Chipping Away at Senior Discounts

June 3, 2009 by  
Filed under Spending

One of the benefits of being a baby boomer is that we know more than most of the younger people.

OK – I take that statement back. The collapse of the housing and credit bubbles and our pathetic savings rates are evidence that many baby boomers didn’t know much at all about personal finance.

What I meant to say is that our advancing years qualify us for a variety of “senior discounts.” Some of those discounts kick in at age 55. Unlike some of my contemporaries who are too embarrassed to even join AARP, I have no hesitation in using my age to my economic advantage.

Alas, things may be changing in the world of senior discounts. 

A year ago, my 55+ status allowed me to score discount movie tickets at both Regal and Carmike Cinemas. The 30% savings per ticket actually meant something to me and Mrs. ToughMoneyLove. We could see a movie in the theater for less than the purchase price of a DVD.

Not so anymore.

On my last visit to a Regal cinema, the senior discount starting age had been quietly bumped to 60. I was not happy. I mentally decided at that moment to exclusively patronize Carmike. Surely it would let me in at my usual discount.

Not to be. Carmike actually increased its senior discount age to 65.

This would not be so harsh if I hadn’t already been exploiting these discounts for three years.  To have them taken away from someone who watches his money – and without warning – is not nice.

Does this signify a trend? I wonder. If Regal and Carmike are trying to discourage baby boomers from going to the theater, their strategy is working. The price of two movie tickets now easily exceeds the purchase price of a DVD. We have a large screen HD TV. I am happy to wait for the movie to be released for on-demand or DVD viewing. I make an exception now and then for certain movies with high value special effects, but those will be rare.

Maybe the theater owners see this as payback for baby boomer contributions to our economic collapse. What have we done to deserve a discount, they wonder?

That is a fair question. The problem is that you gave us the discount and now you’ve said – “you are no longer old enough.”  I may be older but my memory still works fine. This I will remember, Regal and Carmike. With marketing like that, online content is going to bring you down.

Is this a mere blip or do you think that senior discounts in general will fade away?


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5 Responses to “Chipping Away at Senior Discounts”
  1. cjbr549 says:

    I’m wondering if the Military discount will go the same way. I haven’t been able to use mine since I retired from the reserves a few years ago (Guard/Reserve retirement does not start till age 60), but I used to use it whenever it was available.

  2. Mortalmombat says:

    Agree that movie theaters are making a disastrous mistake alienating boomers by raising the age for a senior discount. Boomers have been loyal movie theater goers for decades…we grew up on going to the movies. Our kids NEVER go to the theaters…and I say that with confidence with a son who was a film major and watches everything on HD-DVD. Mr. TML’s attitude and voting with his feet is exactly the “Boomer” attitude in spades–no more movie going for us! Let the theaters go under…they clearly don’t grasp the value of one of their mainstay clienteles. This is the flipside of McDonald’s terrific marketing during the recession. What a thought! Attract customers with even more bargains, rather than drive the few customers away by taking away their bargains. Here’s to a night before the big screen TV!

  3. connie says:

    I go mainly once or twice a year and its not worth it.I usually just
    wait and I like the refreshments at home better

  4. Tom says:

    The thing is, 60 years old is just not as old as it used to be.

    In generations past, making it to 60 or 70 was significant, a sign of wisdom, intelligence, and physical fitness. This is why, world-wide, all cultures of the past have revered their old-timers; it used to ~mean~ something. If you made it to old age you defied the odds and had earned the respect of those younger than you.

    But now, not so much. Modern medicine and modern laws have diminished the accomplishment of reaching “old age”. Now, go ahead and smoke, you can be irradiated and drugged and have a good chance of having your cancer at least kept under control. Chow down on those cheeseburgers, we’ll just drug away your high blood pressure and heart-disease. And laws now require you to buckle your seat belt and wear a motorcycle. Have you squandered your money or can’t hold a job? That’s ok, we have the social programs to take care of you. All these things mean more and more of those in the “shallow end” of the gene pool survive when previously they wouldn’t have.

    No surprise that senior benefits are going by the wayside, hand in hand with respect. What have the baby boomers – as a generation – really done to deserve either?

  5. Roger says:

    I would guess it’s probably part of a larger trend in eliminating discounts, attempting to increase profits in a down season. Chip away at the margins first (senior discounts, student discounts, etc.) before starting to increase the price for everyone. When people begin spending more again and movie theaters have to find some way to compete, prices will become more competitive.

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