Those of you who spend a good amount of time at Walmart have probably noticed the latest update to their POS system now has a feature for eReceipts.  I use eReceipts at many other stores, and enjoy the convenience of never having to worry about losing a physical receipt.  Today we’ll look at Walmart’s eReceipt system, how it works, and then delve into the most important question: Should you use them?

eReceipts; Don’t be Surprised if No One Knows About Them

I like to think my Walmart is staffed with fairly good cashiers, but none of the ones I’ve talked to have known anything about the eReceipt.  I’ve put together today’s post with trial and error. If you discover something new (like google voice numbers work), leave a comment.  I won’t be able to test anything for about two weeks due to travel schedules.

My initial interest was piqued when I noticed a new POS welcome screen. When you approach the new POS system you’ll see two options, one to cancel, and the other to be given an eReceipt:

WalMart E-Receipt copy
Artist’s Rendition

Selecting eReceipt prompts the machine to ask for your phone number: Enter Phone Number After you input your number you must confirm that you want to receive a text message from Walmart.

Once you do this your transaction processes as any other would, and the physical receipt prints out without any issues.  On the bottom of the physical receipt will be a 2D QR Barcode which you can scan to retrieve your receipt online:

At the bottom of the receipt prints a 2d barcode. Scanning it with your smartphone can bring up the full receipt online.
At the bottom of the receipt prints a 2d barcode. Scanning it with your smartphone can bring up the full receipt online. Even if you do not put in your phone number a 2D barcode will print on your receipt.

You also receive a text message after the transaction is complete: Walmart Text MessageInstructing you to follow a link to see your receipt.  Following the link does indeed present you with a digital copy of your receipt: Ereceipt WalMart If this ability to pull up receipts was all the eReceipt did that alone would be a pretty neat way to keep track of spending.  .

Features of the Walmart eReceipt

eReceipts have two components, the physical receipt and the online copy accessible via the text message sent to your phone or the 2D barcode.  Add the Walmart App into the mix and you have a digital repository for all your eReceipts.

Download the app from your Appstore: Walmart App Without having to log in you can select ‘Your eReceipts’ from the main menu, and then scan the receipt you have App Receipts Ereceipt Scan Scan Barcode Your receipts then appear in the app itself after scanning, along with a request that you register your phone number to automatically sync your receipts: Stored ReceiptsOver time you’d have all your receipts in one place, and if you choose to register your phone number the app will automatically download them all for you, keeping digital copies should you ever need them.

All in all the platform is slick, easy to use, and effective. Gone will be the days of fumbling for receipts at the end of the month to balance your books.  You’ll have access to all your receipts should anything go wrong with a purchase or payment.

All of this assumes, of course, that you decide to use eReceipts.

Potential Downsides of eReceipts

I’ve decided to not use eReceipts, and I’ll detail and explain just why I’m adopting this approach.

For those of you who are small time Walmart shoppers I don’t see a downside to using the eReceipts. The ability to track and keep records of your purchases is incredibly important. So much so I’ve created a purchase tracking tool and released it for all to use.

Why I’m not using them: eReceipts from Walmart were not created to make Money Order and BP purchases easier for you to track.  They were created for Walmart to track customers and purchases.

Spend enough money at Walmart and someone, maybe a store manager, maybe a district manager, maybe someone in the corporate accounting department will be in touch with you. Giving the store more tools to track your purchases is not something I want to do. This is especially true when using prepaid cards. 

I recognize I may be overreacting; but giving Walmart an easy way to track all my spending in their store and tie it back to one phone number isn’t a feature I’m looking for.  The tracking tools I use are good enough.  If you are not able to track your spending effectively then you may want to consider eReceipts as a way to do so.

I’d suggest a cautious approach to using these eRecepts:

1. Do not use your real Phone number, possibly use a different number each time you purchase. Entering any phone number will cause the 2D barcode at the bottom of the physical receipt to print.  Update: It looks possible that all receipts, regardless of whether you input a phone number will print a 2D barcode. If true, don’t even bother with a phone number, and just use this barcode to grab the eReceipt and track purchases.

2. Never register your phone number in the app.

3. Always Keep hard copies of receipts.

I’m not even 100% confident in this being a successful way of using the receipts anonymously.  The reason being that once you scan the barcode or use the app it is possible that WM is keeping track of receipts based on the browser or app on your phone. I want to reiterate that this information is being used by Walmart, stored and analyzed. For more on this see Haley’s excellent comment below, which outlines the Terms and conditions of the Walmart app:

“[you allow us to store] the unique identifier assigned by Walmart to your device, the IP address of your mobile device, your mobile operating system, the type of mobile Internet browsers you use, and information about the way you use our mobile applications.”

I know that’s high level paranoia, but better safe than sorry. Where’s the threshold for “safe” Walmart spending?  I’m not sure, but if you have to consider it you might just want to pass on using this system.

Add it up, and I’m sure you’ll be surprised how much you actually do spend at Walmart. Spending 4x$500 gift cards, or $2000  total a day at Walmart is $730,000 annually.  With totally different card numbers for each of these prepaid debit cards there would be little way to link all of them together prior to this eReceipt system.

Of course there are a whole host of ways your information is already given to Walmart–either through paperwork filled out at certain purchase thresholds, or phone numbers and account #’s for bill payments. I’m asking you to consider the risks and the rewards of using this new system prior to jumping in headfirst.  For some of you this will be a great system, for others you’ll want to be more cautious.

– Written by Sam Simon. All ideas are my own, but I encourage you to see my point of view and I promise I’ll try to do the same. Connect with me on Twitter @Milenomics.

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21 thoughts on “New Walmart eReceipts Help Keep Track of Spending. Should You Use Them?

  1. This and the new Savings Catcher app were created in order to data mine. Walmart uses becons as well, and the combination of a free app and becons gives tons of very specific information about your activities both online and through Bluetooth, in store. They can determine how long you stand I front of the Oreo’s or, say, if you spend an inordinate amount of time at guest services.

    The privacy disclosures include several little gems, not the least of which:

    “In addition to the information mentioned above, our mobile applications collect certain information automatically, such as the type of mobile device you use, the temporary or persistent unique device identifiers (sometimes called UDID) placed by us or our service providers, the unique identifier assigned by Walmart to your device, the IP address of your mobile device, your mobile operating system, the type of mobile Internet browsers you use, and information about the way you use our mobile applications.”

    • Haley: Ugh…that’s just the type of data mining I was worried about. I appreciate you putting together such a detailed warning. I’m going to go back and update the post with a link to this comment and strengthen the wording in the section where I suggest against using these ereceipts and the app. I’m no tin-foil hat type–but I also don’t want any undue attention. I’ll also be making sure my wifi and bluetooth are off before going in the store.

  2. Won’t be using eReceipts any time soon. Too intrusive and if things go wrong (as happens all too often at WM), rather than having physical receipt handy, have to dig thru your phone.

    • Paul: I have to agree. I could envision a situation where Walmart employees tell you an eReceipt isn’t a real receipt and/or they don’t know how to process with just that. Privacy issues aside, there’s no replacement for a hardcopy.

  3. Thanks for posting this, there is zero info about this anywhere not even walmart. Did you get some kind of 4 digit confirmation code? Walmart sales person said to expect one. Maybe they send one if you register ur phone number? Can you try it? I don’t wanna try, u scared me lol.

    • Hi Nate, I did not get any 4 digit confirmation code. Perhaps the employee was talking about the web address which is texted to the phone number you input into the POS keypad? It does seem that this is a new Walmart feature being rolled out slowly; the lack of information on it is what prompted me to write about it, and warn others as well.

      I wouldn’t worry about a few trial uses of the system. My concerns would be consistently using it for the purpose of keeping track of Gift card and mile earning debit card spending. When used for that purpose I feel it is not something anyone should use.

  4. I have had the Wal-Mart app for some time, mostly to check prices while I’m in store because nothing ever seems to be where it’s supposed to for the labels to be correct, but also to use their scan and go feature which saves me time and effort since I shop there 7-10 times a week and often with small children in tow.
    I’ve noticed that the new eReciepts are built upon the ones from scan and go. They’re essentially the same except the new ones don’t have the “Cannot be used for returns” warning at the top, and display more information such as the barcode and more specifics to the store location you’re at.
    I haven’t tested the returns, but as convenient as it seems, I am a little off put with the amount of information they are trying to collect on everyone, after all knowledge is power.
    I think I might give it a little time and weigh the pros and cons before putting on my “tin-hat” and banishing them.

  5. Only a few of the registers at my local Walmart ask if I want a text message to get an erecipt, and I don’t have a smart phone. Does anyone know if there is a way to get an electronic copy of a receipt online?

    • Scott: If you input your number you’ll receive a text message to your phone with a url. Type that URL into a computer and the receipt should be accessible online.

  6. Simple solution: I have an inexpensive scanner, and i take my hard copy receipt (from any store) and simply scan it in to my computer. I have had no problem with a scanned receipt being accepted as legitimate. If anyone else has had issues with this, please let me know.

    • John, I don’t know what Walmart you shop at, but as a Customer Service Associate, I can tell you this: it is a strict Walmart return policy that only an original receipt, or Ereceipt, be used for return of merchandise. Copies or scans of receipts are not accepted for cash or credit returns. Any said returns are processed as No Receipt returns and in-store credit is given.

    • Store returns are only good for 90 days……15 days for most electronics……if you can’t hold onto a receipt for 90 days, you have some serious organizational issues…….Or a case of IDGAF…..

  7. I feel bad for all you people inordinately concerned about WM paying attention to how long you stand in front of the oreos, or how often you buy what product or yes even the more detailed info (which any good hacker can get just passing you on the street BTdubbs) If these are your big concerns your lives must be very sad indeed. Completely ignore the fact that whatever the reason for it Savings Catcher saves people money. More than $60 in just a few months for me. Quit your belly aching about ulterior motives. Every company has them for every new service they roll out. It’s nothing new. Anyone here on FB? They do the same thing and worse.

  8. I use the app and on one occasion I lost an important receipt which was pretty much my Christmas shopping receipt. I needed to make a return and was unsure if I could use the e receipt. So I called the WM corporate c s and they asked for my number in case the call was disconnected. After I gave it to her she knew my name and email. I was completely caught off guard and highly alarmed. As I’ve never called them before. She couldn’t give an explanation how she had my information.

    • Thanks for sharing, and I too would be caught off guard! Do you by any chance order off of Walmart.com using the same email address? If so they could have retrieved your name from your online profile. I agree there are valid uses for the app; keeping copies of receipts and savings catcher being among them. But for some purchases I’m just not comfortable allowing Walmart to know my every move.

  9. they already have your spending habits when you purchase something, its a receipt they save electronically anyways. adding your phone number puts a face to the customer but they already know what you buy when you swipe the same card over and over.

  10. I have a Kroger card and it is probably tracking me, lots of stores ask for your number or email. There are benefits. I do however always turn my WiFi off when I leave the house because I hate it auto connectingg at stores or if I drive by a store. My Bluetooth is never on, so I shouldn’t get tracked at any store. Klumze, so true about the debit card, completely forgot about that too.

    • Not to mention your GPS… Not only does it run your battery down, but it allows for taking your whereabouts. Turn that of too!

  11. I purchased a IPAD on December 19, 2012 at Walmart Normandy Blvd St# 1083 Jacksonville, Fl. 32205. I need the original receipt for proof of purchase in order re-activate my IPAD. I have the credit card statement with the reference number 0541601PJ43ABLVGH amount $581.01.
    Is it possible to retrieve the original receipt for this transaction.
    Thanks for your consideration
    Aaron McClain

    • From all I’ve been told From Wal-Mart no, they do not track purchases by credit card. Even if they were to have started doing so, your purchase was so long ago I believe it would not be possible for them to go back so far.

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