Scanning Code of Practice / Voluntary Price Accuracy Code

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Ever been shopping and the item scans higher than advertised? You could be getting that product free!

The Scanning Code of Practice is a voluntary code (although many stores do participate) through the Competition Bureau and Retail Council of Canada.

If the scanned price of a non-price ticketed item is higher than the shelf price or any other displayed price, the customer is entitled to receive the item free, up to a $10 maximum. When the item has a price tagged, the lowest price applies. When identical items are incorrectly priced, the second one will be sold at the correct price.

The Code covers all scanned merchandise at participating retail outlets where the sign shown above is displayed at the store entrance or checkout. You have probably seen it before and never read it, but it can save you money.

What is a non-price ticketed item?
A non-price ticketed item is any bar coded merchandise that does not have a price affixed to the merchandise.

What happens if two or more identical non-price ticketed items are incorrectly scanned?
Customers are entitled to the first item free (up to a maximum of $10) and the subsequent item(s) at the correct price.  If the items are different flavours/scents(different PLU or UPC numbers) they are classed as different items and you can get them free.

Do you need to do anything to get this discount?
Simply ask, often the cashier will try to just put the item in at the corrected price – politely point out the sign and ask if you should not be getting it free (or $10 off).  They may need to get a manager’s approval and will usually send someone to check the price.

What if the item has been put back in the wrong place?
Most companies list the item details on the price tickets, but on occasion there will be a big sign with just a price.  If there are many of that item you can likely argue for it, but if it is a single item with others not like it – probably not.

What if the ticket price shows a date that has expired?
This one is a judgment call, the date shows that the price is no longer valid but they have to show pricing as part of their agreement.  They will usually honour it in this case but you may need to point out that it is their responsibility to take down the old tags and that small print is just a false advertising attempt.

Do all stores take part in this code?
No, it is recommended to stores but not required. Quebec does have price accuracy laws but they are not covered by this voluntary code (although the terms are very similar)

What if they won’t give me the discount?
First ask for a manager and explain the situation.  If you are still dissatisfied, register a complaint with the Scanner Price Accuracy Committee, by calling 1-866-499-4599 (toll free).

What is the best item you have ever got with SCOP?

This blog is part of our New to SmartCanucks series, click here to read more blog posts in the series


36 responses to “Scanning Code of Practice / Voluntary Price Accuracy Code”

  1. Sue says:

    Scored a six box set of chocolate covered macadamia nuts last year – over 1 kg of chocolate! – for just $7 after SCOP! It had been priced at nearly 40 bucks over the holidays, then was marked down to $17, but rang in at a higher price. Thankfully, I had my wits about me; boy was hubby pleased!

  2. Dm says:

    It is good to know but some stores will try to get away with not giving it to you . make sure you stand up for your rights demand the manager be called . And make sure to keep an eye out at extra foods with the deal of the week today I got free Nivea lip balm she did not ask till after she gave me my change she was not happy that I got it for free but that is the rule .

  3. Stephanie says:

    If you do not mention SCOP, the cashier will usually try to just change the price to the advertised price, instead of give it free. Pay attention and speak up!

  4. brandyzz says:

    A cashier at my local shoppers drug mart told me that their manager trained them to NEVER offer the SCOP and only give it if the customer repeatedly insists. That is pretty sad when you have signs everywhere and you try to weasle out of it.. At our Local Sobeys, it is the exact opposite. They offered us the SCOP right off the bat when we bought 2 wrongly priced same items, AND gave us the second one at HALF OFF too boot. This is why we shop there when we can! Love the service!

    • FallenPixels says:

      My local SDM are actually great about SCOP and do it automatically, the one near work pretend they have never heard of it and you need to get the manager and tell them they need to do it.
      Sobeys near me is great too, they automatically do it

  5. Melissa says:

    At Superstore in one day got 2 bags PC chips, 650g tub Activia yogurt and a gourmet chocolate apple all for free from incorrect scanning. Cashier and supervisor were very good about it.

  6. m says:

    I didn’t know that I could get the item at the advertised on sale price if the store put out the on sale price but the date has expired. It happened to me quite often, especially at the Shoppers Drug Mart’s electronics. I asked the sales person if the item was on sale at that sale price, and received the confirmation before I had purchased it, as I need to get the sales person to use their key to give me the item. I didn’t know until I got home and looked at the receipt. A lot of my time were wasted as I need to drive back to return the item at the store, and they never offer me any compensation. Next time I will definitely take a photo of the price tag on my smartphone and show the store manager, and will not be so easy with them. It is true that from my experience SDM, Rexall and Metro always try to get away with the SCOP. If I did not ask they never offer. Food Basices was quite good with this, they offer, I never have to ask.

  7. Sandra5 says:

    Got jumbo cat-food free (reg price about $9.99).
    One year got a pound of Botticelli chocolates free with scop (reg price about $9).
    Went back two more times on 2 more days and kept getting the same chocolates free because no one bothered to fixed the mis-scanning price on the chocolates.

  8. Lisa says:

    I’ve had varying experiences with this depending on the store and manager. I think the best one was a lawn mower that was incorrectly priced at Walmart. We told the cashier that the price we had seen was not what rang up (the price we saw was more than $100 less!) so she called for a price check. The lady who did the price check said, nope the price that rang in was the price but we argued because we KNEW we had seen a lower price. Finally got the manager over and she asked the associate over who did the price check. The associate admitted that when she went to do the price check she saw the incorrect tag and removed it but told the cashier that we were wrong! The manager was upset with her about this and gave us the sale price. We actually forgot to ask for the $10 off after all that because we just couldn’t believe that the associate would lie and were glad that the manager had done the right thing.

  9. Dayanara says:

    Best thing I got so far was jumbo sized Tylenol cold cough syrup, lol, sad, but have gotten many small little things like gum and chocolate bars in the past. They were scanning at 9.99 (sale price) but the sticker stated 6.99 (Sun/Mon only price at SDM), I had grabbed 4 and ended up with 1 free and 3 at the lower price. Was nice, cause I needed it,….bronchitis….ugh….

    But I had to argue sadly, she told me it did “not apply to sale items” Riiight. Then I got the spiel that they would do it this one time. Nearly asked for a supervisor but though screw it, I am sick and just want out of there.

    Other times, no issues. Never had anyone offer it to me though. Most just try to change the price.

  10. X says:

    Superstore tried to tell me that if an item has a 50% off sticker that DOES NOT have a price on it, it still counts as a price ticketed item!

    I’m cool with stores not OFFERING the code and leaving it up to educated consumers to ask, but that’s not fair at all. It’s just half the shelf price if the shelf price isn’t ON the sticker for half-off.

  11. Dotty says:

    I think this says it all, no?
    “Do all stores take part in this code?
    No, it is recommended to stores but not required.”

    If the cashier or manager refuse, there really isn’t any recourse for the customer. What would be more helpful is knowing how to find out whether each store complies with that policy.

    Anecdotal evidence suggests that Loblaws does as they gave me a free waterbottle once as it was improperly labeled.

    • FallenPixels says:

      If they have the sign up – they have to follow it.

      Most of the grocery stores do, Zellers has been the biggest ‘odd one out’ by not following it

  12. Rmebrt75 says:

    Where I live No Frills, Shoppers and the Superstore are the worst for things scanning wrong. I know a cashier at Shoppers and she is always the one on when I return something for the SCOP. I check my receipts before I leave now.
    It happens so often at Shoppers that the same cashier now asks me when she rings my stuff through “anything scan wrong?” I told her it isn’t my fault shoppers makes mistakes. This cashier will at least tell people who don’t know about the SCOP…most cashiers don’t.

    I have even told strangers ahead of me in line when one of their items scans wrong. I am sure I annoy the cashiers…don’t care though.

    • Nan says:

      People seem to be of the understanding that it is individual cashiers making the decision whether or not to offer the scalp, when in actuality it is the management who tells staff NOT to tell the customer and only provide the item free if the customer mentions the scop. It’s not a case of “nice and not so nice cashiers” as it is some doing what they are told, while others are taking a chance letting the information slip.

      • FallenPixels says:

        Between a single store it is. For example, my local SDM store has a very coupon friendly manager. She gives SCOP as soon as you say the price is wrong and if a cashier calls her saying a customer asked for SCOP she always says well then it is free/$10 off.
        However, there is a cashier who works the evening shift who acts like the money is coming out of her pocket. She will argue that it is only $1 or whatever and say the price in the system is always correct so the sign must be wrong. I know this is not coming from the manager, I have stood there while the manager has explained SCOP to her and none of the other long time cashiers ever give the same excuses.
        You sometimes get new ones who have never heard of SCOP but with high turnover, that is to be expected at most stores

  13. Kay says:

    My local toys r us does this Im not sure if all of them do. I’ve never seen the sign, but a 17.99 baby item rang up 19.99 so I mentioned it to the cashier. She called for a price check and sure enough an old tag was still up. She called for the manager who told me I get it for free as that is their policy. It was supposed to be $17.99, and I got it for free not just $10 off. So pay attention at toys r us too!

  14. Theresa says:

    Got a 16 kg bag of Alpo for $10 at Walmart. It was marked $19.97 but rang in at $24.99. Went to customer service and they deducted the $10 off the 19.97. I had assumed they would deduct it from the $24. Huge deal.

    Love stores that follow this and don’t make you feel like a criminal for getting something free or cheap.

  15. Sandra5 says:

    I taught my husband about SCOP. He got expensive supplements for about $5 instead of the $30 plus he was charged ($10 off the $15 sale price instead of the full $30 price.) He had to speak up to get the $10 adjustment though, and in the end he was delighted with and bragging about the deal.

  16. Sue says:

    I was at Rexall Drugs two weeks ago, they had a sign saying the item was on sale for 7.00 (no bar code just a printed sign the store had made) these signs were all through the store with clearance items and sale. I took my item to the cashier and it rang up at regular price. I asked about SCOP, he said we are not union we don’t do that and never heard of it. We asked for a store manager and she said yes we have it but the sign does not have a bar code on it so the cash register doesn’t know it’s on sale etc etc etc. She gave me the sale price but refused to give it to me for free. I have never heard of a store saying there was no bar code on the sign so they can’t do it…just wanted to share

  17. cathy says:

    Arg. Last month I had a woman argue with me about this at the store where I work. A $20 toy was half off on clearance but someone had ripped the barcode sticker off (which would have scanned the sale price) and she decided to pick the only box WITHOUT a sale sticker on it (I would have manually marked it down). So of course it came up at $20. I had to go upstairs to confirm the sale price and when I got back and fixed the price she insisted that she should get it for free because she thought that the scanning practice was a law that all Canadian stores had to follow. She absolutely wouldn’t believe me when I told her we didn’t do that and refused to believe the manager either. Because apparently if Wal-Mart does something then all stores have to.

    I’m guessing that when she called head office to complain about it she refused to believe them either. By the time she was done bitching I really couldn’t figure out why she was even still in the store. I mean, if we’re that incompetent and trying that hard to cheat our customers then why give us her money?

    Thanks for the primer, though. If it ever comes up again I at least have a little more information. 99% of our items either have a price printed on them or a sticker – no shelf signs – and we always go with whatever price is lower whether it’s the scanned or sticker price.

  18. Andrea says:

    We have a scanner policy in any store that has a scanner in Quebec – been getting credited for mis-scans for over 10 years now! Keeps the stores on point…best score was toilet paper listed at 9.98 and scanned at 10.20!,

  19. Debbie says:

    i’ve seen one cashier at superstore give it right away to a customer, and I’ve mentioned it to get $10 off face cream there.

    however it’s usually such a hassle because they have to find a clerk to go check the aisle for the price and if there are customers behind me I feel terrible (i also don’t enjoy being those customers waiting behind)

  20. P says:

    I go to the same store every week and usually find something. The store does not like this and has been suggesting I am doing something unlawful. Very disappointing. I have taken my complaint to the Scanning Code of Practice Committee.

  21. Erica says:

    i got a scop on a calculator at staples that was under 10$. TWAS THRILLING!! the guy was like “okay, ill lower the price for you…. actually you know what, because we are so sorry for this trouble, i was reduce the price to zero, just for you because you are so nice” i was like “uhhh but its the law”… and he was kinda embarassed lol. he tried to make it seems like he was being nice and doing me a favor haha

    • FallenPixels says:

      I once got SCOP on Ben & Jerrys, we had 4 different flavours. They changed the price on the freezer before I even finished paying lol

  22. P says:

    I was also at SDM and heard one cashier tell another cashier that when something scans in incorrectly, the customer only gets it for free if they know about the Scanning Code of Practice, otherwise don’t do it.

  23. crystal says:

    Zellers is awful for things scanning incorrectly! evry single time ive shopped there ive had at least one item scan incorrectly.. good thing they dont follow scop!!

  24. 1Dfan says:

    i got an $11 bottle of wild blueberry juice free! (or for $1 I guess) after it didn’t scan the sale price (which was only $1 off anyhow)

  25. honeylemon says:

    so in ontario, which stores do follow SCOP?
    I was at walmart a few weeks ago where they scanned something wrong, and I asked if I could get it for free (i forgot to mention SCOP), but the cashier charged me the lower price that was on the flyer instead. =(

  26. honeylemon says:

    nevermind, did my research =)

    CACDS Supporting Companies:
    Shoppers Drug Mart
    The Groupe Jean Coutu (NB and Ont only)
    Lawton Drug Stores
    London Drugs
    Lovell Drugs
    Pharma-save (BC and Sask)

    RCC Supporting Companies:
    Costco Wholesale Canada Ltd.
    The Home Depot Canada
    Canadian Tire Corporation Ltd.
    Toys r Us
    Wal*Mart Canada Corp.
    Giant Tiger Stores Ltd.
    The North West Company
    Best Buy/Future Shop
    2 Home Hardware franchisees
    Canada Safeway Limited
    The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company of Canada Limited
    Loblaw Companies Limited
    Sobeys Inc.
    Metro Inc.
    Thrifty Foods
    Costco Wholesale Canada Ltd.
    Co-op Atlantic

    CFIG Supporting Companies:
    Thrifty Foods
    Overwaitea Food Group
    The Harry Watson Group
    Longos Brothers Fruit Markets
    Federated Co-operatives Limited

  27. Patricia says:

    I have registered my complaint with the SCOP committee now, how long does it take for them to get back to me?

    • FallenPixels says:

      I am not sure Patricia, I have always managed to get the issue resolved on a store level
      Do let us know though

  28. Hawkeye says:

    Free tampons, gum, fall planter, gum, protein bars. I love getting free stuff!!!!! My husband says they are going to post my photo at SDM for the cashiers lol. I’ve received free stuff from Walmart, Shoppers, HomeDepot, & Safeway. I have never been offered for free I always have to ask! Some cashiers act like it’s their money I’m taking but most are professional.

  29. Craig says:

    I work at SDM and I always follow it even if the customer is unaware of it. But there rermains a lot of confusion, on both the customer and retailer’s parts. I go over the policy over and over with people I work with and still many of them don’t seem to grasp it or if they do, they seem to quickly forget. Then again, there are customers who have a $59.99 item scan at $61.99 and they will argue until they are blue in the face that “by law, this is free!” When I explain that they are mistaken, they tell me I am stupid and shouldn’t work in the store.

    If a sale tag is expired, I will still honour the sale price, but the $10 rebate does not apply, as the tag clearly shows that the promotion is over. However, since it is our mistake, I happily adjust the price. On the negative side of things, I was shopping after my shift one day and saw a customer removing a sale tag from the shelf. I asked what he was doing and since he didn’t recognise me as an employee, he said “if you take a sale tag, you can come back after the sale and put it back and they have to give you the item you want for free”. I explained that it doesn’t work like that and told him that I work for the store and he took off.


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