Bills and receipts
Receipts in the email are wonderful for the environment, but consumers should check them diligently to avoid paying for billing errors. Image Credit: Pexels

I’ve always backed sustainability measures. That happened long before the COP28 bandwagon rolled into town. All of us must contribute to keep Earth alive for future generations. I’m fully aware of that.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m no eco-warrior. My environment-friendly measures are tempered by practicality.

I drive a car powered by fossil fuel simply because I can’t afford an electric vehicle. To reduce my carbon footprint, I car-pool with a friend for the 52km drive to the office and take the Metro whenever possible.

My dodgy knee doesn’t allow me to take the stairs as often as I would like. That hasn’t prevented me from pursuing green options.

How retailers save trees

One decision has been to get the shopping receipts in my email. That saves paper, which in turn saves trees. A good move from retailers indeed.

I even digitise receipts by scanning them since the prints on thermal paper fade. The receipts are vital to claim refunds and warranty. That’s what the UAE consumer protection laws say.

It was all fine until last week when my grocery bill showed Dh54 for purchasing a kitchen towel. Before you admonish me for using paper towels instead of cloth, let me tell you that I use them sparingly. More for catching oil and stuff like that.

Physical receipt vs email receipt

Kitchen towel for Dh 54! That can’t be. I noticed it only the day after my shopping while checking emails. It wouldn’t have happened had I opted for a physical receipt. I would have checked it while pushing the trolley to the car. Any anomaly could have been sorted then and there.

On weekends, I rarely check my emails. The mail with the grocery receipt remained unscrutinised for a day, and the expensive buy remained unnoticed.

Well, all is not lost. I can still return the kitchen towel and claim a refund. The trouble is to find a suitable time, which is a problem since I reach home late. I could do it over the weekend, yet it rankles because that’s a trip I could have saved had I been careful.

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What can I do to avoid a repeat? Ask for the paper receipt? No, that would be a retrograde move. I would rather save the trees.

More vigilance would help. I should watch the terminal at the till while the groceries are scanned. More importantly, I should check the receipt soon after payment as cashiers mail it immediately. That would save needless heartburn and another trip to the supermarket.

Yes, we should do our bit to save the planet. And it shouldn’t burn a hole in our pockets.