US Congress introduce Stopping Grinch Bots Act of 2018 bill

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Third-party sellers are deploying cyber bot technology to game online sales systems in order to buy out inventory of hot toys. Some toys have become nearly impossible to purchase online or in stores at retail price, in part because third-party sellers have snatched up inventory to resell online at exorbitant prices.

Now, the US House of Representatives have introduced a bill aimed at banning scalpers from using bots to snap up inventory offered in limited quantities and then selling it at a higher price. It’s aptly titled ‘Stopping Grinch Bots Act of 2018’.

Bots have long been used by scalpers on ticket sites, but increasing brands are becoming frustrated when they issue a limited edition short run of a product just to see it bought up in bulk for immediate resale at higher prices. It can be anything from games consoles to toys or apparel – in particular special edition trainers are often a target.

This is different from a consumer buying a product and flipping it for a quick profit – bots are often used to purchase an entire run of a product and will often swipe the stock before a consumer can even log into a website. If you’ve ever wondered why a deal sells out before you get to buy it then Grinch Bots could be the reason. Even if a retailer limits the quantity any single person can purchase, Grinch Bots will hit the retailer with hundreds or thousands of accounts to grab the inventory.

“Grinch bots are stealing the holidays by snatching up hot toys, driving up prices, and leaving parents empty handed on Christmas morning. We successfully banned ticket bots and we can use that same strategy to banish toy bots once and for all—putting consumers back in charge.”
– Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), US Senator

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