I know there are a lot of sites out there offering UPC code leases, but the price seems astronomical per product. I have about 16 products that I want to get UPC codes for, but I can't justify spending hundreds of dollars getting them. Maybe there is another coding system out there that will work just fine?
This is really a test to see if barcoding my products will do any good, this is the main reason that cost is an issue.
Go to the source:
http://www.gs1us.org/barcodes_and_ecom/i_need_a_u.p.c._barcode $760 for 100 skus. Cost of doing business in large retail.
JIMG's advice is dead on correct.
All retail products sold in the US & Canada (with the exception of books) require UPC-A bar codes. You can not pick another symbology. (You can use an EAN bar code in most stores now- but that's just a UPC bar code with an extra digit, using the same bar code symbology as UPC.) GS1 has a monopoly on the number assignments. There are people reselling portions of their own UPC number assignments at a lower cost. These people purchased their assignments before August 28, 2002 and were part of a class action lawsuit against GS1. Only their numbers can be resold- but those numbers trace back to the original company, not your company. So you can find lower prices on the internet, however, if you use those number assignments you may later run into problems using them at major retailers like Walmart.
Also note that the old number assignments (before the class action lawsuit) lasted forever. New number assignments have yearly or every other year fees associated with them. This is simply part of the cost of doing retail business. Just like a computer program for the PC needs to be code signed, a retail product has to have a UPC bar code to be sold in most stores.
Going to GS1 is fine, but frankly, their application process is time consuming and stupid and they are a huge rip. I took this route for my first products and ended up paying for15 bar codes $1500 to register, then $150+ (depends on your sales) every year. That's a lot.
I sell products on a variety of retail sites and have used the 'verified resellers' that are mentioned above (I use www.nationwidebarcode.com, and am most envious of his business that just prints money). If I have an issue, it will not be difficult to pay the $$ to GS1 at that time to get a really extra super valid code. Will Amazon/Wallmart boot me for a clerical error? I don't think so.
It's difficult to tell what sites are really legit as any one of them can easily fake your 'certificate of authenticity' and any list you find of firms that were part of the lawsuit refered to in the other answers. To be frank, I don't have the time to vet these firms and if they are fraudulently selling me UPCs and it does me actual damage, I'll go after them at that time, class action, etc.
Advice from someone who went the cheap route and hasn't gotten into trouble yet, get your code cheap and get on with doing things that you need to be doing.
I am the owner of Nationwide Barcode (and thank you for the kind comments above).
My company owns a number of prefixes that all predate the UCC (GS1) lawsuit allowing us to sell UPC Barcodes
There is a gentleman who does take time to research all of the barcode companies, whether or not they are legitimate and if they can legally subdivide their barcode prefixes. Mr. George Laurer, the inventor of the UPC barcode co-authors the site Authenticated UPC Registration Directory. Laurer, since he still has a vested interest, puts us through a qualification process and those that can meet those standards get approved.