Scotland's older people have hit out at the age discrimination they face while trying to buy goods and services.
One 75-year-old man was told by a sales rep “you can’t go skiing” when he applied for winter sports travel insurance for his forthcoming holiday, while a woman said she has repeatedly faced rudeness from shop assistants if she ventured into a “young person’s” clothing store.
The reports came as an investigation revealed half of over-50s north of the Border have faced age discrimination when trying to buy goods and services.
Age Scotland said 820,000 older people have been patronised or refused products when shopping both in stores and over the phone.
About 45 per cent of Scotland’s 1.8 million over-50s have experienced an unfavourable sales process because of their age, and this rises to 50 per cent for those aged 70-plus, totalling around 312,000 people.
Other examples of discrimination include people being sold premium bank accounts which come with added “extras” – without being told that they are wasting their money because their age makes the additional products on offer, such as insurance cover, invalid. Others are patronised for their age if they do not understand a complicated financial product.
The biggest issue tends to be with insurance products, due to the health and age checks which are necessary.
Logan Steele, general manager of Age Scotland Enterprises, the trading arm of charity Age Scotland, said: “In modern society, discrimination of any kind is completely unacceptable. Age discrimination is not a popular topic in Scotland and has become our dirty secret but over-50s have a right to be treated the same as everybody else.
“It’s not just the physical process of buying products over the counter where discrimination occurs – some older people feel that products and services aren’t tailored enough to meet their needs. Anyone in that age group should pay careful attention to what they are buying and should complain if discrimination occurs.
“Scotland’s population is ageing; by 2021 more than one in five will be over the state retirement age. It’s essential we respect them, and their spending power, when it comes to providing appropriate goods and services.”
“I often feel I get looked up and down when I go into shops which are aimed at younger people,” said Margaret Elliot, 69 from the Borders.
“It is generally clothes shops where there is a big problem, where I might be shopping for younger relatives or for myself. It is very annoying as all of the magazines I read constantly tell me I should shop in a wide range of places, not just those aimed at my age group but, in practice, it is not always a good experience.”
John McLeod, 71, from Edinburgh, added: “As soon as you walk into a shop, you are assessed by the sales staff into one of three categories – someone who is young and interesting to talk to, someone who is young and is likely to buy something and, the third, an older person. The irony is that it is often the older person who has more money to spend.”
Ros Altman, director of Saga, which represents older people, said: “W need to dramatically change attitudes to older people. Chronological age does not mean anything any more.”
Article from New Scotsman