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Coles, Woolworths, Aldi scanning 'loophole' gets you free items at checkout

Australia's biggest supermarkets follow a code that every shopper should know about.

A man who made a video telling Aussies about a retail "loophole" that lets supermarket customers have an item "for free" under certain conditions has been met with some scepticism, but it turns out he's right.

TikToker jarrodsworld, a former supermarket employee, revealed that patrons of Coles, Woolworths and Aldi are able to get certain products for free if the scanning price turns out to be higher than what is displayed in the store.

"Here in Australia, we have what's called the Scanning Code of Practice," he says in the clip. "And although it is voluntary, all Coles, Woolies, Aldi and I believe IGA are signed up to it."

Punnet of strawberries being scanned at supermarket self-checkout; TikToker jarrodsworld
Australian supermarkets Coles, Woolworths, Aldi and some IGA stores all abide by a voluntary Scanning Code of Practice. Source: Getty, TikTok/@jarrodsworld

"So, let's say the ticket on the shelf says $10, you get it to the counter and it scans at $12. You get that item for free," he explained as he went through the nuances of the little-known policy. "I don't know if many people know of it... but it's especially handy now that supermarkets are just going through the roof."

He added that if multiple units of a product scan at a higher price than advertised, only the first one is free, while the rest will be sold at the lower display price, and retailers only apply the policy on items up to a certain price.

The video has been seen over 140,000 times, but many viewers doubted the man's claims. "'You get that item for free'. Hahahahaha," one viewer mocked, while another commented: "This is either really true and he's giving valuable info, or he's making the best prank ever."

Addressing sceptics

Not taking the criticism sitting down, the TikToker addressed naysayers in a follow-up video revealing exactly where the info can be found. "So many people are telling me 'You're wrong, you're wrong. You didn't get the item for free. You're dreaming'," he says, taking on the challenge to prove his point.

"So, let's just first look at the Scanning Code of Practice. If the scanner charges you more than the shelf price for grocery items, you will be given the item for free," he reads from a government website. "I can't make it any more clear than that."

He proceeded to address the policy by showing viewers open-source information from Aldi and Coles' websites, and a Woolworths forum also citing the policy. "The only store where you might not get it is an IGA, but they still have an IGA code of practice. Because IGAs are independent retailers, they get to choose if they do it or not," he added and proceeded to read an excerpt from the IGA Code of Practice.

Truth about Scanning Code of Practice

The Scanning Code of Practice is indeed a voluntary policy that certain retailers such as Coles, Woolworths, Aldi and some IGAs have signed up to and abide by. It works exactly as the TikToker had explained, although it can be known by some other name depending on the retailer.

A Coles spokesperson confirmed this in a statement to Yahoo News. "All Coles supermarkets apply 'Our Promise on Price Scanning' to ensure confidence in the pricing accuracy at our registers. If a single item scans at a higher price than the advertised or ticketed shelf price for that item, we will give the customer that item free," the spokesperson said.

Shopping trolley being pushed in supermarket aisle
Aussie supermarkets shoppers are advised to familiarise themselves with the Scanning Code of Practice. Source: Getty (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

"Our Promise on Price Scanning goes above and beyond the requirements of the Australian Consumer Law, which requires businesses to refund the difference between any overcharged amount and the correct price of the item," the spokesperson added, stating further that Coles customers can check on the policy themselves on their company website.

Rival Woolworths did not comment on the matter but also have information on their website, where they state what the Scanning Code of Practice does and does not cover. The code applies to all scanned merchandise at Woolies, including items that are registered using a PLU number (Price Look up Number). Items that aren't covered are liquor and tobacco products, and items with a shelf price of $50 or higher. The code also doesn't cover errors in unit pricing on shelf labels nor checkout operator errors.

Aldi did not respond to a request for comment, but the retailer's help site states: "If a regular product scans at a price higher than that displayed, you are entitled to receive the first item free. All subsequent items will be charged at the lower price."

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