Receipts: The tree-huggers’ nightmare

Ever run into the grocery store for milk and bread and come out with a two-foot long receipt for your two items? So have a lot of other folks, including our friends at the Wall Street Journal who did a story on the phenomenon. It seems that retailers have found this to be the perfect spot to add promotional messages, coupons, store policies, and seemingly every other useless piece of information they want to get in front of customers. What are my favorite receipt paper wasters?

  • Safeway’s receipt that tells me my status in earning a free Signature Deli sandwich when I have never purchased a single one. Do I need to be constantly reminded that I have purchased 0 out of 7 sandwiches towards my next free sandwich?
  • Home Depot’s receipts that will print the survey invitation every time. Seriously, there are probably about 12 people left in the U.S. that have never made a purchase from Home Depot, so everyone has probably been invited to participate in the survey at least once. At least make it where the invite prints on only a certain percentage of receipts.
  • Receipts that insist on printing the entire return policy of the retailer on the front of the receipt. Couldn’t you just pre-print that on the back, which is usually completely blank?
  • Receipts that insist on printing all of the surveys, promotional messages, etc. in both English and Spanish. C’mon! This is America! Can we just make the assumption that a customer speaks English?

As alluded to in the WSJ article, Walmart is testing out receipts that print on both sides, which I recently encountered at a Sams Club here in Houston. It seems pretty odd at first, but my receipt for eight items had the header and my purchases listed on one side and the payment info and a survey invite on the other. The entire length of the receipt was only about four inches long. Very cool.

The WSJ article does single out CVS receipts as being long, but at least a lot of the extra length on those is coupons which can represent some value to the consumer. However, I would prefer that they cut the coupon so it is easily detached from the end of the receipt, like Target does with gift receipts.

Of course all of this creates tons of paper clutter for those of us that save receipts to track expenses. I’ve been working to clear out a lot of my clutter recently, which will be the subject of another post.

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