Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Consumer

Smartphone apps let you shop around for the best deals

NEW YORK — It's a shopper's nightmare: buying something, then seeing it cheaper at another store. Thanks to price-comparison apps, there's no need to guess if you're getting the lowest price.

All you need is a smartphone and some downloaded apps.

Smartphone owners have been using the price-comparison apps for the past couple of years. But they've improved a lot recently. They're faster and easier to use than earlier versions. They've become a bigger threat to retailers who don't want customers using their stores as showrooms.

I have been using Amazon.com Inc.'s price-checking app for about a year now and have always found the prices on the app lower than at a store. But I've never tried other popular apps by Google Inc. and eBay Inc.

I wanted to see if they could get me to even lower prices. I've been looking to buy a fruit and vegetable juice extractor. It's been costing me nearly $7 for a 20-ounce cup of kale juice at my neighborhood juice bar. I think I can save a lot of money by doing it myself.

The target: a Cuisinart juice extractor, because it wasn't too big and looked easy to clean. I saw it at a Bed Bath & Beyond store in New York, where it cost $149.99. I took out my iPhone and started scanning the barcode from the box.

I used five different apps. They were all free, and all are available on both iPhone and Android phones. All the prices listed below are for a new Cuisinart juice extractor, though some of the apps will give you prices for used or reconditioned items, too.

To find the best deal, I realized that you need to have more than one of these apps on your phone. Here's the lowest price each app found:

Google Shopper

Lowest price: $131.99

Google wins for finding the lowest price for the juicer. I was surprised to find that the best price was at a physical store and not online. Macy's had it on sale that day for $131.99. (I went to Macy's to make sure it actually was that price, and it was.) One bonus is that the app also makes it easy to call the store or put it on a map if you need directions.

Amazon Mobile

Lowest price: $135.85 ($124.36, plus $11.49 shipping)

This app searches for prices only within Amazon.com. It doesn't show any prices for local deals. That said, it had the second-lowest price, even with shipping. You do need to have an Amazon account to buy from the app. But if you already have one, purchasing from it is easy, and done in one click.

Pic2Shop

Lowest price: $135.85 ($124.36, plus $11.49 shipping)

This app found the same price from Amazon and linked to the Amazon website. The app does search for nearby store prices, but it wasn't as extensive as the Google app. It only found one physical store price, but it wasn't cheaper than the price available on Amazon.

RedLaser

Lowest price: $148.95

This app is owned by eBay Inc., the online marketplace. The lowest price was from an online retailer. Even though this app didn't find the best price for the juice machine, it's worth downloading. You can scan in loyalty cards for certain supermarket and drugstore chains, so you hand over your phone to the cashier instead of carrying a bunch of cards. It lets you buy items within the app from retailers such as Toys "R" Us and Best Buy and also posts coupons.

Milo

Lowest price: $149.99

This app is also owned by eBay. This app shows prices for brick-and-mortar stores, not online retailers. The lowest price it found for the juice machine was at a Macy's store, but it didn't pick up the sale price of $131.99 like the Google app did. This app matched the price of the item at the Bed Bath & Beyond store, but it's still worth downloading if you are looking to buy something right away and can't wait for it to be shipped.

• • •

Hard-core deal seekers will want to download all five apps. But if you don't want to spend the time scanning barcodes five times, at least download these three: Google Shopper, Amazon Mobile and RedLaser. Google Shopper saved me $18, the most of the bunch. Amazon's came in a close second. I'm going to continue to use it, because it's convenient to buy from the app. RedLaser's price was just a dollar less than Bed Bath & Beyond's, but the app has more features than others. I'll use the loyalty card scanner and check for any coupons.

Comments
Find your end of days outfit this weekend, and more

Find your end of days outfit this weekend, and more

END OF DAYS GLAM: APOCALIPSTICKThe end of the world might seem like unusual theme for a Cocktails and Couture event, but if you consider the epic costumes from the Mad Max movies, it's actually super cool. The fashion event, cleverly named Apocalipst...
Published: 01/11/18
Meet the monster trucks: Free truck displays around Tampa Bay

Meet the monster trucks: Free truck displays around Tampa Bay

Before Monster Jam invades Raymond James Stadium on Saturday, some of the show’s biggest stars will be on display across the Tampa Bay area. You can and take pictures with the 12-foot-tall, 10,000-pound monster trucks at the following free appearance...
Published: 01/10/18
5 things to do under $5: Kite festival, Florida Manatee Festival

5 things to do under $5: Kite festival, Florida Manatee Festival

1 Treasure Island Sport Kite Festival: The annual competition returns to the beach behind the Thunderbird Resort, filling the sky with kites as flyers perform to music at this two-day event. There will be dual-line and multi-line sport kite flying in...
Published: 01/10/18
Disney theme park deal for Florida residents returns, but the price climbs

Disney theme park deal for Florida residents returns, but the price climbs

January once again brings a Florida resident ticket deal from Walt Disney World, though the price continues to climb. Florida residents can get three days at a Walt Disney World theme park for $159 per person, and add a fourth day for $20 more per pe...
Published: 01/05/18
Plan your weekend: Marvel Universe Live, School of Rock, Epiphany in Tarpon Springs, Tom Petty tribute

Plan your weekend: Marvel Universe Live, School of Rock, Epiphany in Tarpon Springs, Tom Petty tribute

Plan your weekend   Superheroes Marvel Universe Live: Marvel first paired up with the Ringling Bros’ production company Feld Entertainment in 2014 to create its first live action stunt show. The gang’s back together for the second edit...
Published: 01/03/18
5 under $5: American Stage’s Under 20 Passport begins, Nerf gun wars, meet the ‘ToyMakerz’

5 under $5: American Stage’s Under 20 Passport begins, Nerf gun wars, meet the ‘ToyMakerz’

1 Under 20 Free Passport: American Stage is starting the year off with a deal aimed at creating young theater fans. The Under 20 Free Passport allows people under 20 to get into mainstage productions at no cost. And a new Under 30 Pass offers patrons...
Published: 01/03/18
Top things to do this week: Marvel Universe Live, comedian Brad Garrett, Epiphany

Top things to do this week: Marvel Universe Live, comedian Brad Garrett, Epiphany

SUPERHEROES: Marvel Universe LiveMarvel fans, assemble! The multibillion-dollar juggernaut paired up with the Ringling Bros. production company Feld Entertainment in 2014 to create its first live action stunt show. The gang’s back together for the se...
Published: 01/03/18
Stock up on holiday decor at Florida CraftArt and check out Goodwill’s new digs

Stock up on holiday decor at Florida CraftArt and check out Goodwill’s new digs

Time to Stock Up: After-Holiday SaleIf anything will ease your post-holiday blues, it's a sale on holiday-themed items, like the one through Sunday at Florida CraftArt. The St. Petersburg fine craft gallery is offering a 20 percent discount on h...
Updated one month ago
5 things to do under $5

5 things to do under $5

1 Outback Bowl Beach Day: Before the big game on Monday, the Michigan Wolverines and the South Carolina Gamecocks teams, marching bands and cheerleaders will take to Clearwater Beach next to Pier 60 for a day of live music, skydivers, a tug-of-war an...
Updated one month ago
Urban farm could be late addition to Tampa's Encore project

Urban farm could be late addition to Tampa's Encore project

If all goes as planned at a meeting with the Tampa Housing Authority on Jan. 4, a 2-acre working farm will become a late addition to the city's Encore project.
Updated one month ago