how to get groceries for free

Jessica Penner, RDInspiration, Smarten Up13 Comments

How to get groceries for free!

I have a confession to make.

I’m that annoying girl at the grocery store who holds up the line. Most people are all efficient and start bagging their stuff once it’s scanned. Not me. I always stand right by the screen and watch the prices come up as the groceries are scanned. You’d be surprised how often the price on the register will differ from the price tag in the aisle! When this happens, the inner me does a little backflip in excitement.

I politely say… “excuse me, those nectarines were scanned at $1.46 a pound but the sign indicated that they should be $0.96 a pound.” 

Of course, they don’t just take my word for it. They send for a price checker. So I wait, and the entire line waits with me. When the price checker finally comes back to tell the cashier I’m right about the price, they will usually start to manually enter it in at the corrected price. That’s when I hit them with the zinger. 

“According to the Scanning Code of Practice I should get that item for free.” 

The cashier will sigh, try not to show annoyance, and call for a supervisor, who will come and work the buttons to give me the item for free. The supervisor doesn’t even bother trying to pretend to not be annoyed. 

I love the Scanning Code of Practice. In Canada, it’s a policy that’s set up to protect consumers. If you find a an item scans in higher than the listed shelf price, you get the first item for free, up to $10.

Enforcing it takes some time out of my day, and I have to be prepared to annoy EVERYBODY. The growing lineup of customers behind me, the harried cashier who will have to deal with them, the supervisor, my embarrassed husband… everybody is grimacing. I am the only person who is happy to be in this situation.

Here’s why I’m absolutely fine with that. I have my reasons for doing what I do:

  1. To keep stores honest. Most people won’t take the time to watch every item go through the scanner. They also won’t remember the price of every single item in their cart.  So how many times does someone decide to buy something because of the price listed, but then end up paying more at the till without even knowing? It’s deceptive. I admit the price discrepancies are most likely honest mistakes, not a purposeful conspiracy. But stores need to be diligent about keeping these mistakes at a minimum, so they need to pay the price when those mistakes happen. 
  2. To help out the shoppers behind me. When I catch a price discrepancy, the store is pretty quick to change their signs. Whoever shops after me will not be duped! 
  3. To get groceries for free. I end up getting quite a few things for free, which is pretty fun. For me, at least.

So if you can stomach the social discomfort, you too can get groceries for free!

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13 Comments on “how to get groceries for free”

  1. This is awesome! I’ll have to look & see if they have a similar policy in the US. One time I went to my local grocery store to buy pie fixins for Pi day. It was my experience at the store (and unfortunately my last), but at least 2/3 of my purchases were mispriced, someone went back to check & confirmed that they were mislabeled, but that they weren’t able to honor those prices. I was pissed x3.14…….. never been back.

    1. Haha… x3.14! Good thing you were checking though! Imagine how upset you’d be if you had only discovered the mismatched prices when you got home and looked at your receipt?

  2. Thanks Jessica! I actually tried this once thanks to Cheryl who also shares the same passion for getting groceries for free 🙂 I’ve been diligent ever since and have received a few items for free. I just get embarrassed when I’m wrong… oh human error!

    1. Haha! Yeah, there’s always that risk!
      Most of the time when I’m wrong it’s because the item was placed beside the price tag for a different item. You can feel better by telling yourself that was probably the case for you too 🙂

  3. thank you so much now I know I can do something about the price jump at the till. I will enforce this law and save doing it.

  4. I do this too, and have gotten quite a few free items since I started. But instead of holding up the checkout line, I just look over my receipt carefully before leaving the store. Then if I find anything wrong I head over to customer service, where they’re pretty cheerful because it’s their job to fix your problem. At Superstore you automatically get the item for free (up to $10) without having to demand it.

    1. I tried that once… but it took FOREVER! Oh, and the price checker lied about going to check the sign I had seen. They are much quicker when you’re holding up the line… 🙂

  5. I just got something for free at Safeway today! The cashier didn’t call for a supervisor or anything, she just agreed with me and comp’d the items! I saved $4 (if I would have gotten it at the sale price posted or $7.38 if I hadn’t noticed and been charged full price). It literally pays to pay attention. I should have bought nectarines today and hoped they got the price wrong. The price was already super high.

    1. Ha ha, yes sometimes you have to deal with the stink eye… but really, it’s in everyone’s best interest! At least that’s what I tell myself when I get the stink eye….

  6. I should mention that the cashier did take a long time to go and do a price check herself. I was totally getting the stink eye from the guy behind me in line.

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