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National Opinion: Do you want your receipt?

The following column is the opinion and analysis of the writer:

Yes, receipts do seem to breed like rabbits in my poor overstuffed-with-credit-cards-and-gift-cards-and-loyalty-cards-and-hastily-scribbled-notes wallet.

But that’s my personal problem to sort through at home in my quieter moments.

That’s why I’m deeply disturbed by the recent phenomenon of retail clerks putting me on the spot with some variation of “Do you want your receipt?” or “Would you like your receipt?” Snap judgment time!

I can understand “Would you prefer the receipt in the bag?” or “Would you rather have the receipt emailed?”; but the stark all-or-nothing question is extremely triggering.

Call me old school, but I like taking transactions for granted. Stop with the existential interrogations! What’s next in the realm of impertinent retail inquiries? “Do you want the milk left in the jug?” “Would you prefer a fitting room with or without a latch?”

In my more mischievous moments, I’m tempted to eye the “Do you want your receipt?” clerk warily, whip out my phone and fake a conversation along the lines of “Snipers in place? We’ve got a hostage situation here.”

What’s driving this sudden change? Does it have something to do with our carbon footprints? If my accepting 4 square inches of waxy paper and storing it in a desk drawer is going to strangle a sea turtle somewhere, I apologize (and wonder how the wimpy little reptiles would handle an asteroid crash).

Besides, isn’t it “too little, too late” (ecologically speaking) to talk a customer out of a receipt right before he gulps down his Slim Jim, hops in the cab of his monster truck and roars off to work clear-cutting virgin forests?

Or maybe the reluctance to print a receipt is a cost-cutting measure. Hey, if you’re teetering on the brink of insolvency like that, you’d better be extra-good to me, or I’ll push you over the precipice. (“Yes, I want my receipt. Duplicates of my receipt! And a wad of napkins for my glove compartment. And some ketchup packets. I don’t care if this is a furniture store — I want my ketchup packets!”)

Or maybe the Stepford Clerks are dutifully following corporate directives to be extra helpful. Hey, if sparing me from the horrors of an overstuffed shirt pocket gives them the jollies, I can think of even more ways for them to find bliss. My shed needs decluttering this weekend, and how’s about watering my plants while I’m on vacation?

Are customers expected to reciprocate when clerks make these grand gestures? (“OK, I’ll dance at your wedding, and I’ll co-sign your loan, but I’ll have to think about this kidney donation thing, Cindi with An I.”)

Most receipts never see the light of day again, but it’s shortsighted to relinquish your receipt when you could very well be haggling with Customer Service over returns of an ill-fitting garment or a nonfunctioning electronic gadget. (“I swear I bought this here. Please give me credit. Pretty please, with a cherry on top. No, I can’t prove I paid for the cherry, either…”)

Retailers aren’t doing shoppers any favors when they cajole them into facing an income tax audit without a shoebox of receipts. (“I know I could’ve deducted my new printer if I had the receipts, but Zachary with a W made such a persuasive case.”)

Back off, clerks! I grew up when “proof-of-purchase seals” meant something. You’ll pry my receipts from my cold, Sugar Smacks-infused fingers.

Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at and visits to his Facebook fan page, “Tyree’s Tyrades.”

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