I ordered my weekly vice - a medium banana cream pie Blizzard at Dairy Queen - on Sunday.
The clerk who was more than polite charged me $3.49.
I told him he had the order wrong as I wanted a medium Blizzard.
He politely said that was what he rung up.
As he handed me my change, I glanced at the receipt and told him that he had indeed undercharged me since a medium Blizzard was $3.99.
Before he could answer my eyes caught the imprinted “10% senior discount.”
“How old do you think I am?” I asked.
A quick thinker, the clerk replied that it was a discount for being a regular customer.
I then told him I wanted to pay full price, period. He obliged. It was a cordial exchange but it underscores something that is horribly wrong about age-based discounts in general.
If anyone at the counter on Sunday should be offered a discount on a product it should have been the clerk and not me.
Those of us who are over 55 years of age - I’m 56 - have it much better off in general financially than those under 55.
If you doubt that, consider the numbers complied by the U.S. Census Bureau. From 1984 to 2009, the median net worth by head of household for those 55 to 64 increased 10 percent to $162,065 and was up 42 percent for those 65 and older to $170,494.
Meanwhile every other age group dropped. Those from ages 45 to 54 saw their net worth fall 10 percent to $101,651, those 35 to 44 saw a 44 percent retreat in net worth dropping to $39,601, and the age group of the clerk - 35 and younger - tumbled a sobering 68 percent to $3,662.
And even from 2002 to 2009 older people fared much between with the median household of 45 years or older making gains while those younger dropped in net worth.
Like every generality, there are definitely seniors out there that are in a world of serious hurt financially. But by and large when it comes to net worth, those struggling the most by far are younger than 35 years of age.
For every Mark Zuckerburg there are a million decent, hardworking young people who are toiling making Blizzards or driving truck with a wealth level significantly below that of 32 years ago.
And in terms of constant dollars, we are all probably less wealthy when it comes to median calculations.
Student discounts, on the other hand, do indeed for the most part go to people who have less wealth and logically less cash.
Businesses such as Dairy Queen should feel free to price their products as they wish. It is a free marketplace for the most part. If it is done for altruistic reasons then it generally doesn’t make sense to give older people as a whole a break. Even in the economic mess we have today, older people for the most part are better off than any other age group.
I may find myself one day asking for senior discounts - if they are still offered.
But for now I don’t see the fairness in getting a break not based on high volume purchasing or being a loyal and constant customer but simply because I have significantly more years on me than the clerk who I doubt has a wealth level or earning power anything close to mine.
There’s nothing immoral about discounts targeted at specific groups of people nor anything wrong about taking them. It’s just that as a whole they just don’t make sense.
I can afford to pay $3.99 for a Blizzard.
It’s another question as to whether I really need a Blizzard at any price.
This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 209-249-3519.