New rules for price scanner mistakes

If a price scanner makes an error, some consumers will be able to get the item for free, according to a new code of conduct drawn up by Canada's major retailers.

Four industry groups announced new guidelines that will put the onus on the retailer to give shoppers money back if a mistake is made.

The push for new requirements came after a study by the federal Competition Bureau. It found more than half of Canadian retailers flunked a scanner accuracy test. The bureau has been pressing for improvements at the checkout. 

Under the new code:

  • for items less than $10, the customer gets it free if the scanned price of a non-price-ticketed item is higher than the shelf price or any other displayed price
  • on more expensive items, shoppers will get a $10 discount
  • when identical items are incorrectly priced, the second one will be sold at the correct price

"New technologies have made the checkout system more convenient and dependable," said Christina Bisanz, chief executive of the Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores.

The Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors, the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers and the Retail Council of Canada are also part of the pact. 

"Scanner price accuracy is an important criterion for maintaining consumer confidence," said Konrad von Finckenstein, the federal competition commissioner.

"The Competition Act prohibits retailers from charging a consumer over and above the advertised price."