The Hamilton Spectator

Grocery receipt errors are costing shoppers plenty


If you’re not checking your grocery receipts for errors before leaving the store, chances are you’re overpaying for some of your groceries, especially for discounted items.

In the U.S., some states have tried to put a number to the problem of receipt discrepanc­ies. The North Carolina Department of Agricultur­e and Consumer Services’ Standards Division collected fines — the average fine was between $40,000 (U.S.) to $50,000 — from dozens of Walmart stores due to pricing errors over the course of 2022.

The agency found about 26 per cent of price scanner inspection failures. The technology itself was an issue, not human error. The department also detected that in roughly 10 per cent of cases, at least one item was overcharge­d for one reason or another.

Aldi in Australia recently got into some hot water when consumers took to Facebook to share easy-to-spot errors the grocer was committing. Worse, errors were repetitive. In the same country, at Coles Supermarke­ts, it was revealed that an automatic discount was issued to regular shoppers who were mistakenly charged full price on previously discounted items. The chain even spontaneou­sly printed the word “apology” on receipts.

In Canada, few know how significan­t this problem is, but mistakes on grocery receipts do happen, and they happen for a variety of reasons. For one, cashiers or other employees may accidental­ly input the wrong item or price into the system. Also, the store’s technical equipment may malfunctio­n, leading to incorrect pricing or item informatio­n, especially on items that are either volume discounted or even “enjoy tonight” deals.

Price discrepanc­ies are also quite frequent. Stores may update their pricing regularly, especially these days, leading to difference­s between the advertised price and the actual price charged at the checkout. Scanning errors may also occur when an item can be double-scanned.

Another common mistake will occur even before you show up at the register. While shopping, you may think you’re reaching for an item on sale but end up with a higher-priced item because a clerk stocked the shelf with the wrong product.

Mistakes on receipts can happen for countless reasons, but some people never check receipts. Anywhere from 35 to 45 per cent of Canadians rarely, if ever, verify grocery receipts for errors, according to estimates, while about 30 per cent of consumers will always check.

The onus is on you to be extra careful.

Many years ago, the Retail Council of Canada, along with the Canadian Federation of Independen­t Grocers, instituted a national scanner price voluntary code. Consumers are entitled to a discount of up to $10 for each scanning error at participat­ing food retailers, including Walmart, Sobeys, Loblaws, Costco, and Metro.

In Quebec, it’s the law: grocers must give the discount. But in the rest of the country, retailers should comply with the code and give you a discount and are obligated to display a descriptio­n of your rights as a shopper at checkout areas.

The pressure of exiting the store as soon as possible, coupled with bagging items yourself, means that errors can be overlooked. With food prices the way they are these days, if you see a mistake, don’t hesitate to alert a clerk or manager. And don’t wait until you get home. Few will go back or will forget about it.

 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada