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 because 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 Scammee
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