The faculty of making stupid discoveries by accident. The name of my first Fantasy Football Team. Neither of which have anything to do with this blog. I just like the word. Deal with it !!!!!!

Did you know???

Remember when there were always price tags on the items in the grocery store?  You could put an item in your cart and know how much it was without having to search the little (and I mean little) tag on the shelf that is supposed to be UNDER the item.  Now, thanks to “modern” technology, most stores no longer put price tags on items.  Cashiers just have to scan the item and the price automatically posts to the computerized cash register.

Due to a number of complaints by consumers the Competition Bureau of Canada enacted the following:

The Bureau has endorsed the Scanner Price Accuracy Voluntary Code, which evolved 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. These associations are composed of national, regional and local retailers selling a wide assortment of general merchandise, as well as pharmaceutical and food products.

This Code, implemented in June 2002, applies to all scanned Universal Product Code (UPC), bar coded, and/or Price Look Up (PLU) merchandise sold in all participating stores, with the exception of goods such as prescription drugs which are not easily accessible to the public and price-ticketed items.

Purpose of the Code

The purpose of the Code is to:

  • Visibly demonstrate retailer commitment to scanner price accuracy;
  • Provide retailers with a consistent national framework for dealing with scanner price accuracy issues; and
  • Provide the retail industry with a mechanism for consumer redress in scanner price accuracy cases, to be managed by a Scanner Price Accuracy Committee.

Key Features of the Code

The Item Free Scanner Policy – The Retailers’ Promise of Price Accuracy.

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 item free, up to a $10 maximum. When the item has a price tagged, the lowest price applies. When identical items are incorrectly priced, the second one will be sold at the correct price.

What does the Code cover?

The Code covers all scanned merchandise at participating retail outlets where this sign is displayed at the store entrance or checkout.

Scanning Code of Practice

If the scanned price of a non-price 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 a Code of Practice problem cannot be resolved at the store level, please call 1-866-499-4599 to register your complaint.

What is a non-price ticketed item?

A non-price ticketed item is any bar coded merchandise that does not have a price affixed to the merchandise.

What happens if two or more identical non-price ticketed items are incorrectly scanned?

Customers are entitled to the first item free (up to a maximum of $10) and the subsequent item(s) at the correct price.

How can I claim my refund?

Cashiers are authorized to implement the Item Free Scanner Policy.

If you are not satisfied with the cashier’s decision, you may speak to the store manager or supervisor.

If you are still dissatisfied with the outcome, you may register a complaint with the Scanner Price Accuracy Committee, by calling 1-866-499-4599 (toll free).

Your complaints and concerns will be addressed with the retailer, and you will be notified of the outcome.


So, the bottom line is that if you “catch” an item going thru and you know the price is incorrect bring it to the attention of the cashier and as long as the product falls under the Act you get the first one free and any subsequent items at the intended price.  You would think this was a very simple process – but it’s not.

First and foremost not all cashiers are made aware of this policy. At least not at the Sobey’s store in the town I live in.  The older cashiers know the policy, but the younger, usually students, don’t have a clue about it. It doesn’t matter that there are big signs posted on the entry door to the store, nor does it matter that each cash register station has the policy stuck to it. 

Secondly, again refering to the Sobey’s store, (and their  discount grocery chain Price Chopper),  if you do not ask for the item for free you get charged the price the item should have been.

Funny, I don’t see that in the policy anywhere.

To top it all off, if you do indeed catch the price discrepancy the casheir has to then get Head Cashier approval to scan the price in as zero.  As the consumer, you then become the bad guy.  While the cashier is waiting for the head cashier to show up the line behind you is forming and people are beginning to get annoyed with the wait.  Now the head cashier shows up and has to call for a price check of the item to make sure you are not trying to rip them off.  Finally, the head cashier enters the override and scans the item entering the correct price. 

But wait a minute, isn’t it supposed to be free if it is $10.00 or under.  You bet it is.  

The line behind you is growing. The other customers are mumbling under their breath…

So you bring up the fact that you should have received the item for free.  The cashier calls for the head cashier to come back and mysteriously she has gone on break.

This is not an isolated incident and I have seen it happen on many occasions.  And that last line of the policy – the usual outcome is that the store is reprimanded and promises not to do it again.  BFD!!!!

I say let’s make the stores accountable to the consumers.  Make them follow the policy and if they don’t, start handing out hefty fines.  We pay enough for groceries.  If the stores cannot be bothered ensuring that their pricing is correct then perhaps they need a push to do so.  I know if I was the President of a company that got fined I would certainly make sure that all the store Managers and their employees could quote the policy chapter and verse. 

So the next time you are shopping and notice a price difference in what you are charged instead of the price should be make sure you tell the cashier and remind them that you get it for free. More than likely you will get a dirty look but you have to right to do this.  Stand up for your rights.

I don’t know about you but at the end of the day Sobey’s, Loblaws, Metro and the rest of the grocery food chains have a whole lot more money than I do. I refuse to make them richer.


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