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OPINION: Retailers, don't tick off senior citizens

Columnist Wendy King has suggestions, and a warning, for retailers — particularly Shoppers Drug Mart — in terms of respecting our elders
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Respect your elders! Haven’t we all been raised with that adage?

Well, we should have been.

In today’s society, it seems to me many senior citizens are getting left behind as technology races forward and gets more complicated.

I’m not talking about all older people, because many are totally computer-savvy and managing just fine.

Still, I am going to hazard a guess there are many others who struggle with the fast-paced changes that occur day after day.

As with most things, we handle things pretty well until that one change hits us the wrong way and we get agitated and need to vent. Straw meet camel.

I call that Tuesdays!

I am angry that Shoppers Drug Mart has changed its senior discount policy so that you must be 65 years old to get it. Previously, they allowed it for those 55 and up if you had the Optimum card. 

It's unclear when the policy changed or was modified, but customers are just now realizing it. They get to the checkout and realize they are no longer allowed the seniors discount.

The company's corporate statement says: "A senior discount in our stores is offered at 65 in our stores although some of our locations may be 55 at the discretion of the store owner.”

So, company policy isn’t really company policy then? It's a store-to-store policy? That seems confusing.

Shoppers Drug Mart is a leading retail pharmacy chain in Canada, owned by Loblaws, with 1,300 stores, so clearly doesn’t need me to give it  consumer advice. But, I will anyway. And this is for all retailers!

Do not tick off senior citizens. They will take you down.

Do not disrespect your elders who helped you build your company to where it is today.

Do not suggest your customers misunderstood your corporate policy. They know what the sales are, what days are the busiest, your hours and, believe me, they know what their discounts have always been. Do not treat them like they are stupid.

They have already accepted bagging their own purchases and self-checkouts or agreed to wait in endless lines for the one cashier who is actually working at the till.

Do not — I repeat, not — disrespect them.

More free advice for other retailers...

Start really advertising your seniors’ discount days! Make it worth a person’s while to switch their business.

This is not meant to be anti-Shoppers, because it seems many retailers are doing the same kind of things to increase profit and reduce overhead. They cater to youth with apps, downloads and digital coupons — anything to avoid customer service.

According to Statistics Canada, as of July 2022, almost one in five Canadians were at least 65 years of age or older. I would think it might be wise to cater to them.

At least, offer 20 per cent off.