Derek's Big Website of WalMart Purchase Receipts FAQ

The Derek's Big Website of WalMart Purchase Receipts FAQ

Archive FAQ

Why bring it back?
Partly because I miss it, partly because I'm an attention whore. People come visit the receipt site, people love the receipt site, and so it's here again.

Why did the receipt site go away?
It was hosted on a free hosting site called Prohosting. They were very random about what they'd consider policy infractions, and finally the Receipt site caught their attention. They deleted the site in November 2002, without warning, explanation, or backups.

Where are the 5/02-11/02 receipts?
I had fallen behind on my own archives when the site was pulled, which is why the Archive Site only goes up to April 2002. I cannot find them right now, but I had used Google's cache to save receipts and comments going up to October, but I cannot find the place I saved those as of yet...they may return.

Aren't you worried your current webhost will delete the Receipt Site again?
I am my own webhosting company now, so I've nobody to piss off but myself. I've been a freelance computer tech and webdesigner for many years, and I've done enough business to warrant having my own servers. My bandwidth comes through Multiband, so the worst they can do is limit downloads.

Got any new receipts?
Yes, lots, but I haven't been keeping track of them as well as I used to. I moved a few months ago, and a lot of papers were tossed in the process. I do not doubt WalMart receipts were destroyed.

Are you going to put new receipts up on the site?
Not at the moment. My wife has hinted we should start a new one, but I'm not so interested right now. Been there, done that.

Why can't I comment on the receipts?
This is an archive now, not the full-fledged receipt site. It is essentially a snapshot of the Receipt Site's existence as of 4/11/2002, and as such nothing new will be added.

Original Site FAQ

Why would you do such a thing?
Boredom. Having a lot of something which serves minimal purpose, and then giving those things purpose. Plus, it's something to play with, practice my CGI, javascript, & HTML talents on.

No, really, why?
If you want me to say that I'm dumb, deranged, or something even worse, it's not going to happen.

Is this supposed to be fun or something?
No....I'd appreciate it if you DID find it fun, but if you don't, then tough luck. I could care less wether I bring any added meaning to your worthless, insignificant life.

What's so great about your receipts?
Nothing, actually, other than that I have 3 years' worth on file. Most receipts are for the purchase of diapers and baby wipes, so there's really nothing interesting.

Wouldn't your efforts be better put towards doing something that people will like?

I went through all your receipts, and found nothing worthwhile. Now what?
Go someplace else. Or go back through all the receipts and add stupid comments on all of them.

Why did you do this again?
I'm not going to say anything about my reasons anymore. I think you skipped the start of the FAQ, because I already answered this. Go back and read the beginning.

Is this really every receipt you've gotten in the past 3 years?
It should be most of them; barring the random lost one, misplaced one, or thrown away one, it's pretty much all of them. 133 to be exact (at this time). I even left some out which didn't seem to be my purchases, but the receipts are in my box for some reason.

Some days you're buying bras & makeup, others you're buying very male items. Sometimes both in the same day. Which is it?
Until the end of 1998, I was married, and after that time I've dated, so there will be some female-oriented items on the receipts. I am male, but I'm not so manly as to pretend that I've never bought those things.

How long did this take you?
The nuts & bolts has taken a probably about 8 to 10 hours over the past 4 or 5 days. I don't have a lot of spare time, but enough to sit at the computer and do some stuff. Scanning in all the receipts took up most of that time, though.

You don't seem to have planned very well. Why go to the store so many times in a month?
In our modern day world, we grow up learning how convenient it is to go to a really big building when you need something, pick it out, buy it, and go home. I have a bad memory, too, and I lose my lists whenever I write one. It's also a good opportunity to get out and about.

Don't you know that WalMart is an evil empire, they are destroying competition, treating their employees horribly, etc.?
I've heard the anecdotes, accusations, etc...truth is, I shop at WalMart because they always have the things I need, I can find them easily, and they are cheap enough for me to afford it. that's it; I'm not that much of an activist. Really, I live 3 blocks away from a KMart, but I still drive to Dilworth to the WalMart there. Sales tax work better there, anyways.

Why WalMart?
Well, I went through all the receipts in my box (thousands of them), and looked for some common thread which would make a good topic for the website. I could just scan all the receipts, but it wouldn't be contained. Plus, some stores put a lot of credit card information on their receipts, the receipts are poor quality (fade fast, etc.), or are difficult to read. The WalMart receipts are easy to understand, are uniformly readable (some get kind of light, but still legible), and WalMart is a store I go to for almost everything. I jump from grocery store to store for food, gas, etc., but WalMart is my toiletries, housewares, pet, etc. store in nearly all cases. This gave me a large number of receipts, readable, legible, and without any damaging info on them. I originally intended to use receipts for Hornbacher's, a local grocery store, because food receipts can be much more interesting to read, but for all the receipts from there that I have, maybe 5% are still readable.

What are we allowed to say about your receipts?
The one and only rule is: If you're posting something irrelevant in order to damage or crash the conversations, then you better go someplace else. Everything else is fair game. The comment system is there to be anonymous, free-form, and abstract. If you read through the comments, there is an extremely wide variety of reactions to the receipts. Reacting to the receipts, my actions, other commentors, is why the comment system is there - INCLUDING negative reactions.

People who copy large chunks of garbage from other webpages and post them are out to damage the system. People posting stupid things under the guise of other valid users are deliberately trying to damage conversations. People trying to post virulent HTML code are trying to screw up the computers of other visitors (see below). There is no place on this site for this type of activity. The only thing I want is for you to ask this: Am I posting this in order to destroy this site? If you answer yes, then go away.

The rest of us think this site is fun, and we welcome your opinion, good or bad. However, there is no reason to go out of your way to destroy our fun. You wouldn't believe how hard other people have tried to hurt this site. It takes a LOT of work to cause damage to this site. Normal contributions of your own opinions and thoughts are begnign and encouraged.

I noticed some parts of the receipts are "fuzzed". Why is that?
Until the middle of June, 1997, WalMart put the complete credit card number AND expiration date on the receipts. Sure, you'd need the name on the card in order to use them, but it's still an extreme security risk. After that point, WalMart just put the last 4 digits of the credit card on the receipt.

How do you read these receipts?
Well, I'm no expert (and would appreciate help if you are a WalMart expert):

Of course, the first thing at the top is the name of the store - WAL*MART.

The next couple of lines is are custom phrases. Some have the managers name, some have the store number, and the "motivational slogan" at the top varies.

The first line above the purchased items includes some important data:
ST# = store number
OP# = operator number? Presumed to be the cashier's number
TE# = terminal number; which aisle you were on.
TR# = transaction number

Now, we are in to the actual products that were purchased.
Col. 1 is an abbreviated title for the product. It looks like the max length is around 13 characters, and sometimes it seems lazy stockpeople abbreviate product names to avoid typing too much. Either way, some trunctuated names turn out humourous. You also may notice that they have poor spelling abliities as well ('doeodorant').
Col. 2 is the UPC product code number for the purchase.
Col. 3 is the price of the product.
Col. 4 appears to be a tax code for the product. In Minnesota, certain items are taxable and some are not; on these receipts, a 'J' appears to mean taxable, and a 'D' is not. However, there is another code - 'A', which is only attached to sale items.

Next comes the subtotal, and the tax calculation. For an example of completely tax-exempt purchases, look at 3/24/99; they leave out the tax line altogether. There have also been some cases of different tax percentages used within the same receipt. Next is the total line, a line dedicated to the type of payment & the amount, and finally a line for any change. In the event of a credit card purchase, there will be a few transaction-related lines.

The TC#, at least how it was explained to me by a kindly WalMart employee, is a company-wide transaction number. It is used during returns or other checks, to make sure the price shown and the product purchased line up and the correct refund can be made.

Finally, there is a line or two of more friendly, motivational sentences, either promoting a product, thanking you for shopping there, lamenting the missing children of the US, and so on. The last line is always the date & time of the purchases.

You might also take notice that WalMart has a really clear watermark on the paper, for security purposes. It shimmers quite nicely under bright light, which is why you can see it on my scanned receipts.

How did you do the 'user comments' thing?
Well, I have to admit I'm doing something wrong. The CGI script that I'm using is called MakeBook v2.0 and belongs to Kristina Pfaff-Harris. You can download the script from her webpage. My problem is that her license requires that every page generated by the script is supposed to have a link back to her site. For whatever reason (probably my fault), the self-appending activities weren't working right; it was adding a brand-new footer after every entry, which only added confusion. So, I took that out. Sorry, Kristina....This is a very nice script, though.

I made one major modification. Originally, the CGI script was hard-wired to add comments to a single file. I made a change to it where the HTML form also sends, via a hidden value, the name of the file which needs to be appended by the CGI script. This worked better than I expected -- It allowed me to create the guestbook without getting a new CGI script set up, and new receipt entries only require a few text changes in the HTML template I created. Plus, I use the hidden value to generate the redirection back to the same receipt after you make your entry.

The CGI script doesn't directly alter the receipt page. It's output is directed into a separate HTML file, and I use SSI to get it into the right place in the receipt page. I bet you didn't know how complex this was!

Any other CGI scripts / Why are outside links so long?
I have a log script running as well; that's how I know who is linking to me, how I know which of the 130+ receipts have user comments, etc. It's called AXS, from Fluid Dynamics. It's pretty good; its log output isn't formatted very intuitavely, but its graphs are pretty handy. It has a lot of options for getting log entries; you can even log your Usenet HTML posts, if you really wanted to. It can be downloaded here.

In the works, but not up-and-running, is a search CGI so you can enter in a shopping item, and get back a list of receipts which include that item. First, I need to figure out how to catalog the text in all the receipts.

Where are these fabled WalMarts located?
Yahoo! Maps location of store #1627 in Dilworth, MN.
Actually, it's right on the border between Dilworth, MN and Moorhead, MN. Generally, it's just called the "Moorhead store" by commoners, since you drive through Moorhead to get there and barely set foot into Dilworth.

Even more strange, this store is in a different 'region' than the Fargo store, so sometimes if the Fargo store is out of something and then you drive to the Dilworth store, they won't even carry that item.

This store is easily seen from the road. In town, the road is known as Center Ave, but on the larger scale it's Highway 10. It's parking lot takes up most of the block, but directly to the east is a Slumberland Furniture, and further east is an Officemax. In the parking lot (or on it's edges) are a Cenex gas station, a small strip mall with a few offices in it, and the Dilworth Speedway Restaurant. Directly behind the WalMart are a row of 4 or 5 apartment buildings (with an excellent view of the loading docks of WalMart). This is a very safe area, because the Dilworth Police use the loop of road around the back of WalMart as a turnaround point when on patrol. Quite often I also see a police car in the parking lot. Across the street is Bargains Galore (formerly Archie's and Archie's Bargains), where a pair of Elvis' pants were recently sold for $20. No kidding.

Yahoo! Maps location of store #1581 in Fargo, ND.
Like the numbering scheme may lead you to belive, this is an older store than the Dilworth one. It was built at the same time as the Sam's Club (about 10 years ago?), which is right across the parking lot. When it was built, there was very little else in the area, except for the Blue Cross/Blue Shield office building across the street, and there was a cute little farmhouse also on the property.

Well, the farmhouse was torn down, the land was named after the owner, and a Toys R Us was built there. The WalMart apparently created a new commerce center, about 2 miles down the road from the Mall. I can't even remember all the small stores which sprang up in the parking lot of the WalMart/Sams Club campus, but there's a Office Depot next door, there's a Big KMart across the street to the East, and a Media Play & a Kohl's are diagonally across the street. The extra stores make it harder to see the WalMart from the street, and the Yahoo Map above doesn't do justice to the actual location of the WalMart.

One of the reasons I dislike this WalMart is that it is set up in mirror image to the Dilworth WalMart. Unfortunately, every other WalMart I've ver been in is set up like the Fargo WalMart, so I guess the Dilworth one is the bass-ackwards shop. I don't care. Also, this store is always packed, and you can never find a close parking space. Another reason is that traffic sucks. both 13th avenue and 45th street are arterial roads, so there are always lots and lots of cars around. Turning left is a bad idea most of the time. Even more annoying, Fargo Blue-Laws force WalMart to be closed until noon on Sundays. These reasons (and a few more) are the reason I dislike this WalMart.

On the other hand, this WalMart does still give away those little smiley stickers to kids, which is nice.

Does WalMart know about this site? Are they okay with it?
Quite a few WalMart employees have found this site (including one from store 1627, where I do the most shopping), but I haven't been contacted directly by anyone on behalf of the corporation yet. As for whether they're OK with it, I dunno. My stance is that since the receipts are given to me as proof of purchase, most say "CUSTOMER COPY" at the bottom, and there is no warning against reproducing them as such, then they are my property to do with as I please. I'm also not defaming WalMart in any way, unlike the sites in my Anti-WalMart links (and many more elsewhere), who are far meaner and a worse reflection towards the corporate entity. If anything, this site is a demonstration of how much consumerism revolves around WalMart, which is a credit to their existence. I think they should let me be in their commercials.

Who are Matt Krieg, Daryl Marchetta, and Ryan Hoage?
They are the various managers that have been around the two local WalMarts. Somewhere between 7/4/98 and 7/10/98, they started adding managers' names to receipts. Software upgrade maybe? It used to be that there was standard, basic info at the top, but around July of 98 they added more data there. Matt Krieg has the greatest fan-base amongst the readers of this website, but it seems most readers have developed some sort of connection with every manager. I just hope that these guys have a sense of humor, if they happen to run across this site...

HEY! I tried posting some dangerous, malicious HTML code to really f*ck up everyone's computers. Why didn't it work?
Well, it's a safety precaution. It was actually built into the software before I got it, and it's turned out to be very handy. You can't insert HTML into your posts, to prevent mean people from doing bad things to users who don't deserve it. For instance:
</body><META HTTP-EQUIV="refresh" content="5; url="><body>
This should re-send you back to MSN. The idiot who entered it tried it TWICE, he was so dense. Anyways, the < is changed from a text character to a HTTP equivalent, so that it doesn't work. Otherwise, malicious visitors could insert all kinds of evil things, ranging from redirects like the above one, to entire Java applications. Not a good thing.

Do you have any link banners/images?
Yes, thanks to Matt Anderson of
Mike The Pod, who provided this cool image:

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