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Representative Paul Tonko (D-NY), Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), and Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) have introduced new legislation that aims to prevent scalpers from hogging popular goods and reselling them at exorbitant prices. Dubbed the Stopping Grinch Bots Act, the bicameral bill will crack down on bot technology, which traditionally comprises programs that can be used to quickly and automatically make purchases online. Bots have made graphics cards, next-gen consoles, and other hot items especially difficult to find amid component shortages.

“At a time when families should be able to spend time with their loved ones, digital “Grinch bots” are forcing Americans to scour online sites in the hopes of finding an affordable gift or paying exorbitant prices for a single toy,” said Tonko.

“This bill seeks to stop Cyber Grinch greed from ruining kids’ holidays,” said Blumenthal. “New tools are needed to block cyber scammers who snap up supplies of popular toys and resell them at astronomic prices. Price gouging hot toys by Grinch bots should have zero tolerance.”

“The average holiday shopper is unable to compete with the light speed of the all-too-common Grinch bot and are then held at ransom by scalpers and third-party resellers when trying to buy holiday presents. After a particularly trying year, no parent or American should have to fork over hundreds – or even thousands – of dollars to buy Christmas and holiday gifts for their children and loved ones,” said Majority Leader Schumer. “It is of upmost importance that these Grinch bots are thwarted in their attempts to steal Christmas – and money – from hardworking Americans.”

“The rush of the holiday season leaves far too many Americans vulnerable to the malicious practices of Grinch bots that manipulate the market and drive up prices,” said Luján. “This is a sacred time to be spent with family and loved ones. Americans should not be stressed financially by online algorithms that hoard high-demand toys and goods and resell them at huge margins. This critical legislation will protect New Mexico’s consumers during the holidays and year round.”

The Stopping Grinch Bots Act was initially announced in November 2019. It is supported by Consumer Reports, Consumer Federation of America, the National Consumer League, and other national consumer organizations.

Source: Paul D. Tonko

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10 Comments

  1. I don’t, I don’t even know where to begin with this. How are they supposed to know how someone received a card with a bot? What if it was the Shuffle or some other mechanism? I’m in support of banning bots to buy cards, tickets, etc, but I have no idea how you’d actually implement it and further enforce it.

  2. Scalpers do not create shortages, they profit from them (unless you refuse to buy from scalpers, then from your reference point it does make the shortage worse). This is a bandaid solution for a larger economic problem. Shortage will still exist without scalpers. Not worth it.

    “At a time when families should be able to spend time with their loved ones, digital “Grinch bots” are forcing Americans to scour online sites in the hopes of finding an affordable gift or paying exorbitant prices for a single toy,” said Tonko.

    Grinch bots dont force Americans to do anything. If you want to spend more time with your family maybe you should realize toys aren’t everything, good lesson for you kids too. Forcing unrealistic MSRP prices is not going to fix a shortage.

  3. Not really the point. It’s just competition against actual humans that would be spiffy. Buybots are just unfair non-competition because you can really beat them as meaty flesh beasts. It’s not about fixing a shortage.

  4. It might not be a solution to the shortages, but anything that can hurt scalpers is a good thing. Personally I’d criminalize scalping (ie. selling products online for a larger price than you bought them for 6 months)

  5. Crap like this is what happens when people who know nothing about a subject try and pass laws about that subject.

  6. I can think of half a dozen ways to stop bots if you really wanted to.

    Problem is, not very many retailers really want to.

    Secondary to that, just because you stop bots doesn’t mean you’ve done anything to stop scalpers.

  7. [QUOTE=”Brian_B, post: 44524, member: 96″]
    I can think of half a dozen ways to stop bots if you really wanted to.

    Problem is, not very many retailers really want to.

    Secondary to that, just because you stop bots doesn’t mean you’ve done anything to stop scalpers.
    [/QUOTE]
    If retailers had their way then you’d get no warranty no returns, no nothing. That’s why we have laws. Just add one more thing to force them to care about scalping.

  8. This is triad of suck, shortage, scalpers, and computers. The part of computers doing the purchase for scalpers sucks in particular. My wife tried for some hot selling stuff… Back before bots were wide spread it was possible to get in if you were there on time, and so on. Last few time she did this, it was impossible… Bots of course. Second or two everything gone. She’s out, no longer tries anything… We don’t buy from scalpers. I will wait for whatever, no problem.

  9. [QUOTE=”Uvilla, post: 44534, member: 397″]
    This is triad of suck, shortage, scalpers, and computers. The part of computers doing the purchase for scalpers sucks in particular. My wife tried for some hot selling stuff… Back before bots were wide spread it was possible to get in if you were there on time, and so on. Last few time she did this, it was impossible… Bots of course. Second or two everything gone. She’s out, no longer tries anything… We don’t buy from scalpers. I will wait for whatever, no problem.
    [/QUOTE]
    Yeah this is the part that has me convinced that retailers absolutely don’t care, and the manufacturers are complicit with it – it’s been going on for a good while, it’s only getting worse, and they really do nothing to stop it. Most have even given up the token lip service attempts.

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