Will you be hitting the shops for bank holiday bargains this weekend? If you do make a purchase, would you rather have an old-fashioned paper receipt or do you prefer receiving it via email?
I’m a data refusenik.
I fill out the wrong telephone number in email forms when it isn’t apparent why I should have to divulge it and automatically unsubscribe from the marketing emails that appear in my inbox as soon as I’ve bought something online.
As for the cloud, I’m totally suspicious of what actually happens within it.
Of course, you could say I just need to get with the 21st century.
But imagine my paranoia when, among the Viagra deals and once-in-a-lifetime-million-pound business offers, I started to get loads of emails in my junk folder from certain retailers that I’d only visited the week before.
How could they be watching me? Then it clicked. The magic word: e-receipt.
E for ease?
I had wondered why I was asked for my email address by one retailer when it was only fitting a new bulb in my car. And then I remembered duly giving it to a sales assistant in a jewellery shop because I was in such a rush to get a last-minute present before racing for the train.
Retailers say that e-receipts are more convenient for customers, because having a digital copy means it can’t get lost/washed/wrapped around chewing gum should it be needed for proof or purchase when returning an item. They also say they can also double up as a warranty.
I don’t need a warranty for an £8 necklace. But apparently they need my email address, so they can send me offers I’m not interested in and never knew I was signing up for.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has reminded retailers of their obligations under data and privacy laws when it comes to e-receipts, and the fact that people have the right to know what happens to their personal data.
But how much do shops share this information with their staff?
I decided to put it to the test and go back into the jewellery shop.
The assistant requested my email address and I asked why. She said (of course) it was so they could send me an e-receipt. I said I’d rather have a normal paper one. She replied that she’d have to open up the other till and ‘we’re trying to save paper’. So I said I could wait, I’d still rather have a paper receipt and that I’d recycle it myself.
I’m not saying it’s the fault of any shop assistants – in fact, I wonder whether collecting email addresses is the modern-day equivalent of getting people to sign up to store cards. Do they work on commission?
But the retailers should make it clear that any information they ask for is backed up with an honest explanation. That way, a shopper can make a clear decision about whether to share their data, and not just be made to feel guilty about trees.
Do you also dislike getting sent receipts on email or do you think they’re preferable because you can’t lose them?