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The traditional receipt will soon no longer be issued systematically. However, the small slip is part of the daily life of the French, for whom it serves as proof in the event of an error, or a return – and helps some households to do their accounts, in addition to detecting possible errors in prices.

The end of receipts is provided for by the Anti-Wastage Law. After the entry into force of the measure, those who still wish to have a receipt can still request it. But if this request is not expressly made, the merchant will no longer automatically issue the small paper invoice.

When will receipts disappear?

The systematic printing of receipts will be prohibited in France from January 1, 2023. The country is thus a pioneer in Europe, even if in some neighboring countries such as the Netherlands, the printing of the receipt is already not systematic in many shops.

From this date, if you still want a receipt, you will have to ask your cashier or merchant when paying.

Which receipts are affected?

According to the government, only cash receipts issued by sales areas and establishments open to the public, bank card receipts, receipts produced by automatic machines, purchase vouchers and promotional or reduction receipts are affected by the measure.

Cash receipts relating to the purchase of “durable” goods listed in Article D. 211-1 of the Consumer Code are nevertheless excluded. The list of these assets is as follows:

  • Appliances
  • IT equipment
  • Consumer electronics
  • Telephone devices
  • Cameras
  • Appliances, fitted with an electric or thermal motor, intended for DIY or gardening
  • Games and toys, including video game consoles
  • Sport stuff
  • Watches and watch products
  • Lighting items and fixtures
  • Sun protection glasses
  • Furnishing elements

For these purchases, a receipt will therefore always be issued, in order to facilitate returns and after-sales service. In addition, merchants affected by the measures are free to offer their customers dematerialized receipts (received by email, for example).

Why are receipts removed?

Two reasons led to prohibiting the systematic printing of receipts. The first is the fight against waste, while 30 billion receipts and credit card slips are printed each year. These receipts are not useful to all customers, and as a result, a large proportion ends up thrown away, very often on the road…

Also, traditional receipts are not just scraps of paper. We are talking here about thermal paper: a very economical system that allows you to print invoices without using ink. The characters of the receipt are thus printed by simply applying heat. For this to work, the paper must be treated with a chemical product, in particular bisphenol A (90% of current receipts).

Cash receipts thus expose tens of millions of French people to this substance, even though Bisphenol A is recognized as a dangerous endocrine disruptor.

What alternatives to the receipt for customers?

Despite the disappearance of the receipt, customers who want it should still be able to access a dematerialized version of their slip. Some merchants, for example the clothing chain Uniqlo, already offer to receive the invoice for your purchases by email. Other merchants may offer the sending of a receipt by SMS.

At other brands such as supermarkets, it should be possible to consult the list of your purchases via your loyalty card or customer account.

Can we still return purchases after the end of the receipt?

This is a big concern for some customers. How do I return a purchase without a receipt? First of all, we note that in the categories excluded from the measure, many products will still be subject to the issue of a slip. This will always be the case, for example, if you buy a computer or a smartphone – purchases for which you will therefore always be able to make receipt claims in support.

But what to do then in the event of damaged foodstuffs or defective products purchased in supermarkets? According to our colleagues from Capital, at Carrefour and Auchan at least, customers will be systematically reimbursed in the event of a return. Other brands could rely on dematerialized receipts attached, for example, to the loyalty card.

End of the receipt: what scams should you be wary of?

The UFC-Que Choisir and the CNIL have expressed reservations in view of the upcoming end of receipts. The first concerns the risk of advertising spam: in fact, it will become more common to share your email or telephone number during payment, which runs the risk of ending up on an increasing number of canvassing lists, and therefore of find themselves harassed by telephone spam.

It can nevertheless be emphasized at this stage that the GDPR remains in force and applies to all merchants. If the latter intends to send you advertising communications, he must obtain your express consent. Under no circumstances can it include your details in a customer file without asking your permission and informing you of its purpose.

Another risk pointed out by the associations: potentially increased fraud. A study by the DGCCRF estimates an average of 8% of the number of errors during checkout. With the disappearance of the slip, the associations fear that merchants will take advantage of it – and that this percentage will end up exploding. However, it should again be noted that such a practice would constitute fraud, and that the perpetrators therefore expose themselves to heavy penalties.

Finally, the last fear: the increased risk of abuse towards people who are not very comfortable with computer tools and who can find themselves more easily harmed in the event of a defective product, for example. Again, it should be noted that it will always be possible to require a paper receipt. But you just have to remember to ask for it.

Conclusion: surviving at the end of the receipt should on the whole be a formality

Changes of any kind always arouse resistance, but one need only look to history to realize that one does not always lose by changing things. Paper receipts remain to this day a very useful accounting tool for some households, while for others it has completely fallen into disuse.

Worse, once crumpled up and forgotten in a jeans pocket, the usefulness of the receipt disappears, giving way to its sole impact on the environment and health. Alternatives to receipts are already being implemented by some merchants, so the transition is already underway in France – and more broadly in Europe.

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In the first months of the transition, we can expect a few hiccups from some brands, but these should quickly subside. As for those who don’t want to hear about the disappearance of paper slips, rest assured: it will still be possible for a long time to demand the small piece of paper if it is useful to you.

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