Now it’s the robot that stole Christmas.
Retailers must do more to stop Grinch-like scammers armed with cyber bots from snapping up the hottest holiday toys and reselling them at crazy high markups, Sen. Chuck Schumer said Sunday.
The bots use complex programming that can locate the product page of a popular toy even before the item goes on sale.
Then, the software scoops up thousands of products before a potential customer even has the time to manually type in shipping and payment details online.
The toys are then resold at astronomical prices far out of reach of average consumers.
“We are here to say that Grinch bots cannot be allowed to steal Christmas, or dollars, from the wallets of New Yorkers,” Schumer said.
For example, the must-have Fingerlings toys, which retail for $ 14.99, are now being sold on third-party websites like eBay for as much as $ 1,000.
Similarly, Super Nintendo NES Classic Edition typically sells for $ 79.99 but was out of stock on most sites. It was for sale on secondary sites for as much as $ 13,000.
And Barbie Hello Dream house playset retails for $ 300 but was being hawked for as much as $ 1,500.
Schumer has called on the National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association to install safeguards to prevent the bots from snapping up all the popular toys.
“Simply put: It is high time we help restore an even playing field for consumers by blocking these holiday bots,” Schumer told reporters.
Cyber bots have been used to scoop up gobs of concert tickets for scalpers.
But the Better Online Ticket Sales Act, or BOTS Act, of 2016, has been used to limit that practice.
The legislation — supported by Schumer and others and signed into law by President Barack Obama — prohibits scalpers from going around ticketing websites’ security measures to buy loads of ducats by cyber bots.
But the law does not apply to other products.
On Sunday, Schumer called on the National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association to install safeguards to prevent the bots from snapping up all the popular toys.
“By staying one step ahead of the bots, retailers can protect their consumers from abusive sales practices that hurt everyone — buyers and sellers — alike,” Schumer said.