Why Do Stores Give Physical Receipts?

(Photo: Derek Bridges)

Stores give paper receipts in order to prevent employee theft.

Busineess Insider’s Joe Weisenthal tweeted the question. Megan McArdle, a columnist with Bloomberg View tracked down an answer.

The purpose of a cash register is to reduce the ability of dishonest employees to pocket the employer's money. A cash register rings loudly when the drawer opens. The total charge and change pops up on the screen. A cashier can’t simply slip the money under the table. Ms. McArdle explains:

That’s why cash registers ring loudly when the cash drawer opens -- so that a clerk with decent mental arithmetic skills can’t pretend to register your sale and then pocket the cash. And that’s why you get a physical receipt -- so that the clerk can’t ring up part of your sale, and then siphon the rest into his own pocket.

They give you a receipt every time, annoying as it is, because they know you’ll glance at the total and notice if it’s very different from what you just paid. And maybe ask the clerk why, in the hearing of their manager.

-via Glenn Reynolds

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It's also to prevent customer theft. Most stores won't give cash for returns without a receipt. On the topic of cashiers and mental arithmetic. Last week I bought 6, 50 cent food items. The bar code wouldn't scan so the cashier put in a generic code and then could not figure out how much to charge me. I had to tell her the total was $3 and no tax.
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I don't think that's the only reason. If a product is defective and you want to return it, how do you prove you bought it from that particular shop without a receipt? Not all products have store branding.
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Those are the stores I refuse to patronize. I can't stand being made to feel like a criminal just because I am carrying merchandise out of the store. It's bad enough when a cashier doesn't manage to demagnetize the EM tag in something I buy and the alarm goes off when I walk out the door.
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