Commissioner's blog: Checking out the checkout

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If you’ve ever left a shop wondering whether you have been charged the right amount, then it’s worth knowing that price scanning is an area monitored by Consumer Protection.

Each week our team of compliance officers visit shops across the Perth metropolitan area to investigate whether prices advertised on store shelves match the amounts customers are charged when the goods are scanned at the checkout.

Known as ‘price scanning audits’, these checks are also done by our officers in country towns to ensure regional consumers are paying the advertised shelf price for goods.

Last year across Western Australia, Consumer Protection inspected 2,907 products across 196 supermarkets, liquor stores, pharmacies, variety stores and specialty stores. In reassuring news, only 3 per cent of the goods scanned by our officers didn’t match the shelf price.  

When auditing a store, our officers will fill a basket of commonly bought goods, recording the shelf price of each item. They will then ask staff to scan the goods at the checkout, before comparing whether the two sets of prices match. If the price scans higher than the advertised shelf price, the officer will bring it to the store manager’s attention and ask for an explanation. The information is then relayed to the retail compliance team at Consumer Protection, who will consider if any action is warranted. 

Price scanning audits are usually conducted on a voluntary basis and most stores are willing to have their pricing scrutinised by Consumer Protection. 

Discrepancies are usually genuine errors by service staff, who may have made a mistake while stocking shelves or putting price tickets on display. Occasionally there may be a computer problem that is causing items to be scanned incorrectly.

Price scanning audits are one way we actively promote the rights of consumers, while reminding retailers and store managers to be vigilant and stay on top of price changes.

trish_blake_2021_high_1.jpg, by CP Media

Trish Blake

Executive Director - Consumer Protection


Consumer Protection
Media release
09 Mar 2022

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