Receipts by Email

The other day, I accompanied Andrew to the Apple Store where he purchased a new wireless keyboard. I’ve been to the Apple Store numerous times, and that in itself was not unusual.

What was new and unusual was how they handled the sales receipt. Andrew was asked whether he would like a paper receipt or if he would like the receipt emailed to him.

Of course, trying the new way, he said email (he had to provide an address).

I’m sure you’re like me and you hate having to store paper receipts. It is such a pain to store, archive, and I hate paper receipts.

Andrew and I spent some time thinking about this and came up with this idea. What if their was a way to associate an email address with your credit card, and then whenever you used your card you could get a receipt in your email.

The reality is that this already exists in a small way. You can already get access to your transaction detail from most banks and credit card companies. What we need is a way to format this data (xml?) and get a feed for it, and then have shops and stores offer the email or xml feed option in addition to paper receipts.

The shops and stores would need to be on board with this, because return policies often stipulate having a paper receipt. Regardless, it’s a neat idea.

13 responses to “Receipts by Email”

  1. Apple’s been doing that for years at their woodfield store out here in IL. In fact, last time I went was the first time I’d been given a choice to get a *paper* receipt (which I prefer because it’s much *faster* than giving him my email address).

  2. I would totally be up for receiving CC purchase updates via a feed. I think it would be nice to be able to browse my purchases from a previous day via my feed reader to make sure everything looks kosher. FYI, my wallet is pretty much a home for paper receipts, so anything that gets rid of them would be sweet. 🙂

  3. I don’t think a feed or email is particularly needed.

    What I do think, is that they should have to send Itemized lists with quantities/prices/total to the CC company when it submits your CC. That way, you can see what you actually spent your money on.

    One of the ways people steal with stolen credit cards is small purchases over time. 20 dollars here, 50 dollars there…(add that over over a wallet’s worth of stolen CCs…). So when someone sees “$20 – Wal-mart”, they don’t think anything of it.

    But if you seen what was actually purchased, it would be instantly clear that you didnt buy that…would stop CC problems much earlier in the game.

    …that, and require a PIN for CC purchases. Signatures are all but secondary these days, and provide absolutely NO security.

  4. I always take the email receipts because I am tryingot remove as much paper from my life as possible. Not only is it obviously enviromentally freidnly to do so, it also affords you the ease fo indexable, searchable receipts for your taxes and/or proof of purchase. As goes without saying, it’s useless if you don’t back up your system regularly… 😛

  5. Dang, either my typing sucks or this wiireless keybrd needs new batteris…. Hmmm :-/

  6. The current problem with Apple’s model is you get no receipt when the clerk mistypes your address — even after verbally confirming it with you.

    There’s something I find uncomfortable with regarding the idea of tying an email address to a CC. Instead, I like what Joshua suggests of having detailed CC statements that take on more of a bank statement model (copies of actual checks written) where you could see not only where something was purchased, but an itemized list similar to a receipt.

    What would be cool then, is to have the bank have a secured feed / feedreader that you subscribe to that would push the transaction receipts to you in real time.

  7. Mark, what you could do is have the credit card company issue each cardholder a email address and then that email address would forward to you or automatically be printed with your credit card statement.

  8. I don’t know, Chris. I think you’d have a long road uphill (crawling on you hands and knees, backward in the snow, and wearing only your underwear and no shoes over ice-encrusted broken glass) in trying to convince the public at large that having a receipts tied to CC numbers emailed to you.

    It be the same as trying to have employees participate in an anonymous survey about the company they work for. You’ll find very few people who believe it really is anonymous.

  9. I’m not being a naysayer at all — and I’ve got nothing really against receipts by credit card. Apple’s been doing that a while in Houston, as well. But truly, I did the receipt by email this past Christmas, gave the dude my gmail address, he punched it in, repeated it to me and…nothing — I never got the email.

    Anywway, no biggie on that.

    Regarding your idea, not naysaying…just saying on the surface the idea of having an email address tied to a credit card needs some more thinking on the repercussion side.

    For instance, I think Discover has (had?) what I thought was a great system for crdit card payments online where each purchase was assigned a unique card number, so vendors actually never know what your account number actually is.

    Now, I could see your idea working with something like that with a combination unique email / card each time so that the security against fraud would be super high.

  10. Yes, this is how I got my receipt when I bought my iPod a year and a half ago. It was pretty handy.

    I also see a big advantage to Target’s policy of simply storing your purchases by credit card number in their system – you never need a paper receipt to make a return as long as you know which credit card/debit card you used to purchase it. No need for them to know my email address or have my personal information, and no need for me to hang on to paper…unless I actually pay with cash.

  11. This is such a great idea! You don’t have to keep track of those annoying paper receipts and it’s an environmentally friendly solution. We’re about to launch a site that will automatically organize and manage your email receipts and eliminate spam from your inbox. It’s great to hear that people hate paper receipts as much as I do…


  12. […] Chris Tingom had the right idea when he posted an article entitled “Receipts by Email” on his personal blog [link]. He had recently made a purchase at an Apple Store, and was pleasantly surprised with how they handled his receipt. When he went to the checkout counter, they asked if he wanted a paper receipt or if he would rather have one emailed to him. For the first time he realized what life would be like without paper receipts. […]

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