Grocery Receipt Errors Are Costly

Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

Grocery receipt errors are costly for Canadian consumers and grocery stores.

Consumers must read their grocery store receipts as frugality and food security will remain important for Canadians in 2023.

With food costs steadily rising in Canada, we can’t afford to not review grocery store receipts for errors.

I’ve dedicated the last 11 years of blogging to learning about grocery shopping in Canada.

You’ll find hundreds of grocery shopping tips on this blog, but the most significant issue has always been pricing errors.

Today, I will discuss what to look for on your grocery receipt, March 2023 Caddle/Agri Foods Survey results, and a recent error on our bill.

grocery receipt errors Canada
Costly Grocery Receipt Errors You’re Missing

Your Grocery Receipt Could Be Robbing You

Grocery receipt errors can cost Canadian consumers dollars that could be put towards other food products.

The sad part is that many people ignore, trash, or tell the cashier they don’t want a grocery store receipt.

Every one of these options is a bad financial management decision regarding budgeting.

Here are some recent poll results from Agri-Foods Lab and Caddle, a popular Canadian cash-back grocery app.

Most Canadians will report errors to their grocers.

A total of 84.0 percent of consumers have complained after noticing a mistake on their receipt.

Of those who did not complain, 39.4 percent felt it was not worth the money.

A total of 31.1 percent felt they did not have the time

Poll, Results and Information – Agri Foods Analytics Lab/Dalhousie University/Caddle

Of the people surveyed, I was happy that 84% of consumers took the step to inform the staff about an error.

What was discerning was that almost 40% of consumers had no interest in taking steps to correct a problem.

That’s huge.

Complaining about high food costs is one thing, but ignoring pricing errors is another, especially when you pay for something you didn’t buy.

Rise In Canadian Food Prices

Next, let’s explore household demographics vs. predicted food expenses for 2023.

One thing to consider is what is included in the predicted food expenses.

  • Food only
  • Cleaning Supplies, Food, and Laundry
  • Pet Food, Food, Cleaning Supplies, and Laundry
  • Food, Laundry, Pet Food, Liquor/Beer, Cleaning Supplies, and Laundry
  • Food, Cleaning Supplies, Laundry, Pet Food, Liquor/Beer, Cleaning Supplies, Clothing

I bring this up because not everyone calculates their grocery budget solely on food costs.

These days grocery stores offer an array of items from food to clothing, although are all Canadians separating the totals from their grocery bill?

For example, if we spent $50 on groceries and $10 on a t-shirt from Joe Fresh at Zehrs, we would budget the expenses according to category.

  • $50 for Groceries, which includes laundry. Pet food goes in a pet category for our budget.
  • $10 would go to the clothing budget category.

Not everyone does this, where the entire grocery receipt will be put towards grocery expenses.

Just something to think about.

Examples of Canadian Households and Predicted Annual Food Expenditure 2023
Examples of Canadian Households and Predicted Annual Food Expenditure 2023

Source: Dalhousie University Food Report 2023

Pay Attention To Typical Grocery Receipt Errors

The good thing about receiving an itemized receipt wherever you shop is that you can review each purchase.

Saying no to any receipt or bill is a huge financial mistake that can add to big dollars yearly.

Over the years, we’ve found countless grocery store receipt errors and dealt with them no matter the cost.

Think about what you could buy with a $3 pricing error at the grocery store.

Perhaps a bag of dry beans, a head of lettuce, spinach, and fruits are healthy and nourishing for almost everyone.

Toss your grocery receipt away, and you’ve just waved goodbye to money you didn’t need to spend.

Wrong Price Compared To The Sale Price

Working with Caddle, Agri-Foods Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University conducted a cross-national survey with 5,225 respondents in early March 2023.

In the last year, more than two-thirds of Canadians have found errors in their grocery receipt.

The survey covered the last 12 months and examined reports of receipt mistakes at the grocery store, damaged food products that were unnoticed at purchase and recalled food.

The survey also examined how consumers dealt with the issue and how grocery stores responded.

Poll, Results and Information – Agri Foods Analytics Lab/Dalhousie University/Caddle
 pricing errors on grocery receipts
Source: Nature of pricing errors on grocery receipts 2023 Dalhousie University Agri Foods Analytics With Caddle- See the link above to the full report.

Unsurprisingly, pricing errors from the shelf to the cashier are top of the list at 75.8%, which is often human error.

  • The sale ends, and the shelf price ends, but it has not changed. (no one complains about this)
  • A sale begins, shelf tag is correct, but the computer system has not been updated to reflect the weekly flyer sale.

Let’s examine each category to explain its meaning to prepare you better.

Reduced Price Not Scanned Or Entered

We purchase many items that have been reduced in price that come with a sticker.

If the customer ignores the cashier scanning, it’s easy to miss the price reduction.

Some grocery stores change the UPC when they reduce an item, making it easier for everyone.

However, for those stores that do not do this, if the cashier scans the UPC without adding a price reduction manually, it will be missed.

The same goes for coupons that are attached to a product.

If you want to use it towards the item, take the coupon off and hand it to the cashier, so they know.

Never assume they will take the coupon off the product and apply a discount.

Double Scanning Of Grocery Products

When the cashier scans, a product’s UPC (bar code) and the register picks up more than one scan.

Often you will find a double scan of the same product on your grocery receipt when you only purchased one item.

This is an easy mistake to make, and not all cashiers catch the error, so it’s up to consumers to keep a watchful eye.

Incorrect Product Number = Grocery Receipt Errors

Grocery Receipt Errors Zehrs
Grocery Receipt Errors Zehrs Apples

Coincidentally, this happened to us at Zehrs during our recent grocery shop.

I went alone as Mrs. CBB was at home with our son, who wasn’t feeling well.

On the grocery list that she made for me, it said apples.

Usually, I don’t buy produce at Zehrs unless it’s from the Flashfood App or is 50% off in-store as it’s cheaper at Food Basics.

She likes fuji apples which cost $6.59 per kilo, so I grabbed about ten.

Unfortunately, I missed a product number error because the cashier guessed the type of apples in the bag.

Mrs. CBB was shocked that I paid $15.71 for apples, which is ridiculous.

When she told me I had bought her Honey Crisp, I said I didn’t.

I bought Fuji apples, not Honey Crisp.

Sure enough, the cashier used the product code for Honey Crisp instead of Fuji, even though every apple in the bag had a sticker and code.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t an error.

A cashier guessed what the apples were instead of looking at the sticker on the apple.

We called customer service and were told we could bring the receipt the next time we shop for a correction.

The total for the Fuji apples was $11.76 instead of $13.50, and although the cashier didn’t think it was a big deal, it was for families trying to balance a budget.

So, I got back $1.74, which went towards the frozen pizzas I bought for our son that was on sale.

Pound To Kilogram Incorrect = Grocery Receipt Errors

The mathematics of producing codes doesn’t add up, and honestly, how many of you would notice?

I haven’t done the math, but I may do it now that it was brought to my attention.

Computers control our world; however, behind them is an operator, and coding can fail a system anytime.

Imagine paying $6 for a bag of 3 apples weighing 1kg on sale for $2.99/kg.

That’s a simple error to overlook, especially if you’re not reading your grocery receipt or paying attention to the computer at the cashier.

Paying Taxes On Items That You Shouldn’t

According to Revenue Quebec, the following items are taxed at grocery and convenience stores.

“Taxable” means subject to GST at 5% or HST at 13%, and “zero-rated” means subject to GST/HST at 0%.

You can also read an extensive list and explanation of grocery taxes at

Examples of taxable foods and beverages are:

  • all dispensed beverages
  • beer, wine, and alcoholic beverages
  • candies and other confections
  • carbonated beverages
  • carbonated mineral water
  • chewing gum
  • chocolate bars
  • foods heated for consumption (French fries, burritos, pizzas, chicken, etc.)
  • fruits, seeds, nuts and popcorn when they are coated or treated with candy, chocolate, honey, molasses, sugar, syrup or artificial sweeteners
  • granola bars
  • hot beverages (coffee, tea, etc.)
  • ice cream, ice milk, frozen yogurt, frozen juice bars
  • ice pops
  • popped corn products
  • potato chips, corn chips, and similar products
  • salted seeds
  • single servings of all beverages other than plain milk and beverages prepared and prepackaged especially for consumption by babies
  • single servings of sweetened baked goods (for example, purchases of fewer than six doughnuts, muffins, slices of cake or pie, etc.)

Zero Rated Groceries Are Taxed

  • Examples of zero-rated basic groceries are:
  • bread and cereals
  • dairy products (unflavoured milk, cheese, butter, cream, sour cream, yogurt)
  • eggs
  • fish
  • fruits
  • meat (beef, poultry, pork, lamb, prepared meats, sausages)
  • vegetables

Other Grocery Receipt Errors

I’m not sure what would go in the other poll category, but it’s a small amount, whichever the case.

The Price Is Different From The Shelf Or Sale Price

Not all Canadians know the Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP), and I’ve spent years spreading the word.

What is the scanning code of practice?

In short, SCOP is a voluntary program, meaning not all Canadian retail stores offer this program.

I’ve written about SCOP a few times on the blog, and I hope you take the time to read about it in detail, as it’s something you don’t want to miss out on.

Related: The Scanning Code Of Practice In Canada/Did You Know?

Final Thoughts

I recently noticed at Zehrs that we are asked if we want it after our credit card has been charged, and it’s time for the receipt.

Some grocery stores or businesses might offer to email you a receipt, and although it saves paper and ink for the store, the customer might miss costly receipt errors.

  • Would you read a grocery receipt if it were emailed to you?
  • Why would you say no to your grocery receipt? Never say no.
  • If you did read your emailed grocery receipt and found an error would you call the store to let them know?
  • Would you pass the grocery receipt error off, believing it’s too much effort or worth it?

If any of the above questions bother you, consider these three suggestions.

  • Ask for a receipt before leaving the grocery store.
  • Read your grocery receipt before you leave the grocery store.
  • Handle pricing errors before you leave the grocery store.

Ideally, watch the cashier’s every move when they ring your grocery order.

If you catch an error, you can save time by rectifying it on the spot.

However, if you are the cashier at self-checkout, double-check your work, ensure prices ring up correctly, use the proper produce codes, etc.

Canadians work hard, so don’t let the grocery store have any more of your money than they should be getting.

Thanks for stopping by to read.

Mr. CBB.

Discussion: I’d love to hear about any grocery receipt errors you’ve caught and how you dealt with them.

Please leave me your comments below and read other important CBB articles related to this topic.

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