Bad scans cost consumers up to $2.5 billion!

Don't Get Scan Scammed

by Veronica Bowman


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Buying Grocery Store Specials

You've diligently perused the grocery ads and prepared your shopping list according to their sales and your needs. If using coupons is part of your frugal shopping plan, you have the coupons with you when you enter the store. At this point, you're probably feeling pretty good about your shopping habits. You congratulate yourself for navigating past the displays that encourage impulse buys without adding anything to your cart. Before you pick up an item, you give the shelves a quick glance to see if there's a less expensive option on the top or bottom shelf or if there happens to be an unadvertised sale on that product. Finally, you're ready to check out. This is not the time to get slack with your smart shopping techniques. Startling statistics indicate the importance of staying focused on the scanner every time you check out. According to one report, consumers lose $1 billion to $2.5 each year due to scanner errors.

It's easy to become distracted at the register. Your thoughts may be on what your next project is once you leave the store. You may be dealing with kids that are tired and fussy. You could become engaged in conversation with the cashier or with your shopping partner. You may be watching things that are going on within the store or trying to hurriedly read a magazine cover as the cashier scans your items. Failing to focus on the prices that you're charged for each item in your cart can be a costly mistake. There are several ways that you can end up paying more than you should for your frugally-shopped for items.

Typically, a cashier will ask for your loyalty card before they start scanning your groceries. If that card fails to scan properly, you won't be getting the loyalty sale price that you should be getting. Buying items from a discount section of the store is a money-saving tactic that frugal shoppers take advantage of quite often. However, sometimes, when the discounted item is scanned, the original price rings up instead of the sale price. It's always wise to point out the discount sticker before the item is scanned. That will make the cashier more attentive to the price that shows up. They may have to manually enter the discounted price or contact a manager in order for you to get the item at the correct price.


If you buy a product that has been specifically reduced for loyalty customers, always check to see that the lower price scans at the register. Sometimes, if a product is reduced for a weekly sale and the sticker isn't removed once the sale is over, you will be charged the higher price, even if the lower price sticker is still on the item. If there's no sale dates listed on the sticker or posted where the item is displayed, you should be able to get the item at the lower price. The sale price stickers should have been removed by the store employees once the promotion or sale ended.

When you purchase products that are advertised as buy one, get one free or buy one get the second for 50% off, you need to stay focused at the register to be sure you are charged correctly. BOGO buys are enticing and can be a benefit to the budget if you are charged correctly.

Buy groceries, earn cash back at Checkout 51

Not all pricing errors or scanning errors occur at grocery stores. You can experience overcharges at drugstores, chain stores, and basically any type of store. Taking that into consideration reiterates the importance of staying focused on the prices you are charged at the register regardless of where you are shopping.


Take the Next Step:

  • Take a look at your most recent grocery receipt. Does it look like there were any scanning errors? Resolve to look at your next receipt to see if there are some savings to be found.
  • Discover more smart grocery shopping strategies by visiting the Dollar Stretcher Library.
  • Better than coupons. Shop smart with great cash back offers on your favorite brands at your favorite grocers. Join Ibotta today.
  • Join those who 'live better...for less' - Subscribe to The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, a weekly look at how to stretch both your day and your dollar! Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE!

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