Watch That Register! Fiscally Frugal Friday

When I was in high school, I got a job as a cashier at one of the local grocery stores. There was so much memory work! I had to remind what felt like a million lookup codes — I still remember that 481 was the code for a 4L bag of milk!

About halfway through my 2 year experience as a grocery cashier, something new and truly foreign to me was introduced — a system of checking out food where a scanner would read a barcode and put in the price automatically! Holy dinah! I was simply amazed! We had to have special training and I still remember my awe that computers (which, at that point had only served to drive me crazy in my Grade 10 Computer course) were capable of finding the prices of each grocery item!

So what’s my point? Well, the year that scanners and barcode reading of products took place in 1989. Yep….1989. That means that this system has been in place for almost 25 years!

(copyright attribution  -- author/designer: Paul Robinson)

(copyright attribution — author/designer: Paul Robinson)

With 25 years to perfect it, it would make sense that grocery stores are now able to price items and get it right….right?


And, for that reason, I think every shopper should know about the Scanning Code of Practice (or SCOP) and should learn about how the Scanning Code of Practice Works.

Because the people I know are aware of my frugal ways, I often get asked about coupons and how to save money. And the first thing I do is explain SCOP.

So, what the heck is it and why does it matter?

Basically, SCOP is a voluntary program that many chain stores have opted in to (off the top of my head, I can say with certainty that Shopper’s Drug Mart, Zehrs, Sobeys, Food Basics and Walmart are all participants in this program). Generally there is a sign at the entry into the store and often you can find stickers explaining SCOP near cash registers.

The purpose of SCOP is for stores to adher to a good faith use of proper pricing. If an item rings up at a higher price than what it is posted on the shelf (or on the item itself), the consumer can ask for SCOP be applied.

What does it mean? If the item being purchased is under $10, the consumer gets it for free. If the item costs more than $10, the consumer gets $10 off the proper price of the item.

So if stores have subscribed to SCOP, why is it important for you to know about it as a consumer?

Basically, to put it bluntly, stores don’t want to give consumers items for free (which makes perfect sense really) so they train staff about SCOP but often tell staff they are not to mention SCOP to the customer in these situations and should only apply if the customer asks.

Tricky eh? I’ve had employees in at least 4 different stores tell me point-blank that they are not to mention it to customers.

The other reason I think it is important to understand how SCOP works and to ask for it when the price does ring up higher because it never ceases to amaze me how many prices are wrong. In an average week, I will get 2-3 items for free when shopping because the prices were wrong in the register system. I don’t shop excessively so, in my mind, that means pricing is inaccurate is A LOT! The only way stores are going to improve is if they find they are giving away a lot of product because people are exercising their right to ask for SCOP to be applied.

So that, in a nutshell, is how the Scanning Code of Practice works.

If you pay attention, and use SCOP, you’ll be amazed at how many prices are wrong and what you can get for free!

(PS – I have listed some chains above that I know participate in SCOP. Do you know any others? If so, please share them in the comments section as I know I’d appreciate knowing as would other readers!)

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6 Responses to Watch That Register! Fiscally Frugal Friday

  1. Elva Roberts says:

    April 5-Thank you for telling us about SCOP. I was not aware of it and I have to admit do not scan my grocery llist as thoroughly and often as I should. You have encouraged me to do so. Thank you and I am looking forward to to more hints in your Fiscally Frugal Fridays el03ro

  2. Soozle says:

    I’m aware of the SCOP and HAVE used it before!

    I have foudn that the RCSS tends to be particularly bad about having incorrect prices come up. I like the fact they have the option of a self check out there for that reason – I am more able to watch prices as I scan verses half watching while I am being rushed to bag my items before the cashier starts the next customers purchase..

    I have also found they will not mention the SCOP and simply try to do a price adjustment..

  3. I use this all the time, but sometimes you get good people and sometimes not so great at stores. Had a lady argue with me once when I just tried to get a product at the right price, despite the clear picture in the flyer she argued it was the wrong product as the price displayed didn’t match the price in the flyer. I mentioned SCOP and she was downright rude. Just last week tried to buy a toy at a store and it scanned wrong. Lady at Customer service insisted it was not right one and there were none available in store. Funny because I went today and bought same thing for the price stated in the flyer( and it scanned correctly). The lady today I dealt with is always helpful to me and understands when I go in with something that scanned wrong and she automatically gives me SCOP without hassle since she uses it herself at stores!

  4. Ira says:

    Also Metro, Canadian Tire, No Frills are participants.
    Once in Zehrs a front end manager was called to correct the price for me. He didn’t give me the SCOPE automatically, but stayed around until I mentioned it. And he said he’d been waiting for me to say the words?! His explanation later kind of made sense: the SCOPE is in place to supposedly protect customers from the store fraud – tricking them into buying things – so if the customer doesn’t know about the SCOPE he doesn’t know they might be tricking him and there for doesn’t feel upset and doesn’t get the compensation for his suffering and just get the price adjustment to the correct price. There for I never fail to mention it even if sometimes I don’t feel comfortable because of the cashier attitude.

  5. Anne Taylor says:

    I hadn’t ever heard of this before, but now when we are shopping at places that utilize SCOPE we will surely check all of our receipts!


  6. Cheryl says:

    I’ve heard of SCOP but did not realize it was an opt in program for retailers. I thought it was available everywhere.

    Unfortunately it has not happened to me yet but maybe one day. I’d feel lucky getting something for free. 🙂

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