Fabulous Frugal Finds

Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) – Why You Need to Know It and Use It!

Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) - Why you need to know it and use it!

I know many of my readers are familiar and use SCOP when shopping, and though I’ve mentioned it in posts and interviews in the past, it didn’t occur to me how many people may not know about it until I was having a conversation on Facebook last week.  A family member was sharing her new-found love of flyer-comparison shopping (taking a competitor’s flyer with her to the store and getting them to price-match, doing all her shopping at one place instead of several)  I mentioned not to forget SCOP when shopping too.  Other friends asked, “What’s that?” and the education session began!

You will see a sticker like the one posted above at check-outs in the stores that participate in SCOP. The sticker states, “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.”

How does this work?

Have you ever been shopping, saw a sign advertising a price of a product, but had that product ring up at a higher price when you arrive at the check-out?  This will often happen on a Friday morning, or whatever day a new sale starts in a store.  Employees often forget to take down signs but the computer at the check-outs will be accurate.  They are re-programmed for the new week’s sale prices.  So, the Tide on the shelf advertised at $5 with a big bright sign is now $7.99 when you get to the til.  Often times, customers have explained the situation and the cashier either gives you the sale price (so you fork out $5) or she shrugs and says it was a mistake and you have to pay $7.99.

In actuality, if you are in a store that has the SCOP sticker at the til, all you have to do is simply point to it and say, “Wouldn’t that fall under Scanning Code of Practice?” or something equally as witty.  That Tide is now FREE, baby!!!

If the item in question is under $10, you get that item free (if you had excitedly grabbed 3 Tide bottles, you’d only get 1 free but the other 2 should be at that advertised sale price).

If the item is over $10, you should get $10 off the corrected (new) price.  So, if you have a pair of sunglasses that ring through as $19 but were on a rack advertised for $15 because of a forgotten sign, you would then only pay $9 ($19 – $10).  There’s some debate about this part, some feel you should get $10 off the “Sign” price, while the official info states “$10 off the corrected price”.

Is it hard to do?

Not at all!  The SCOP sticker is there to remind the consumer of the store’s participation in the program, so all you need to do is point to it and ask the cashier if you get the item for free.  You do, it’s  just more polite to simply ask than to state, “That’s free.”  If the cashier responds with a blank stare (some newer cashiers may not have been trained on this) simply get them to read it, or call over a supervisor who will likely be familiar with the program.

Participating Stores

Look for the sticker at the check-out (some stores also post them on the door).  Here’s a list of stores I’m aware of that use SCOP in Canada:

No Frills
Shoppers Drug Mart
Best Buy
Canadian Tire
Future Shop
Home Depot

Kudos to these stores for volunteering to be a part of SCOP!  Why would they do it?  Simply put, they don’t want to give away free products, so they will do their best to ensure their prices are accurate and consumers won’t be paying more than they should!  I’d rather a store use SCOP than one that doesn’t and makes me watch them like a hawk (we all know some stores that are so bad for wrong prices!)  It’s a way of building loyalty and trust with their customers.

Friday mornings are prime SCOP shopping days because of price-changes happening for new sales starting Friday.  Depending on the store and staff, some stores are worse than others for being on the ball with taking those sale signs down.  Do I feel bad about getting free cereal, bread, and more on Fridays?  Absolutely not – because for every person who points out SCOP to the cashier, there are several who don’t even notice and pay more than they should.  It’s probably been you!  I’m sure I’ve done it in the past too.

If you’re a seasoned SCOP user like myself, how often do you use it?  My mom is in her 70’s and is so proud to tell me when she has pointed to the SCOP sign at a store and received her item for free!

If this is all new information to you – go forth young grasshopper and use the power of SCOP!



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    • In my experience, yes! I’ve never had a store tell me “no” when they have the SCOP participation signage up. I’ve had cashiers not have a clue of what I’m talking about but the supervisors/managers know.

      • One store (a BIG one) told me that they only honour it if people ask for it. Which to me is wrong. So I educated the lineup (who heard her) and told them to share. 🙂

        • Yup, that’s been my experience too. Cashiers won’t volunteer to use SCOP themselves, for some reason. You definitely have to be the one to point it out!

  • I try to use SCOP when I catch it. I was at Princess Auto yesterday and something did not ring up properly, we didnt notice this till we left the store. I went back in and showed them the receipt and took the cashier to where the item was located in the store, she saw that I was indeed charged the wrong price. I mentioned to her about the SCOP and she told me they do not follow that practice. She said we are human and make mistakes sometimes. I left it at that and left the store (after she refunded me the difference) Obviously they do not follow the SCOP 🙁

    • If a store doesn’t participate in the program, you’re really at their mercy in terms of whether they will honor the wrong price. The majority will not. Keep an eye out for the sign next time Crystal, and check out the list above for places that will honor it!

  • This really only works if you have a small amount of items where you make yourself very familiar with the price (try to recall/memorize the price). It’s hard to do if you have a huge grocery purchase. I always look at the price that is being scanned and not worry about if i have to bag my own groceries (as at Superstore); I can do that after the order has been put through. I thought I had caught an item that was mis-scanned and a manager came over – she went to check the item (this took 10 minutes from the time she arrived at the till and then go and locate the item) and found that the item was in the wrong spot and i had to pay the original price.


    • So true, when I have a large grocery order it’s difficult and I bet I’ve missed things. I watch items being rang through but how will I remember that the cereal was on sale $3.98 and not $4.98? You really have to pay attention and yes, smaller orders are where it’s at for making the most of SCOP! Or, when you get home, going over your receipt and referencing a flyer if handy. You can always go back and have the correction made (I have done that!)

      • Handy tips from everyone who has practiced and looking out for SCOP! Good idea to check the receipt with a corresponding flyer.


    • Cheryl! Young grasshopper, look at what you’ve been missing! Keep it in mind when you go to Walmart or Sobey’s especially this week!

  • I have got things free at Dominion a couple of times. I notice I was overcharged and when to customer service and they refunded the total I paid. Never at Walmart and I always check my bill before I leave the store. You be surprise how often you get over charged especially at Walmart. I sometime scan some of the items I have with the in store scanners before I go to the check.

    • Scanning items ahead of time = big grin when you realize you’ve got a SCOP item in your hands!

  • does this still work of the sale price sign has the sale days on there? I.E on sale for $3.98 and in brackets they put the date (06/01-07)? Just wondering if they can say it’s not valid because the date is past due.

    • Great question Mary Ann! I’m not sure, has anyone else encountered this?! This is bugging me so I might have to call the 1-866 number to check! My gut tells me they would have to honor it.

  • I’ve been a huge fan of the SCOP since the beginning. Yes it can take time as some stores need to call a manager but you can always leave and bring the receipt back in. I average a free item every week or so with the SCOP.

  • I am SOOO glad you shared this. I am fierce about it. Taught my Dad who now does my parents shopping and he is amazed at how much he calls stores on it. I have gotten so many things free or $10 off because of this – and crazily I have gone back two or three days in a row and called them on the same thing. Which bring me to wonder how many people get ripped off because they don’t know about this.
    no – stale dated sale prices don’t count – but undated ones still posted, do. (I’ve gone back and pulled the signs off and taken to the cashier for proof)
    I’ve been doing this for years and when someone in front of me says to a cashier that something rang in wrong and they’ve been overcharged, I tell them about it and then they are pleasantly surprised to not only get their bill fixed but to get more money back. People behind me learn the lesson too when it happens to me. Walmart and Real Canadian Superstore are the worst here for wrong prices, but I’ve done it in plenty of stores. I just ask if something rings thru wrong and I go back with receipts, too.
    You Totally Rock for sharing this with your big audience!!

    • Thanks Jackie!

      I love giving a little education in the line up to others too! Why not? If something rings through wrong I’m not going to stand there while they have it corrected and pay the price. A shoulder tap and pointing to the SCOP sign is a little piece of shopping joy. 😉

  • Thanks for making how the whole SCOP practice works! I found it very confusing until you laid it all out! I will remember to look for this sign when I shop from now on. There is a ton of places I have shopped at, including WalMart where an item on the shelf was advertised as cheaper than what it rang through the till at. If the SCOP is to be followed if they do if fact have the sign saying they participate, you bet your butt, I’m gonna do what I can to get them to follow through with it! Thanks so much for posting this!

    • Yay Tasha! So glad to hear you’re going to be out there looking for it and using it! Tweet me when you do the first time and we’ll celebrate!

  • I’ve used the SCOP prior.. but have also come across employees who didn’t want to comply to it AND tried in turn to make me feel like a jerk for trying to use it (saying: “You’re really going to argue over a dollar difference?”)… and trust me, that embarrassment is enough for me to not fight it..

    • Ugh, sorry to hear that but I understand how that can feel. I’ve held up lines NUMEROUS times for SCOP and coupons. But you know what? If they knew how to ring through a coupon correctly and were trained on SCOP like they should be – it shouldn’t take any time at all. I look at it as their fault the line is being held up, not mine. 😉

  • I’ve seen the signs but didn’t really look into it until now. Thank you for explaining it so clearly. I’m definitely going to be paying more attention now. Thanks!

  • If they say it’s only a dollar, reply if it is only a dollar and not a big deal, are YOU going to argue over it?

  • I never remember how it works and it is very rare where I have come across a product that I was going to purchase with wrong info.
    But I will have to try to remember this. But now I am going to share your article.

    Thank you

  • note for your readers – if they believe they have a scop item ((they scanned it at walmart or something)) they need to keep in mind that the store wont honor it unless the SKUs or the PLU matches. So if something is in the wrong spot, and you see a sign, you won’t get it for that price/free with SCOP (so any potential lying is not a good idea, just wastes time).
    I worked at a Loblaws owned store, and SCOP was the policy only if the customer asked. It was the managers policy, not the cashiers, and most often a cashier cant apply SCOP by themselves anyways.