Scanning Code of Practice, if it sounds like legal jargon to you don’t worry that’s far from the truth. What is your reaction when something rings in more expensive than advertised on the shelf at check out?
My reaction is to jump up and down in excitement!
Yes, you heard me. I look forward to being overcharged on a product. Now I am really confusing you aren’t I. Now that I have your full attention, I can explain myself.
What is the Scanning Code of Practice?
A little secret that a lot of shoppers do not know about is something called “SCOP”. The Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) is a promise from the retailer to their customers that there will be accurate scanning at the register on all Universal Product Codes (UPCs).
SCOP is a voluntary code that almost every major retailer in Canada abides by. It essentially means “the price we have listed on our shelves will be the price that rings up at the register”.
If the product scans in at a price HIGHER than the price listed on the shelf, the customer is entitled to receive the item free, up to a $10 maximum (customer will receive $10 off when the item costs $10 or more).
The code does not include pharmacy related products or price-ticketed items (ex. markdowns, 50% off tickets or red ticket items for quick sales).
The Scanning Code of Practice is endorsed by the Competition Bureau of Canada and was created from the collaborative efforts of the Retail Council of Canada, the Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores, the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers and the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors.
What stores participate in SCOP?
Almost every major retailer in Canada participates in SCOP (Rexall and Zellers are not scanning code of practice participants, except in Quebec where it is law that all stores participate).
- I have never had a cashier ever mention this to me before?
- Do I need to remind them of SCOP?
In all my years of shopping, I have never been told about SCOP until I started to learn more about couponing and saving money.
From one situation to the next, you may not be told about SCOP for various reasons. For example, cashier forgot or cashier was never trained on SCOP.
Either situation, it appears as though the customer has to be more on the ball then the cashier. If you see something ring up incorrectly, bring it to the attention of the cashier.
If you were overcharged, such that the product rang in as more than what was advertised on the shelf, remind the cashier of SCOP. If they are not sure about SCOP, you may need to ask a store manager at customer service after you have checked out.
If the store is listed above and will not apply SCOP, call 1-866-499-4599 to list your complaint.
- What if I had 2 of the same item and they both scan in wrong? Are they both FREE?
SCOP only applies to the first item. The other item would ring in with the adjusted lower price that was advertised on the shelf.
- *GREAT TIP* What if I had 3 items all with unique UPCs ring in incorrectly?
Each item with a unique UPC would be FREE. For example, often shampoos, conditioners and hairspray have different UPC codes even though the store may be advertising a sale of $3 each.
If all three items ring in incorrectly, you would get the shampoo, conditioner and hairspray free if they have different UPC codes on the bottles.
- What about items that ring in incorrectly that have price tags on them or ticketed for quick sale (ex. 50% off)?
SCOP does not apply when items have price tickets on them. It only applies for displayed signs in stores.
- What about if my store has not taken down a sign, and they say that sale was from yesterday and it is over? Does SCOP apply?
Yes, if the store has not removed their sign and is still advertising a lower price and your item rings in as higher, SCOP applies. This goes back to the original intention of SCOP – it is a promise from a retailer to their customer for accurate pricing and scanning.
- What if I get out to my car and realize the price is wrong on my receipt? Can I go back in and ask for SCOP?
Yes, absolutely and you should ALWAYS check your bill before you leave the parking lot. Just go back in with the item(s) to customer service. Do not go back to the cashier as he/she has no ability to refund your money.
- OK Coupon Christine, I understand all the rules, but I am still nervous about screaming out “SCOP!!!!” when I see I am entitled to it – can you help me?
Who doesn’t like FREE stuff? What if I told you that each year you could be getting upwards of $100 maybe more worth of free stuff by looking at your receipts and finding those errors, would you be more inclined to say SCOP?
You are not taking money from the cashiers pocket and they will not be in trouble if you bring to their attention a pricing discrepancy. So stand proud and save yourself some CASH!
One extra tip is that SCOP happens A LOT more often on Friday mornings. Sales from the previous week are over and new sales are up. Some UPCs are not put into their computer programs correctly and often times you benefit from the switch to new sales.
My favourite experience of SCOP was when I was out buying 5 jugs of laundry detergent. The sale price listed was $3.99, but the detergent was ringing in at $5.99.
The cashier and I discussed the discrepancy and she asked a fellow employee to go back to check. It took just a few minutes, but while he was checking, I was scanning over the UPCs since I had 3 different scents of the detergent. I was mentally high fiving as 3 of them had different UPCs.
I was about to get 3 FREE jugs of laundry detergent! The employee came back, I was right and the cashier scanned them in at the sale price.
I let her put in a few, then said “hmm, I have this friend, Coupon Christine (wink) and I was reading on her website that because the price of the item was incorrectly scanned, I am entitled to that product for free.
I also read that with each unique UPC code, these 3 bottles are also free and I would just pay for the remaining 2 bottles at the correct price”. She looked at me and simply said .. “wow, I really need to meet your friend Coupon Christine (second wink)!
I never knew that and I have been working here for months”. After we spoke to the store manager, I walked out with 5 jugs of laundry detergent for under $9!
- So does it PAY to watch the register prices as they go in or scan the receipt on your way out of the store?
ABSOLUTELY! No one likes to be ripped off, it PAYS to watch – trust me, you will thank me in the long run after you get FREE stuff!
If you would like more information you can read more at the Competition Bureau of Canada.
Mrs.CBB and I often get items for free or $10 off by scanning products on self-scanners, by watching each item as it is scanned and by reading our receipts.
If you’re looking to save some cash in the budget and help the retailer be mindful of the prices. Fans are always asking me what is a code of practice and why is it needed? The Canadian Scanning Code of Practice is in place for both the customers and the retailers to ensure pricing is accurate.
Have you had a cashier apply the Scanning Code of Practice? What was your SCOP experience like? Is this the first time you have heard about the Scanning Code of Practice?
Christine (aka Coupon Christine) is passionate about couponing and saving money. CouponChristine.com started with just a few hundred fans earlier this spring and she now has almost 4000 fans on her Facebook page.
She is also the brains behind Coupon Allstars Canada. Coupon Christine has bloggers that feature deals and coupon match-ups for their provinces like she does for her Ontario fans.
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Main Photo Credit: 123RF
Scanning Code Photo Credit Competition Bureau of Canada