pet peeves: documentation and thermal printed receipts


We have all bemoaned the fact that few products, calculators included, come with decent quality, readable documentation. To its credit, HP includes a good printed manual with every 12c and 17bii, and also the 35s (at least when I bought mine a couple of years ago; I understand they may not do that now; pity).

I bought a cheapo calculator at Walgreens earlier this year and the documentation consisted of a single multi-fold sheet on which the printing was so small as to make it virtually unreadable. I had to use my copier with a magnification factor of 200% and it was still almost unreadable at that. So kudos to HP, and lets encourage good quality printed manuals for all future products.

My other pet peeve is store cash registers that issue receipts on thermal paper because those receipts fade away, sometimes before the warranty even expires. How can you prove when you bought something if the receipt is unreadable? The best receipts are printed with real ink, which seems to hold up after many years in my experience.


Photocopy those receipts while they are still fresh and legible and save the photocopies along with the original receipts. If the warranty requires you to submit the original as proof, you can then do so along with the readable copy (save a readable copy for yourself though!)



...those receipts fade away, sometimes before the warranty even expires. How can you prove when you bought something if the receipt is unreadable?

Perhaps not the original intent, but definitely a side benefit to the retailer/manufacturer.

I've had the same problem with thermal receipts.

For those receipts that I need to keep, I now scan them so I can print a copy if necessary...


Here in Switzerland they normally only provide a 1 year warranty so fading receipts are not a real problem. What is the standard warranty period in your country?



Juergen, the warranties in the US are typically 1 year also, although it depends upon the product. Some cars have warranties for 5 years or more, and some small appliances have much shorter warranties, like 30 or 90 days. I bought a service contract for a treadmill a few years ago for three years. It failed after two years and when I went to invoke the contract, the receipt was so faded that you could not read the date on it; it was printed on thermal paper. Fortunately, they honored the contract since they had records when I purchased it.


When exposed to sunlight, the receipt might turn into a plain white (yellow) sheet of paper within one or two months.
On the other hand, if you glue your receipt to a sheet to store it away (as a business document e.g.), it might turn your receipt black, due to solvants used for the glue. Be careful when selecting a glue.
Either way, a copy (laser/toner) is a good solution.
(In Germany, a business has to keep book records for 10 years, of course including receipts etc. Receipts printed on thermal paper are quite a problem, since they *will* fade away within a couple of years, even when stored in a dry and cold and dark place.)


I've also noticed that if you take a copy (from a toner copier) and put the page in a binder as the first page (so that the toner on the paper copy is against the plastic back of the binder cover), that gets goofed up too. We put a man on the moon 40 years ago next month, why can't we solve these simple problems?


This is the case with non-"document safe"-stuff. The flexibilizer used in cheap plastics will diffund into surrounding material, which of course does include plastics-based toner particels, loosening the particles and make them sticky.
There are document-safe sheet protectors, which don't use flexibilizer and are recommended for anything of importance. Usually, these are more expensive than the standard sheet protectors and stating this feature. As for the binder: just use a paper-binder (pre war quality). These are more expensive (by factor 2-3), but will probably last forever. No plastic to degrade in there 8)


Hi Don,

It is because the binders contains PVC (poly vinyl chloride) with plasticizers which make the plastic soft. This softener will interact with your copy and smear or copy them off the paper as you mention.

To prevent this you need to use archival safe binders and sheet protectors and they are available at no significant extra cost over standard binders. Often these products are made in polypropylene.

You can read more at keepfiling web site about archival safety and archival safe
I have attached a few links for your review.


Don: In the past years I worked for the systems division of a large retail company; and we faced the problem of thermal receipts reliability. Local tax laws require the merchant to keep the copy-paper roll of the cash registers for many years. Thermal paper is not safe enough (there are certified thermal papers with longer stability, but the cost is high for such an operation); that brought dot matrix impact printers back to the Point Of Sale terminals, and sent thermal printers home, even with speed, reliability and noise advantages.

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