Price scanning and free shopping

Think you can't get anything for free? Well, sometimes you can.

Nadean Vonk decided to buy some decorative napkins she saw at Wal-Mart as a treat.

But when she checked them out -- the price came out higher than it was supposed to.

Her Fresca pop also scanned in higher than the shelf price, which she had recorded with her cell-phone camera. When she pointed it out to the cashier he offered her a price adjustment, but she wanted it for free.

And she got it for free.

Wal-Mart is a member of The Scanner Price Accuracy Voluntary Code, which states if a price scans incorrectly, you get the first item for free if it's under $10 and a $10 adjustment if it's over $10.

"I walked out with about $17 in free merchandise," said Vonk.

But first she had to get a manager involved and point out the rules Wal-Mart had agreed to follow.

Wal-Mart told CTV News it takes the errors seriously and promised to investigate why the cashier didn't automatically give her the products for free.

Most other large retailers, like London Drugs and Save On Foods, participate in the program too.

The Scanner Price Accuracy Voluntary Code has been around for six years.

But how often do the prices on the shelves and the price at the till disagree?

According to Derek Nighbor of the Retail Council of Canada, the error rates in Canada are a little bit over 2%.

"So that would mean, out of 100 items scanned there would be errors on about two of those items -- and they can be errors of higher price than it should be or lower price," said Nighbor.

About two-thirds of the errors are in a customer's favour and if stores are also giving away products to customers who notice the discrepancy that could add up to a lot of money over six years.

"It's safe to say it's in the millions of dollars, given the number of transactions we see in Canada," agreed Nighbor.

So the next time you are going through a check out keep you eye on those prices. It could pay off.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Chris Olsen