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

Scanner Price Accuracy Canada

Keep An Eye On Scanned Prices At The Checkout

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

SCOP is a VOLUNTARY program that merchants can opt to participate in. It is NOT THE LAW except in Quebec.

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

Most people don’t notice but for those of you that do there are some perks involved.

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 on a product and not because I’m trying to scam the system, quite the opposite. 

Now I am really confusing you aren’t I? 

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

Scanning Code Of Practice (SCOP)

Scanning Code Of Practice In Canada (SCOP)

What is the Scanning Code of Practice? (SCOP)

A little secret that a lot of shoppers do not know about is something called “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.

This is a voluntary program but various Canadian businesses so not all retail stores offer this program.

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

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

  • Scanning code of conduct
  • Supermarket scanning code of practice
  • Retail scanning code of practice
  • Consumer scanning code of practice

Although they all lead to SCOP the official name is The Scanner Accuracy Code in Canada.

2019 Scanning Code Of Practice

2020 SCOP Update added to the original and that you 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 back in 2002 to support customers and retailers to make sure pricing accuracy was top-notch.

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

SCOP is a scanning code that almost every major retailer in Canada abides by.

If you are unsure you can ask or keep your eyes open for the scanning code of practice photo (you will see it in this blog post) of SCOP on the entry doors or at the cash register where you scan your debit and credit card.

It’s typically right in front of our faces but we miss it. 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).

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).
  • SCOP does not apply at the LCBO or gas stations.
  • SCOP does not apply when you buy items that are weighed such as produce or items from BULK.
  • 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 up higher than the advertised price.
  • SCOP does not apply when an item does not scan. This simply means the cashier is having a problem with the UPC code or computer.
  • SCOP does not apply when a store is not following the Scanning Code of Practice.

Common Questions and Answers about SCOP

The Scanning Code of Practice (Scanner Price Accuracy Code) is endorsed by the Competition Bureau of Canada.

It 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. 

Scanning Code Of Practice (SCOP) Participants

What Canadian stores participate in SCOP?

Here is a printable full updated list for 2020-2021 of the voluntary participants for the Scanning Code Of Practice.

SCOP participants Canada

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 ever mention this to me before?
  • Do I need to remind them of SCOP?

In all of my years of shopping, I have never been told about the scanning code of practice 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, the cashier forgot or the cashier was never trained on the scanning code of practice.

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 scanned in as more than what was advertised on the shelf, remind the cashier of SCOP.

Related: How to ask your cashier to apply 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.

UPC Codes and SCOP

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.

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.

Prices That Ring Incorrectly

What about items that ring in incorrectly that have price tags on them or ticketed for quick sale (ex. 50% off)? 

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

It only applies to displayed signs in stores.

Price Tags and Signs

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.

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 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.

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 each year you could be getting upwards of $100 or more worth of free stuff by looking at your receipts and finding those errors, would you be more inclined to say SCOP?

Related: Why you need to always read your grocery receipts

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 oftentimes you benefit from the switch to new sales.

Scanning Code Of Practice Scenario

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 scanned 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 Muliple SCOP Freebies For Same Product

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, Christine and I was reading on her website that since 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.

That meant 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”.

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

After we spoke to the store manager, I walked out with 5 jugs of laundry detergent for under $9!

Watch The Cash Register For Pricing Errors

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!

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

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

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.

It seems many stores interpret the definition of SCOP differently but it’s in black and white and should be followed if the store follows SCOP.

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

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:

Main Photo Credit:

Scanning Code Photo Credit Competition Bureau of Canada

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