'Grinch bots' are apparently 'stealing' hot toys and jacking up the prices

  • Popular holiday toys are being bought and sold by bots at significant markups.
  • Many are out-of-stock through traditional retailers like Toys R Us, Walmart, and Target.
  • Some are being sold for up to 162 times their listed price.
  • Sen. Chuck Schumer is calling on retailers to take steps to prevent the problem.

If you’ve had trouble finding popular Christmas gifts like Fingerlings and the NES Classic Edition online, you’re not alone.

According to Sen. Chuck Schumer, “cyber scalpers” have been buying large quantities of in-demand products with computer programs before consumers have the chance to do so – then selling them for large markups.

“Grinch bots cannot be allowed to steal Christmas, or dollars, from the wallets of New Yorkers,” Schumer said in a statement.

He continued: “When it comes to purchasing products online, major retailers should put forth policies that will help prevent future Grinch bots from stealing the season’s hottest toys.”

Bots became notorious for buying tickets to concerts and plays immediately after they went on sale, leaving those without bot programs to either miss the event or buy tickets at inflated prices on third-party sellers like Stubhub and SeatGeek.

When Schumer’s office searched online for some of this year’s hottest gifts, they found that many were unavailable from traditional retailers and were instead being offered for up to 162 times their listed price by resellers.

  • Fingerlings, perhaps this year’s signature holiday gift, were sold out on Toys R Us, Walmart, and Target’s websites. They were available from third-party sellers on Amazon and eBay for up to $US1,000, a 6,660% increase on their listed retail price of $US14.99.
  • Nintendo’s NES Classic Edition, listed at $US79.99, was not available through Best Buy, GameStop, or Target. It was listed on Amazon and eBay for upwards of $US13,000.
  • The $US300 Barbie Hello Dreamhouse was unavailable at Toys R Us. Consumers would have to pay up to $US1,500 on Amazon and eBay.
  • L.O.L Surprise! Doll, priced at $US9.99, could not be found through Toys R Us, Target, or Walmart. Instead, it was listed for up to $US500 on Amazon and eBay.

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