Paperless receipts: a good idea?
A company has launched a service allowing you to store your receipts online. Here's how it works.
I don’t know about you, but as soon as I am given a receipt, I tuck it safely in my purse, then file it away carefully the minute I get home in a clearly marked file. I always know exactly where to find it, and should I ever need to prove I did or didn’t buy something, it’s right there at my fingertips.
Who am I kidding? The truth is, I’m not that organised. In fact, I’m hopeless. Most receipts I leave in the carrier bag with very good intentions to put somewhere safe, then find I’ve accidentally thrown them away.
My husband has a different approach. He never throws away any of his receipts, he just stuffs them in a drawer. Once, I found a receipt for a Tesco sandwich in this drawer – from 2002. Yet when he needs to return something, he can look and look and look and still never find the receipt he needs.
Sounds familiar? If so, don’t despair. The days of agonisingly searching for lost receipts could soon be at an end. A new company – aptly named Paperless Receipts – launched this month, offering shoppers the option to do away with paper receipts altogether and store their receipts online instead.
How it works
It seems simple enough. All you have to do is open a free eReceipts account. You’ll be sent an eReceipts card and account number. Simply hand over this card to be scanned at the till of a participating retailer (or tell them your account number) and hey presto! A paperless receipt will be sent to your online account.
You can access this account on the web or via a downloadable app. And if you want to get an old-fashioned paper receipt as well, you can of course still get one at the point of sale.
What’s the catch?
Sounds good? The only problem is, the scheme relies on retailers to sign up. And so far, just 75 small shops in West London have actually joined the scheme, although furniture giant DFS is in the process of doing so and the claims the scheme will roll out across its London stores in January and nationwide after that.
Time will tell. Still, the firm is headed up by Lord MacLaurin, the former Tesco chief executive who was responsible for introduction of the Clubcard scheme, so it has credible potential for link-ups with bigger retailers.
In the meantime, the company advises taking a snapshot of the paper receipt with its smartphone app, which will ensure the receipt is stored safely in your online account. Unfortunately, however, the app doesn’t appear to be available on the iPhone at the moment, just Google Android phones.
The other thing to be aware of is that the company plans to tempt retailers to join the scheme by allowing them to “capture and harvest” rich data about their customers’ shopping habits, which the retailers can then use for marketing purposes to increase their revenue.
What’s more, retailers will be able to send you offers and promotions via your eReceipts account, although you can choose to opt out of these and the retailer will not be allowed to email you directly.
Should you sign up?
I like the idea – in theory. Even if I had the time and inclination to carefully organise and file away all my paper receipts, I’d still like to know all my receipts were being stored online as a back-up. This is because if you make an insurance claim, many insurance companies will require you to send them the receipts of the items you are claiming for. This is particularly a pain in the neck if your home has been wrecked by a fire or flood.
So I do think it’s a good idea. Whether the eReceipts scheme will become commonplace is another story. I can’t see lots of retailers signing up unless lots of customers sign up, and that isn’t likely to happen unless lots of retailers sign up! Still, I’m planning to take out an account, seeing as it is free to do so. But as I don’t often shop in trendy West London, I’m guessing it may be some time until I have a chance to use the service.
In the meantime, you’ll be glad to know I’ve bought a waterproof, fireproof folder and am planning to put all my important receipts in that from now on. Honest...