PriceByText allows comparison shopping by cell phone text message

Canadian Comparison Shopping By Cell Phone


You're wandering through a Toronto mall and you find a sale at an electronics store. You've wanted a plasma TV for months so you rush into the store and check out the latest prices hoping to score a great deal. WOW! Look at that price! That's definitely a good deal. Or is it?

You know a little bit about plasma TVs and their pricing but nothing about this particular TV at this particular store. You've never seen this model before so you have no idea what the price normally is. Now you're stuck. You can either buy the TV on an impulse and risk getting ripped off or you can head to other stores and check out their prices. Though by doing that you might not make it back in time to take advantage of the sale. You could find an Internet connection and browse prices there but that's awfully time consuming and you need the information ASAP.

A company by the name of Broadplay says they have a solution to this problem. A few weeks ago they launched a service called PriceByText that allows you to compare prices on a variety of products with a few text messages.

You would send a text message to 123411 with the name of the product and the service would message you back with a list of products that match that name. You can text back with the specific product name and model number and the service will return you a text message listing various prices found on the Internet. The message containing the pricing will cost you $1 to receive.

It seems like a good plan, but is it practical? Would anyone actually use this service?

It isn't clear from the company's website which retailers the service searches or whether or not in-stores sales are included along with Internet prices. It also doesn't state if the prices that will be returned to you are from stores in your area. Receiving a list of prices for a store in Calgary or Montreal doesn't really help if you're in Toronto.

Text messaging isn't the most reliable at times as well. According to the PriceByText website itself "sometimes it can take up to 12-hours to receive text messages over the Canadian wireless networks. While PriceByText generally provides the requested information within seconds, delays can happen."

This new service is currently only available in Canada but the company says that they are planning to offer PriceByText in the USA later this year.

While you can be sure that the service isn't perfect and that there is no possible way every product at every retailer could be found via the service, it does seem like an interesting use of technology.

Now if only we could pay for parking via text message like they can in London, England.


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