Neat receipts: close but no cigar

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Neat Receipts with Mobile Scanner from Neatworks (Windows)

Summary: Pretty, but dumb

A while ago I managed to get a Neat Receipt mobile kit from Neatworks via Woot. In addition to be able to snatch a deal, I was excited at the thought of effortless organizing, swift scanning, easy filing, and removing piles of paper trash that make my cat live in a paper jungle.
Well, I have finally got around to install a copy of windows 7 on my old computer (Hello, gorgeous!) and attempt to set everything up. What a pain.

A few problems mared my flawless plan:

1. Installation took forever
2. Scanner didn’t really work

So, the installation problem turned out to be a severe indigestion in Kaspersky Antivirus. While I generally trust it, this has been the second time that KAV went bonkers, both times slowing file transfer to a few Kilobytes per second. Yes, KB, not MB. At that rate loading installer from a CD would took the same amount of time as loading up a giant game on ZX Spectrum. Except no blinking border to entertain you. A quick squish of KAV restored the speed and after three updates I have finally had the latest version of drivers and software installed.

Which is also kinda strange — if software knows it’s not the latest version, why the heck did it have to load updates twice? I don’t believe in being so extra lucky that a service pack was released right this very moment as I was poking at “Ok, download this one too”.

But anyways, at the first glance I was all ready. Plugged little scanner, poked inside of it white “calibration paper”, that immediately somewhat crumbled (could they provide it on a slightly heavier paper or just thin cardboard instead?) and pressed Scan.

Program thought for a second and then said that my scanner was not calibrated. Um… okay. “Put the calibration paper in the scanner and click Calibrate button”. Fantastic, paper is already in it, *click*.

“Scanner does not detect the calibration paper” frowned extra smart software. What? It’s right there. It did that “bzzt” and gummed the piece of paper a little, just like printer does when it decides to print on that extra special sheet of paper you give it by hand.
Nope. Green light blinking, nothing happens. I tried several times. Nope.

After reading about 5 pages of forum screams “It does not work HALP!!!” I found a link to a calibration utility. That didn’t really help either — same symptoms. Gumming of the paper, blinking of green light, nothing happens at all. Clicking calibrate again shows “Image acquisition is already in progress” or something along those lines, but nothing happens.

Another 3 unplug-plug in cycles later, I decided that problem could have something to do with a USB port. For some reason, front USB ports sometime behave slightly odd, so I tried my luck and plugged the scanner into back USB port (which are non-USB-Hubbed). Lo and behold, everything magically worked. Calibration paper after being gummed went in a few millimeters, and then printer sucked it in bit by bit with long pauses in between.

Afterwards utility said it was all calibrated now and I was good to go. I fired up the primary software, and it all worked — shoving a utility bill and clicking Scan button resulted in scanner smoothly suck in the whole bill and process it in a few seconds.

But… it took the software about 15 seconds to “process it”. Huh?
What worse, after processing, it declared this scanned electric bill to be from Randals in the amount of $4000+. Fantastic. Sorry, but I don’t spend that amount on groceries. I manually re-classified the scan and re-entered date and total amount. I guess the name “Receipt” should have given me a hint that this would be primary receipt-based software, but bills are, essentially, receipts too.

Anyways, I scanned a couple of other bills, and results were similarly abysmal. It almost looks like the software is guessing. You show it a water bill, it thinks for a half a minute and then makes a wild guess. “Transportation? Total amount $200?” — “Nope, it’s a water bill for $56”.

I have no idea what they try to use to recognize the bill but it sure didn’t work. The other un-obvious thing was that I scanned front and back of the bill separately. While I could easily re-combine them into one document (hurray!) I couldn’t find any way to rearrange pages. So if you shove the paper wrong side up into scanner, you’re out of luck. Grrr…. I wonder if there is a way to do it, but it’s something hidden in the depths of the menu.

I’ll try to process some more receipts and see how it goes. So far – 3 stars.

6 Responses to “Neat receipts: close but no cigar”

    • Max Smolev

      It’s an interesting concept. Will you allow users to scan the receipt too as an option? I see on your site you accept phone-photos of the receipts, but not scans. Also usually store returns require receipt, which means there will be at least a month-long lag (i.e. I buy something, I can’t send a receipt right now as if product breaks in first month, it’d be more difficult to return/replace without the receipt)

      • Matt

        If a product breaks, print out a copy of the receipt image and blam, you’re in like flint.

    • Jaybie

      I just discovered Shoeboxed and am very interested. Is the tax amount from the receipt entered on the spreadsheet? This would be very helpful for itemizing for taxes.

  1. kenneth

    Thanks for the help don’t think I could have figured it out myself. I had the same problem and decided to try the back usb ports and the scanner started working after that.

  2. Edouin

    Yup – Had to install an update, then move USB jack to a different position at the back of the computer. Anyways, after several days of frustration, scanner finally Calibrated. Yay. Now to get all those bloody business cards done!

    Thanks for the assistance guys!


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