it’s the screwed Millennial discount.”

Pretty much everyone who's not in the one percent is having financial difficulties since the financial collapse in 2008. How do you feel about elders being the only generation that is routinely offered discounts?

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marc Leavitt: On Sleeping In


I routinely forget to ask for the routinely offered senior discounts, too. But if my pharmacist offered one I'd be all over it.

We qualify for and take senior discounts but feel a bit guilty. After a lifetime of thrift and caution, we have plenty of money for our future (knock on wood). Because the money is sheltered in IRAs, it doesn't show on our tax return so our taxes are minuscule. Further friends in the same situation qualify for steep property tax reductions due to their income being sheltered.

What is one to do? It seems silly to reject the discounts but it just doesn't seem right to me. We compromise and help support a friend in college, sending her a monthly check which is more than any discounts we receive. The young need help!

And students. And handicapped too. For years I qualified for a student discount. Boy did I use that. Then, I qualified for a handicapped discount on public transportation. That's two more for the non-seniors.

In the spirit of accepting something good about enduring old age and it's losses, I welcome any discount offered. I figure I've so far provided 18 consumers to the marketplace, who must pay full price.

One of the best deals around is the Golden Eagle Pass for $10 that gets you in free at any Nat'l Park. We made full use of this when we tooled around in an RV, but, I often thought that a discount for families to entice them into our glorious parks (and away from Theme Parks) would ensure a new generation of citizens who might fight to save the NPs in the future. My guess is that most elders driving RVs into a Park could afford full price.

I'm happy to get a discount for any reason. I plan my grocery shopping around it. My favorite grocery in my town, Andy's, not a chain, offers a 5% discount to everyone on Tuesdays. I think offering offering a discount day to all works well. As for bus passes here, there are passes for seniors and the disabled, kids under 5 go free. I don't go to movie houses much anymore, even with the discount. I wait and rent a DVD.

The Kaiser Family Foundation released a report May 2013 saying that more seniors than previously thought are living in poverty. Instead of 1 in 10 seniors subsisting at poverty levels, it's actually 1 in 7. If you live in D.C. its 1 in 4.

However, there are substantially more women of any age or race living in poverty. Maybe there should be discounts for being female after all we still make only 77 cents on the dollar next to men.

To sum up (1) I appreciate a discount for any reason and, (2) I don't like it when Mr. Rushton and others setting up those who have less against each other. His time would be better spent supporting good education, job creation, and shoring up social security.

Senior discounts are legal!

I am very happy with senior discounts. I have a senior 1/2 NYC subway card, ride the train there w/discount & generally take advantage of everything offered.

But then I have always clipped food coupons, loyalty cards, etc...just a smart way to spend one's hard-earned income.

I think it's worth mentioning that millenials may be screwed, but they were not screwed by seniors. They were screwed by corporations that shipped jobs overseas, broke unions and were therefore able to pay lower wages with few benefits. That would not change if seniors stopped getting benefits. Direct your anger where it belongs.

There are only three local markets in the closest town that is 18 miles away. There are no busses.

Of the three markets, none offer age, or any discounts beyond occasional "specials."

Once weekly, sometimes longer, I drive to town, do my food shopping and whatever
other town-chores are necessary, and drive home....

Once weekly drives of approximately 36 miles does save on vehicle fuel costs....

Everything else that is enjoyable, is at home. I play music for my neighbors in our RV community at our daily "Happy Hour", spend way too many hours on my computer, and sit with my big
Maine Coon cat watching TV...

I am healthy, life is Good!
Fortunately, I am very frugal so really do not need a lot of discounts...

Still have enough memory to reflect on the days when I was a youngish mother with two kids, mortgage, car payment, and hard working husband and feeling envy as I watched seniors take advantage of their discounts. Now I am there and usually forget to ask! Maybe that is the way it is supposed to work.

Discounts draw customers in. We use senior discounts, frequent shopper discounts, discounts on certain days at our favorite restaurant, discounts because we belong to a certain group or have a certain credit card - they are more for marketing than anything. Often the senior discounts are for times when the business - for example, our movie theater - has fewer customers.

Hey, any discount I can get is most welcome and I accept it with gratitude.

I remember my first senior discount. It was the day before my 50th birthday and I was attending the Renaissance Fair. I mentioned to the girl selling the tickets that I should have waited until the next day to purchase my ticket so I could take advantage of the discount. She smiled and gave me the discount then. I felt like I had won the lottery.

I must confess that it did bother me a bit when I no longer had to ask for them and they were given to me automatically after looking at my face. ;-)

The creativity and thoughtfulness that finds these interesting topics is appreciated. The only thing that I can say on topic is that my most memorable senior discount moment was when it was granted to me without even asking for it (at McDonald's).

Some old people can really use the discounts and some of us don't need them.

I am in fortunate circumstances, so I try to help others when I can. Example: I tip well, especially when it looks like my server is a poor student, a older person still needing to work, or a struggling young mother.

You are right, Ronni, some of our young people are in very tough circumstances.

As a pensioner, living on a fraction of the income I had when I was a salary-earner, I am extremely thankful for senior discounts.
Yes, the non-earning youngsters are desperately short of cash too. But that could be remedied by offering them decent unemployment benefits and a deferment of student loan repayment until they are in full employment. Better still, why not scrap the whole stupid system and replace it with a Guaranteed Minimum income for all? It would simplify everything and almost certainly cost the Government a lot less than the current system.

I gratefully accept any senior discounts I encounter, but I don't get out. My favorite one is the lifetime senior pass to all national parks and federal recreation areas (one time $10 fee and then free for life. Also gains free admission for anyone I'm with). I go to a movie maybe once a year and am always grateful for the discount there. I don't know how anyone affords a movie and modest refreshments these days.

No, I don't need the discounts. But who doesn't enjoy a little special recognition once in a while?

I love my senior discount on local public transit. One of the community organizations I work with has just won FREE public transit for young people. Part of their argument has been that, if we want to make cities sustainable, we better get the kids hooked on buses young. (The fare box never pays for transit anyway.)

My first senior discount was at a hardware store -- they jump the gun at 62. I was happy indeed.

I've been looking the other way for years as my husband steps up to the ticket window and says "Two seniors." People who don't accept the senior discount are unenlightened at best.

Here in Israel, discounts abound (travel, movies, museum admissions, as examples) for students, soldiers, and seniors. Also, for certain credit card holders for certain events. (Too complicated for me to bother thinking about.) Haven't seen discounts for purchases of items.

I strongly agree with Nancy WIck. The young adults today are facing the same level of unemployment in our nation as I did when I was their age.

Makes me think of Malcolm Gladwell's book (forgot which one) where he suggests that "when" you grow up as per the economy (and other factors out of your own control) greatly influence your ability to earn, learn, and be successful.

Most seniors DO need discounts. I don't agree at all with your internet friend and his assessment on who needs more help. I wish we all could read what he has to say when he is over 60.

My first senior discount was at the SPCA when I adopted my pet cat Max. He would have been worth full price!

Since then our SPCA has a program Seniors for Seniors. An almost free adoption of an older animal by an older person. Purrs and wags!

I love the Seniors for Seniors pet programs. If I'm ever in the market for another cat, I intend to do that.

We'll take any discount we can find. As a youngster, I envied seniors getting breaks unavailable to me. Now I understand. The next big event in the lives of oldsters is death. Youngsters have a long time to develop and enjoy their lives. Why not let the old folks have a bit of extra 10 percent off pleasure near the end of theirs?

I will, also, take any discount I can find. We are members of the local hospital's Senior Circle and they work with local businesses to get discounts for seniors. Some of them are even useful to us. The others we ignore just like we ignore the coupons for those grocery items we don't use. If these businesses could identify other age groups as readily as they can elders they would offer discounts to them also.

I haven't always asked for or taken a senior discount even though I certainly qualify at 76. I guess I figured that, since I'm still working, there are probably others who need it more than I do. While I agree that many among the Millennials have been hammered by difficult economic times, they have a huge advantage that we elders definitely lack: they are YOUNG! The economy is improving (albeit unevenly and not nearly fast enough) and there will be jobs again (although maybe not the kinds of jobs they envisioned or hoped for).

Senior discounts are probably needed by many elders and may soon be more significant to me. I may have reached some kind of personal epiphany this holiday weekend as I struggled to complete a work project over a 3-day period (good thing the weather was crummy). Maybe it's time to fully retire! Although I haven't decided when (or even if) yet, I have determined that I don't want to spend much more of my life trying to figure out complex provider application forms. Without a paycheck I'll NEED every senior discount I can get!

It's little enough compared to the perks rich folks get.

Aside from the usual discounts - seniors, students, children - we use the veteran's discounts.

Some retailers use senior discounts to bolster business during slow times, mid-week or daytime when retired older persons are able to shop.

Parks and historic sites often offer senior discounts during the school year to even out the visitor flow.

I so do not agree with this outlook. We, in this country, are so in denial of the aging process. Senior discounts are not discrimination or ageism, for God sakes! It is a recognition that most seniors live on their social security and are not receiving an active income, as do those who are still in the workforce. In Europe, not only do seniors get discounts, but in queues, young people give up their place/seats, etc. to their elder. How can we demand respect for the aging process in our country when we do not even have enough respect of our own aging process and continue to pretend it does not exist, that a twenty something is equal to a seventy something? Give me a break! Can you, the seventy something, still party all night and work all day? So let the twenty somethings reap the benefits of their youth and let us reap the benefits given to us because of our age!

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