General Question

ibstubro's avatar

How often, and how long, do you keep the original packaging and receipt for a product you bought?

Asked by ibstubro (12531 points ) March 6th, 2014

What’s your criteria for keeping track of a retail purchase?

Size? Cost? Importance?

Maybe you keep track of every purchase you make until you no longer own it.

Perhaps you throw caution to the wind and just trash the documentation. There will be new opportunities.

Most of us are in the middle. Tell us where you draw the line on keeping retail return documentation. We cannot keep everything. Is your cutoff money spent, time passed or something else?

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28 Answers

Coloma's avatar

Virtually never. I am not a hoarder of anything.

bolwerk's avatar

Usually long enough to make sure it works. Receipts long enough to exploit the obvious return period if something breaks, at least if it’s something expensive enough to worry about not wanting to replace soon.

ibstubro's avatar

But, @Coloma, you have to retain the original paper for some stuff!

ibstubro's avatar

Works, how, @bolwerk? A kitchen timer works 7 times.

GloPro's avatar

I have one file box. Anything that can be found online goes in the trash… Instruction manuals, etc.
I keep the most recent copy of a mailed interaction (renewing registration, for example). I write confirmation numbers, the date paid, the name of any representative assisting me, and pertinent info right on that bill.
I purge receipts after 6 months. Or I will scan them and file them on the computer.

bolwerk's avatar

@ibstubro: my Android is from 2009 and makes a perfectly good kitchen timer.

Coloma's avatar

@ibstubro I rarely need to return anything. The only stuff I keep for awhile is appliance paperwork. Clothes, misc. etc. I figure they can take my word for it or lose a customer. So far, success. haha

dxs's avatar

I keep receipts for a few weeks until it turns up again. Then I recycle it.
Original packaging—trash/recycle immediately. Recycling can include using it for something else, though.

Silence04's avatar

I only keep stuff like that for business related purchases. But in today’s age, all you need to prove your purchase is the card you used to buy it.

Cruiser's avatar

Anything over $25.00 I keep for a year max. Cars, furniture, bedding, clothes, appliances etc. that have advertised warranties over a year I save original copies of sales receipts.

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

Nearly never, but I’ve learned to always keep the owner’s manual for everything.

gailcalled's avatar

I keep the receipts and paper work for big ticket items until I replace them. Then I keep the new receipts and paper work. I throw out the packaging (the cardboard container for the car did take up a lot of space) but I treasure the manuals.

Just recently I used the manual for a 2011 Blu-ray DVD player to unstick the drawer. I also had forgotten how to use the self-cleaning mechanism on my oven. The real manual in a kitchen drawer was a lot easier to reference than searching for one online.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I have plenty of room. One drawer in a file cabinet contains folders for manuals. I have three main sort criteria depending upon where the items are used: iInside the house (appliances, kitchen timer, microwave,...), in the garage and barn (welder, tool box, electric splitter, cutting torch,...) and outdoors (gas wood splitter, snowblower, chains saws, rototillers, ...)
The day the item is brought home and opened, I use a Sharpie to write the purchase date and warranty date on it. Really! I put the original box and packing material in a place in the basement for a while. It might be a few months. It might be longer.
When I do decide to toss the box, I slice the cardboard into large squares and keep them in the barn to cover the floor (and protect my back) while doing vehicle maintenance like oil changes. Smaller cardboard goes into my wood burning stove and is recycled as heat. Large, oil soaked pieces go into my fire pit and are used to start bonfires or camping fires.
For some strange reason my equipment seems to last forever. (It is all old school, not made in china) I have a lot of stuff that predates the interweb and still works great. .

@gailcalled I’d line my garage floor with the box that contained your car. :)

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jca's avatar

Receipts for big ticket items like jewelry or electronics I keep in a file. Sometimes I keep other receipts, too, like clothing and anything I buy online.

Boxes I do not keep. Once I open the item, the box goes out (Except sometimes I may keep shoe boxes for kid’s toys). I don’t have room for boxes and I don’t use the fireplace. I recycle the cardboard and styrofoam. Online stuff I usually have shipped to work, and the box is recycled by the staff.

Most larger items I buy from places that are good with returns, like Costco. Costco, you don’t need the original packaging, or even a receipt. They look up the item by your membership card, and see what you paid for it. They don’t care if you have the box or not, and they will refund the money based upon what you paid for it, by looking it up. They don’t even care if it’s used or half empty. That’s why I love Costco. No arguments, no hard time, easy peasy.

Pachy's avatar

I have several boxes in my office closet in which I keep smaller boxes and other packaging from every electronic device I’ve bought in the past five years—which is a considerable number. And in my garage, I store larger product boxes like those for computers, printers and kitchen appliances. I also keep every receipt. Not so much nowadays, but in the past I was addicted to impulse buying (especially at electronic stores), and I learned early on that returning items purchased in haste, both of which I did a lot, made throwing out packaging and receipts, at least until I purchased the next generation of the item, a very bad idea.

ibstubro's avatar

Sorry, @bolwerk, I was thinking of a Kitchenaide timer that costs about $20. You use it once a week, and it dies after 7 times. $3 per use is hardly fair, but why would you keep all that packaging and receipt for $20?

Wow. Impressive organization, @GloPro! I wish I could.

No returns, then @dxs? Not even packaging for, say cell phone or over $50 appliance?

Most times, @Silence04, you need the packaging with the bar code, as well. Especially if the item is available elsewhere, and if you want a refund instead of store credit.

ibstubro's avatar

Yes, @Cruiser, I have a tendency to tuck those really important (i.e. expensive) purchase papers in a really safe place. Meaning I find then 50 years later. BUT, if there is a problem, I can find them.

See, I’d sooner be like @GloPro on the instruction manuals, @Jonesn4burgers. Buying second hand, I have also found that the manual for nearly anything can be printed from on-line.

I have an Acer laptop that had to be hacked by the company, and the only option they gave me was returning it to them in the original shipper with the original receipt, @gailcalled. Fortunately I had both. Those manuals that tuck in under an appliance are the best.

The ever thrift and organized @LuckyGuy! I think you make your own luck! I might match you on thrift, but never hold a candle on organization.

I don’t have access to a Costco, @jca, but you sure make it sound great! I recently found out that Menard’s has a kiosk where you can re-print your receipt, but that’s probably because mail-in rebates are their scam.

I keep way too much of the stuff, too @Pachy, and I used to be an impulse buyer too. The upside is that when you do need the POP for something, it’s a grand time to clean house and you have a lot of nifty boxes. :)

elbanditoroso's avatar

Cost and replacability are the factors for me.

I bought a laptop last fall, and it crapped out on me. Fortunately, I had kept the sales slip (after all, we’re talking $400 here) and had no problem with the return process.

Something like a $20 blender – I would keep the receipt until I had used the thing a couple of times, and then dump it. I’m of the belief that anything electronic will either break very soon – like right after purchase – or not for years. Most items don’t “go bad slowly”.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

I keep the receipt long enough to make sure it works, or is not damaged. I keep the manuals that come with appliances, like stove, fridge, vacuum cleaner, because I forget how to run the self-clean cycle, or how to change filters. I really don’t like clutter, so I don’t hang on to unnecessary papers. If I ever had to prove that I bought something, I can get the receipt from my bank account.

ibstubro's avatar

I bought a touch dimmer, @elbanditoroso, for about $10, and it quit after 8–10 weeks or less. Annoying, because I kept nothing. I went and bought another, so I’d have one that worked, and could return one. The 2nd quit before I got the 1st returned, so I returned one, ate one.

Funny, I went to another store and bought one, and it didn’t work right from the start, so I exchanged it. The 2nd didn’t work at all. lol I returned it, went to another store, and bought another different model. It’s working fine, but I have the paperwork and this question.

ibstubro's avatar

Unfortunately, @Skaggfacemutt, I love clutter. No so much with paper, though, thank goodness.

dxs's avatar

@ibstubro Honestly, I don’t buy much. I’ve only ever had to worry about smaller things, such as clothes and food. Not quite living on my own yet.

ibstubro's avatar

This question might be good prep for you, then, @dxs. It’s not the money so much as I hate to feel taken advantage of.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I keep everything organized in file cabinets in perpetuity.

If it’s less than $200 I keep receipts and manuals, but throw out the boxes, etc…

When I got rid of my Wii due to hubs seizures, I had all the original plastic and boxes, etc…and the buyer loved it.

ibstubro's avatar

I’m better at keeping the manuals and packing than I am at keeping track of the receipt. If I buy something major new (retail), I try to remember to have them ring it separate, so if needed I can get the exact amount paid from the credit card or bank.
Your stuff would bring a premium at auction, @KNOWITALL, because all that gives the appearance of new, and shows that you’re meticulous.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@ibstubro I may be a little ocd…lol

I clip the original receipts in the manuals, boxes go into the 3rd bedroom closet.

I recently got a new hot water heater and the receipt is in the manual, manual in the closet in the laundry room next to the water heater. When I got my house, I thought it was cool they left all the receipts and manuals and repair man numbers for me, too, so I hope to pass on the favor.

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