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The "Get One Free" Law

In Connecticut, if certain items scan higher at checkout than the sticker price on the item or the price posted on the shelf, the consumer is entitled to that item free (up to $20). The “Get One Free” law protects consumers from being charged more than the posted price. It is officially known as the “Consumer Commodities Law”. (See also Item Pricing)

This law is based on either the price on the shelf or the price on the item itself.  It can also be a special sale price. A customer is not entitled to get an item for free if an expired sale sticker is still posted, provided the sticker clearly states the dates of the sale; however, once notified, the business should make an effort to correct the pricing.

In order to get the “Get One Free”, the consumer has to point out the error at checkout and ask for the free item. Sometimes cashiers are unfamiliar with this law and, if you need to, you should ask to speak with the manager.

However, if the product scans lower than the posted price, the consumer doesn’t get the item free, but is allowed to buy one of that item at the lower, scanned price.

This law applies only to “consumer commodities” -- things that get “used up” or depleted over time and must be regularly replaced.

Examples of Consumer Commodities:

  • Grocery items (e.g. milk, loaf of bread, produce)
  • Box of band-aids
  • Cosmetics
  • Toiletries
  • Disposable kitchen items (e.g. tinfoil, storage bags)
  • Paper goods (e.g. toilet paper, tissues)

Examples that are NOT commodities:

  • Clothing
  • Greeting cards
  • Mops
  • Sponges
  • Toothbrushes

Some Examples:

  • The sticker on the shelf says the ACME Toothpaste is $3.99.  The consumer picks up three of the ACME toothpastes.  At the cash register, the three toothpastes all scan at $5.99.  The consumer should receive one for free and the other two at $3.99.
  • Same toothpaste as above.  For whatever reason, one toothpaste scans at $5.99 and the other two scan correctly at $3.99.  The consumer should still get the first toothpaste for free. 
  • The store is selling a bulk pack of toilet paper for $25.00. The consumer wants to buy two packs.  At the register, the pack scans at $28.00  The consumer must pay $5.00 for the first pack of toilet paper (only the first $20.00 of an item is free) and $25 for the second pack of toilet paper (only one item is free; additional items are sold at the sticker price).
  • A gallon of milk is normally priced $4.00.  The store displays a sign stating that for the first five days of the month, the milk is $2.50. The dates of the sale are clear, and the consumer can see the sale is only for five days.  On the second day of the month, the milk rings up at $4.00.  The consumer should get the milk for free.  The store accidentally leaves the sign up past the end of the sale.  On the seventh day of the month, the milk rings up at $4.00.  The consumer should not get the milk for free, though the business may choose to honor the sale price.
  • Soup is on sale and marked “3 for $6.00. Must buy 3.”  Normal price is $2.50 per can.  The consumer buys two cans and they ring up at $2.50 each.  The consumer is not entitled to a can for free.  The sale price only applies when the consumer buys three cans as is clearly stated.  The consumer must follow the guidelines of the sale. 
   See our Fact Sheet: Price Scanning and the "Get One Free" Law