Understanding how the Scanning Code of Practice works is a great money saving tip. It might sound a bit complicated at first, but I promise it is easy once you understand how it works.
I recently had to grab a box of Underjams. As much as I try to buy items on sale, I had no choice but to pay full retail price this time. Or so I thought.
The price tag on the shelf said $22.97 but my frugal shopper’s intuition told me that it might ring up higher. When I scanned it myself, it scanned at a price of $29.97. So did I proudly get the item for $22.97?
Spoiler Alert: No I did not.
Because Walmart participates in the Scanning Code of Practice policy, this item that was not even on sale, cost me only $12.97. A savings of almost 60% just because I knew one trick.
Wait – what? How is that possible? Allow me to explain.
What is The Scanning Code of Practice?
The Scanning Code of Practice is a policy that many large retailers voluntarily offer as a protection to consumers.
In order to protect us from prices that do not scan at the right price, they offer a MAJOR reduction on any item that rings up incorrectly. Get ready…it’s a good one!
If any item is less than $10, and scans at the incorrect price, you can have the item for FREE.
If any item is more than $10, and scans incorrectly , you get $10 off THE LOWEST PRICE shown on the shelf.
See why the Underjams were such a great deal?
I paid the lowest shelf price ($22.97) minus $10.00 (SCOP) for a grand total of $12.97. That is a 60% savings – not bad for an item that wasn’t even on sale.
Retailers offer the Scanning Code of Practice because they want buyers to be able to trust that the price on the shelf will be the price that scans at the checkout. Offering this incentive helps them catch and remedy price discrepancies.
Stores usually place this sign by each register and the front door. But many customers do not understand how it works so they don’t get to benefit. Here’s a sample sign:
Scanning Code of Practice: Tips to Cash In
If an item scans incorrectly, first confirm that the store is part of the SCOP. If the cashier is unsure, ask for a customer service representative or a manager.
If you point out a price discrepancy, many cashiers will just start to give you the lower price. But you need to speak up and say that you should get the item for free (if it is under $10) or get an additional $10 off (if it is over $10).
If items scan incorrectly, you are entitled to receive every unique item for free. So if you are buying 3 different flavours of salad dressing, and they all ring up at the wrong price, they would all be free (because they are under $10) and have unique UPC codes.
I have never had a bad experience with a salesperson not being willing to honour the Scanning Code of Practice. But if you don’t ask for it, they almost always just offer the lower shelf price.
Participating Stores in Canada
Here is an up-to-date list of stores who voluntarily participate in the Scanning Code of Practice in Canada. A few of the most common stores include:
- Home Depot
- Giant Tiger
- Shopper’s Drug Mart
- Best Buy
short version recap + takeaways:
If I didn’t notice the shelf price, I would have paid $29.97
**READ THE SHELF PRICES**
If I noticed the shelf price, and simply corrected the cashier, I would have paid $22.97
**PAY ATTENTION AT CHECKOUT**
Since I noticed the shelf price and knew to ask for the Scanning Code of Practice price, I paid….$22.97-$10.00=$12.97
**KNOW THE SCOP POLICY**
I’m on a mission to share money saving tips like this. And a side benefit to this process is that it motivates me to pay attention at the checkout. Because who doesn’t like free?
What is the best item you have ever received for free? Do share in the comments below.
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marlene hamilton says
Wonderful tips, Karen. I’m sure we miss out often.
Jennie Asquith says
I love to match prices as it is, and thought that “getting items free” thing was limited to Real Canadian Superstore! I’ll be sure to keep the SCOP in mind for the next time and pass on this information to another avid shopper who’s always looking to save money: my mother! Thank you, Karen.
P.S. I got three huge bottles of body lotion (around $9.00 each, I think?) for free once at Superstore when they rang in with the wrong price, as they had advertised the prices in their flyer incorrectly. When the manager was only going to give me one for their mistake, no matter how much I argued my case about the customer being right, the cashier gave me the other two for free when her manager walked away!
It is a surprisingly common policy for so many large retailers, but not too many people really understand how it works. And since cashiers themselves can be confused (or not offer it unless you ask), many shoppers don’t get the benefit. Glad you liked it!
Brennan @ Our Home on Purpose says
This is awesome! Do you know if this is in the US too? What a great tip 🙂
Thanks, Brennan. It is available to MANY stores here in Canada but surprisingly few people know about it. Or people have a vague sense that there is a policy, but don’t know what they’re entitled to.
I have tried to research if it’s availabe in the U.S. but I see conflicting posts about that. I’ll pop back here if I can find definitive info. 🙂