About a year ago, when paying for movie tickets, I received a larger than expected amount of change for my $20. I checked the price categories and realized that the teenager behind the box office window had charged a senior rate for two tickets. At first I was put off by this. After all, there was only one conclusion to be drawn. I didn’t tell him I was a senior. I didn’t request a lower price ticket. He had decided on the basis of one glance at my face that I was a senior. “Aargh!” to quote Charlie Brown. My feelings were hurt, that is, until I realized that I had $5 more in my pocket than I had expected after making the transaction (which I spent several times over in the concession stand). This allowed me to recover fairly quickly from the slight.
I now happily request the senior rate for movie tickets, but is this right? According to Wikipedia, the senior rate is “a discount offered to customers who are above a certain age, typically 50, 55, or 60; the exact age varies with the business or setting. The rationale for a senior discount is that the customer is assumed to be retired, and/or have a limited income, and/or living on a budget.”
According to a 2009 Census Bureau publication, “Between 2007 and 2008, real median income was statistically unchanged for households maintained by a person 65 years old and over but declined for households maintained by people of all other age group categories.” So in reality, people like me are getting discounts, when we may be in the group that needs them the least. It’s not helping anyone else if I turn down the cheaper movie ticket, but it does give me pause. What does one do to change things so that those who make less get the cheaper tickets? I’m sure there are many more senior perks out there, even though this is the only one I’ve encountered, perks that would better belong to people who were not close to reaching seniorhood.
A few years ago I had a similar experience on a ferry in Connecticut. The Generation Y ticket person issued me a senior ticket without asking. The discount was substantial, but it wasn’t anything like altruism that moved me to object quite indignantly. It was pure vanity–the whole line was watching me and they clearly thought I was wacko.
I know there’s no justice in pricing. The real question is, Why do we care about these little offenses?
Funny you should mention ferry. In my yoga class yesterday, a friend said, “You really do need to take advantage of the ferry discounts,” but she was referring to Washington ferries.