Consumer Tip: Scanning Code of Practice

Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP)

Did you know that if a major retailer scans your item for the incorrect price that you may qualify for a discount on that item?  Sometimes the store may give the item to you free simply because of the error!

Most major retailers in Canada follow a voluntary rule that’s called the Scanning Code of Practice.  According to the retail council, this is their definition:

1.1 On a claim being presented by the customer, where the scanned price of a product at checkout is higher than the price displayed in the store or than advertised by the store, the lower price will be honoured; and

    (a) if the correct price of the product is $10 or less, the retailer will give the product to the customer free of charge; or
    (b) if the correct price of the product is higher than $10, the retailer will give the customer a discount of $10 off the corrected price.

These are the stores that follow this practice:

  • Shoppers Drug Mart
  • The Groupe Jean Coutu (NB and Ont only)
  • Lawton Drug Stores
  • London Drugs
  • Lovell Drugs
  • Pharma-save (BC and Sask)
  • Pharma Plus
  • Canada Safeway Limited
  • The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company of Canada Limited
  • Loblaw Companies Limited
  • Sobeys Inc.
  • Metro Inc.
  • Thrifty Foods
  • Costco Wholesale Canada Ltd.
  • Co-op Atlantic
  • Federated Co-operatives Limited
  • RCC Supporting Companies:
  • Costco Wholesale Canada Ltd.
  • The Home Depot Canada
  • Canadian Tire Corporation Ltd.
  • Toys r Us
  • Rona
  • Wal*Mart Canada Corp.
  • Giant Tiger Stores Ltd.
  • The North West Company
  • Best Buy/Future Shop
  • 2 Home Hardware franchisees
  • Thrifty Foods
  • Overwaitea Food Group
  • The Harry Watson Group
  • Longos Brothers Fruit Markets
  • + 1374 independent locations

So next time you’re shopping at one of the retailers listed above, make sure to watch the check out monitor like a hawk as you may be entitled to a discount if there is an error.  Even without the incentive, you should be watching the prices anyways as errors in pricing happen all the time, and usually not in the consumers favour!

From personal experience, I have used the scanning code of practice when buying groceries at Loblaws.  Have you used this rule to your advantage?  If so, with what store?

I've Completed My Million Dollar Journey. Let Me Guide You Through Yours!

Sign up below to get a copy of our free eBook: Can I Retire Yet?

Posted in


FT is the founder and editor of Million Dollar Journey (est. 2006). Through various financial strategies outlined on this site, he grew his net worth from $200,000 in 2006 to $1,000,000 by 2014. You can read more about him here.
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
5 years ago

I picked up some chocolate on sale for $2.99 according to the sign on the display at the Shoppers Drug Mart in Ottawa ,Ontario. At the cash register, I was charged $6.30 instead of $2.99 plus tax. After a long time, another clerk confirmed that the right price was $2.99 but no one seemed aware of the existence of the Scanner Price Accuracy Code and I was not offered the chocolate for free. Shoppers Drug Mart is on the list of business adhering to the Code. So I requested it. Someone else was called who – after a long delay – called another person. After more delay, a tall man appeared. He never introduced himself. There were now 4 Shoppers Drug Mart employees standing at the cash machine -with me – because of a financial crisis over $2.99 worth of chocolate.
The tall man informed me that I had made a mistake. I had not picked up the right article, even though the standalone display where I picked it up had a large sign saying: $2.99.
Nevertheless, the man still adamantly refused to apply the item free provision of the Scanner Price Accuracy Code. After more than 15 minutes, it became obvious to me that the man – who was becoming increasingly agitated – was determined not to absorb a $2.99 loss – no matter the cost to Shoppers Drug Mart.
I mention that because there were 3 clerks plus the tall man preventing access to the cash register for about a dozen customers for about 15 minutes all for the purpose of saving Shoppers Drug Mart : $2.99.
A kafkaesque situation.
But that is not all. As I was leaving, the tall man shouted an 800 telephone number – apparently the customer service office for Shoppers Drug Mart. His way of saying – I won and there is nothing you can do about it because I know the customer service department is going to back me up. If the man I talked to is what passes for good customer service at Shoppers Drug Mart, I don’t need to call, I have already become quite familiar with their work.

5 years ago
Reply to  ax173

I have been using this program for a few years now. Superstore, Walmart, Extra Foods, all the biggies are pretty up on the policy and I’ve gotten many things for free – usually with no hassle at all. The last year I’ve been slack on calling them on it.
I watched a guy at Giant Tiger buy a $16 box of chicken wings and he had to haggle just to get the sale price. He didn’t know about the SCOP and I just listened for 10 minutes for them to straighten that out. Afterwards, I told him about the SCOP for future reference. A few months later, I bought socks and called them on the SCOP. Well, of course nobody new anything about it even though the sticker was right on the checkout counter and I was pointing at it. Then when you try to discuss – not argue- but ask – it with cashiers every other customer is staring at you and rolling their eyes like your a bleep. They weren’t rude about it, but I had to phone back and go back twice while they looked into it.

The other day I was at the dollar store and same thing. We don’t do that, don’t know what your talking about, bunch of clueless supervisors.

It’s happened at a few stores where I get blank looks, but usually a supervisor takes care of it after you, god forbid, want them to honor their own policy, and after you end up feeling like an idiot for even asking. Hence, why I usually don’t bother, or when I do, it’s for free entertainment. ie. Do they know their job?? Let’s see what happens, or how upset they’ll get – some of these people think it’s coming out of their paycheck I swear.

6 years ago

I had an incident yesterday at Canadian tires in which three of my eight items rang in incorrectly…they refused to comply with their SCOP policy which is posted at the cash and also at customer service. Upon speaking to the manager I was informed that their store does not comply to the scanning code of practice and the signs are only posted for corporate reasons. After a lengthy discussion with the GM, he finally gave me the three items for free. However I did phone head office to confirm whether or not they follow this policy and indeed they do. For my troubles they will be sending me a gift card and speaking to staff at store #154.

6 years ago

There’s an awesome blog on Facebook regarding SCOP.

6 years ago

Also of note, it’s the stores responsibility to make sure customers aren’t overcharged!! Once I get my SCOP freebie(s), I’ve helped the store do the work the staff didn’t do (or whoever usually removes the price tags on last weeks sale items). That’s my pay for being observant. I never thought about doing a $400-$500 SCOP but I sure as heck could at almost any give time. Maybe some stores need a lesson like that. Hmmmmm, you’ve really got my mind thinking now…

6 years ago

Richard, I am one of those shoppers who look for price tags and sales that already ended and are still posted. I make no excuses that I indeed go shopping for free things from SCOP. I can almost recite the code by heart and have a copy available on my smartphone. Just today I had 5 qualifying items, the stock boy went to check prices as I stood at cash and came back to claim only one had a wrong tag…he even proceeded to as me to follow him so he could show me. Yup, you guessed it, he removed them all but one…you should have seen the look on his face when I said “it was there a minute ago, want to see the photo on my phone?” BUSTED!!! Yeah, so I have zero problems going into a store to purposely look for mispriced items. Mind you I only “buy for free” things I use. Otherwise I could walk away with $400 in goods too. Today it was just $50 in nail polish.

Jocelyn Boyde
6 years ago

Richard…..I have seen the deceptive practices of cashiers who deliberately attempt to not follow the scanning code practice. That game can be played by customers too. When the cashier attempts to hide the sale tag…..that’s taking this issue to another level.

Jocelyn Boyde
6 years ago

I was in Shoppers Drug Mart in Gander. I bought a box of chocolates which rang up higher than the sale tag price. The cashier went over to check the tag, took it off and put it in her pocket. I went over to the shelf and saw the sale tag was gone and I saw her put it in her pocket. She pointed out to me the regular price of the item and I said there was a sale tag there and I believe it is in your pocket. She hesitated but then acknowledged that indeed it was in her pocket. I got the chocolates at no charge. I was shocked that a sales clerk would do that. The scanning code practice is there for a couple reasons. To protect the customer but also to see how the scanning procedure is working.

6 years ago

What do you do if the retailer denies you the SCOP. I was at Walmart buying a booster seat for my child. The tag clearly showed on sale for $28 from $38 however it rang up at $49.98. I had to fight for 20 minutes for them to give me the sale price which clearly was marked down twice. When they finally agreed that it was on sale for $28 I asked about SCOP and the manager told me to be thankful I was getting it at the sale price. Who can you contact about them not honouring this? So frustrating. I left the store with my seat and felt like a criminal in the end. I sent 2 email complaints. One to walmart head office and the other to the manager of this particular walmart to which I have had no replies at all. Sad

7 years ago

I work for Metro. My husband purchased a bottle of oil last night. He said it was on sale for 6.99 but I noticed this morning that I was charged 7.99. I returned it to my store and was told that employees are exempt. Is this correct? I feel if we are off duty, we should be viewed as regular customers. Am I correct?

7 years ago

@Richard: sounds like perfectly legal arbitrage to me.

“…systematically selecting/checking for every single product that has yet to have weekly price changes done…”

Well done to that shopper.
BTW, why hasn’t every single product had the price changes done by the time the doors open?

Sloppy business practices garner no sympathy.