Kmart: The 2 Item, 21 Inch Receipt

Reader David writes in with a complaint about Kmart. David went to his local Kmart where he bought a lamp and a light bulb for that lamp. David was then printed a receipt that was 21 inches long. He measured it. From his blog:

“I did a little math. If every customer purchases exactly two items (an underestimation, I’m sure), then K-Mart goes through approximately one mile of paper every 3,017 customers. Only the top 6 inches of the receipt contains information relevant to the purchase: the date, items purchased, price, store number, etc. The remaining 15 inches contains ads for things I could have purchased if I’d known about them before I went to the register, and also a list of store hours. I don’t know about you, but when I want to know a store’s hours or what they sell, I never dig out old receipts to find the answer. “

This, of course, begs the question: Do any of you even read those receipt ads? This seems like an incredible waste of paper, and it’s getting worse and worse. David calculates that these add-ons waste a mile of paper every 4,224 customers, which means Kmart is wasting 507 miles of paper every single day! Not to mention printer ink! Yikes! —MEGHANN MARCO

Receipts of Unusual Size [Ironic Sans]

See David’s 21 Inches of receipt inside.



Edit Your Comment

  1. acambras says:

    Yeah, it seems like grocery stores are really bad about that, too. Like coupons (presumably so you’ll come back to the store soon) — some stores have wasted paper adding dog food coupons to my receipt, for example. But I don’t HAVE a dog.

  2. homerjay says:

    Coupons are okay. I use the ones I get at the grocery store all the time. The one that drives me NUTS is home depot’s. I go there a lot for do-dads for work. I walk out with a receipt for $4.00 that I MUST keep to write it off but its always 3x as long as it needs to be becuase of their friggen web survey. Bla bla bla. If I wanted to take a web survery from home depot, I would have done it one of the first thousand times I got the receipt.

    Now I just rip it off the bottom and toss it on the floor for them to pick up. Less room for it to take up in my wallet.

  3. Brianron says:

    You toss it on the floor?

    Yeah, always a great idea to match their obnoxious conduct with obnoxious conduct of your own.

  4. kwd says:

    I have had a problem with Blockbuster doing the same thing. I rent one movie and I get five pieces of tape that are pointless. There is normally only one coupon and the rest are promotions. Just send me an email if you really want but I do not need that much paper.

  5. acambras says:

    But homerjay, why would they waste paper giving me coupons I don’t need? A lot of times it doesn’t seem like they’re targeted coupons. It makes me wonder if they print baby formula coupons for elderly shoppers. Or Tampax coupons for male bachelor shoppers.

  6. Echodork says:

    Not really any different from my local grocery store (Giant). Their receipt has an extra five inches of junk at the bottom, and then they hand me a foot-long register-generated series of coupons for products based on my purchases. In a decade of food shopping, I think I may have used two or three of these coupons. I could wallpaper my house with them.

  7. scudsone says:

    Actually it’s a great idea to match their obnoxious conduct with obnoxious conduct of your own. If enough people litter up the exits with the torn bottom scraps off their receipts then maybe (though not likely) they’ll get the idea that its wasteful. In fact, why not kill two birds with one stone: next time I go to shopping I’ll tear the bottom off my receipt and hand just that to the receipt checker at the door, as i continue past him without stopping.

  8. etinterrapax says:

    The coupons I always get from my supermarket are too little off too many of any given item. I buy cereal and get a coupon for a dollar off four boxes or something. So, what, a ten percent discount if I buy more cereal than we eat in six months? Please. Target gives big long receipts, too. Very annoying.

  9. Emrikol says:

    I doubt they’re wasting ink though. I bet they’re using thermal paper that is inkless (although, I believe it does cost more that way)

  10. acambras says:

    I heard that for ink they use the blood of puppies and kittens.

  11. Meg Marco says:

    How does thermal paper work? Am I dumb for not knowing this?

  12. Vinny says:

    (raises hand sheepishly)

    I read ’em :-)


    There’s a heating element in the printer and the paper is coated in a special way that reacts to heat. Since there’s no “ink,” they can print for miles for only the cost of paper.

  13. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    Thank you for purchasing a lamp, perhaps you’d be interested in K-Mart’s jewelry department!

  14. nullset says:

    meghan –

    Try heating your receipt a little bit, and notice that it turns colors.

    Methods of heating: rub it with a coin, use a lighter, place it in the sun…..

  15. DeeJayQueue says:

    lots of people use the thermal printers because they’re fast and they don’t use ink. They DO use a tremendous amount of electricity though. It’s actually a laser that prints the info on the receipt.

    Things to remember about thermal print receipts:
    -don’t laminate them, they’ll turn all black.
    -don’t put tape on them, the type disappears from under the tape.
    -they tend to fade after a while (usually longer than the return window, but sometimes not quite long enough to save for tax purposes).

  16. homerjay says:

    My grocery store coupons almost always seem to be targeted. Like if I buy General Mills cereals, I’ll get a coupon for Kellogs.

    Brian- I’m not countering obnoxious behavior with obnoxious behavior. I’m countering wasteful behavior with obnoxious behavior. VERY different. :)

  17. kerry says:

    My supermarket sticks several inches of promotions at the bottom of my receipt, and they also lengthen the purchase portion by categorizing the products, so for 5 items you get something like 20 lines of text. The promotions are also miserable, on every receipt it says how many Starbucks products I’ve purchased towards some goal (none) and how many Hallmark cards towards a different goal (also none). I don’t participate in that crap, I’d rather not have it generated every time. Oh well.
    The categorization thing is really the pits, though. Your receipt looks like:
    – Frozen peas
    – 2 pkg @ $2.49
    – SALE -$1.00 ea
    – Wine
    – 1q

  18. RandomHookup says:

    Double check those things, though. At CVS, you get your Extra Bucks coupons in the string of offers at the bottom. The grocery store extra ones (called Catalinas by many) can be really valuable, too. I’ve gotten some nice freebies from what others drop on the floor.

  19. kerry says:

    aack, sorry about that, the rest of the post got cut off because I’m a butterfingers. Anyway, you get the picture. 5 lines for each product, broken down into categories. It’s annoying.

  20. Christopher says:

    This is why I always scan and save a digital copy of thermal receipts for important things (mail in rebate forms, UPCs, & receipts, charitable donations, etc). They’re easy to file and find again, and I can make limitless duplicates without quality degradation.

  21. browngt5 says:

    Circuit City is by far the worse. They’ve been printing off huge receipts for as long as I can remember.

    Blockbuster, I agree, is bad.

    I live in DC and shop at Giant. They could do better (especially that separate credit card slip they give you when you charge your purchase), but they’re not too bad.

  22. Michael says:

    About a year ago I bought a package of Twizzlers at CVS, and ever since then my receipts include a line for how many dollars I’ve spent on Twizzlers this year. As if I’m going to read it and think, “Hmm… I’m really not buying Twizzlers often enough. I’ve only spent 99 cents on them this year. I should buy some more!”

  23. Michael says:

    About a year ago I bought a package of Twizzlers at a CVS, and ever since then there’s been an extra line printed on all my receipts listing how much money I’ve spent on Twizzlers this year. As if I’m going to see that and think to myself, “Gee, I’m really not buying Twizzlers often enough. I’ve only spent 99 cents on them this year. Better go buy some more!”

  24. I read ’em after I check my receipt for accuracy, usually to keep myself entertained while waiting the bazillion years to cross the traffic lane in front of the store into the parking lot. It’s not a well-designed shopping center.

    acambras: “But homerjay, why would they waste paper giving me coupons I don’t need? A lot of times it doesn’t seem like they’re targeted coupons.”

    Generally the more you use your rewards card, the more targeted they get. (As I trade my rewards card with people, I’m sure they wonder why a 60-year-old male pastor in south west virginia buys so many tampons in central illinois, but that’s their problem.) They’re targeted both based on your purchase that day, and based on your culumative purchases over time.

    Every time I buy frozen entrees, I get a coupon for “buy 3 frozen entrees, get $1 off!” then when I buy the three, they up the ante to 4, then 5 with the targeted coupon. I don’t care, we eat those, and after 5 it usually stops and then starts back up a few shopping trips later at 3. Sometimes if I haven’t bought something I usually buy in a while, I get a coupon for that like it wants me to come back and stop breaking its heart.

    The only one that actively ticks me off is EVERY SINGLE TIME I buy my cats their IAMS cat food, Purina gives me a coupon urging me to buy Purina. I’m sorry, Purina, but no matter HOW MANY TIMES you give me two dollars off, I’m NOT BUYING your crap-ass corn-based cat-food-like substance for my diabetic cat who’s on a restricted diet! JUST GIVE UP ALREADY!

    (Also, I have to wonder how effective this is generally, since a lot of cats are very picky about their food and won’t eat if the owner switches brands.)

  25. simmo says:

    In Australia the ads are pre-printed onto the back of the receipt.
    I have noticed receipts getting bigger though – possibly to make them easier to read (items and price in bold and larger typeface).

  26. CVS coupons are generally useful, and I love the Extra Bucks, although it is annoying to be handed a whole book of paper. 21 inches nothing, you are luck to get out of there with under 3 feet of recipt.
    But really, the cost of paper and ink/thermal heat is nothing compared to a TV commercial or even a mailer. Its a pretty effective way to advertise, because they know you shop there.

  27. Just because nobody’s said it yet: HOW MANY TREES ARE WE KILLING so that stores can foist even more unsolicited advertising on us than they already do?

    Want to give me coupons? Put them in your circular thing, or put them out in the store so I can take one if I need it. Want to advertise crap that’s on sale? That’s what signage in the store is for. There’s no need to be wasting miles of paper just to have 20 less inches of the world be free of ads.


  28. methane says:

    I always thought it would be a funny skit (SNL funny, not ha-ha funny) to have people checking out at Best Buy and each getting a pile of register receipts and rebate receipts and whatnot. When you get a rebate from Best Buy, they have a tendency to give you 3 feet worth of receipts. it’s ridiculous.

  29. elangomatt says:

    I had a time I went to Best Buy for two items and received 6 feet worth of receipt. In all fairness though, I was getting three mail in rebates for my purchase so they printed out the rebate forms and rebate receipts with the register so I was happy about the 6ft receipt. It was just pretty darn funny to see the register printing the big huge 6 feet of receipt though.

  30. Jasoco says:

    God, don’t I know this. I worked at Kmart for 4 years. It’s been slowly getting worse and worse. I quit two months ago. This reciept, a waste of a forest, was just one of the things on my list of shit wrong with the place.