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Disappearing Ink on Thermal Paper? 89

Posted by Cliff
from the today's-receipts-tomorrow's-contracts dept.
dpippenger asks: "A few days ago my rear projection TV made a soft clicking noise and the color balance suddenly went a bit blue. The set was only about 3 months old and I neglected to get the in store warranty. I decided to try and cash in on the 1 year manufacturers warranty which only required an original sales receipt as documentation. I quickly opened up my file cabinet and retrieved the receipt in question. I was fairly upset to find the sales receipt was printed on a slippery thermal paper (pretty common these days) and after only 3 months was noticeably degraded. The paper was discolored slightly and important blocks of text like the model number were just gone. After some conversation at the TV repair shop they finally accepted it as proof of warranty. The problem is this receipt is my only evidence of warranty for an entire year. I have to wonder what the receipt will look like in another 9 months and if it will be unacceptable as proof of purchase next time I need repairs. Have any other readers had a similar experience or have tips on preserving these thermal receipts?"
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Disappearing Ink on Thermal Paper?

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  • duh (Score:3, Funny)

    by demian031 (466963) <demian0311 AT yahoo DOT com> on Thursday August 28, 2003 @05:42PM (#6818707)
    1. a photo-copier
    2. a scanner
    • Re:duh (Score:5, Funny)

      by pbox (146337) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @05:44PM (#6818735) Journal
      Laminate it. It seems that both inkjet and thermal printers are harmed by the air just as much as by sunlight. Keep it in the dark, and laminate it...
      • Re:duh (Score:5, Informative)

        by NickDngr (561211) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @05:46PM (#6818755) Journal
        You seem to be forgetting that a critical part of the laminating process is extreme heat. That would just turn the whole thing solid black.
        • Re:duh (Score:2, Informative)

          by jonadab (583620)
          > You seem to be forgetting that a critical part of the
          > laminating process is extreme heat.

          The big, fast, convenient laminators work that way. The cheapo
          ones just use two rolls of clear contact paper (one top and one
          bottom), rollers, and a hand crank. Should be fine.

        • Office supply stores often carry (for lack of a better term) room temperature laminating material. It looks like an 8.5"x11" clear sticker, and is pretty easy to use:

          put the laminating sheet clear side down on a table

          peel off the backing paper

          place the object to be protected on the now-exposed sticky side of the sheet. In this case the receipt would go print side down.

          either fold the clear sheet over the back of the receipt, or trim it, or whatever.

          Oh, I forgot something:

          profit

      • Re:duh (Score:4, Informative)

        by itwerx (165526) <itwerx@gmail.com> on Thursday August 28, 2003 @05:48PM (#6818768) Homepage
        Mod parent up as funny!!!

        Or maybe troll...

        (If you don't get it, think about how thermal paper is printed, and how hot a laminator gets! :)

        • If you could laminate without turning the paper black.

          It wouldn't really protect it from heat anyhow. It's not like a thin layer of plastic will keep the heat off. Photocopying is the best bet.

          Which reminds me... thermal paper is a neat thermometer. I've noticed that leaving some receipts in the car gives me varying degrees of darkness depending on how hot the day is :-)
      • Re:duh (Score:1, Offtopic)

        by rudy_wayne (414635)
        Yes very true. I printed several pictures on glossy "photo" paper using a run-of-the-mill Hewlett-Packard inket printer. I hung the picutee on a bulletin board with absolutely no exposure to sunlight and within 4 months the pictures were very very faded.
      • by pbox (146337)
        OK, I concur, you need to use the cold lamination (the glue type) not the heat type!
      • by Guspaz (556486)
        This is a reply to everybody who said you can't laminate it:

        Duh, think before you post. Thermal based laminators are not the only kind. There are lamination machines that simply have two clear pieces of plastic with sticky bottoms and seal them together with rollers, or you can buy do-it-yourself lamination material where you cut the size you need and place the item between two sheets.
      • Even if you were to laminate it cold, the platic would react with the thermal paper. That's why they tell you not to keep thermally printed paper in plastic bags.
        • hmmm so what are they telling me when they put that thermal paper reciept in the plastic bag they just put my merchandise in?
      • A++!!! You're my hero!!! =D
    • Re:duh (Score:3, Insightful)

      by coryboehne (244614)
      Funny enough I've found a much better method.

      If you purchase something from Best Buy, Office Max, Staples or other stores that have a triplicate recipt for credit cards that have seem to not work when swiped you can take advantage of that situation pretty easy... I'll spell it out for you.

      0. Contact your bank and request an additonal check/credit card.

      1. Purchase a Rare Earth Magnet [rare-earth-magnets.com] with your new card. Be sure to pick one of the larger magnets available..

      2. Store your new card with your new magnet for
      • by einTier (33752)
        That won't always work, since most of those terminals now allow manual input, and they don't use the imprint tool unless the power is out. It's simply too easy to 'charge' a stolen, over the limit, closed account, whatever, with the imprint machine.

        Some stores will do an imprint of the card on the receipt to show that you actually had the card in your possession, but that really doesn't solve the problem.
        • From my brief stint in retail (grocery store) I can say that even when the terminals allow manual input many stores still use the imprinter - mostly to protect the store (since you never swiped the card you need the imprint to prove the person actually HAD the card with them -- otherwise the store is open to serious liability ("But I never went into that store and bought that plasma TV!").

          Although the terminal still authorizes the transaction and verifies the card is not lost/stolen/overlimit/whatever the
          • When I worked at walmart there was always a crayon by the registers, one day I cracked a joke about coloring time when business was slow. I was told that the store recipts had about 3 inches of space so you could use the crayon to take a rubbing of the card numbers and letters to prove that the physical card was in the possestion of the store at the time of purchase. I've seen a few places that still use the old imprited recipts all the time but they are pretty rare.
          • Exactly. Even if the power is out, my store has to do voice authorizations before taking the imprint and completing the sale -- meaning there is a special telephone number directly to the credit card company that we call, enter the account number, and the amount of the purchase, and it tells us whether it's authorized.
  • by ptaff (165113)
    Simple: don't put your file cabinet next to your 3GHz overheating workstation.
  • I don't know if it would help, but perhaps a scan of the receipt with an appropriate date stamp along with the work original would be acceptable as proof.
  • Photocopy receipts (Score:4, Informative)

    by FattMattP (86246) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @05:51PM (#6818798) Homepage
    I always photocopy receipts so that I have another copy. I then take the original and staple it to the photocopy and file it away with the manuals and warranry information.
  • In most cases, sending in the registration card along with your sales receipt "activates" your warranty.

    Could be less of a hassle in situations like yours.

    • Yes, and if you aren't extrememly careful, gets some nice snail-mail spam sent your way. Usually the opt-out box is set in 4 point type in a small corner of those things.
    • If a store is printing a receipt on thermal paper, they are printing it from a computer.

      If they are printing it from a computer, there is a record of the transaction.

      Some places require information about transactions to be kept for a long time.

      If all else fails, I would ask the manager at the store to retrieve the computer copy of the sales receipt for corroboration.

      You can also use out-of-band documentation to help prove your point - credit card bills, etc. to help prove the validity of the transaction
      • You make the call -

        Try to convince your local electronics superstore that it is worth their time to travel over to their document archive warehouse and find a copy of your receipt for your $99 DVD player or ...

        Call an 800 number with your serial number and ask for a warranty service center location.

        • This is very true in most cases.

          Problem is, many times the manufacturer will use the date of manufacture to determine the warranty in the absence of the store receipt. Say you buy it 11 months after manufacture, and the product breaks after two months, you'll be out of the 12-month warranty and the manufacturer will refure to offer warranty service. Sometimes only the receipt can prove the date of purchase, which is when the warranty officially begins.
  • by NanoGator (522640) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @05:54PM (#6818833) Homepage Journal
    I bought a Replay a few months ago with a $50 rebate. I placed the receipt and form on my desk at the office so when I could find a minute I'd fill it out. When I finally got around to it, I noticed something very bizarre about the receipt. There was no text on it! Puzzled, I moved the stack of papers and discovered a half eaten cookie I thought I was going to finsih the week before.

    Dammit! The oil from the cookie soaked through the receipt making it, I shit you not, transparent. Remember that episode of the Simpsons where they were at Krusty Burger and somebody rubbed the to-go bag on the wall making it transparent, and then a bird flew into it? It was just like that! Well okay a bird didn't fly into it, but I guarantee you a bird was flying when I realized I couldn't get my rebate.

    Yep, that cookie cost me $50. Didn't even finish the damn thing.
    • You're on to it, kid.

      Stay tuned for my forthcoming article, "The Toll House-SONICblue Conspiracy"

    • Yeah, that happens. My 68332 CPU32 Reference Manual (one copy of two, thankfully) has a nice big transparent spot on the BTST instruction page, directly though the tables telling me what that instruction actually does and its arguments. I ended up writing the program mostly without that instruction (using its counterparts on different pages), waiting for a new manual in the mail...
    • Yep, that cookie cost me $50. Didn't even finish the damn thing.

      Then it cost you $50 and half a cookie.
    • Ha! Yeah, those thermal prints are pretty fragile. I recently lost a couple receipts when I left a candle (don't ask) in the glovebox. We had one really hot day, and a large portion of the candle melted. All the text that was wax soaked had disappeared without a trace.

      Luckily it wasn't a big deal... it was rather interesting really.
    • Thats why I usually set Mozilla to not accept cookies except from trusted sources.
  • I remember Sears started using this thermal paper and after 30 minutes of arguing with the store manager about the thing, he caved in and let me get the exchange. I later asked for a new receipt to make sure this wouldn't happen again. But still they print on these thermal papers.

    What I did was lamenate it and it went bad some months later (zenith TV's really suck apparently)

    That same manager accepted it.

    The thing about thermal paper is you have to store it in a VERY cool and dry place. If you leave it
    • Re:Here's one fix (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by digerata (516939)
      But still they print on these thermal papers.

      What I did was lamenate it and it went bad some months later (zenith TV's really suck apparently)

      BS! You laminated a heat sensitive piece of paper? Did you even stop to think about what you just said? Good work considering you have to *MELT* plastic to laminate something.

      • Not so... there are adhesive-based laminates as well.
      • It wasn't heat lamanent, it was the kind you peel off of an 8x11 piece of paper like a giant piece of scotch tape limiting the kind of "direct" heat or other weather enviroment variables that can effect the thermal paper.

        please don't yell or jump to conclusions and use your brain for a change.
  • Yes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by $exyNerdie (683214) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @06:02PM (#6818924) Homepage Journal

    Yes, I had similar issues with one store which I wouldnt name here. But in other case, circuit city was able to retrieve my information from their system.
    Also, in a related case where it seemed quite deliberate, the manufacturer of Western Digital hard drives had some models with like $80 mail in rebate. To get the rebate, I was supposed to cut the bar-code from the box and mail it with my receipt form. I usually make a copy of the bar-code cut-out before I mail it for the rebate. But Western Digital was smart about it. The bar-code portion was shiny metallic look so that when you try to make a photo-copy, it comes out as black due to reflection which means that you are prevented from making a photocopy. I tried many photo copy machines but no luck. I finally was able to scan it and print it which wasnt as good as the original because metallic reflection. And then I mailed it to them but never got the rebate back. I called them about 8 times over a period of 4 months and they told me that they never received it.
    So it might seem that seller's are not at fault but sometimes they use these tricks from thermal paper to using bar-code on reflective background to their advantage !!

    Just my $0.02

  • I make photocopies of everything.
  • One time I washed my wallet. It had a receipt in it that I needed to keep. I went to dry it out with a hair dryer. Once it actually dried, it immediately turned black. Whoops!
  • so much that it becomes ridiculous to try laminating things...

    it goes like this. I have a lot of out-of-pocket health costs, so much so that they up my income tax rebate by enough to make it VERY much worth saving my receipts. Especially my grocery receipts, since the diet that i'm limited to is unreasonably expensive, and i'm permitted to claim the difference on my taxes. Which means keeping every grocery receipt. Well, i keep them. And they fade out fast. GOd knows what will happen if i'm ever audited.

    • Why yes, you have just answered your own question. I would also store the receipts themselves in envelopes, and make sure that the receipt envelopes are numbered somehow, so that you can at least determine which collection of images goes to which envelope. This way you are storing both the data and the receipts, the latter of which you are required to keep by law.
    • Write the important data, including store name/location and date on the back in ink pen. Keep them all in a shoebox. When you get audited, provide the shoebox. Tell the auditor that the store uses cheap thermal paper which goes bad; but they should have the records that prove you right, and if he wants, he should audit *them*.

      If you really want, check every so often to tell when it starts to get bad. Then grab a whole lot of them, tape them onto letter-sized paper, and photocopy them at once. Keep tho
  • is used because the printers are quiet and quick, however if not stored at optimal temperature they fade fast. Make two copies of it, staples one to the origional, if your realy paranoid pay with a check or credit card and copy your monthly statement. While this all seems like a lot of work at what point is your dollar thresh-hold where you would go through this work?
  • photocopy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gmhowell (26755) <gmhowell@gmail.com> on Thursday August 28, 2003 @06:20PM (#6819092) Homepage Journal
    Make a photocopy of the receipt. Register the item (I hate the latter, as it's a pain, and can lead to junk mail, but that's easier to deal with than a recalcitrant repair shop).

    I've purchased most home electronics at big box stores, like Circuit City and Best Buy. Say what you will, but there was one time I needed proof from Circuit City that I bought the item, so that I could get some warranty work (I would have let them take it, but was then living several hours away from a Circuit City). They printed out the receipt, and mailed me a new copy. I've heard tell of other people presenting a driver's license with an address matching the one in their computer, and getting a printout of the same thing.

    See, complying with all of the stuff that gets michael and the YRO gang up in arms can have benefits.

    To be 100% on point: I have no idea how to preserve that sorta thing. Store it in the freezer instead of a filing cabinet? Or put the cabinet in a sealed container of Nitrogen or CO2 or some other fairly inert gas?
  • Then use some enhancement software on a scan.

    Well the photocopy idea is great if you do it in the beginning.

  • It'll last much longer if you put it in a air-tight place. As it's a paper, you can put it between two layers of glass , or between glass and a flat surface. And away from light.

    I found my [thermal paper] faxes last much longer this way.
  • How 'bout a zip lock in the freezer? Throw-in one of those "do not eat," gel packs and you are done.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      "Throw-in one of those "do not eat," gel packs and you are done."

      The sour gel packs or the slightly sweet ones?
  • I don't know if they'd accept like this it or not, but-self adhesive lamination from any office supply store.
  • by smoondog (85133) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @07:41PM (#6819725)
    Your Credit Card Statement may work as a suitable alternative. Especially if you have an extended warrantee though your card.

    -Sean
  • Not good enough (Score:4, Interesting)

    by droyad (412569) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @07:50PM (#6819788)
    Demand a non-thermal reciept for anything your going to keep longer than a week. Remember the law (at least here) says that you have to keep your reciepts (that you claim on tax) for at least 7 YEARS. This means that the Tax Office can after 7 years demand to see what you have claimed and they would be mighty pissed off if all the reciepts were blank.
  • I have some of my printouts from a TI Silent-700 thermal printer that are about 22 years old, and I can still read some of them.

    But some of them are completely gone, just light gray smudges on the now yellow paper.

    Heat kills tham fast, and the one's that survived were in unheated storage.

    I once left one of my logs rolled up on a sun warmed countertop for a little while, when I unrolled it, there was a series of lines where the theremal paper has turned brown, and nothing could be read.

    Heh, put 'em i

  • Iron Them... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Slipped_Disk (532132)
    No, seriously... If your old thermal receipts have faded, they can sometimes be fixed by ironing them (no steam, just a hot iron or an incandescent lightbulb).

    This only works if the thermal lettering has faded but the paper is still mostly white - The heat-sensitive layer where the original letters were is desensitized and the faded letters will not re-blacken, but the rest of the receipt will, giving you a negative copy of the receipt.

    Note that this doesn't work for all thermal printer receipts, it depen
  • To sleez their way out of any obligations.

    1. Print receipt on thermo paper designed to degrade.
    2. Refuse to honor warrenty/exchange on broken products with unreadable receipt.
    3. Profit!
  • I have had those thermal receipts end up blank after a few months as well.

    I scanned one of the now blank looking receipts into photoshop. I was able to play with the levels adjuster and most of the receipt was readable. I printed out the new one and stapled it to my old faded one. Fortunately I havent needed to return anything recently......knock on wood.....

    SuperGlue
  • I once bought a VCR, which had the typical 1-2 year warranty from K-mart (similar to a walmart in the US, I'd imagine). After, I shit you not, one night of being left in the rain (not the VCR! The receipt) outside, still attached to the box (I'd forgotten to remove it) the receipt was totally blank. Even a forenzic scientist would not be able to retrieve the information from it, much less a store clerk. With regards to thermal printed receipts, well - as many have already said, the only way to keep those
  • Thermal paper! Ever heard of a refrigerator?
  • by schwazie (602914) <jl.yea-yea@net> on Friday August 29, 2003 @03:29AM (#6821855)
    I've had this problem more than once, and with a bit of luck and some intuition found a method to restore the thermal "image".

    By gently heating the receipt at a distance with a hair dryer, I have been able to cause the original images to reappear. Note that too much heat will cause the entire receipt to darken, so you may want to test temperatures/distances on a blank area, such as the corner of the receipt.

    Generally, a hair dryer on medium heat at a distance of 12" or so, waved slowly back and forth, can restore the original thermal image in under a minute. Your mileage may vary.
  • Lately, I've been buying all my computer gear at a store [atelco.de] (here in Germany) that will print all their receipts on a regular laser printer (A4 paper, with all their fine print on the back), even if it's just a couple of CD markers.

    It helps, of course, that they are also very reasonable about price while at the same time having personnel that know what they are selling and good return/warranty policies... sorry, I'm starting to sound like a ****** commercial ;o)

    In fact, I'm just a happy customer, which may b

  • I count all my bookstore costs (Computer books) toward taxes. I grabbed a bunch out of my wallet and the text had completely faded. If I held them at the right angle to the light, I could make out what it was. Since it was only taxes I submitted it anyway, but since then I try not to keep them in my wallet. You gotta admit the self erasing proof of purchase is a pretty sneaky trick
  • About a year ago I started scanning all my important documents into .pdf files and storing them on CD.

    It's much easier than rifling through the stacks.
  • ...any half assed electronics store can reprint your receipt.

Overdrawn? But I still have checks left!

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