Assemblyman Phil Ting (D–San Francisco) introduced a bill that would require businesses to provide their customers with an electronic receipt unless they specifically requested a paper one, in an effort to both cut down on waste and protect human health from the deadly chemicals found on paper receipts.I'm old school, and frequently have to request a receipt, whether it's for a balance transfer transaction or a cash sale. The default for many people is apparently to not keep track of where their money is going. Here I thought the prohibition on plastic straws was silly, but there's no limit to the silliness, where signalling your virtue might be concerned.
Ting's bill is modelled explicitly on the state's recently passed straw-on-request bill, down to the penalties.It will, however, give the information technology companies more opportunities to mine data.
Any default provision of a physical receipt would expose the paper proof-of-purchase providing proprietor to daily fines of $25, capped at $300 per year—a carbon copy of the fines restaurateurs face for handing out unsolicited plastic straws.
The similarities between the two policies do not end there.
Straw bans got their start with a number of well-marketed advocacy campaigns from environmental nonprofits with catchy, alliterative names like 'Strawless in Seattle' or 'Skip the Straw.'
Ting's bill likewise draws both its inspiration and most of its facts and figures from nonprofit Green America's Skip the Slip campaign—which does its best to hype the environmental impact and health risks of paper receipts.
Passing some sort of receipt-on-request law will not do much to improve the health of California's environment or its residents. If anything, it will ensure that more of them are coaxed into giving over their data for an electronic receipt, which will almost certainly increase digital litter in their inboxes.Quite so. My preference is to not have to play Twenty Questions just to complete a transaction, and not to have my transactions analyzed for the purpose of nudging me to buy other stuff.
It is true that receipts, unlike straws, are becoming less relevant as more and more purchases are digitized. Nevertheless, it should be up to businesses and consumers to figure out how they want to record their purchases.