Scanning Code Of Practice—What Is It and How Does It Protect Consumers?

3 May 2016
Overcharged At A Store? Learn About SCOP

My daughter and I shopped at Shopper's Drug Mart yesterday and as we were about to leave the store I noticed on my receipt that a beauty product purchase had scanned through at the incorrect price. I had only paid 50 cents more than the price listed on the shelf tag. Not really a big deal...

Except... imagine if everyone across Canada paid 50 cents more on the same item. It adds up to a lot of extra money in the pockets of a retail store, when those savings should be passed onto the consumer.

I approached the salesclerk with my receipt and product in hand and politely asked if she would be able to apply the 'Scanning Code of Practice' on the item. This is a program that the Retail Council Of Canada has implemented; stores voluntarily participating are required to follow the procedures that are outlined by the Retail Council of Canada. The Scanner Price Accuracy Code is more commonly called the Scanning Code of Practice, or, SCOP.

She asked me to take her over to where I had found the product, where she then removed the shelf tag after checking that the UPC code on the product was the same as that on the shelf tag. Quite often customers will put items 'back' on the wrong shelf—other customers view the incorrect shelf price tag then ask for the SCOP to be applied when the price rings up higher than expected. This is why the store staff need to see where the item was found, the displayed shelf tag (price), and whether or not the UPC codes match up. With the salesclerk quickly removing the shelf tag on the spot in my case it showed that the SCOP policies were correctly implemented at that store.

If you ever have an item scan in at less than the marked price you can not request that the scanning code of practice come into play. The SCOP is only valid when the customer has been overcharged on an item.

So, you might be asking, why should we waste our time over a small price error? Many people don't want to 'waste time' and will walk away. The point of SCOP though is to protect consumers in the long run. By having the customers report the errors the stores become more efficient in correctly labeling the shelf prices.

Here's what's in it for you: You should receive the first item that scanned incorrectly, for free if the retail price is under $10. If the item is over $10 you will receive $10 off. In my case yesterday I received the beauty product having a value of $8.50, for free. I was credited the full amount of the price I paid. Then the sales associate entered a special code into the cash register so that the product would ring though at $0.00 and reflect "Price Amend: Scanning Code of Practice" on the receipt.

What if I were purchasing three of the same products, would they all be free? No. When more than one of the same item (with the same UPC code) is incorrectly scanned you will receive the first one free or will receive $10 off if the item has a value of over $10. All other items will then be charged at the price that was displayed on the shelf. With products that are the same but have different flavours or scents, sometimes the UPC codes on each item are different, so the SCOP would actually apply to each UPC! Sometimes the store employees are unfamiliar with that. In any case, pleasantly explaining the SCOP rules and allowing them time to look into it usually helps.

Remember that all of the stores who participate in this are doing so voluntarily; however, it does not mean they get to make up their own rules on the fly. You will want to learn which stores participate in SCOP. Stores that do participate in it will have signs at their checkouts, as well! Become familiar with SCOP policies. If, for example, they offer to 'adjust the price for you' to what the shelf price displayed, you can politely remind them that you should be receiving the first item under $10 for free because of SCOP.

You can find out more about the rules in the links below.

Since you are on Bargainmoose right now you clearly are a great deal hunter and know exactly what the 'thrill' of getting a good deal feels like! So SCOP on, our fellow deal hunters, SCOP on!

When a store has erroneously refused to honour SCOP policies you may contact the Retail Council of Canada about the Scanner Price Accuracy Code (otherwise known as SCOP), or file a complaint. You can contact them by phoning 1-866-499-4599.

We would love to hear from you! Please share with us some of your SCOP experiences in the comments below!

(Image: Polycart on Creative Commons)

TOPICS:   Freebies

12 comments

  • Laura D.

    I find soooo many cashiers don't know about this. And usually the sticker on the cash register is mostly illegible. I get free things weekly because of SCOP.

    • Bargainmoose

      Really?! Wow. You are on top of those receipts!

    • Laura D.

      lol I watch them like a hawk! I pretty much had to when I moved to an area where the only close store was Extra Foods, and they never ever ever took their sale stickers off of the shelves. Things rang up wrong every time I went there. It was super frustrating, but I ended up getting a lot for free haha

  • Eryn N. EDITOR

    Thanks for your comments! You are doing a great job to encourage them to start looking more closely at their labeling of prices for the consumers, plus, you got some free items in the process! :) 

  • Noahsmum

    I've gotten so much for free or $10 off because of SCOP.  I actually think one store knows I hunt it down. They've gotten much better at correcting it since they take my phone number etc down.  I had to tell a cashier at another store about it since she didn't know about it either.  But she learned something new too.  I had one store take away a tag and they didn't show me the tag.  Then said it was thrown out and can't honour it. I now try to take a picture of it before I tell them so I can prove it.  Even if it is displayed a price and it was an expired price they still should honour what is marked on there!  

  • Eryn N. EDITOR

    That is smart thinking! I have taken photos on occasion when I am not certain of a price, and maybe 1 time out of 3 they have accepted that as proof on the spot - (sometimes saves them a trip to check it out when they are busy.) You are correct indeed! Expired or not, if the tag is still out for the consumer, they should be honoring it. At that point, for future reference, you might wish to contact the Retail Council of Canada about it by phoning 1-866-499-4599. Thank you for sharing your comments with us! :)

    • mattyc

      I saw the retail council actually states this in the FAQ section:

      There is an expiry date clearly written on the shelf label. If an updated price scans at the cash register instead of the expired price, is it still valid for the Scanner Price Accuracy Code?

      No, because the shelf label clearly states the dates for which the price is valid.

      • Eryn N. EDITOR

        Nice work! :-) Thanks!! Some shelf tags don't have an expiry date written on them but for the ones that do, it's still worth a shot asking if they will apply SCOP (for the free under $10 item.) In my own experience, more times than not they have still honored it. Even though the SCOP policy allows them to not honor it, even the store employees tend to realize the tags if expired, need to be removed. 

  • imma

    I have also gotten lots of free merchandise  due to knowing posted prices and checking my receipts. Sometimes a store will not allow you to submit a picture you took, however, because they say that if could be from a different one of their stores. They generally need to send someone to check it and bring them back the SCU posted on the shelf; and it's the shelf price- they don't always honour it if it's a store posted flip sign. Still- this is important info for consumers and most stores are quick to step up when you ask them about their SCOP.

    • Eryn N. EDITOR

      Yes, that is exactly it! They have stated the same thing to me when they have refused to accept a picture on the phone. It definitely is a valid point from their end, I respect when they go check it out. Thanks for posting! :-)

  • mattyc

    This is awesome! I had no idea this policy/SCOP existed and I see wrong price scans all the time! I looked at the qualifying list of stores and a lot of the places just override the price down to the sign price and the customer is okay with it as they don't know SCOP exist. Is this correct practice ? or do you have to tell them to apply SCOP ? Has anyone experienced the cashier/manager not knowing what on earth you are talking about ?

    • Eryn N. EDITOR

      Believe it or not, it is the correct practice. As a consumer you need to ask for SCOP, or they are only required to give you the product for the shelf tag price. Now that being said, maybe some stores will automatically provide the SCOP practice of giving you the free $10 item during a price error. I haven't seen that myself (where they automatically follow SCOP policy) because I always ask. Absolutely yes, you will run into situations somethings where some employees do not know about SCOP. Unfortunately this takes more time if they need to consult with a manager. You can always point out the SCOP sign at the cash register, as they are required to post them. Usually at least one manager will know about SCOP, though!

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