5

The issue with disappearing ink on receipts is notorious. Are sellers required to make the receipt visible at least X number of days?


I am mostly interested in the following locations:

  • California, United States
  • Massachusetts, United States
  • Paris, France
  • Seoul, South Korea
  • 1
    I've never heard of any law like this. Sounds like an enforcement nightmare. Once they pass this law they can pass one to require receipts that can't be lost. I'm thinking they can be printed on old hubcaps. – jqning Jun 7 '15 at 13:25
  • The ink doesn't disappear; it rubs off due to how the receipt is handled by the buyer. It's perfectly possible to keep a receipt legible for very long periods of time by taking care and being responsible with it, rather than leaving it in your wallet for long periods etc. – animuson Jun 7 '15 at 15:47
  • @animuson frictions are not the only cause… e.g. see printerinkcartridges.printcountry.com/printcountry-articles/… – Franck Dernoncourt Jun 8 '15 at 20:43
  • 1
    there most certainly is disappearing ink. I file all my receipts in folders and have come back to many of them to find the ink almost completely gone! and some are bank receipts. Its the thermal paper used and over time the thermal ink imprint fades making the receipt useless. Wait till your audited to find out how well your receipts have held up over time! Make it a law already!!! – user1208 Aug 28 '15 at 19:21
  • 1
    Especially if you've been given a thermal receipt, keeping them free of abrasions and light isn't always enough. You also have to keep them free of heat (ideally below 75 deg F), in low <70% humidity, and even then they will slowly lose contrast until the paper is basically blank. You need to be diligent about recording your receipts or make photocopies where applicable if you want to maintain long-lasting records (I bulk scan documents to my PC, for example). – CKM Oct 2 '15 at 0:12
6

I make a copy of any important receipt printed on thermal paper, since the terms of many sellers and manufacturers require receipts for disputes. But I'm not aware of any law that says they have to make it convenient to maintain a receipt or other proof of purchase.

However, when a company makes their terms unclear, unexpected, or difficult to comply with it seems there is often a lawyer ready to step up and file a class action lawsuit. Here's one archive to give you an idea of what companies will settle.

In the United States the FTC is also empowered by law to "protect consumers," which means that if "disappearing" receipts become a widespread problem for consumers they could take action on the government's authority:

The Federal Trade Commission Act is the primary statute of the Commission. Under this Act, the Commission is empowered, among other things, to (a) prevent unfair methods of competition, and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce; (b) seek monetary redress and other relief for conduct injurious to consumers; (c) prescribe trade regulation rules defining with specificity acts or practices that are unfair or deceptive, and establishing requirements designed to prevent such acts or practices; (d) conduct investigations relating to the organization, business, practices, and management of entities engaged in commerce; and (e) make reports and legislative recommendations to Congress.

Given the above, I wouldn't be surprised to see either a class-action lawsuit or FTC rule that requires retailers to provide "durable" receipts, or some convenient substitute.

2

In the United States, at least, there is no general right to a receipt at all, much less one that remains legible for a set period of time.

There are specific requirements for specific types of transactions (in the U.S., all credit card transactions are regulated by federal law, I believe), but in general, a receipt is a courtesy, not a legal requirement.

And, as one of the commenters pointed out, there is no such thing as "disappearing" ink. If you take your receipt and put it in a file folder, it will last for years. There is certainly no law that requires a vendor to give you a receipt that will survive being stuffed in your wallet.

  • 2
    I just went through a box of receipts from the late 90s, where they have sat untouched. Many have faded to a completely blank piece of paper. – Andy Aug 30 '15 at 20:38
0

Disappearing Ink should be defined as:

Any ink that is no longer visible afer reasonable handling or use

We are not saying that receipt providers are using trick ink or engaging in deception, just that it is not fit for purpose by the standard expectation for the lifecycle of a proof of transaction.


In the United Kingdom businesses are required to keep a receipt of transactions going back 6 years for tax purposes. When I noticed my receipts fading from thermal paper a slight panic ensued - especially as some of the amounts were significant (ie over USD$100/GBP£75).

However proof of a transaction does not necessitate a paper receipt. As many transactions are now by card a bank statement would attest to the fact that you had spent that amount and to the receiver of the funds.


In Italy if you are not given a receipt by a retailer or restaurant you as the purchaser can be fined (along with the offending restaurant/retailer) if the transaction is found to be off the books.

The Guardia di Finanza are rumoured to wait outside of restaurants suspected of 'cooking' the books to catch unlucky patrons and compile evidence against the offending company.


Long story short:

No there are no laws I am aware of that discuss the visibility of receipts over time.

Yes in most jurisdictions sellers are required to provide a legible receipt of transaction at the time of sale, detailing who they are, any tax applied, and their tax reference.

I imagine you could consider litigating for damages if the receipt was a vital piece of evidence for you in a case where you are attempting to prove that you had not committed fraud, and that it became unreadable through the negligence of the receipt provider in under a year. However the likelihood that this one receipt would be the salient piece of evidence is less likely that me scoring a touchdown in the next super bowl.

Or just try heating up your receipt with an iron/hairdryer ( I accept no liability for this, it is a joke suggestion)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.