Price accuracy policy
You’ve probably heard of the Price accuracy policy, but what is it and who must comply with it?
The Consumer Protection Act states that all merchants in Quebec must display the price on each item they sell, except those who choose to adhere to the policy.
A merchant can therefore avoid indicating the price on each item provided that
- they indicate the price of the items on the shelves;
- they have a scanner that indicates the same prices as those displayed on the shelves.
The vast majority of grocery stores, mass merchandisers and pharmacies adhere to the Price Accuracy Policy, while clothing or shoe stores often display prices on each item.
You go to the checkout to pay for your purchases and find that an item costs more than what is posted on the shelf. The Price Accuracy Policy, established in 2001, provides for compensation for this type of situation. You have probably already noticed this sign at the checkout counter. It summarizes its application.
Therefore, the following applies:
- In the event that the error involves an item with a posted price of $10 or less, the merchant must give you the item free of charge.
- If the posted price is more than $10, the merchant must give you the item at the lower posted price, plus offer you $10 in compensation.
- The posted price for a fine cheese is $12.99. At the cash register, it is $14.99. The result? Your purchase will cost you $2.99.
- You chose a jar of tomato sauce for $2.99, but are asked for $3.99 at the register. You get your purchase for free.
- You have your hands full of boxes of chocolates the day after Valentine’s Day ($4.99 instead of $12.99 is a great deal!), but the advertised price doesn’t show up at checkout. You’ll get all your boxes at the lowest advertised price, but you’ll only get one box free.
- You only realize the price error when you get home? The policy still applies. Remember to check your bills before you leave the store or get rid of them!
There are a few exceptions, such as price-regulated products (milk, beer) and products that cannot be discounted (drugs, tobacco). The policy also does not apply to wine, unless it is sold at the SAQ. See this page for all the exceptions.
A merchant does not respect this policy? You can file a complaint with the Office de la protection du consommateur.