How to get a refund with a faded or lost receipt

So much of Australian consumer law seems to depend on having proof of purchase. But what can you do when

So much of Australian consumer law seems to depend on having proof of purchase. But what can you do when that proof has vanished like invisible ink?

It seems ridiculous that a receipt for something with a multi-year warranty could be printed with paper and ink so cheap it will be unreadable by the time you need it.

Unfortunately, that’s the reality. While the law says every retailer must be able to provide proof of purchase, there is no law about how long that record needs to be legible. As a consumer, it’s hard not to worry.

Thankfully, a faded receipt is not necessarily the end. Even a lost receipt can be worked around.

What can I do if I can’t supply a legible receipt?

According to the ever-reliable Choice, there are a number of other ways you can provide proof of purchase, including:

  • A bank or credit card statement
  • A hand-written version of the same records
  • A photograph or photocopy of the original receipt (this is the single best way to work around the problem, as it can be done in seconds with a smartphone or tablet)
  • A loyalty card record (if you used Fly Buys or Woolworths Rewards, for example, they should have a transaction record on file)
  • A confirmation number (particularly useful for internet or online transactions)
  • Lay-by agreement records

If your receipt has faded, chances are you won’t be the first to have this problem, so your request may already be a familiar one with the staff member. Many retailers will be able to reprint the original receipt if given enough information about the date, time and nature of the purchase.

Can I make the receipt more legible?

Here’s one great tip, in some cases, can help darken faded receipt text:

  • Get a hairdryer.
  • Place the receipt on a flat surface with a paperweight.
  • Hold the dryer at arm’s length and blast it on the highest heat setting.

If this makes the writing more legible, immediately photograph or scan the document.

How can I prevent faded receipts?

To find out if you have a thermal receipt (the type prone to fade fast), Choice suggests simply scratching a blank section with your fingernail to see if it leaves a black mark.

If so, it’s time to take action. Take a photo of the receipt immediately – even a quick, legible phone snap. 

There are two key ways to slow the fading process, though neither is guaranteed:

  • Keep it away from sunlight or heat.
  • Avoid storing it in plastic sleeves.

Another great tip is to download the ACCC Shopper app for your phone or tablet, which will help you photograph and keep full long-term records of your receipts.

What can I do if a retailer still refuses to honour the purchase?

If you feel the retailer has been provided with enough information but they are still refusing to help, send a complaint to the ACCC with your original (faded) receipt attached. Click here to learn more.

Have you ever had trouble with a lost or faded receipt? Were you still able to get a refund?

  1. This is why on important items I take a copy of the receipt so that even when the receipt is faded I have a clear copy – I still attach the receipt to the copy though

  2. i always photocopy orignals for all electrial purchases & household goods that have any warrenty time on goods, that way you can save info if ever needed to claim etc …

  3. Have a lotto coupon that belonged to my mum from 35yrs ago (and mysteriously appeared 28yrs after she died) and the numbers are still legible (just). The coupons that you got then were marked by hand and signed , then the original was sent to the lotto office and you got the copy. By the way ,,,,,when I use mums numbers usually have a small win but not often with my numbers…think mums telling me something.

  4. For important warranty receipts I scan it (copy on computer), photocopy it and attach original receipt & copy to the product paperwork. I also clearly write the length of warranty and the expiry date on the front of the paperwork. Saves time working out if it’s still under warranty.

    • I do the same and also take a photograph of important ones. I have a file for each store I shop at and always mark with warranty dates.

  5. I always photo copy all my receipts staple them together and put in a plastic sleeve so I know we’re they are

  6. If it’s a big purchase I always take a photo with my phone and then move it to a file I have created for that purpose, which is great because I need one for a purchase still under warranty this morning which has now been replaced by Office Works.

  7. Agree with everyone, always photocopy receipts and other important documents, licence,passport, Medicare card, pension card, Visa card and other cards. Had my wallet stolen years ago and trying to prove who I was, was a nightmare.

  8. Yes but I just called up the transaction on my I phone bank statement where it showed retailers name, date purchased and amount – retailer was happy and honoured the return

  9. I photocopy mine and save into the computer in a warranty file, I will try that app when I get my new iphone

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