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Scanning Code of Practice

July 4, 2012

What do a toothbrush, a bottle of Tylenol, a lemon, two bags of frozen vegetables, a knife, a leash for Chai, and the following three things have in common?

Fair trade organic chocolate

Chai’s laser bee toy

Reusable to-go cup


I got them all for free!

This one’s for Canadians– do you know about the Scanning Code of Practice?

Have you ever had something scan at the check-out for higher than the shelf price?  If you point it out, often they’ll do a price check, and give you the lower price.  But if the store subscribes to the code, you should get the item for free, unless the price is over $10.  In that case you will get $10 off.  My mum bought me a thermos at Wal-mart for Christmas which scanned as $28, but the shelf price said $16.00, so she got it for $6.

If you are buying multiples of the same item, only the first one will be free, and the remainder will be the lower posted price.  (Although once my mum and I both bought the same mis-priced toothbrush, paying for them separately, so we both got them free.)

Not all cashiers will know about the code, but there is usually a sign posted near the cash register that you can point them to.  The manager will know, and they should happily give you the discount, even if the cashier is being a pain about it.  Nearly every major retailer in Canada (except Zellers), as many independent ones, follow it (for a list, see here.)  I’ve gotten things for free at Wal-mart, Superstore,  Extra Foods, Quality Foods, and Canadian Tire.

Most of my Scanning Code of Practice scores have happened serendipitously.  But sometimes, I’ve sought them out.  Some retailers will make a display of sale items on an end of shelf display in addition to their regular shelf location.  Then, when the sale is over, they might forget to change the price on one of those displays.  That is how I got a bag of frozen peas for free at Superstore.  Going back to the store a few days later for some needed item, I noticed the price still hadn’t been corrected– so I picked up a free bag of corn as well!  If you really are keen on saving money, it might be worth it to schedule your grocery shopping for the day the sale prices change to a new flyer and see if you can score some deals due to forgetful employees.

Tell your friends!

Have you ever gotten something for free because of the Scanning Code of Practice?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 4, 2012 2:03 pm

    I have not, but it is a good thing to know about!

  2. July 4, 2012 5:01 pm

    How can cashiers not know about the code!? I was a cashier and I was always telling customers about the code!

    • July 4, 2012 5:27 pm

      I’ve seen a manager offer to explain the code to a cashier who didn’t know about it, and the cashier said she didn’t care to know! I definitely appreciate the cashiers who do know about it and give the savings to customers who didn’t know.

  3. Jennie Frances permalink
    July 5, 2012 9:16 am

    I haven’t recently but last fall I got three packages of Pork Ribs free – I decided if they can’t change the price after they know about it the first time then it is fair game 🙂

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