AARP Sucks

I am taking a breather from football long enough to go off about something that has royally pissed me off. Hey, what good is having a blog if I can’t go off in it every now and then?

It is no secret that the Turkey is an old fart, a so-called Baby Boomer, one of those aging drains on society who for the rest of your working lives you’ll be toiling to support via your contributions to dwindling mythical Social Security and Medicare pools. As such, I have a great big beef with our favorite Grey Power lobbyists and dysfunctional support organization, which used to be called the American Association of Retired Persons but is now officially known as simply AARP. (That’s pronounced A-A-R-P, spelled out, rather than sounding like a burp. The ostensibly non-profit organization made the name change so it could sell insurance to people who are not retired.) Notwithstanding their shift to the “progressive” far left, which is anything but representative of the successful members of the mainstream elder segment of our society, I submit that this supposedly non-profit, elder protective organization scams senior citizens in much the same manner as do those nefarious businesses they condemn for doing the same thing.

A Case in Point

Back in 1996, when this Turkey turned 50, I received a membership solicitation from AARP. At the time, there was an option to sign up for lifetime membership for approximately $40, which seemed to be an excellent deal. I went for it.

At that time, not only was AARP offering a package that provided significant discounts for rental cars, hotels, cruises, and so forth, but also their political orientation was much closer to middle-of-the-road with a serious eye toward advancing the needs of the aging population. I considered their views generally representative of mine and, by and large, those of my contemporaries. Thus, a lifetime membership for $40 seemed like a win-win proposition.

The first indication that something was awry came in the form of a membership card with an expiration date in 2007. Say what? I bought a lifetime membership. A lifetime membership expires when I do. Did AARP know something I didn’t? They seemed to know when I was going to turn 50, the minimum age necessary to qualify for membership, having sent me the membership solicitation one month before my 50th birthday. Did they also know when I was going to expire? Back at the time, I got some mileage out of telling that story, but then I quickly forgot about it. Ten years rolled by without giving it more than a passing thought.

When 2007 rolled around, I received an expiration notice from AARP. What the hell? I had paid for a lifetime membership! According to them, my lifetime was up in April 2007! Obviously, I threw the notice in the wastebasket. The notices kept coming. Each month my mailbox would have yet another expiration notice; each month it was immediately transferred to the trash. Finally, today, I received a “reinstatement” offer that would “entitle” me to re-establish my membership for 1, 3, or 5 years at the current going rate ($12.50, $29.50, or $39.95, respectively). I had had enough of this crap, so I scrawled some puerile epithets on the mail-in card and sent it back to AARP in their postage-paid reply envelope. I’m certain that it will quickly make its way into the garbage, but I felt better having done it.

I’m Not the Only Scamee

It gets better. Interestingly enough, without me prompting him and without him knowing anything about my AARP situation, a friend recently mentioned to me that he, too, had paid for a lifetime membership in AARP back in 1996 or 1997 and was also apprised this year that his lifetime had expired. Furthermore, when I mentioned to another friend that I was writing this piece, he told me that he, too, had been hoodwinked similarly. So, my situation is not a fluke. Apparently, this unscrupulous practice is widespread among AARP’s unknowing lifetime members.

Did I miss some fine print somewhere? That print had to be pretty damn fine! As any reader of The Nittany Turkey knows, I’m a cynic and I generally don’t take anything at face value. The word AARP used in the membership solicitation was lifetime. How the hell many different interpretations are there for the word lifetime? Can it mean something less than a lifetime? An approximate lifetime? A sorta lifetime? What? I cannot believe that I would have missed wording such as “until death of the member or 2007, whichever comes first.” The irony here is that AARP regularly decries similar “lifetime” offers made by others as scams against the elderly. I suppose the rules don’t apply to them.

An honorable business—and don’t think for a minute that AARP is not big business—lives by its commitments. If its policies change, grandfathering in (no pun intended) those who have been given deals under old policies is the only equitable and acceptable treatment. Arrogant businesses that fail to uphold commitments certainly do not deserve to have my business. AARP won’t have mine.

Clearly, the AARP’s political philosophies have diverged from mine, so I’m not going to miss them. They’re just not representative of my interests or of those of many from my generation, and I feel that their agenda is in many ways deleterious to the very people they are supposedly supporting. That is my opinion. Furthermore, does AARP exist to support elders or to sell them insurance? Many of their lobbying efforts seem directed at greasing the skids for their insurance rake-off. Therefore, one has to wonder not only about the definition of lifetime, but also about the definition of non-profit in the AARP distorted dictionary. Accordingly, from my perspective, they don’t deserve any more money from me. However, more importantly, they should not be able to abrogate a lifetime membership contract with impunity. I’d still like the discounts, which are what induced me to sign up in the first place.

I have to wonder about exactly how many of their constituents (or former constituents) they’ve screwed over in this manner.

Want More Info?

This Isn’t the Old AARP, by Dale van Atta, Los Angeles Times
On Issues From Medicare to Medication, AARP’s Money Will Be There, Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, Washington Post
AARP Says It Will Become Major Medicare Insurer While Remaining a Consumer Lobby, Robert Pear, New York Times


  1. says

    since we are ranting today:
    you ever buy something on craigslist, or from any private seller in general? This week, i was looking for a new couch. so i told one seller that i would buy their couch. they agreed to sell me said couch. i called back later for directions to pick up the couch. they told me that they had sold the couch to another who just picked it up. i was more stunned then angry.

    on tuesday i was looking for a vacuum cleaner. same story. rage ensued.

    now, while i wholeheartedly agree with hagling (you’ve never seen it done correctly until you are in a middle eastern bazaar. but that’s another story), i find it horribly unethical and borderline immoral to promise somebody a good or service, and then go back on their word.

  2. says

    Most of my experiences with private sellers involve eBay. I’ve never had anyone sell something out from under me there, even though I know that such unethical practices do exist. I’ve been lucky.

    Your experiences might wind up being a blessing in disguise. If those sellers you tried to deal with are so unscrupulous as to violate the essence of a contract, think of how they might have misrepresented the goods they were trying to sell you. If they have no morals with respect to maintaining their commitments, they probably have no morals about any other aspect of their business.


  3. Artificially Sweetened says

    I think it’s fair to say that they didn’t mean YOUR lifetime, but the lifetime of the average capybara.
    My ire is currently directed at children’s electronics manufacturers, who seem to believe that nobody cares if a device fails within days, hours, or minutes of its first use. So I’m not buying any electronics for Christmas this year. Take that, China!
    My experience with, where you arrange to give your stuff to people, is that very frequently someone will say they want an item and then they don’t show up to claim it. I think people line up several takers to ensure that they can offload the item on schedule. I’m not defending the practice. Some people put their own needs first and to hell with common courtesy.

  4. says

    Dear Sweetened,

    Prior to your post, alls I knew about capybaras was that they were the largest rodents on Earth. Thanks to your comment, however, I did some further reading.

    Your assessment of a capybara’s potential AARP membership tenure seems to be accurate. They tend to live 10-12 years. Although they never retire, AARP no longer makes retirement a qualification for membership. I think AARP should aggressively recruit capybaras.

    I gleaned the following fascinating factoids about capybaras in my research:

    • At one time, a capybara ancestor eight times the size of modern-day capybaras roamed the Earth. It would have been larger than a grizzly bear. Now that’s a helluva rodent!
    • In the 16th Century, the Roman Catholic Church declared the capybara to be officially a fish. Therefore, its meat can be eaten during Lent. (Wow, those Catholics are resourceful! Next thing you know, condoms will be declared to be officially prosthetic body parts, so they’ll be acceptable as a method of birth control!)
    • Capybara poison can be added to ice cream to discipline intransigent husbands. However, special dispensation from the Roman Catholic Church might be required.

    Factoids courtesy of the much maligned Wikipedia. (All except for the last one and the parentheticals, anyhow.)

    Damn, if I hadn’t changed the domain name just last night, I might be tempted to rename the blog The Nittany Capybara.

    I have no idea what this has to do with AARP, but what the hell.


  5. Joe says

    Hey. I can see how you are upset about the lifetime thing. Maybe you bought the life insurance from AARP and you can cash in now that your lifetime is over? Surely they will pay up.

    I became eligible to join a few years ago but have not as I , too, feel that their emphasis has drifted way away from my beliefs (and just about everyone I know). So, is it enough to just to no longer send them any more money?

    Souldn’t we be trying to get the word out and actively encourage everyone we know to do the same? Better yet, wouldn’t it be better to establish a new organization that reflects our values and encourage those who believe the same to join? I know we would never stoop to playing such a bogus limited lifetime scam.

    I have no doubt that we can ethically represent the interests of those AARP claims to. What do you think.

  6. Warren says

    If AARP REALLY wanted to do something about the health care mess and help the disabled and retired they could. I can’t get good health care for my wife because of her PEC. I had coverage for 32 years until I got sick.
    AARP is a huge Org they could start a group plan for people like this. Their are lots of people who are healthy after 50 to support this.
    I have a medicare Advantage plan , it works for Humana.

  7. Len says

    In 1996 just before I turned 50 years old I received a solicitation from AARP inviting me and my spouse a “life time” membership for $50. Thinking this was a good deal I sent in the $50 and have received the AARP magazine, etc. for 10 years. Now that I am turning 60, I like others, have received a notice from that my AARP membership has expired. It appears that the AARP organization has deceived many others on their “life time” memberships. Now they are offering a life time membership for $75. No doubt in 10 years these new suckers will be told their membership is expiring and the AARP will be offering life time memberships for $100. I think some law firm should escalate this into a class action suit.

    Len in Missouri

  8. says

    I agree with you, Len. I wish I had saved enough documentation to dangle it before some greedy shyster and see if it could get a nibble. AARP’s coffers are large, so it should.

    Anyone else out there have the goods on these crooks?


  9. Kyle says

    Hi –

    I read your post and how sentoff an angry postcard with all sots of fun language, that you expected to head immediately to the garbage. Did you ever call AARP and inquire why your lifetime has expired?

    For fun, if your membership or your lfetime were reinstated, would you accept it from AARP?

  10. says

    I wouldn’t waste my time calling them. I invested $45 in them, and I see no need to throw in good money after bad.

    If AARP unilaterally reinstates me, I will take advantage of the discounts they offer. However, as a hypothetical, that scenario is almost an impossibility inasmuch as I will not be chasing them.


  11. Joe Baird says

    aarp and new york life took me for $3000.00 then doubled the premium, then cancelled me because of age. (73). No refunds, nothing. Cocky New York agent cancelled me before the conversation was over! He claimed the policy I had was not the one offered at the time I took it out, and that it was a “term” policy so after 10 years, the premium would increase, and continue to increase as I got older. The fine print in the policy did state this. I trusted them and got scammed. Goodbye AARP!
    I trash all magazines, newsletters etc. without opening.
    Joe Baird

  12. Jeff McGee says

    I agree 100% with your article above. AARP does suck and and they don’t represent me nor my interest nor those of my firends either that have retired. My wife and I will never join this Leftist group so they can use the money to sell me and my friends out. In fact I have hugh banner ads today on the internet that’s, in the end extoling selling out all of us for Obama’s takeover plan. On their website they even have an video’s entitled “Goal: No American Excluded” but I think they actually meant North American which includes 24 M Mexican illegals.
    Most telling of all, they don’t have an email contact loaded on their website that I can find. Screw those bastards!

  13. Scott Zwartz says

    AARP fronts for disreputable insurance companies. While the AARP members receive AARP’s guarantee of 100% claims satisfaction, AARP plays no role in the claims and has no mechanism to oversee any claims, except to help the insurance company rape the AARP members. AARP turns the senior citizens over to some of the worst insurance companies like United Life Group and The Hartford, which used to be a fine company.

    AARP’s role in protecting the elderly from crooked insurance companies is limited to its cashing the checks that the insurance companies write to AARP so they can deceive people into taking out insurance — and getting screwed.

    Atrocious Avarice Raping People = AARP

  14. george bishop says

    AARP—-we don’t care about the USA—we just want “our ben-i fits”

    AARP- SUCKS–and I R A Member!!

    keep your friends close–and your enemies closer!!

  15. says

    No raise for our retired living on fixed incomes because of their inflation formula. Then why the hell do current employess get raises?
    AARP does not represent their membership, probably because the AARP leaders are a bunchof Pelosi wannabees. No raises for the fixed income people, then should be no raises for the other people. What a sham AARP has become. Must be a democrat and woman in charge, who has ample money and home and no worry status of next month’s heating and electric and phone bills. Thanks a lot for screwing your membership.

  16. Michael Jones says

    I am adding AARP to my list of shysters that includes used car dealers, credit card companies and some politicians. Like others I paid for a LIFETIME AARP membership when I became 50 only
    to receive a membership renewal request a few years ago. I assumed that somehow AARP’s records were corrupted and they lost track of my LIFETIME membership. In any case I am not re-newing
    my LIFETIME membership

  17. Herb says

    It’s deja vu all over again. My lifetime with AARP also ran out in 2007. By the way, their insurance is NOT cheap. Shop around. Their medicare supplement plans are horrible and cover next to nothing, particularly their part D plan. My strong advise is to quit. Fewer members = less lobbying money for the liberal idiots who are in charge.

  18. says

    Hey, they kicked me off the island, I used bad words to describe a bad situation. Seems everyone at AARP are verrry happpy. I too am a cynic who beleives if it sucks it sucks and so it should be called. You want a pacifier, join AARP

  19. KenS says

    I too joined AARP when i turned 50 with a lifetime membership. I would like to see a website to take a count of those like us simply by clicking a box, PLEASE !

    I personally know of 9 others that did the same of course 3 are in the ground BUT I KNOW THEY WOULD LIKE TO BE HEARD
    p.s. – i’m a retired viet-nam vet and the VA medical system treats us even worse; jump on that one if you want.

    (Note: moved here from “About Us” page —TNT)

    • says

      Hello, Ken. You’ve hit on one of my favorite subjects: AARP. While a class action suit probably wouldn’t be worth the effort (what were the real damages), perhaps the Justice Department could spank AARP for deceptive advertising practices. They are a powerful lobby, so I doubt that they’ll leave their asses uncovered. Still, exposing the practice serves a valid purpose.

      Alas, I have none of the literature from back then, when the promise of a lifetime membership for $40 or $45 was so appealing. I think I can put together a page with the check box here on the blog, but I question how wide the distribution would be. It would be cool to create a separate site (, but I’d do that only with research collaboration. It will be a lot of work to dig up the original inducements plus the history of what AARP did or didn’t do to cover their asses when the policy changed.

      As for the VA, I have no first-hand knowledge of what goes on there. I’ve obviously heard from a lot of vets, yourself included. Today’s vets seem to have it better, given all the politically correct commentary regarding supporting our troops, but the Vietnam generation of vets continues to suffer. It was bad enough not to be regarded as heroes by the stateside population (driven by the liberal press, of course), but it is ridiculous that the government the vets willingly served now turns its back on their problems. The only insider at VA I used to know was a doctor who got fired for trying to get the shop unionized. That wouldn’t be much help. However, I urge you and any comrades with grievances against the VA to speak out about it from first-hand knowledge.

      I’m going to put this stuff with the AARP thread.


  20. Ray McDowell says

    I sent in my check for $63.00 five(5) year renewal. I recieved my new card with one year renewal. When I called to complain they said they only credited me for $16 one year. I would have to fax them the cancled check to show the difference. I cancled my membership because they stoled the difference and pocked it. I faxed the check and I am still waiting for the rest of my refund from this dishonest organization. I called today since it has been three weeks and they said it would be three to four weeks so I would have to wait a couple more weeks. They can’t add and I don’t want to be involved with them ever again and I would would watch your dealings with them. They might be cheating many people and not getting caught. Once a crock alway a crock.

  21. Glenn Steffen says

    My “Lifetime Membership” in 1992 also was given an Expiration Notice in 2007. Today I responded to AARP’s repeated pleas to renew my annual membership. I advised since AARP chooses to nullify my membership with a unilateral move, I will not renew my subscription
    I also agree, AARP no longer represents the views of Senior Retirees on a fixed income. I was not able to locate my membership card which designated this as a lifetime membership which I need for further evidence to document my request.

    • says

      I’d love to see their response if and when someone actually produces one of those “lifetime” membership cards, although if they made all of them expire in 2007, I suppose they could hang their hat (crookedly) on that being printed on the card.

      Seems like everyone who purports to be on our side is now grabbing hold of the dagger and driving it deeper. It starts at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.


  22. Larry says

    In 1995 I bought a life membership in AARP for $ 45. In 2005 I started
    getting renewal notices. AARP told me twice that they quit offering life
    memberships in 1998. What’s that got to do with my 1995? Its clear that
    in 1998 AAPR simply converted all life memberships to 10 years, probably
    thinking we wouldn’t remember. We need a class action lawsuit and to get
    the Fed Trade Comm involved. If I accost someone in a parking lot and take $ 16 from them, we call it theft. If AARP screws all its life members
    out of their membership and takes $ 16 per year from millions of people
    the FTC looks the other way and calls it “Good Business”. And, yes I did
    file a complaint with the FTC.
    Of course, I agree, the way AARP has knuckled under to you-know-who
    I don’t really care to be associated with the SOB’s anyway. I’d still like
    to see someone nail them on this though. Did I mention that they’re
    nothing more than a bunch of crooked SOB’s? Thought not.

    • says

      I don’t think we could interest an attorney in a class action suit, because the actual damages are so small and unquantifiable. (If they had performed as per their obligations, we would have received a bunch of magazines and insurance solicitations, but nothing of intrinsic value, unless we had paid for membership after our so-called lifetime memberships expired. Even then, it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans, and if restitution consisted of restored membership, most of us wouldn’t want it, anyway.) This doesn’t mean I’m not out for blood. They deserve to be punished for duping so many people through the years, and particularly doing so during a vulnerable time of their lives. Please let us know if your FTC complaint goes anywhere. I expect that it will not, given that AARP is in bed with the sitting administration in Washington.


    • says

      One other curiosity just came to mind, Larry. If they quit offering life memberships in 1998, why did my “life” membership, purchased in 1996, presumably before they pulled the plug, have an expiration date of 2007? Could it be that they had decided prior to 1998 that they were going to sunset life memberships? If so, then they probably knew damn well in 1996 when they committed the lifetime deal to me; yet there were no such disclaimers. Perhaps their plan was to sneak in an expiration date (which was, in fact, on my card) and later claim that we should have known about it. It is this blatant disingenuousness that pisses me off the most.

      A close second on my annoyance scale is their self-serving political lobbying under the guise of speaking for seniors. More disingenuousness.

      Lastly, their annoying insurance commercials attempt to suck people into the United Healthcare thing with a familiar, Obama sounding refrain: “I can keep my own doctor and choose my own hospital.” At some time during the past year or so, they edited the commercial to cut that line short. Apparently, you can now keep your own doctor, but you can’t choose your own hospital. I believe this because United Healthcare has had disagreements with area hospitals. According to a trusted source, AARP/United Healthcare will sign you up for a regular Part B supplement, but will immediately try to steer you into the Medicare Advantage plan. What they’re going to do when Obama pulls the rug out from under Medicare Advantage, I have no idea.

      The AARP company policy and operating manual must be sub-titled “Scamming Seniors for Fun and Profit.”


  23. Larry says

    TNT: Beginning to see your problem. You sound like me. Seriously
    though, I have a letter dated 6/21/05 signed by Wilma B Corteza and
    another dated 7/05/05 signed by Ava J. Baker. Both are telling me I only purchased a 10 year mbership & if I have a cancelled Ck showing an “additional payment” was made I should call the toll-free number.
    They knew damn good and well there wasn’t an “additional payment”.
    The July 5th letter says, “For your reference, AARP discontinued
    offering new lifetime memberships in May 1998”. My life mbr card shows only my ID no, name, and address. NO expiration date. Another thought, is this the kind of thing you could post on Angie’s list? Is there
    a website somewhere for scams like this. If not, there should be. I’d
    love to see BOTH things done. You also sound like we should start the
    AACP, Amer Assoc of Conservative People. While were griping, ever
    deal with Reader’s Digest? They’re just as bad as AARP. And, after seeing I wasn’t the only one who was ripped off, I sent AARP an email
    and told them to put it where the sun doesn’t shine. Of course, it did
    no good but I felt better. I also always return their mbrship solitation
    envelopes empty or with a nasty note inside. Let the SOB’s continue
    to pay postage. I’d urge everyone to do this.

    • says

      Hi Larry.
      Fortunately, I’ve never had to deal with Reader’s Digest, so I’ll take your word for it.

      I’m a member of Angie’s List, which is mainly concerned with service providers for trades, general contractors, etc., along with cars and health care providers per se (i.e. just docs and dentists). I checked and found nothing applicable. There is no category for umbrella organizations like AARP or even for health insurance companies. So, while you could try to squeeze the proverbial square peg into a round hole, no one would go there looking for it.

      You might want to look at this site: I did a search for AARP and found quite a few negative comments about it there (and negative comments in general are all you find there).

      I agree with your idea to cost them postage by sending back empty reply envelopes. If they get pissed off enough, maybe they’ll use their lobbying power to shut down what remains of the Post Office!


  24. Larry says

    You know, after looking at my “lifetime membership card (with NO
    expiration date), I notice it also doesn’t say Life Member anywhere
    on the card.

    As far as a class action suit, I’d like to see somebody make them PAY
    to every life member they screwed, their annual membership fee for
    each year. That, you could build a case, is the actual value of the loss.
    And, of course, its not about getting the money. Its about punishing
    the crooked SOB’s for what the did and are doing to their members.
    They don’t give a damn about their members. Only their bottom line
    net profit.

    • says

      Yeah, you’re right. They need to be punished for their scam. Punitive damages would be up to the jury, but I think that based on the comments we have here and elsewhere, any fair-minded jury would award everything but the proverbial kitchen sink. However, there would have to be proof of actual physical damages to enable the award of punitive damages and therein lies the rub. We spent $45 and got 10 or 12 years instead of 20 or 30. Couple of bucks a year, at best, plus the loss in senior discounts. Yeah, that could be substantial, but “could be” doesn’t get it in the courtroom. So, my feelings are still that it would be difficult to find a law firm that would take on the financial behemoth with its political connections and bigshot legal talent. Just my opinion, of course, and you know what “they” say about opinions!


  25. Larry says

    Just emailed AARP and inquired about a lifetime membership. They
    gave me the 1, 3 and 5 yr price and said to call about a lifetime mbr.

    Called and got a very very nice and helpful person named Jennifer and
    she says the lifetime mbrship is $ 180. So, it appears they’re STILL
    selling them. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think I’ve already said
    what a crooked bunch of SOB’s they are. I’d say that now the value
    of what they’re screwing everyone out of is $ 180. Multiply that by
    however many they’ve screwed over and just maybe you could get
    an attorney interested. Hell, I’d give him ALL of it just to see it
    happen. Bet the number of “screwee’s” totals many many
    thousands. By the way, it nice that you don’t use that stupid security
    thing where you have to enter the characters. Most of the time you
    can’t tell upper case from lower, or an “l” for a 1.

  26. says

    The other day, while I was at work, my sister stole my iphone and tested to see if it can survive a forty foot drop, just
    so she can be a youtube sensation. My apple ipad is now broken and she has 83 views.
    I know this is entirely off topic but I had
    to share it with someone!

  27. Karen Kucera says

    We too have just received a renewal for AARP membership which my father in law told us he got my husband a lifetime membership. This was back in 2009 which the renewal notice says on the 2 temp cards in the notice.!! Wow! They were also very quick to send me an application when I turned 50 last year-hello, I already have a spouse card. I am gonna just ignore it and see what happens. No money for them from us!! The only thing I ever used it for was a hotel discount.


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