The Receipt Is Too Damn Long

Rebecca J. Rosen explains why "Ridiculously Long CVS Receipts Will Remain Ridiculously Long." And Mitch Hedberg ponders why they give you a receipt for a donut.

The Atlantic’s Rebecca J. Rosen explains why “Ridiculously Long CVS Receipts Will Remain Ridiculously Long.”

I’m not sure when I first noticed them. I don’t remember them as a child or a teenager. Then, one day, walking out of a CVS, I looked down at my hand and there it was … a two-foot long receipt decorated with coupons and miscellany like the back of an old magazine. What was this so-called receipt? And why was it so long?!

This creeping sign of postmodern malaise, in which the length of one’s receipt bears no relationship to the number of items purchased, has been swirling out of printers and control for too long. We are beyond paper, the anguished people cry. But the pharmacy does not hear us.

As the angry proprietor of the Facebook group, “One Million Strong Against Unnecessarily Long CVS Receipts,” put it, “I don’t care that they use my CVS card to track me across the planet, I just want a receipt that isn’t 1/3rd my height.”


The reason, the company says, is that the receipts are, apparently, exciting to customers. “When you give rewards, you want people to feel excited,” a company representative told Lazarus. said. “You want them to know that they’ve earned the reward.” (Finally, I understand the whoops of joy often heard in the self-checkout aisle.)


Ali Gharib, from whom I stole the post’s title, is reminded of a great Mitch Hedberg skit that I’d long since forgotten:


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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.