Paper Receipts: I Hate You

Mandy Movahhed
October 9, 2014

Back again for another hate-fest. Last time Stephanie Bell showed us she had no love for fax machines. This time, I'm going to share a little about why paper receipts need to be eradicated from the universe. I had already started this post when my girlfriend Julie texted me the following: I bought some jeans at a boutique in Philly and the sales person didn't take off the magnetic security thingy. I stupidly threw out the receipt. And now no stores will take it off because I don't have the receipt. What should I do? (Side note - please overlook the fact that based on my shopping habits I am the person my friends turn to with these kinds of questions, and focus instead on the annoying need for receipts). I laughed and responded that her issue is amazingly timed, as I'm writing a blog post on how how much I hate receipts, and why receipt tracking software is a much better option. Seriously - in a world that is increasingly digital, how do paper receipts still exist? The disconnect is palpable. Online shopping packages come with a paper packing slip and when processing returns, you are filling out forms with a pen. Starbucks has an app you can pay with but asks you if you want a paper receipt following the transaction. Let's make the transition, people.

4 Reasons to Hate Paper Receipts & Consider Receipt Tracking Software

1. The restaurant experience

Split a restaurant check amongst 5 friends with 5 credit cards and you'll make it rain receipts. It never ceases to amaze me how many of those little guys are necessary (and how much paper is wasted) between the merchant copy, customer copy and several copies of the entire bill. Speaking of - there is a special place in hell for servers that put the customer copy on the top of the stack, hence making us sign two receipts unnecessarily. This leads me to...

2. The signing

I think we've evolved a bit past a time where a chicken scratch signature can be any sort of proof of identity. Not only is there no longer barely any kind of attempt to verify a signature match,  but you can easily sign anyone else's name or create an abstract art piece out of your name and get away with it.  As Julie so eloquently stated in our text banter on the topic of receipt-hating: You could literally sign Adolph Hitler and no one would notice or care. Also, since the teaching of handwriting is becoming increasingly obsolete, there will be a worldwide crisis when the next generation is not equipped to sign their own names.

3. The space they take up

If you're like me, you shove receipts into your wallet, purse, or pockets. They make you look a messy person who doesn't have her life together. When you get around to it (barely ever), you do a spring cleaning of sorts where you throw away most of your receipts and pile up the ones you might need. Then you deal with that pile 6 months later when you remember to clean out your wallet again, which involves going back to your old piles, reassessing your old receipts, and wasting tons of time. The worst part about receipt maintenance is it's not a mindless activity. It requires planning and focus to decide what you should keep and what you can trash. On a related note...

4. The need to save them

Needing a copy of receipts for purchase returns, expense reports,  and tax deductions is a joke. When I donated to the Salvation Army a few years ago they gave me a piece of paper to save for tax season. The chance that that piece of paper is going to exist in a location I can remember even in two days is slim to none.  I log and save things on my computer. As an urban professional who moves often, I don't have a great system for saving paper files, and I don't think I'm alone here. Wouldn't it be awesome if Salvation Army had a quick system upon donating where you can log your donation digitally, and access this proof during tax season, if necessary? Of course - as Julie mentioned, the need to have a receipt at the time of a return is frustrating and quite frankly pointless in a day and age where credit card transactions are logged digitally. One path to take to deal with the hell of receipt collection and submission is using receipt tracking software. This allows you to scan and organize your receipts for professional and personal use. Still, though, its an interim solution to deal with this painful period of history before receipts are officially gone. That day can't come soon enough. Paper receipts - good riddance. I won't miss you!