When I was a little kid I used to ramble around outside for hours, poking through neighboring fields. I usually found Indian pottery, but one day I found a very beat up, chipped old hammer half buried in the dirt. I took it home and showed my dad, who told me that since it was a Craftsman I could take it back to the store and they would give me a new one. I could hardly believe it. But my parents brought me to Sears and they did indeed give me a hefty new replacement hammer.
I’ve loved their tools ever since (yes, brand-loyalty really can be created young) so went there because we needed to buy a drill (which unfortunately only has a one year full warranty by default.) After we bought the drill, I found a dress that I liked and bought that. So two separate purchases. One was made with a debit card, and the other was made with my AMEX.
Here’s a photo of the pile of receipts I got for buying a total of two items:
Here’s what I got with my dress purchase:
- One coupon, approximately 9-inches long, thanking me for using an American Express and offering me $10 off a purchase of $50 or more in home electronics, excluding various things.
- One coupon, approximately 10-inches long, thanking me for using an American Express and offering me $50 off any home appliance purchase of $399 or more, excluding various things.
- One coupon, approximately 9 inches long, thanking me for using an American Express and offering 15% off apparel & footwear, excluding various things.
- Oh, what’s this? My 15-inch long receipt for the dress. It includes a notice that I have received the goods in question and agree to be bound by my credit card agreement, plus an offer in both English and Spanish to try and win a $4,000 gift card by telling them about my experience, plus a satisfaction guarantee. I’ll be saving that one til I’m sure that I’m satisfied with the dress. (Although I’m afraid to see what I might get back receipt-wise if I were to return it.)
Apparently using a debit card instead of a credit card saves trees, because here’s what we got with the drill purchase:
- A 5-inch long “customer debit record” stamped multiple times with “THIS IS NOT A RECEIPT”. (So what is it? I already know that I used the debit card.)
- A 9+-inch long coupon for 25% off women’s or men’s sandals, excluding various things and not valid on Levi’s jeans. (A pair of Levi’s jeans would make some odd-looking sandals, if you ask me.)
- Our 15-inch long receipt for the drill. It includes a notice that it may be subject to a 15% restocking fee if returned, the offer in both English and Spanish to try and win a $4,000 gift card by telling them about our experience, plus a satisfaction guarantee.
Yeah, I’ll be shredding all of those, except for the actual receipts. The drill receipt will be scanned for warranty purposes (since it’s on thermal paper) and taped to the inside of the drill case with a note that I have scanned it. The dress receipt will just be held temporarily til I’m sure there are no problems with the dress, and then it will be shredded too.
I guess this massive onslaught of paper must be effective for companies, but I can’t imagine the majority of people actually taking the time to read through all those offers and exclusions and then go off and buy something additional. All it does for me is annoy me and cause me to make a mental note that I’d better be SURE I’m done shopping in the store before I visit the register so that I’m not hit with a second barrage of paper.
I’m halfway tempted to go make a purchase there with cash to see if I get a 10-inch long piece of paper notifying me that I paid with a method that is “legal tender for all debts public and private in the United States, but not valid prior to exchange in .”