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How Scanning Code of Practice Can Save You Up to $10

Paying attention at the checkout pays off. Recently, I was able to purchase a 2 litre organic olive oil for $7.99 (regular price $17.99) at my local Costco after citing the Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP).

For Canadian consumers, the Scanning Code of Practice was implemented in 2002 to improve scanner price accuracy. It is a voluntary program retailers subscribe to which offers consumers up to $10 off the first item if the scanned price of the item is higher than the shelf/display price.

As mentioned above, participation in Scanning Code of Practice is voluntary. However, I have noticed many major retailers participate in this program, namely, Costco and Loblaws. Participating stores generally advertise their participation at the checkout till near the credit card machines.

There are many different types of retailers who participate in the Scanning Code of Practice:
  • General retailers (i.e. Best Buy, Future Shop, Toys R Us, Home Depot)
  • Drug Stores (i.e. Shoppers Drug Mart, London Drugs)
  • Independent Grocers (i.e. Safeway, Overwaitea, Thrifty Foods)

In my experience, most cashiers seem unaware of the rules relating to Scanning Code of Practice. I have had a number of cashiers offering to correct the price on the scanned item when I was entitled to the lesser of: $10 off the first item or the first item for free. Knowing your rights can give you a free product or $10 off your purchase. Over the years, I have used the Scanning Code of Practice to my advantage and received many free items or $10 off: olive oil, cereal, sandals, among others.

From my past experiences, the best thing is to spot this pricing error as you are checking out. However, if you notice the error after you have paid, you can bring the item to customer service and ask them to remedy the situation.

For American consumers, while there isn't a federal policy outlining pricing errors, you do have some recourse through state laws. As ABC News reported in 2010, the best recourse is to first bring it up with the retailer. If the issue remains unresolved, contact your state department to register your complaint.

Tips for Success
  • Take pictures, bring a calculator or try to remember/write down the price of goods purchased
  • Check the scanned prices at the till (this works best if you are shopping without little ones!)
  • Check your receipt before leaving the store to make sure you were charged the correct amount

If you notice the scanned price is higher than the shelf/display price:
  • Tell the cashier/customer service clerk of the pricing error
  • Ask them if they participate in the Scanning Code of Practice program or what their policy is on pricing errors
  • Know your rights: you get up to $10 off maximum on the first item
  • Be polite if this issue cannot be resolved at the store level. Canadian consumers can call 1-866-499-4599 to register your complaints afterwards

Some Participating Stores* 
  • Shoppers Drug Mart
  • London Drugs
  • Canada Safeway Limited
  • Loblaw Companies Limited (Superstore, No Frills, Extra Foods)
  • Thrifty Foods
  • Costco Wholesale Canada ltd.
  • Home Depot Canada
  • Canadian Tire Corporation Ltd.
  • Toys R Us
  • Wal-Mart Canada Corporation
  • Best Buy
  • Future Shop
  • Overwaitea Food Group (Save On Foods, PriceSmart Foods, Coopers, Overwaitea)
* This list is not exhaustive and is only a list of stores that participate in the SCOP program that I am aware of (as of February 2015).

Let me know: Are there retailers not on my list above who participate in the Scanning Code of Practice? For my American readers: what are your state laws regarding pricing errors?

Source: Competition Bureau of Canada

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