Saturday, November 26, 2011

Smartphone apps help de-stress holiday shopping

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Gannett

Trying to avoid the holiday crowds or at least navigate them more easily? Here are some handy online resources and apps to make the season's shopping as painless as possible:

Parking in Motion

Don't expect to find a parking spot during prime shopping season until you've circled the lot for at least 20 minutes.
But now you can know exactly what the parking situation is before you arrive: Parking in Motion is an iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch app that shows nearby parking structures and info such as entrance location, occupancy, rates and hours. The app also extends to on-street meter parking, even highlighting restrictions. Parking in Motion has data in more than 500 cities in the U.S., Canada and Europe.
Android app is in the works.

Black FlyDay

Iconosys' Black FlyDay app for Android devices lets you team up with Facebook friends to bargain hunt with efficiency. The app helps locate the best deals within a certain radius, and teams of shoppers can collaborate using the real-time bulletin board to share locations and deals.
The app is good all year, so if you notice a great deal on groceries, gas or something else, you can use Black FlyDay to get the word out to your friends. If you want to submit a deal, the app posts the details on your Facebook Wall. If you're looking for deals, the app pulls information from friends and other users. The app is free through today and $9.99 after.

Camelcamelcamel

This website is chock-full of pricing data and charts from Amazon and third-party vendors. It searches new and used items, displaying current and past prices. Camelcamelcamel .com will also keep tabs on items you've got your eye on. Figure out how much you're willing to pay for a camera, for instance, and the site will email or tweet you when the camera reaches your desired price range. And unlike other pesky websites, you don't need to give Camelcamelcamel any personal data. You do get a few perks from registering, including access to a single RSS feed for alerts on tracked products. But the best features are available to everyone.

Savvy

After snagging what you thought was a great deal, it's irritating to see the price drop even more. The old-fashioned way to get that money back: Drive to the store with receipt in tow or spend a lifetime on hold with customer support. Instead, be the savviest shopper around with Savvy. The app streamlines the process to get your price adjustment. All you have to do is send in a photo of the receipt — no driving, waiting or even talking involved.
Currently in open beta testing, Savvy has on board more than 40 retailers, including Best Buy, Urban Outfitters and Zappos. Available only on Apple iOS devices; Android app is in the works.

ComplainApp

You might think holiday shopping ends when you leave the mall. But what if you bought a lemon, the service was awful or you left completely dissatisfied? Instead of grumbling about your shopping misadventure to someone who can't help, take your frustration to ComplainApp, a mobile app and customer-service website where people can voice their grievances — and hopefully get them resolved. For instance, if you were bumped from a flight, you can launch the app, fill in details about your experience, and broadcast your issue on various social networks.
Available free on Apple iOS and Android devices.
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