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to be annoyed at old people being ripped off

(25 Posts)
vampirequeen Tue 09-Dec-14 20:26:51

Ok so there are old people and OLD people. Some people get old but stay young and others seem to get old. This is about OLD people. I hope you see the difference.

We live near a community centre that has a pensioner's coffee morning and lunch club. Every week they have a trip or two out in the local community bus. So far so good. Sounds OK and on the face of it, it is. The room they meet in could be better but it has some comfyish chairs and they get together for a natter. So what's the problem I hear you ask.

DH has just started to do a bit of voluntary driving for them. They have three other volunteer drivers so DH has only been covering trips that the others couldn’t/didn’t want to do. I go with him and up to now we’ve done four trips. The first was one that we suggested and everyone seemed happy. We took them to Saltaire, Shipley Glen and Esholt (the original Emmerdale village). The second was to Hebden Bridge to which we added a visit to a bakery/café where you could watch cakes being decorated whilst you drank your tea and Oxenhope to see the steam trains because just Hebden Bridge didn’t seem to be much considering they’d paid £7.50 each. The old people seemed to be really happy with the extras although a couple told us that the other drivers weren’t so happy lol. Neither were they happy that we dropped people off near to their homes rather than at a central point although it made sense to us as it was no hassle to do a few more drop offs.

The last three trips haven’t been so nice but we thought it was what the people wanted. A couple of weeks ago we went to Leeds market for 4 hours. We past the time at the museum because we couldn’t see what people could do in a market for 4 hours. Last week we took them to Barnsley market. Again they there for 4 hours. We wandered around as slowly as we could and had lunch but we couldn’t pass more than 2 hours lol. We wandered again and ended up back in the bus an hour early because we were so bored. Today we went to the York Designer Outlet. Yet another 4 hours shopping. When they came back to the bus I commented on how much they liked shopping as they’d been to Leeds, Barnsley and now York Designer Outlet for 4 hours each time.

“Oh no,” they said, “we hate shopping but we go where they decide because after all it’s a day out.”

“What do you mean?” we asked. “Don’t you have any say in where you go?”

Apparently the drivers and the centre manager have a meeting and decide where the trips will go. They don’t even ask the old people.

We asked them what sort of places they’d like to go to. They weren’t fussed but they didn’t like to be told where to eat. Again we asked what they meant. And here’s where we found out about the rip offs. Some of the trips include a meal (which they have to pay for on the day). They don’t have any choice. If they don’t go for the meal they can’t go on the trip. It turns out the driver gets a freebie from the restaurant for taking so many customers in. There also go to certain garden centres for coffee (whether they want it or not) and yet again the driver gets a freebie. The driver also uses those trips to buy her gardening requirements and transports them in the minibus. The other ‘trip’ they told us about was the mystery tour. Sounds OK until you find out they always end up at one of three places and guess what? They have to have a coffee in a certain café and the driver gets a freebie.

These people are paying for a day out and basically getting taken to where ever the driver wants/needs to be. Sometimes they go to the Dales because one of the drivers' has family up there and visits them whilst his poor passengers go wandering around the same place they’ve been a million times before. To crown it all the centre manager gives the driver £5 for lunch and the passengers have a whip round for the driver which usually amounts to between £7 and £12 so it's not as if they do it totally out of the goodness of their hearts. We tried to say no to the whip round but the passengers wouldn't hear of it.

We made a few suggestions of places to go and they were really keen. They haven’t even been to the Deep in Hull which is only 6 miles away. So if DH loses his job and is able to do more driving we’re going to shake up the system and take them for proper days out lol.

CeeCee Tue 09-Dec-14 20:44:48

Is the Community Centre run by the local council? If so perhaps they should be told what is going on here, it is awful that the elderly are not being given a voice and the system is being abused. Could you encourage some of the elderly people to speak up, a bit of People Power may be what's needed.

absent Tue 09-Dec-14 21:05:38

What a very kind, thoughtful and sensitive couple you are. You are right – it is, of course, absurd and wrong that these people should be carted around like parcels without any say in where they are taken or for how long and then have to pay for the privilege. The worry is that if they complain, they may end up without being taken anywhere at all.

vampirequeen Tue 09-Dec-14 21:30:11

I think that's why the drivers are getting away with it. Better a bad driver than no driver at all. But it's so wrong.

janerowena Tue 09-Dec-14 22:58:21

Wow. Who knew. There's always some miserable shark out there, isn't there. Thank you for enlightening us.

FarNorth Tue 09-Dec-14 23:51:13

Volunteer drivers who behave in that way could be likely to decide they won't do it any more if they don't get what they want, and that could leave the old people high & dry, which is probably why no-one wants to say anything.

I hope you can get things improved for them, tho. All the best.

Faye Wed 10-Dec-14 00:12:34

The centre manager must be getting something out of it or is he so brain dead he doesn't realise that the pensioners are taken advantage of?

There is a nursing home around here and they don't have enough volunteers to take the people out and about. They go out for meals etc so I have volunteered to help out. I only had to be asked and was happy to volunteer. I am sure there would be more people like you and your H that would volunteer to drive too VQ, and the sharks could bugger off. I have to say in Australia this tipping thing is not so out of hand. A volunteer driver is exactly that and shouldn't expect to be paid.

petallus Wed 10-Dec-14 09:33:24

I wouldn't call the other drivers sharks. I can't see that they are getting all that much out of the situation except for a free coffee and cheap lunch.

That in itself wouldn't be enough incentive for me to give up my time to take the old folk out if I wasn't already doing it out of the goodness of my heart.

As for the old folk being able to chose where to go or whether or not to have a lunch, it might turn out to be a long winded process getting everyone to agree and then, what, vote on it. I bet some would still feel disgruntled if they didn't get their choice.

You can't really count the collection as a rip-off because the old folk insist on that.

I wonder, vampirequeen if it is just that your standards are higher than normal. It sounds as though the old folk have an especially good time when they are out with you and your DH.

It would be a shame if the other drivers took umbrage and dropped out.

vampirequeen Wed 10-Dec-14 11:05:21

Why should they expect to get anything out of volunteering? I thought volunteering meant that you gave up your time for free with no expectation of any gain or reward.

I don't think my standards are higher than normal. If you say you'll take people on a day out then you should at least try to take them to places they'd like to go and not just to places you want/need to go to.

Why shouldn't the old people have a say in where they go and where/how they spend their money? They may be elderly but they're still entitled to have opinions. The problem atm is that they're going on trips to places they don't particularly want to go to because as one said, "It's a day out." They pay at least £7 for each trip and deserve better.

The fear that the other drivers may drop out if they have to please the passengers rather than themselves means that they can do anything they like because no one dare complain.

petallus Wed 10-Dec-14 11:12:18

Well I can see you feel strongly about it!

FarNorth Wed 10-Dec-14 18:03:25

When they came back to the bus I commented on how much they liked shopping as they’d been to Leeds, Barnsley and now York Designer Outlet for 4 hours each time.

“Oh no,” they said, “we hate shopping but we go where they decide because after all it’s a day out.”

The dilemma of how to choose where to go? The old folk could be asked to give suggestions of what they would like and the centre manager could make decisions based on the suggestions, instead of on the preference of themself and the drivers.

Soutra Wed 10-Dec-14 18:10:58

Good for you! That could be any of us one day and I would so like to believe that "what goes around, comes around"!

vampirequeen Wed 10-Dec-14 19:41:37

If DH loses his job which unfortunately seems likely we will be able to drive them more often. We thought we might take in a lot of leaflets for things to do in the area so they can chat over coffee about where they'd like to go. We also thought we'd ask if any would like to simply go to the cinema sometimes when it's just an afternoon trip. If they want to that's fine. If they don't then we won't do it. I know you can't please all the people all the time but atm no one is happy except the drivers and that can't be right.

When we took them to Oxenhope (Keighley and Worth Valley Railway) for an hour as an extra on one trip a lot of them wanted to go on the steam trains. We suggested a trip that would take them all the Oxenhope for the first train of the day and meet them from the last. Then they could buy whatever type of ticket they wanted. Some might want to go to Haworth, others to Keighley, whilst others might want buy a day rover ticket and discover all the little stations and museums along the route. They were very keen so DH suggested it to the centre manager. Needless to say nothing has come of it.

janerowena Wed 10-Dec-14 23:17:19

Maybe you just need to do it. Just go.

Jenty61 Thu 11-Dec-14 10:48:32

I've just moved to sheltered accommodation and they have trips out once a month to shopping centres or garden centres where they would spend up to 3 hours!!!! That's all the 'old' people want to do they aren't interested in going to the theatre or cinema or even visiting historical places....

petallus Thu 11-Dec-14 11:04:23

It would be useful to hold a meeting with the old people, volunteer drivers and the centre manager to see a) what the old people would like to do on their outings and b) how possible this would be in terms of practicality, expense and people still being willing to continue to volunteer.

Other small matters like free coffees, whip rounds and whether shopping can be done at the garden centres could also be discussed.

At least it would all be out in the open.

janerowena Thu 11-Dec-14 20:14:42

I'm intrigued by what the people do at garden centres if they have nowhere to plant out their plants.

I wonder if they just want to go somewhere safe where they can sit and 'people watch'.

petallus Thu 11-Dec-14 20:33:58

Or look at the flowers!

Ana Thu 11-Dec-14 20:39:13

Garden centres have all sorts of things as well as plants, janerowena - ornaments, silk flowers, wall plaques, birthday cards, scented candles etc.

durhamjen Thu 11-Dec-14 20:54:14

Our local garden centre has owls, ducks, and chickens. The owls are a big draw.

janerowena Thu 11-Dec-14 21:12:47

I only go to them to buy plants. Mind you, in another 20 years I shall probably be joining them. We occasionally stop off at a huge one between here and Wisley when we go there for the day. There is often a busload of pensioners in there. I always thought they were on their way to somewhere, I hadn't realised they were already there!

vampirequeen Thu 11-Dec-14 21:15:06

We were invited to the group's Christmas Party today. When we arrived there was a ripple around the room as people said things like, "Ooooh that's **" He's the driver that the others talked about." Celebrity status at last grin

We discussed our concerns with the centre manager. She agreed and said she felt the same way but was worried that the drivers may decide not to volunteer anymore. Seems a shame that they're being held to ransom like this.

She also said she didn't know how to please so many people. DH suggested that we take them on trips where we can drop the shoppers off at one place and take the others elsewhere. She asked how that could be done so he explained we could go to Skipton on market day, leave the shoppers there for a few hours and take the others to Embsay Railway. They could ride the train and we could collect them at the end of the line then take them on to Bolton Abbey. By the time they'd had a wander around and a cup of tea it would be time to return to Skipton, collect the shoppers and drive home.

She said she didn't want to be horrible but she sort of hoped DH would lose his job so he could do more trips as when she gets feedback at the next coffee morning people who have been with us are so happy.

annsixty Thu 11-Dec-14 21:21:44

That's a real compliment VQ.

janerowena Thu 11-Dec-14 23:23:27

I hope there are others like you around somewhere, at other homes.

Eloethan Fri 12-Dec-14 00:24:22

vampirequeen I think you and your husband are doing a great job and I agree with you that the old people should have some say in what trips are taken. I did wonder if your idea of dropping some people off at one place and then dropping others off somewhere else might complicate things a bit.

I feel that going to a shopping centre or a garden centre is perhaps OK occasionally but not on a regular basis. I don't know why these sorts of trips always seem to include some sort of shopping centre. When I took mum on a coach/hotel break, it included 2 trips out. One of the stops was at a shopping "outlet" which was of absolutely no interest to either of us. Another was at a a fairly uninteresting town where the coach dropped the passengers (mostly elderly) off on a steep hill so that most of them just went into the nearest coffee shop for an hour or so. Yet when we got to Lyme Regis - somewhere where we would all have enjoyed spending more time - we only had 2 hours.

I know volunteers shouldn't expect a "return" for what they do but I don't think it's unreasonable that the drivers get a free meal, as long as the lunches for paying customers are fairly good value and enjoyable.

As absent and petallus said, although some of the trips the other drivers do don't sound ideal, they are probably better than nothing. As long as you and your husband are there to provide the occasional interesting and imaginative trip, I'm sure it will be much appreciated and give people something different to look forward to.