Watch Those Scanned Prices! |


There are times when computers make mistakes. I know, I know, it is hard to believe, but it’s true! And sometimes, when humans who program computers forget to enter the correct data, it is a mistake that might put a free product into your pocket.

SCOP – Scanning Code of Practice

Here is how it works. Most major retailers follow a practice called the Scanning Code of Practice, or SCOP for short. This code is in place to make sure that if a particular price is displayed for a product, then that is the price that you are charged. Most of us expect that if we see a price listed on the shelf, it will scan in at that price. But that isn’t always the case.

Let me give you an example. I went into my local grocery store and purchased a bottle of olive oil, which had a sign above it saying: “Manager’s Special: $7.99”. However, when my groceries were rung up, it scanned through at the regular price of $9.99. I was watching as each item was scanned through, and I could see right away that there was an error. So, I alerted the cashier and told her that the price on the shelf was two dollars lower. She called for a price check, and indeed, the oil was supposed to be $7.99. As she was deleting the oil from the total, I asked if the store followed the Scanning Code of Practice. She looked surprised and answered that they did. (Most cashiers hear about this in training, but don’t often have customers ask for it.) At that point, she took the oil off the total on my bill, and I got it for free!

With the Scanning Code of Practice in place, retailers must offer a product to the customer for free (up to a maximum of $10) if the price that it scans at is higher than what is displayed on the shelf. This only applies to one of these products, so if you happen to be buying several of the same product, you will get the first one free, and the others at the lower price that was displayed.

What if the price of the product is over $10? Well, in that case, you get $10 off the total amount. Either way, you save money!

The next time you go into a store, look for a sign somewhere that says “Scanning Code of Practice.” I have seen them on entrance doors, posted above cash registers and displayed at customer service desks. I have also been in stores that follow this practice, where I haven’t seen anything posted. Here is an example of what it looks like:


Watch Those Scanned Prices! |


To benefit from this code, the most important thing to do is to take note when a particular price is displayed on a product you are purchasing whenever you shop at a major retailer. When your purchases are being scanned, watch the amount that shows up, or check your receipt after your purchase. Let the cashier know as soon as you can if you see an error. Once the error is confirmed, ask if the store follows the Scanning Code of Practice, and be patient with the cashier as she or he responds. This doesn’t happen regularly for them, so it may take them a few moments to figure out what to do. Then, take your free (or reduced) product home and enjoy it!

So, every once in a while, a mistake can go in your favour – especially if you keep your eyes open at the check out lane!

See List of Canada Store Chains that follow Scop.