by Joan Trezek:
A well-known proverb says "with age comes wisdom". And savvy seniors know that their years often make them eligible for discounts on services and goods. The really savvy ones realize that sometimes you just have to ask: "Do you give seniors a discount?"
Many seniors recognize that their sheer numbers make them an attractive market segment. So retailers and companies often offer a discount, thereby stimulating demand and increasing volume and revenue. Most seniors, defined loosely as those age 55+, already take advantage of discounts for movie tickets or for trips on BART. However, the broad array of discount possibilities will probably surprise many. For those who are even modestly computer savvy, just typing a keyword phrase "senior discounts for restaurants, supermarkets, clothing" will bring up lots of reading material.
A word to the wise: always confirm your understanding of the guidelines for accessing a discount. Age eligibility varies considerably. Some organizations define senior as 55+, some as 60+, 62+ or 65+. In the case of chain restaurants, etc. with franchisees, there may be some variation in discount policies.
Let's start with those movie and BART tickets. Two of the largest movie houses in the U.S. are Cinemark/Century and Regal, both of which have theaters' officially Senior Day, reduce ticket prices an additional 10%. Regal offers 30% off the regular adult price.
BART has changed the process for buying your green senior BART ticket. Supermarkets no longer sell them. But, fortunately, it is still possible to pay $9.00 for a senior ticket with a value of $24. The hitch is these tickets are available at "customer service booths" within certain BART stations. For example, at the Walnut Creek BART station, they are sold from a modular trailer a short distance from the vending machines and staffed by an agent during specific hours. A significant discount is also available with the new Clipper Cards, which work with various Bay Area transit operators. For example, if you travel by BART into San Francisco and then need MUNI to get to your final destination, your Clipper Card would be the only "ticket" you would need. Senior purchasers must provide proof of age. One site where Senior Clipper cards can be purchased is in the Ferry Building in San Francisco.
AARP is another source of "deals" for seniors. The modest $16.00 membership fee entitles members to discounts on travel, dining, car rentals, health and wellness services and products. The member publications highlight many of these discounts as does the web site, www.aarp.org.
Less well-known is the California Telephone Access Program offered by the California Public Utilities Commission Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program which offers free specialized phones for those who have difficulty hearing, dialing or calling. Those interested can call 1-800-806-1191 or visit www.californiaphones.org for information. An application must be completed and signed off by a certified professional, e.g., physician. These free, specially designed phones make it easy to stay connected with friends, family, healthcare providers.
Regardless of whether you're an opera buff, a theatre junkie, a museum-goer, or an outdoors person, there's a discount for you. Simulcast productions of New York's Metropolitan Opera are shown in select local movie theaters on Saturday mornings with encore performances on Wednesday nights at 6:30 pm. Senior tickets are only $20 for these first-rate performances.
ACT in San Francisco and Berkeley Repertory Theatre offer senior discounts for subscription packages as well as for individual tickets. Single tickets are sold on a space available basis two hours before curtain for ACT and one-hour before at Berkeley Rep. The major Bay Area art museums offer senior pricing as does the Academy of Sciences. More details are available on their Web sites.
For the outdoors folks, consider these opportunities. Golfers can find online discounted tee times by visiting www.golfpage.com. For hikers, birdwatchers, fishermen/women the senior membership annual fee of $40.00 is good deal with unlimited day use parking, day pass for one dog, camping discounts, etc. For $175.00 Senior Anglers receive all the basic benefits plus boat launch privileges and an annual fishing permit. More information can be found at www.regionalparksfoundation.org.
Hungry for More?
While many grocery stores also offer online coupons as do casual and fast food restaurants, it is easy to access discounts locally. Lunardi's offers a 5% discount to seniors on Tuesdays and Thursdays, excluding alcohol, tobacco, and dairy products. And, Karen Cordeiro, owner of Danville Old Towne Bakery in the Town & Country Center in Danville, welcomes seniors by offering half-price on a cup of coffee and 10% off their bakery order.