Lemon

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File Format
Name Lemon
Ontology
Released 2011

Lemon (whose name was perhaps the result of the fact that all the less-sour fruits were already taken) started in 2011 as an app to scan sales receipts, which were then read, interpreted, and categorized for you by their back-end server software and made available for you to see, individually and in totals by category, on the app and on the web. It was a pretty neat idea, for everybody from businesspeople needing to sort their receipts for expense reporting to packrats hoarding all their sales receipts since 1954 in the hopes of eventually finding something useful to do with them. At the start, a free Lemon account let you scan an unlimited number of receipts, and a paid add-on added the functionality of including complete line-item detail in the scanned receipts instead of just the total as given to free accounts.

They encouraged you to store all your receipts on Lemon's cloud of servers, then toss the originals; one of Lemon's blog postings mentioned how some study or other determined that the chemicals in receipt paper were hazardous to your health, so the sooner you dump all of your receipt hoard the better! What could possibly go wrong with that?

As it turned out, the businessperson-and-packrat market apparently wasn't the basis of a sufficiently lucrative business model, so they executed a sharp turn in their app's functionality. After introducing "Lemon wallet" functionality where your credit cards, loyalty cards, and other stuff in your wallet is stored (if you trust them enough to give them all your card numbers), they steadily shifted their efforts to this new feature, letting the classic receipt functions wither away. Each successive update removed more functionality; by 2013 they were terminating the web interface to see your spending history in favor of a bare-bones site that only let you get at basic account info like your name and e-mail address; you could only get at the receipt data on the app then, and that seemed to only show you the last two years of receipts (tough luck, packrats who scanned in all their receipts from 1954). Then they stopped importing information from receipts any more (which was their primary feature when they started); they just scanned in an image and made you do the work of entering the amount and merchant name and category.

So it was a good idea, if you had any receipt data stored in their system, to export whatever you can of it while it was possible. Unfortunately, the export feature was one of the features only available to paid accounts, but there was a "free trial" you could sign up for on the app. (Apparently the export was later available to free customers, however.) If you did that, you could go through and get Lemon to export data as a CSV e-mail attachement, or save it to your account in one of several other services. You had to do this month by month by selecting dates in a pulldown (there was no "export all" feature), and this seemed to only go back two years no matter how many earlier receipts you may have imported. The exported data includes only the totals of each receipt, no line items (even if you had a paid account in the past when they stored line items for such users).

In the web dashboard interface (which went away in June 2013), there was also an export feature, and receipts over 2 years old were visible, but it told you that it's a "paid account feature" even after you signed up for a trial account, so you couldn't export from there, apparently. It's gone, anyway.

As of late 2013, it morphed once again into "LifeLock". And then in 2014 it deleted all customer data after deciding it wasn't sufficiently secure.

Exported data format

The exported data is a CSV file with these fields:

"#","Date","Time","Merchant","Total","Currency","Total in USD","Address","ZIP","State","Country","Tax","Note","Main Category","Sub Category","Expense Category","Image URL","Personal","(other user-created categories come here)"

The first field is a consecutive number of the transaction within the particular export file (not a unique number for your whole history).

Dates are in the format "02 Mar, 2013", and times are 24-hour "hh:mm".

Oddly, the street address, state, zip code, and country are included, but not the city.

Image URLs are within the host repl1.lemon.com, and lead to pictures of the scanned receipts. There appears to be no security to them beyond the "security-by-obscurity" of the cryptic pathnames within the URL; it might be possible to figure out how to see other people's receipts by tweaking the URLs (though people have been prosecuted before for exploiting such vulnerabilities in other companies' systems; it's considered "hacking" even if it's done with a browser address bar). One also never knows how long Lemon will choose to leave those images online; the URLs could break any time.

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