Where’s my discount? Sam wonders why seniors get special treatment

I confess I was prepared for it, the dreaded seniors’ discount. But also, thrifty me says “yay,” seniors’ discount.

Years earlier, at the St. Mary’s quarry, my friend Rob had been given the seniors’ discount. We all laughed. We were shocked. But it turns out, it starts there at 50. Wow!

We were still thinking 50 was the new 40, not the new 65.

And then on sabbatical in New Zealand, a local cinema started the seniors’ discount at 50. I wouldn’t want to be the one making judgements about who to ask for that one.

So far though I’d been skating under the “potential senior” radar.

But this April that ended. I posted to Facebook, “Are you shopping at Shoppers Drug Mart today for any particular reason? OMG. Funniest way ever to ask if I qualify for the seniors discount. First time ever anywhere! Must be dean-ing!”

Turns out it’s 55. They were a few months early but not by much.

Lots of places, I’ve since found out, start the seniors’ discount at 55. See the Y ad below which turned up in my newsfeed after my birthday. It’s in London though, not Guelph. Guelph doesn’t appear to have a seniors rate at the Y.

I was just chatting with a friend about seniors’ discounts that start at 50 or 55. We both want the discount but hardly identify with “senior.” My son said the same is true with “youth” pricing. He doesn’t feel particularly youthful some days. I like his suggestion of “alternative adult” to cover both “seniors” and “youth.”

But why do we get a discount anyway? I’m not retired and I won’t be for some time. In fact, I’m earning more than I ever have. I plan to work for another ten years or so. For the case against see here.

“On average, citizens who earn the most money and have the most net wealth are 50 and over. So why is it this group that’s entitled to discounts at the movies, supermarkets, hotels, and nearly everywhere else you turn, while the young and poor pay full price?” From Why seniors don’t deserve a discount.

Whatever you think of them, here’s a relatively up-to-date guide to Seniors discounts in Canada.

What do you think of seniors’ discounts? Looking forward to getting them?

8 thoughts on “Where’s my discount? Sam wonders why seniors get special treatment

  1. I’m rubbing my hands together at all the free stuff! lol.

    In the UK, I think you get to ride the bus for free after 65.

    I’m not sure what to think about the economics of a blanket age thing, but I do know a lot of the seniors lined up in my shoppers on the right day don’t look super affluent, so I think it’s a good thing.

  2. It’s interesting to read on a couple of websites that senior discounts date to the 1930s precisely because elderly citizens were hit hard by the Great Depression, as it wiped out the savings of those with limited opportunities to replace the savings and make more. The website I lingered on noted that old age is not as precarious now, thanks to a century of better policy, but “their income sources often don’t keep pace with inflation, and medical expenses or time spent in a nursing home can quickly wipe out a retired person’s savings. Younger people who lose their jobs, savings, or home can often rebuild their finances, but a retiree’s lower income potential due to outdated skills or poor health doesn’t afford him or her the same luxury. A financial crisis can be catastrophic for an older adult.” And in a moment strangely reminiscent of Aristotle’s observation that the elderly seem to act miserly, the blog post says, “Senior discounts are no longer just a kindness extended to a disadvantaged group. They are an important marketing tool. Seniors are notoriously careful shoppers, who take advantage of coupons and discounts. They are keenly aware of inflation, as they’ve seen the cost of living increase exponentially during their lifetimes. Business who want to attract seniors must offer discounts, especially if their competitors are offering them. In some industries, like movies and restaurants, it would be financial suicide for one business to drop the discounts. Also, like military discounts, many people view senior discounts as an expression of respect.”

  3. Most of the businesses in my US city start senior discounts at age 65. Seniors here use public transportation for free, receive discounts at some pharmacies on certain days, and can see some free movies. I’m probably missing most of them. I’m not a senior.

    My mom appreciated these discounts. She didn’t have much money.

  4. I plan to keep working for a while, but I’m also going to use the discounts because I’m underemployed and have been for all my working life–in the San Francisco Bay Area. (And I resent the argument that “seniors are better off so let’s do away with them.”)

    I think one of our Lutheran Bishops had the right idea when he advised affluent people to pass up the discounts.

  5. I don’t see anything wrong with it. Sometimes I forget to ask for the discount. Not everyone earns/saved on a middle class income.

  6. We really truly have to remember of people laid off their jobs…and unable to get work due to ie. ageism or whatever.

    1. Sure. I get that. But that’s true for lots of 20 somethings too. As a group 20 somethings are a lot less well off than seniors. I don’t mind the poor paying less. I just think age is a weird proxy for that.

      1. You are right. In Calgary we had (not sure if we still do), reduced transit fare passes for low-income residents.

        I won’t be saying to get rid of the seniors’ discounts because it’s a different mindset when one retires….it’s decoupling one’s finances, instead of saving money, ’cause the govn’t requires it eventually. ie. RRSP: –> RIFF. It’s not area that many of us are financially astute about.

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