I’ve used the Scanning Code of Practice Canada once before (when a cashier kindly told me that I could have my bottle of nail polish for free because it was scanned wrong). It was years prior, I think when I was 23 at a Shoppers Drug Mart (oh to reminisce about youth!). It was great and I’ll never forget that free nail polish that I got.
Scanning Code of Practice
Recently, I had a not so pleasant experience at a No Frills (a franchise within the Loblaw’s family of companies).
I of course, used my Flipp app to check out what was on sale for the week like I usually do. I circled some New York Cheddar Kettle chips regular price was $2.97 and they were on sale for $2.47 (yes, my junk food fiend returns again, no wonder we can’t reasonably get our grocery spending down). The bags of chips were located in Aisle 5 and added to the cart. Then I head to the cash register and the cashier rings the two bags of New York Cheddar Kettle chips up at $2.97 each.
Surprised that they would ring up at the regular price when it was in the flyer, I told him that they were on sale in the flyer for $2.47.
He said, “Where, show me?”
Then I showed him the flyer. He then corrected the price manually on the register.
Then I meekly said, “Uh…. do I get this for free then since it was scanned incorrectly?”
He smiled at me as if I had two heads on my shoulder and said “no”.
Then I said “really? oh.. okay…”
[and I tepidly walk away then I go home to research the Scanning Code of Practice]
Here’s what I found.
What is the Scanning Code of Practice
How does the Scanning Code of Practice work?
The Scanning Code of Practice, or the Scanner Price Accuracy Code, was set forth by the Retail Council of Canada. The Scanning Code of Practice Ontario is the same as the Scanning Code of Practice BC. It is across Canada.
Here’s what it says.
On a claim being presented by the customer [yes, I did this], where the scanned price of a product at checkout is higher than the price displayed in the store or than advertised by the store [yes, this was the case], the lower price will be honoured [yes, the cashier honoured the lower price from the weekly flyer]; and
(a) if the correct price of the product is $10 or less [yes, it was less than $10], the retailer will give the product to the customer free of charge [DANNNNG this did not happen! I know it’s $2.49 only which is something I can probably scrounge up from my couch, but I feel a bit duped]; or
(b) if the correct price of the product is higher than $10, the retailer will give the customer a discount of $10 off the correct price.
There is more fine print on the website. If I bought multiples (in this case, I bought TWO bags of New York Cheddar Kettle Chips– one of which I am munching on right now as I write this post), then you only get the money off the ONE item, but you get the second item at the reduced/ correct price.
So I bought two bags of New York Kettle Chips scanned at $2.79 when they should have been $2.49, I should have gotten $2.49 taken off my bill and then just paid $2.49 for the two bags of chips.
I know it seems petty to write a blog post on the amount of $2.49 but I did buy some cans of tuna as well that were marked in the flyer and were scanned incorrectly.
Also, it happens on a regular basis (maybe another 3 times, I can’t keep track) at No Frills and I never got a chance to look into this Scanning Code of Practice a bit more closely.
Scanner Price Accuracy Code Follow-Up
So I called and emailed No Frills customer service.
When I called the No Frills customer service representative said I was wrong and that I needed to wait until the bill was finalized before I could get the SCOP honoured.
Then they replied to my email (after I had called them after no response from email for about a week) and said that the SCOP should have been honoured and they gave me a $10 Loblaw’s gift card for my trouble (which was very nice of them).
To be safe, I also called the Retail Council of Canada to verify what the correct procedure should be (and to also file a complaint since when I called Loblaws they said the SCOP should not have been honoured).
What did the Retail Council of Canada say? They said that the SCOP should have been honoured at the time of purchase and they would follow up with the parent company, Loblaws.
There we go!
Yes, I got a free $10 for my time and follow up with the Retail Council of Canada but MOST importantly……..
I was right.
Stores Participating in the Scanning Code of Practice
Do all stores in Canada participate in the Scanning Code of Practice?
The important thing to note is that not ALL stores in Canada participate in the Scanning Code of Practice.
It is voluntary participation from the Canadian company.
Here are a list of the scanning code of practice participants in the Scanner Price Accuracy Code. Many big retailers that most Canadians shop at are participating though (such as London Drugs, Costco, Walmart, Canadian Tire, Safeway, Loblaws etc.). Not all retailers are part of this, but only specific scanner price accuracy voluntary code participating stores.
According to the Retail Council of Canada, these are the stores participating in the Scanner Price Accuracy Code.
The scanning code of practice list of stores is as follows:
- Shoppers Drug Mart
- The Groupe Jean Coutu (NB and ON only)
- Lawton Drug Stores
- London Drugs
- Lovell Drugs
- Pharmasave BC
- Costco Wholesale Canada Ltd.
- The Home Depot Canada
- Canadian Tire Corporation Ltd.
- Toys r Us
- WalMart Canada Corp.
- Giant Tiger Stores Ltd.
- The North West Company
- Best Buy
- 2 Home Hardware franchisees
- Canada Safeway Limited
- The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company of Canada Limited
- Loblaw Companies Limited (aka Real Canadian Superstore, No Frills, City Market etc.)
- Sobeys Inc.
- Metro Inc.
- Co-op Atlantic
- Thrifty Foods
- Overwaitea Food Group
- The Harry Watson Group
- Longos Brothers Fruit Markets
- Federated Co-operatives Limited
+ 1374 independent locations
One large chain company that is NOT part of the Scanning Code of Practice (except in the province of Quebec where all retailers are expected to participate) is Rexall.
What I Will Do Next Time SCOP Happens
The next time (because you know there WILL be a next time, it is just a matter of when) I will be more assertive and ask for the supervisor if there is a discrepancy according to the Scanning Code of Practice.
If the supervisor still says no, and I bring the issue up to the company (via their contact form), and if that still doesn’t work, I will file a complaint under the Scanner Price Accuracy Code.
The number to file a complaint with the Scanner Price Accuracy Code is: 1-866-499-4599
There you have it. Hopefully, this will empower you to know what to do next time they scan your item wrong (scanning it too high compared to advertised price).
Well, this is what I did THIS time, but I will definitely be more assertive the next time it happens and not meekly walk away.
In the meantime, check out this funny Reddit thread called “I hate the Scanning Code of Practice (Thanks Canada)” about the Scanning Code of Practice and a law student who has to deal with customers who are annoyingly quoting the code incorrectly and demanding free stuff.
The lesson from reading this Scanning Code of Practice Reddit thread?
Don’t be a jerk to your cashier or else your encounter may be forever immortalized on the Internet- those that know about the Scanning Code of Practice (more experienced cashiers etc.) would probably find you or me annoying.
Scanning code of Practice Canada Recap
Anyway, the real morale of the story is, make sure you remember the Scanning Code of Practice when you are grocery shopping in Canada.
Whether you’re on Ontario, BC, Alberta, NS, New Brunswick, Newfoundland etc. in Canada, you should remember the “SCOP” next time you’re at the checkout line and they ring up your purchase incorrectly. You never know when you’ll score a pint of free strawberries (like I did recently).
In my opinion, it takes quite a bit of concentration to watch the cashier (like a hawk) scan your groceries and pay attention to the prices that are being scanned.
However, it is much less of a hassle to do that than to review your receipt after it is rung up and ask to have the item refunded (while the queue piles up for that cashier).
Additionally, it is even less of a hassle to contact the customer service department of your local Scanner Price Accuracy Voluntary Code participant list by email or phone!
You may be also interested in these posts:
- Caddle review
- Free apps that pay you to scan receipts in Canada
- How to save on groceries in Canada
- Is a Costco membership worth it?
Readers, did you know about the Scanning Code of Practice or the Scanner Price Accuracy Voluntary Code?
If so, have you tried to use it?
Did the Scanning Code of Practice work for you?
GYM is a 30 something millennial interested in achieving financial freedom through disciplined saving, dividend and ETF investing, and living a minimalist lifestyle. Before you go, check out my recommendations page of financial tools I use to save and invest money. Don’t forget to subscribe for blog updates, a free dividend yield spreadsheet, and the free Young Money Bootcamp eCourse.
28 thoughts on “Scanning Code of Practice Canada (Why Being Firm Works)”
I know of this code. Sometimes I would try to use it, while other times I just settled with getting the lower price. I know what my rights are but trying to get the discount is just too time consuming. Also, I would hate to be the guy that holds up the line and everyone is giving me the nasty look.
I did have a great experience one time using this code when I was buying a bag of avocados from Costco. The price was $7.99 and I was charged $8.99. At that time, I just wanted to pay for the lower price but the supervisor that new the code gave me the avocados for free.
@Leo-It’s hard to remember which stores use the SCOP. I was at a smaller, private grocery store chain and almost asked for the SCOP but realized they weren’t part of the list. Good point about being the person that holds up the line- I usually go when it’s not too busy anyway as I hate lineups! Nice that you got a bag of avocados for free and almost $10 worth! Did you make avocado toast with it? 😉
I’m not aware of any such code here in the US. We do check our receipts closely, since mistakes are made on a regular basis then go to the customer service counter to get the overcharge refunded. I’ve never been offered a full refund expect at one grocery store where it was thier policy to do a full refund. (they are now out of business). My question for you my virtual friend, do you ever bring up the issue if you are undercharged? 🙂 Tom
@Tom- I guess Canada has some quirky perks to offset the cheaper gas and cheaper car insurance you guys have! No, in all honesty, I don’t bring up the issue if I am undercharged if it was on a receipt but it has happened maybe 5 times and I have been overcharged many more times and have not looked at receipt until I got home and then I don’t go back. So I tell myself that the universe will even my under/overcharging out. Hehe!
Interesting! I honestly didn’t know this was a thing. I knew some stores did it but didn’t realize it was a standard practice that many stores participated in.
I agree that it happens all the time and its pretty frustrating to find it after you’ve paid and/or left the store. Then you really need to decide if its worth your time to fight it. Usually I just let it go but if I purchased 10x of an item that was scanned incorrectly I’ll go back just out of principle.
@Owen- I try and pay close attention when they are scanning the items now so I don’t have to look at the receipt closely afterwards (because going back is annoying for the cashier that just dealt with you). I didn’t realize that it wasn’t at all the stores- but there’s actually quite a few that participate.
Hi GYM, it’s always good to check the receipt, make sure the price charged is what is labeled. Sometimes they could double scan one item accidentally, or enter the wrong produce code.
@Helen- Thanks Helen for your wise advice! I admit I am lazy (lazy millennial?) until recently after I got married. My husband is good with double checking prices when they are scanned (I used to not pay attention) so I guess he was a good role model for me.
I have not heard about any scanning code of practice here in the US but it is something more stores should participate in. They should update their prices every time they are promoting a sale and if they don’t you should at least get that item at more of a discount or like in those participating stores in Canada, free of charge. It is always good to look at your receipt when you buy an item that’s on sale to make sure the price is correct.
Btw, I was laughing when you mentioned the aisle number of where the Kettle Chips was located in the store. That’s when you know you really love those chips. Lol!!
@Kris- Have you tried them?? They are so addictive!!! Only the NY Cheddar flavour though.
This is awesome! I don’t know if this is in the US too. Recently, the discount was really confusingly marked on a sign by the product and when I questioned the price, the cashier sassed me for caring about $1 while shopping at “the fancy grocery store”??? I’m sorry, but I want the right price, especially at the fancy grocery store!
I’m glad I check the prices. I usually enter my grocery card at the end since I have groceries in my hands to scan and don’t have the hands to enter the card number. Chicken of course is like 3x the price without the grocery card, so I noticed that the price hadn’t adjusted after I put in my card and the self-checkout cashier helped void the chicken and re-enter it manually. Lesson learned: guess I should put my grocery card in before scanning my groceries!
@Leigh- Geez the cashier sounds so judgmental! I would do the same as you, $1 is $1 (well even more especially if it is post-tax $1). Sometimes product placement can be so confusing. I wish grocery stores would just abolish the cheaper price with membership (I think Safeway eventually did) because it’s annoying to not remember your card one day and realizing it when you’re at the grocery line up.
We don’t even have the card! I associated my phone number with it and that’s what we’ve both used for ages. And at one grocery store, I never got a card and just use my parents’ phone number haha.
@Leigh- Haha. Safeway? I also used my mom’s phone number for the longest time before I got my own card.
Hey Geny, fyi – the cashier may have been right (ish). If you showed it to him in Flipp rather than in an actual copy of the No Frills flyer (either on a Loblaws-owned site or a physical copy), he didn’t actually have to honour the code. As a supervisor at Loblaws, I can tell you that we don’t honour it for third-party apps as we have no control over the content posted there. The easy way to work around this is to make sure you grab a copy of the flyer as you enter the store or before asking for it to be applied, so it’s not hard to get around, but if you’re using the app there’s a good chance anyone in a supervisory role would also deny your claim.
@Lynz- thanks for the heads up! I actually showed him in the actual copy of the No Frills flyer.
Well, here it is a year later and I’m glad I read your post because I was over-charged $4 at my local No Frills yesterday and didn’t notice until I got home. The item had the sale tags up on the shelf but scanned at full price at the cash register. Today I went in and spoke to a manager and mentioned the Scanning Code of Practice and she knew all about it and refunded the whole price ($10.49) without any hassle at all. We walked over to the shelf together so she could see the sale price, then she thanked me for being so nice about the fact their store made a mistake. Apparently she deals with many angry people. While I was there, she even checked the register to make sure the sale price had been entered so it wouldn’t happen again. She was wonderfully professional. What a relief.
Stores are smart to honour the code, because there are a *lot* of grocery stores to choose from. Best to honor the Code than lose customers.
@Angel- I’m so glad it worked out for you and the manager was polite with you and aware of the SCOP!
What you get will depend also on how it is displayed (and if there is a shelf label that indicates an expiry date of that sale price, SCOP does not apply if the sale price has ended and it is after the sale date and the signs are still up — if there is an end date displayed, SCOP does not apply)…..if there are individual shelf labels for each UPC indicating the incorrect price, then yes, first one free of each UPC, rest at the displayed price. But if there is only one displayed price, no individual shelf labels for each UPC under that displayed price, then no matter how many different UPCs are under that sign, only the first one will be free and all the rest will be at the displayed price.
@Kelly- yes thanks so much Kelly for this additional info. Lots of factors need to be in play for the SCOP refund
It usually worked for me at my Superstore in Prince Albert but here in Saskatoon Confederation Superstore it happened twice with Shampoo and Cheese Strings and they wouldn’t honor it on both occasions I even showed them the sticker on the shelf the last time. They lost my business for good and i was collecting their points too. Oh well I’ll just take my Christmas spending elsewhere since they can’t honor a simple price scan correctly and give the consumer what they advertised on the shelf. Wasting our time with their mistakes.
@Kirsten- Ugh, terrible- but maybe they didn’t have a good manager on board who wasn’t aware of the policy? Have you tried complaining to SCOP or to Superstore/ Loblaw’s website? I did the same and they gave me 10,000 or 5,000 (can’t remember) PC Points for the inconvenience.
Fast forward to 2020 and a pandemic. This policy is now being abused. Facebook groups set up to encourage SCOP shopping and then bragging about SCOP hauls. Spending 2, 3, 4 hours in a store, or going into several stores searching out items that could ring up higher at the register, picking up everything to scan to check, making sure they pick up one of each UPC because it will be free, even if that brand or that scent or that type isn’t what one uses or was going to purchase in the first place. This is abuse and NOT what the intention of the policy is for.
@Shannon- Wow, had no idea that was happening (I don’t have Facebook thankfully). Terrible!
I just dealt with a situation that should have been covered by SCOP but I hadn’t noticed the price discrepancy until after I got home from the store on Christmas Eve, so I had to go back to the store on Boxing Day. The cashier I approached about it was new so she called a more experienced cashier to help her. I had purchased two tins of cashews which had a posted price of 2/$5.00 but had been charged the full price of $3.97 each. The new cashier asked the other cashier if it should be corrected using SCOP to which the cashier simply said “No” and then proceeded to do a refund of the original price charged and then charge the sale price. I should have spoken up because I knew the newer cashier was right about it being a SCOP refund but I chose not to escalate it to an argument level as there were other customers waiting behind me. There is no Customer Service desk in the store but I will call the owner/manager to discuss this. She needs to talk to her staff and tell them how important good customer service is.
I couple weeks prior to that, I had gone in to get some throat lozenges and saw a display with two product pegs, both loaded with the same lozenges, with two different prices on the tags. One price was decidedly lower so I checked the UPC code on the price tags against the packages of lozenges to make sure the product I chose was the lower priced one. I took two bags up to the cashier and she rang them through with the price coming up at the higher price. I told her that was wrong so she asked someone to do a price check and they came back with the higher price tag which had a different UPC code. I told her there were two different prices, side by side, and that one was the wrong one. She just wanted to argue about it so I told the cashier to just keep the products as I didn’t want them at that price.
@Deb- Thanks for sharing. I wonder if they didn’t want to do it because it was Boxing Day? The other one about the lozenges there’s no excuse for.
It was a grocery store so whether or not it was Boxing Day should not make a difference. I will just need to be more diligent about watching things being rung in at the till instead of trying to get my items bagged to get out of their way. Very few places will bag your groceries any more, even when you pay for a new bag from them for your groceries. Poor customer service is being blamed on COVID.