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Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) In Canada…Did You Know?

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The Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP), also known as the Scanner Price Accuracy Code, may sound like legal jargon but is far from the truth.

Merchants participate in SCOP, a VOLUNTARY program, offering customers peace of mind. However, It is NOT THE LAW except in Quebec.

Scanner Price Accuracy Canada 
The Scanning Code Of Practice in Canada also known as SCOP.
The Scanning Code Of Practice (SCOP) Sign

Keep An Eye On Scanned Prices At The Cash Register

What’s your reaction when something rings in more expensive than the advertised price at checkout?

Most people don’t notice, but some perks are involved for those who do.

With grocery prices rising in Canada, it’s crucial to find all the ways to save.

If I catch a pricing error at the cashier or self-checkout scanners, my initial reaction is to jump up and down in excitement!

Huh?!?!

Yes, you heard me. I get excited because dollar signs are dancing around in my head.

I look forward to being overcharged for a product and not because I’m trying to scam the system, quite the opposite. 

Now I am confusing you aren’t I? 

Now that I have your full attention, I can explain myself.

Scanning Code Of Practice In Canada (SCOP)

What is the Scanning Code of Practice? (SCOP)

Many shoppers do not know about a bit of secret “SCOP.”

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 first item free up to a $10 maximum.

If the item is more than $10 the customer is entitled to $10 off the lowest advertised or displayed price.

SCOP is a voluntary program, meaning not all Canadian retail stores offer this program.

See the complete list of Scanning Code Of Practice stores below.

Alternate Names For SCOP

You may have also heard about the SCOP program under different names, such as:

  • Scanning code of conduct
  • Supermarket SCOP
  • Retail scanning code of practice
  • Consumer SCOP
  • Scanner Price Accuracy Code

Although they all lead to SCOP, Canada’s official name is The Scanner Accuracy Code.

2022 Photo of The Scanning Code Of Practice In Canada SCOP
2022 Photo of The Scanning Code Of Practice (SCOP) In Canada

The 2022 SCOP Update added to the original and should see in stores that participate across Canada.

The Code does NOT apply where the sale dates are printed on a shelf label or signage and have and the sale has expired, provided the regular price is on the label or signage.

Purpose of SCOP In Canada

What is the purpose of the Scanner Price Accuracy Code?

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) and Price Look-Up (PLU).

The Scanning Code of Practice was implemented in 2002 to support customers and retailers to ensure top-notch pricing accuracy.

The system is voluntary, so not all shops apply it, but Canada now has over 7000 stores that offer SCOP.

SCOP is a scanning code that almost every major retailer in Canada follows voluntarily.

If you are unsure, you can ask or keep your eyes open for the scanning code of practice photo.

Typically, (you will see it on the entry doors or at the cash register where you scan your debit and credit card.

Essentially SCOP 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 can receive the item free, up to a $10 maximum (the customer will receive $10 off when the item costs $10 or more).

What Products Do Not Apply To SCOP?

The Scanning Code of Practice is NOT the law, even though many consumers believe it is.

  • SCOP does not include pharmacy-related products or price-ticketed items (ex., markdowns, 50% off tickets or red ticket items for quick sales).
  • As well, SCOP does not apply at the LCBO or gas stations.
  • SCOP does not apply when you buy items such as produce or items from BULK.
  • Unfortunately, SCOP does not apply if there is no price displayed on the shelf or product unless the product is in the weekly flyer and rings higher than the advertised price.
  • SCOP does not apply when an item does not scan. This means the cashier has a problem with the UPC or computer.
  • Lastly, SCOP does not apply when a store is not following the Scanning Code of Practice.

Scanning Code Of Practice (SCOP) Participants

What Canadian stores participate in SCOP?

Below is the updated 2020-2022 voluntary participants’ Scanning Code Of Practice.

Keep in mind these participants can change at any time. If you find one below that has changed, please let me know. I try to keep on this topic as it’s essential for the retailer and the customers.

SCOP participants Canada
Stores In Canada That Apply The Scanning Code Of Practice
Stores In Canada That Apply The Scanning Code Of Practice

Common Questions and Answers about SCOP

Who is in charge of The Scanning Code of Practice in Canada?

The Competition Bureau of Canada endorses the Scanning Code of Practice (Scanner Price Accuracy Code).

The Retail Council of Canada collaborated with the Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores, the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers and the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors. 

Together they brought the Scanning Code of Practice to life.

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 the law that all stores participate).

If the SCOP sign or logos do not appear on the store doors or register, and the store name appears on the list above, they participate in SCOP.

  • I have never had a cashier mention this to me before?
  • Do I need to remind them of SCOP?

I had no idea about SCOP until I learned more about couponing and saving money.

A cashier may not tell you about SCOP for various reasons, from one situation to another.

For example, the cashier forgot or lacked training about the scanning code of practice.

In either situation, it appears as though the customer has to be more on the ball than the cashier.

However, If you see something ring up incorrectly, bring it to the cashier’s attention.

When overcharged, remind the cashier to apply SCOP and do a price check.

Related: How to ask your cashier to apply SCOP?

If they are not sure about SCOP, ask a store manager at customer service after you have checked out.

However, if a store follows the practice and will not apply SCOP, call 1-866-499-4599 to document a complaint.

UPC Codes and SCOP With An Example Scenario

What if I had 2 of the same item and scanned them incorrectly? Are they both FREE?

SCOP only applies to the first item. The other thing would ring in with the adjusted lower price on the shelf.

What if I had three items with unique UPCs ring in incorrectly?

Each item with a unique UPC would be FREE.

For example, shampoos, conditioners, and hairspray often have different UPCs, 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 UPCs on the bottles.

Prices That Scan Incorrectly

What about items that scan incorrectly with price tags or are ticketed for quick sale (ex. 50% off)? 

The Scanning Code of Practice does not apply when items have price tickets.

It only applies to displayed signs in stores for the correct product.

Price Tags and Signs

What if my store has not taken down a sign saying that the sale was from yesterday and it is over? Does SCOP apply?

Yes, SCOP applies if the store has not removed their sign and is still advertising a lower price and your item rings in as higher.

Going back to the original intention of SCOP – it is a promise from a retailer to their customer for accurate pricing and scanning.

SCOP After You Leave The Store

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 leaving the parking lot.

Just go back in with the item(s) to customer service.

Please do not return to the cashier as they cannot refund your money.

How to Ask for SCOP

OK, 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?

It’s easy to ask your cashier to apply SCOP when you notice a pricing error.

What if I told you that you could get upwards of $100 or more worth of free stuff by looking at your receipts and finding errors?

Would you be more inclined to say SCOP?

Related: Why you should always ask for your grocery receipt

You are not taking money from the cashier’s 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 quite often on Friday mornings.

Sales from the previous week are over, and new flyer deals are applied.

Some UPCs are not put into their computer programs correctly and frequently benefit from switching to new sales.

Scanning Code Of Practice Scenario

My favourite experience of SCOP was when I was out buying five jugs of laundry detergent.

The sale price listed was $3.99, but the scanned detergent price rang up at $5.99.

The cashier and I discussed the discrepancy, and she asked a fellow employee to go back to double-check the price.

UPC Codes And Multiple SCOP Freebies For Same Product

It took just a few minutes, but I was scanning over the UPCs while he was checking since I had three different detergent scents. 

Suddenly, I was mentally high fiving as three 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 at the sale price.

I also read that these three bottles are free with each unique UPC.

That meant I would pay for the remaining two bottles at the correct price.

She looked at me and said, “Wow, I need to meet your friend.”

“I never knew that, and I have worked here for months,” she exclaimed.

After speaking to the store manager, I walked out with five laundry detergent jugs for under $9!

Watch The Cash Register For Pricing Errors

It pays to watch products scanned or read your receipt before leaving the store to check for errors.

Nobody likes to pay more for a product, and it PAYS to watch – trust me, you will thank me in the long run after getting FREE stuff!

Mrs.CBB and I often get free or $10 off by scanning products on self-scanners, watching the cashier scan a code, and reading our receipts.

Ontario’s scanning code of practice has allowed us to get free products, but it also helps the retailer find blips in the scanning system they employ with their organization.

Fans are always asking me what a code of practice is and why it is needed?

The Canadian Scanning Code of Practice is in place for both the customers and the retailers to ensure accurate pricing.

Some stores may interpret the definition of SCOP differently, although it’s in black and white.

Call the bureau if you feel that a store charged you incorrectly and won’t apply SCOP.

If you want more information on the Scanner Price Accuracy Code (SCOP), you can read more at the Competition Bureau of Canada.

SCOP Discussion Questions

If you have a Scanning Code of Practice scenario you are not sure about, leave a comment in the comment section of this post and let’s see what the other fans have to say.

  • Have you had a cashier apply the Scanning Code of Practice?
  • What was your Scanning Code of Practice experience like?
  • Is this the first time you have heard about the Scanning Code of Practice?

Additional Reading

Scanning Code Photo Credit Competition Bureau of Canada

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