UNFORTUNATELY, I’ve come across the dreaded faded receipt problem countless times. Let’s say my client, Sheila, wants to sue a shop for not honouring the warranty for a laptop that stopped working during the warranty period. I ask Sheila to give me the receipt showing proof of purchase. She hands me a blank strip of paper. “That’s the receipt” she says, “but all the writing has disappeared”. Sigh … Is all lost? It’s the physical receipt, yes, but if there’s nothing to see, then it cannot be used as proof – right? While technically true, there’s a hack that may help you retrieve the text on your faded receipt.
Read on, I’ll tell you more…
Many shops and businesses opt to print their receipts on a chemically coated smooth piece of paper called thermal paper. Text is produced when heat is applied to the paper via the machine that prints the receipt. The process to print the receipt uses absolutely no ink and saves money, as ink for printers can cost businesses a sizeable chunk of their profits. The problem with the thermal paper receipts is that they fade very quickly, in about a year. But I’ve had thermal paper receipts that faded in three months!
These businesses are shifting the burden of proof of purchase on us, the consumers, when we show up with non-readable faded receipts asking for warranties to be honoured etc. Some consider it a dirty business practice to use these thermal paper receipts. There’s a good argument for banning it, but it’s perfectly legal and has widespread use in this country.
If you need to use your faded receipt as proof of purchase, don’t abandon your claim thinking you have no redress. If you don’t have any other proof of purchase to show the seller (e.g., a credit card statement if you used your credit card), here’s a hack that has the potential to make the thermal receipt readable once more, though the receipt will no longer be pretty to look at.
It’s very simple. Take the thermal receipt and gently pass it over a heated surface. (Some suggest passing only the back of the receipt over the heated surface, but I tried it using both the front and the back and it worked.) The heat will turn the paper black. The writing will become readable against the blackness of the paper. When this happens, you can take a photograph as additional evidence.
I used the heated bottom of a frying pan to test this hack. But I understand any heated surface may work e.g., a grill, tawah, hair dryer, clothes iron etc. (Note, if oily or sweaty hands had handled the receipts, you may get some distorted images.) The way I see it, the receipt is already unreadable, so there’s nothing to lose to try this hack. Just be careful, use low heat to avoid burning the paper and don’t get burnt yourself! There’s YouTube videos available on the internet with demonstrations on how to apply the heat that may be worth looking at, as I did.
Of course, it goes without saying that the best policy is to photocopy, scan or photograph your thermal paper receipt right after you get it, but at the same time, I know with our busy lives this may not always be possible. I haven’t tried any of them, but I also understand these faded receipts can be recovered by scanning and digitally recovering it using programs such as Adobe Photoshop, or downloading and using certain Apps to recover the image from the receipt.
Now you know you don’t have to throw away any important faded receipts! Be safe Trinidad and Tobago.
Copyright © 2021 Neela Ramsundar, LL.B (HONS), L.E.C Civil is a Litigation Attorney at Law & Certified Mediator.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for general informative purposes only. It does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader. For legal advice on your specific situation, please contact an Attorney-at-Law of your choosing directly. Liability for any loss or damage of any kind whatsoever allegedly incurred a consequence of using content in this article is thus hereby excluded to the fullest extent permitted by law.