I recently featured questions on whether an establishment has to offer discounts to seniors and whether stores and restaurants have the right to change the values of their senior citizen discounts at will. This topic heated up my inbox:
Q: I recently found a list of stores that offer senior discounts online. A well-known department store chain was listed as giving 50 percent off purchases to those ages 50 and older. I went to this store and asked for the discount, as I am older than 50. They said they don't have a senior discount. They said another person also asked for it.
A: I'd be wary of any unofficial claims you might find online saying that a store is offering half-price discounts, that's a significant savings to potentially offer to half the population. How would the store stay in business? The best way to find out if a store offers a senior discount is to inquire at the store itself. Don't rely on unsubstantiated, unverified lists.
Q: My wife and I were eating breakfast at a small mom-and-pop restaurant in Hannibal, Mo. We finished our meal and headed to pay our bill. I asked the lady if they offered a senior citizen discount. She pointed to a sign behind the cash register: “Senior citizen discount: Must be at least 80 years old and accompanied by both parents.”
A: These readers weren't the only ones who sent in humorous stories about senior discounts. Here's another one:
Q: In the mid-'80s, I was in the Coast Guard stationed in Miami, home of senior early bird restaurant specials and discounts. At the time, a group of senior citizens was fighting an apartment complex in court. The seniors complained that the complex was giving “yuppie” discounts to people 20-40 years of age. The seniors argued that it was discrimination and unfair to them. The news showed a courtroom of seniors holding signs and chanting.
While the judge agreed, before he made a ruling, he also stated that if the county couldn't have yuppie discounts, then seniors couldn't have discounts either, as that was discriminating against yuppies.
The senior citizens' action group dropped the complaint. I laughed out loud! I try to take advantage of military discounts when I can, but don't complain if I can't.
Smart Living Tip: Establishments are not required to give senior discounts or any other kind of group-related discount for that matter. Promotions like these can come and go.