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5 Steps to Cash in on the Scanning Code of Practice

5 Steps to Cash in on the Scanning Code of Practice

A long time ago, before the invention of Google, there were actual price tags on items. Customers could easily make sure they were charged the correct prices. But when retailers moved towards scanning UPC codes, consumers had to be able to trust that shelf prices would scan correctly.

The Competition Bureau, a federal agency, developed the Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP). Retailers can voluntarily participate in this program to assure consumers they strive for accurate pricing. And if an item scans incorrectly you may receive free products by understanding the Scanning Code of Practice.

5 Steps to Cash in on the Scanning Code of Practice

1. Slow Down

As you place items into your grocery cart, slow down long enough to check shelf prices (use a notebook if needed). You may not be used to watching product prices regularly, but it is an important money-saving habit, and might pay off at the checkout.
slow down

2. Pay Attention at the Checkout

To take advantage of SCOP, you must watch carefully as your items are being scanned. If a product does not ring in at the shelf price, then proceed to the next step. (are your money-saving senses tingling yet?)

barcode scanner

3. Ask Cashier to Honour SCOP

Alert the cashier that a price rang up incorrectly, and they will verify this by paging someone to check the shelf price.

Once a salesperson confirms the price scanned incorrectly, the cashier should ring the item in as free (or $10 off if the item is more than $10). FREE? It’s true. That’s like a 100% off coupon!!

This also applies to multiple items as long as they have different UPCs. For example, these 4 different scents of shampoos would all be free if they scanned incorrectly, but you could not get 2 identical ones free.

shampoo variety

Cashiers should be trained about implementing SCOP, however, this is not always the case. Be pleasant but firm about getting your item for free if the cashier seems unsure. If you have any trouble you may need to speak to customer service.

4. Speak to Customer Service

Customer service representatives will definitely know how to adjust your bill to reflect the Scanning Code of Practice. They will refund you the difference if the cashier did not do this properly.

5. Make a Phone Call

If you are not satisfied after speaking to Customer Service, you may register a complaint, call the Scanner Price Accuracy Committee at 1-866-499-4599 (toll free). Personally, I have not heard of a situation that Customer Service didn’t handle internally, but it is good to have a process in place in case this happened.

Understanding the Scanning Code of Practice can save you a lot of money. Not only will you receive free products, but you may also catch other errors at the checkout by being alert such as being charged for the wrong quantity.

And don’t feel badly about asking to receive your free products – the store also benefits by keeping their shelf prices current so it’s a win-win.

What is the best item you have received by using the Scanning Code of Practice?


  1. melissa

    Baking dishes, with mixing bowls. They were marked down to 10.00 each of the sets. I was going to buy one of each, one with 3 small glass pie plates, and mixing bowls, and the other had loaf pans. Usually were 40 plus dollars, SCOP I got both sets for free.

  2. Karen G

    Great score Melissa. Free is fun!

  3. Tonya

    How do you know which stores participate in this voluntary program?

  4. Karen G

    Good question Tonya. Most of the stores I shop at do participate in SCOP. Check out this link for a list and be sure to ask the cashier if you see an error in the scanned price.

  5. SueSueper

    Ah, learnt something new from this article. Thanks so much.

    I got two deodorants different scents, therefore different UPCs. They scanned incorrectly. I only claimed one as free. Will certainly be using that tip in the future.


  6. Lori

    If a store participates, there will be signage at each cash register and usually on the door coming in. Look for a sticker around the interac machine or cash register. I got a nearly $20 bag of dog food for $.99, because it was supposed to be $10.99 on sale.

  7. Karen G

    Sue: So glad you learned something new. And your example reminds us that we need to know policies as consumers, as most stores won’t volunteer the deals at the time.

    Lori: Thanks for the reminder about the signs. I’m convinced free food always tastes better – wonder if your dog agreed 🙂

  8. Barbara Miller

    Cassie, thank you for this information. I am a US resident and I will now be in search of a similar policy in the US. With your permission, I linked to this article in my blog. I have been following you for sometime and hope that my readers will click over to read more of your great posts. Thanks again for the info.

  9. Karen Gauvreau

    Brenda – It is true that some stores are notorious for not checking prices. Best place to cash in on SCOP!

  10. Theresa Mifflin

    Both times at Canadian Tire I have been able to get free product. First was a checked plastic tablecloth for camping. Was 15$, and the second trip I did was a pair of water shoes for my daughter. And they were 10$
    Both items I ended up getting for free.

  11. Judith

    This works in Canada? I can remember several times when I’ve noticed the prices wrong at checkout… What do I say? “That price is incorrect, I should get that for free now”?

    • RICK

      This works all the time for me… and yes… in Canada… just keep an eye on the prices… and when something comes up wrong… just say “uhhh… scanning code of practice?”

      sometimes you have to go with your receipt to customer service because the cashier isnt aware or doesnt have the authority to reverse the transaction.

  12. Shirley

    I’ve shopped at Home Depot quite a bit the last few years doing a basement Reno. I’ve found them very good. Sometimes I’ve noticed the difference at the till and sometimes once I’ve gotten home. I’ve never had any issues with adjustments.

  13. Shirley

    Does anyone have any experience with incorrect prices because of how the cashier scans vs the shelf price information not matching what is in their computer? Scenario is you buy a bunch of items, same thing but different flavours. 5 different UPC’s.
    The cashier picked one, which happened to be the 1/7 that was not on sale, and swiped it 7 times. It ran up at the correct price but the other items were never scanned. At a minimum, I overpaid ~0.50 per package and the companies inventory is wrong. Is that scenario covered?

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