Endangered Species: the Printed Receipt

Call me a nut, but I like to know that I’ve actually bought what I’m paying for. I save all my Visa receipts and each month check them off against the charges on my statement. A couple of years ago I found a $790 charge for an Air India ticket I never bought: it was the work of a phisher.

For this reason I am distressed that it’s getting harder to obtain a receipt for my credit-card purchases.  Until fairly recently I could get a receipt 100 percent of the time.  That is no longer the case. Have you noticed that recently cashiers ask you if you want a receipt? Not long ago this question was never asked, you just got your receipt automatically.

I first noticed the new regime at Clover Food Lab, a “healthy” fast-food business in Harvard Square.  They sell more nutritious versions of popular things like the falafel sandwich.  (Yes, falafel is a fried food, but they add more lettuce and salad greens to the pita pocket.) Clover uses an unconventional process of ordering and paying—but it’s one that may be the wave of the future.  The Clover customer gets greeted near the doorway by a roving employee with a handheld device. This person answers questions about the brief Clover menu and inputs orders to the handheld, which sends it via radio signal to the kitchen.

Read more →