Receipts are not our friends.

There are just so many. People keep handing me receipts, even when my hands are full of other stuff. Tell you what, if you want to give me something, make it a twenty, not a receipt. And put it in the bag, please.

The other day I had errands to run: the grocery store, veterinarian, mall, and Wal-Mart. Four stops. But when I got home I had six receipts. The vet and the Gap both gave me two. Well, the vet gave me a regular receipt and a full-page print out. Eighty-five percent of the page was blank. The Gap, also, issued a regular receipt, plus one offering a discount if I typed this code into that box on their website. Or something. Two of the six receipts, wadded and tossed.

The other four? Those are the trouble-makers. The blabbermouths.The snitches.

Receipts are way too informative, don’t you think? They tell what brand of card you’re using, whether it’s debit or credit, they reveal at least four digits of your account number, the approval code, reference number, receipt number, and cash register number. A very few even include your name. Putting all this information on a slip of paper seems like a bad, bad plan, like an accident waiting to happen. Quite unexpectedly, receipts are now a fairly worrisome responsibility.

From the little I know about technology and banking, receipts seem to provide a lighted, well-marked path straight to credit card fraud. Or, worse, identity theft. While there’s only a remote possibility I’m right, I have opted to err on the side of caution. I guard my receipts as carefully as the Colonel with his secret recipe of eleven herbs and spices.

Too cheap to buy a shredder, I do it myself, methodically as a surgeon. I excise the offending section of the receipt, discard the innocuous host, and set to work neurotically shredding the dangerous codes and numbers and identifiers into minute particles. Smaller even than confetti. Then I let them marinate in the dregs at the bottom of a Coke bottle. It would require a kiln and an unusually patient saint to reassemble the bits into any semblance of order.

Is it necessary to go to these lengths? That’s the question, isn’t it? Until I get a definitive “no, it’s not necessary” from a source more reliable than I, my slow, tedious shredding process will continue. Or I could convert to an all cash system, but that seems like a lot of unnecessary inconvenience and self-sacrifice.

Just as curious, why is personal information necessary on a receipt? Is it because our purchases and buying habits are being tracked? C’mon, enough already. All I need to know is what I bought and how much I spent. If you want to track me, put a chip in my foot.

Copyright © Publikworks 2011.

6 responses to “Receipts are not our friends.”

  1. Know what I hate? That all the stores require me to swipe one of their cards before I can buy their items. Why do they need to track me like that? More often than not I will spew off a random phone number instead, hoping that some stranger gets credit for my tampons, marshmallows and Cupcake wine.


    1. Good for you. We should follow your example and totally screw up their tracking data. Thanks for stopping, Kim, come back again.


  2. I typed a request into a website the other day, and more information was requested… I needed to fill in the blanks – other information about me was already there.
    I had never visited this website before.
    It frightened the beejeebers out of me. I’m going to be shredding with the best of you in future!


    1. It’s unsettling to say the least. Last year I changed banks and when they were opening new accounts the guy looked at me and asked if I’d lived in North Carolina — a little chill went through me. I don’t care for this aspect of the computer age.


  3. hehe you sound like me . . somewhat. I always avoid getting receipts but if it happens and there is any personal information about myself on it, then I turn it into confetti and flush it down the toilette. I think most shops have all these infos on their receipts cuz the tax office ask for it (well, at least here in germany). Also some shops might needs all these infos for the case of refunds. Why my vet is putting all these infos on his receipts, I have no clue, because 1. all the tax office need to know how many money he got for what stuff. 2. you do not really have a lot of refund cases at the vet, do you? But at least he ask me every time if I just want the normal receipts or the printed version too. As for the chip, I wouldn’t put it in your foot . . . very uncomfi when wearing shoes =p neck or ear works better. =)


    1. Hi ya, Min. As long as we pay cash, our receipts are safe. Any other form of payment and, oh my, every detail is recorded and documented.


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