Vanishing receipts: receipts printed on thermal paper

A receipt is surely a legal document. Why is it not mandatory to provide a receipt with long lasting printing: ink on “real” paper? Stores require a receipt to prove purchase - give me a receipt which doesn’t disappear.
I can see the difficulties with this but…


… some of them die almost immediately if left in a hot car – I’ve stuck receipts in a spirax notepad in the past, but down the track they are often illegible, even some not on thermal paper. I usually write next to them the date, amount and what it was - but I do wonder what the ATO would make of it if I was audited - am I responsible for the preservation of a receipt that is not fit for purpose (ie a 7 year life).

Good question!


Thermal-reactive paper needs to be stored in certain conditions to be kept from fading, unfortunately. I believe keeping it away from heat and not storing it in plastic helps its longevity. If it’s an option for you, digitising receipts is fairly easy and keeps the information for however long you need it, but I understand this can be hard to get your head around for those who aren’t used to technology


An option if you have a smartphone or tablet is to use one of the receipt storage apps. You take a picture of it and store it electronically.

We use a personal accounting software (Reckon), which also allows images to be stored within the stoftware and attached to the payment record.

Both these are useful as one no longer needs to keep hardcopies of all receipts.

Any yes, the electronic copy, if a true copy of the whole receipt, is just as valid as the original hardcopy.


I found a 30 month old thermal receipt that was stored in a folder in my fire safe that was all but completely illegible. Yes, required as proof of warranty. Dark and cool but not in plastic.

via a scanner or as @phb mentioned, a photo. I found attaching my digital receipts to my accounting program to be less friendly than putting them in a ‘receipts folder’ on the PC because I can name and arrange at will. I am not organised enough to remember when or where I bought things and cannot be bothered searching.


Would a digital copy be taken at face value by authorities (eg the ATO) or would it need some kind of certification as a true copy?


This can make one glassy eyed, but the ATO accepts digital copies. Clause 12 gets to it.


The store receipt is not the only proof of purchase: From ACCC website on receipts

"Receipts and other types of proof of purchase
A receipt or other proof of purchase must include the:
. supplier’s name and ABN or ACN
. date of supply
. product or service, and price.

A receipt can come in the form of a:
. a GST tax invoice or
. cash register or hand written receipt.

Other types of proof of purchase include:
. credit or debit card statement
. a lay-by agreement
. a receipt or reference number given for phone or internet payments
. a warranty card showing the supplier’s or manufacturer’s details and the date and amount of the purchase
. a serial or production number linked with the purchase on the supplier’s or manufacturer’s database
. a copy or photograph of the receipt.

Businesses can ask you for proof of purchase
To use your rights to a repair, replacement or refund you will need to keep the receipt or other type of proof of purchase. Sometimes you may need to provide more than one of these things to support your claim – for example, when a credit card statement does not clearly itemise the product.

It is also a good idea to keep records about any descriptions and promises of how the product or service should appear and work.

Keep receipts in a safe, dry place and take a copy of them if you are worried about fading."

I have filed away receipts in and out of plastic sleeves, in cool dark places only to find blank pieces of paper. I file in chronological order, and surprisingly older receipts next to the blank one were still as new. I think it totally depends on the paper and the thermal printer used. Some last, others don’t.

I have more recently been scanning the higher value receipts also listed in date order, the retailer’s name, and the product. If you date in year, month, day order it will automatically sort into the right order. (For example:- 2018 02 11 - JB HiFi - Orion TV. [the hyphens are optional])

An alternative for receipts and gift vouchers etc is to take a pic of it with your phone. The pic can then be used instead of the paper version. One problem is that not all scanners will ‘see’ the barcodes in the pic, so sometimes they have to entered by hand.


It’s a nuisance! I always Scan & save a copy of the receipt in my “Warranty” file on my laptop and also print a hard copy just in case I need to use the Warranty for replacement of repairs.

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Yes, all those suggestions for getting around the problem are good, but back to Rosemary’s original question - why isn’t it mandatory to provide a receipt that doesn’t disappear, especially as it is proof of purchase required for warranty/tax etc. Why should the customer have to take extra steps?

By the way, Officeworks offers to email receipts to you (or will if asked) to get over this problem


JB Hifi does that also. :slight_smile:


I tend to scan dockets for major purchases and store the receipt and a scan. If it’s a real big-ticket item you should get a proper receipt but I also scan those. And save every documet in a folder reserved for receipts.

Sucks that we have to be responsible for the longevity of our receipts. Seems like customer service isn’t that important to stores any more…


If I buy any product that has a warranty I ALWAYS photo copy the receipt & put recept & photocopy of same in an envelope, type the item, date of purchase, place of purchase & length of warranty on the outside & then file it in an expanding folder.


Several times now when I have bought a major item from a retail store the checkout operator has actually told me to photocopy my receipt for guarantee purposes because the original receipt will fade away!
This is absolutely ridiculous. A receipt is a legal document and I suggest they devise a way of making them permanent.


What would happen if you needed to return a product after a while, and simply gave them the faded receipt? They gave you this piece of paper and you gave it back to them, but of course they couldn’t provide a reliable piece of paper. How would that go down?


The other thing to consider is that most point of retail sale software which produces the receipt also records the transaction. Even without a receipt, if one knew the date and approximate time that the purchase was made, the store should be able to search their records and produce a copy of the receipt. I also expect that the records need to be kept for 7 years plus for taxation reasons.

This worked for us at JB HiFi were we only had a copy of our bank account statement with evidence of a purchase at JB HiFi. JB HiFi were able to reproduce the receipt based ion this information to confirm the items purchased through that transaction.

I am always a little dubious of providing a retail outlet my email address to get a copy of the receipt emailed, as I am concerned it will result in unsolicited emails from them or others should they pass on-sell these details.


Bunnings have done this for me - Given a date and approximate time, they were able to reprint a receipt from 6 months or so back …


If you have a smart phone then scan them.

I do if the product. needs to be registered and they want a copy of the receipt.

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I agree Rosemary. One of the worst which I first encountered with this problem was the MEDICARE receipt – and I am talking maybe 15 to 20 years ago. I felt, and still feel, that it was disgusting that a government body did not provide a receipt with a long shelf-life. All the more so if it might be needed for completing details on a tax return, and as evidence to the ATO for that purpose.

I read where other readers in here have mentioned using smart phones to copy them, etc.; but why should anyone have to go to all of that trouble, when a hardcopy, non-fadeable receipt, should be provided in the first place?


SO agree!! I hate that receipts, which need to keep for legal reasons do not keep! I understand the difficulties, but if needed for taxation, surely can provide me with one that will last intact/legible!?