I frequent many restaurants—take-out and dine-in—throughout my geographic area: all of Delaware, Southeastern Pennsylvania, and Northeastern Maryland. I’ve been doing it for years.
But recently, beginning about a year or so ago, cashiers—in those establishments that grant one—seem to have stopped asking me the magic question; “Are you a senior citizen?” They now tend to assume that I am one and just automatically apply a 10% “senior” discount.
Trying to guess someone’s age is dangerous. Some people, while only in their mid-50s, look like they’re closing in on their 80s. Others in their mid-70s appear to be no older than their mid-50s.
I fully understand that some folks—especially of the female variety—may become fumingly livid at cashiers who even hint that one may have crossed the age border of geezer-hood.
But I’m not one of them. No one is going to mistake me for a mid-50s youngster. I look my age (70s range) and I’m proud of the fact.
And more importantly—at least to me—while I certainly appreciate the gesture, I am securely retired financially with a solid pension and ample medical insurance coverage. To say the least, I do not need a senior citizen discount.
This past Thursday afternoon, about 4:30ish, I stopped at a Boston Market restaurant. After I had placed my order, a woman, with her three well-behaved children in tow, placed their order.
From some of the comments made by the children, this outing was a much awaited and well deserved treat. But mom’s comments made it obvious that her income required thriftiness.
My order total was just a tad under $11—I ordered extra cornbread and a dessert. The cashier automatically applied a “senior” discount of 10% to my tab, reducing my total by about $1.10.
Mom’s order total was $26.78. It included 3-children’s chicken dinners, 3-desserts, 3-glasses of white milk, and 1-regular side of Mac & Cheese (for mom).
Mom told her children that she wasn’t hungry because of her having eaten a late lunch. They believed her: I didn’t. I suspected that it had more to do with her financial need for “thriftiness.”
As I wrote above, I don’t need a senior citizen discount. And I’m not alone, either. And while I gladly acknowledge a sizable number of seniors who do need a discount, a large segment of seniors just like me do NOT.
The woman in line with her three children could have used a discount, but neither Boston Market, nor any other restaurant can afford to give discounts to their customers based on financial need. I fully understand this.
Folks, freebies do not exist in the business world. Neither are there any such things as compassionate discounts. Whatever a business gives to one segment of its customer base, it must recover from another segment.
Yes, it’s true that you will pay less at places like Sam’s Club, Costco, and Target. But, this is because volume sales make discounts a business incentive, not because the volume discounters are benevolent.
In order for Boston Market to give me, or anyone else for that matter, an unneeded senior discount, they have to increase prices for all non-senior citizen meals.
Seniors constitute the fastest growing segment in American society. And businesses—not just restaurants, either—need to stop giving discounts to people just because they’ve grown old.