Show me the honey: The Scanning Code of Practice

While shopping at the Metro last week, I decided to pick up some honey. Normally I buy the stuff from the natural food store, but I planned on doing some granola baking (honey is a must have when working with granola), and since I was already at Metro, I decided to pick some up. I typically buy 500ml worth, and that lasts 3-4 baking sessions. I was very pleased to find that the huge jars of BillyBee honey (1L) were on sale for $6.29 from $12.29. Score! Into my basket one went.

Proceed to checkout: I’m scanning my items and I get to the honey. It rings in at $12.29. Some of you may be thinking, wtf! Not me, though – I was thinking, score! (Again!)

See, I used to be a cashier back in high school. Besides being able to remember random codes for fruits and vegetables (bananas, 4011, red delicious apples, 4016, on the vine tomatoes, 4664 – you get the idea), I am also familiar with the Scanning Code of Practice (also known as the Canada Scanner Price Accuracy Voluntary Code). This code states that if a product scans at a higher than advertised price, you get it for free, up to a maximum of $10. After the $10 mark, you get $10 off the product. If you have more than one of the same item, the subsequent items are sold at the lower (correct) price.

After seeing the item pop up at the wrong price, I told the cashier the situation. I should have waited to see if she brought up code herself, but I got a little excited and exclaimed, “I get it for free right!” She said no, not free, but I would get $10 off. I offered to go get the tag, since she couldn’t leave her terminal (she had to watch the other self checkouts). I brought her the tag, she fixed the price, and I ended up with 1L of honey for $2.29. The 500ml jar I buy at the natural food store goes for $7, so this was a great deal.

Participating stores are supposed to display a sticker that outlines the program. Sometimes you see them by the doors as you come in, sometimes they are right at the cash. Sometimes they don’t display them at all. It looks likes this:

Scanning Code of Practice sticker

Participating stores include Loblaws, Metro, Walmart, Home Depot and Shoppers Drug Mart, just to name a few. The Retail Council of Canada provides a full list of signatories to this policy.

Keep in mind that this policy works when a sign for a specific item is lower than the scanned price. Usually it’s old sale signs that someone didn’t pull down that are the culprits. It doesn’t work if an employee (or even customer) placed the incorrect item in front of a sign. Just because the $5.99 peanut butter was in front of a sign for $3.99 jam doesn’t mean you should get it for $3.99.

What should you do if you notice an item has scanned higher than it was supposed to? Tell the cashier immediately. Bring up the code if they don’t. Someone has to go get the sign or an employee has to verify the sign price. If you can, go get the sign yourself – it’s easier than waiting for an employee, and it’s less awkward, since people will stare at you as you hold up the line (they shouldn’t, but they will). If you have to, ask for a manager. Be polite and courteous, but firm. Remember that the cashier doesn’t give a shit if you pay for the item or get it for free, they are there to do a job, and a really boring one at that (trust me, I know).

Have you ever gotten an item for free because it scanned at a higher price? Was the experience pleasant or painful?

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2 Responses to Show me the honey: The Scanning Code of Practice

  1. Ginger says:

    I get stuff all the time and I love it!

    There is a particular Canadian Tire location that always has prices wrong… I’ve saved probably $100+ at that location alone. It happens so frequently that the cashiers don’t even question it anymore, so the process is fairly painless. I most recently scored a set of Rubbermaid containers for free when I brought the incorrect price tag to the front.

    I also do this at Walmart, but the employees are less educated on the code so sometimes it takes a little effort. Since I know it’s a hassle I always try and make it as easy as possible by getting the price tag myself, or telling the cashier the process if they don’t know it. I also restrict it to the higher-priced items where the discount will really make a difference. If it’s just a few cents I won’t bother.

    But yeah, I’ve gotten loads of stuff for “free” this way and it’s great! It really pays to be an educated shopper!

    • Obsessive Compulsive Daniela says:

      Making it painless on the cashier is definitely the way to go. The cashier that still lives in a tiny part of me thanks you.

      This happened to me at Shopper’s Drug Mart (I was so excited for free razors) and the cashier said they didn’t follow the code, hence no free stuff. I see their name on the list now, but this was a few years ago, so who knows if this was true or not. It definitely pays to be educated.

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