Taking price-comparison apps for a spin

Associated Press Modified: October 11, 2012 at 3:30 pm •  Published: October 11, 2012
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NEW YORK (AP) — 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:

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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.

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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.



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