WITH HOLIDAY SHOPPING SEASON IN FULL SWING, SCHUMER LAUNCHES MAJOR PUSH TO IMMEDIATELY PASS LEGISLATION THAT WILL THWART TOY SCALPERS FROM USING “GRINCH BOTS” ACROSS UPSTATE NY TO REAP PREDATORY PROFITS ON POPULAR GIFTS; SAYS NY FAMILIES SHOULDN’T PAY A KING’S RANSOM WHEN BUYING PRESENTS FOR THEIR CHILDREN & LOVED ONES
The Same Cyber-Scalpers Who Use Bots To Purchase And Resell Hot Concert Tickets Are Now Using The Technology To Purchase And Resell Massive Quantities Of The Hottest Holiday Gifts – From Boxy Girls Dolls To Hotwheels – Forcing Upstate NY Shoppers To Pay Exorbitant Amounts Of Money For The Most Popular Toys And Gifts On Third-Party Websites
Schumer Initiates A Major Effort To Pass His Recently-Introduced “Stopping Grinch Bots Act Of 2018”, Which Would Ban These Commonly-Used Grinch Bots And Help Keep Popular Holiday Gifts Affordable
Schumer To Congress: It’s Time To Pass This Much-Needed Legislation To Stop Grinch Bots From Stealing Christmas
With holiday shopping heating up, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today launched a major push to pass The Stopping Grinch Bots Act of 2018. Schumer said that the same cyber scalpers responsible for instantly vacuuming up tickets to major concerts have migrated to in-demand holiday toys, scooping up popular holiday gifts from dolls to gaming equipment for resale on other websites at outrageous prices.
Schumer explained that his legislation, The Stopping Grinch Bots Act of 2018, would thwart these cyber-scalpers by banning the surreptitious use of these bots, to purchase, horde and resell at sky-high prices various popular holiday gifts. The legislation mirrors Schumer’s previous legislation the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act, which outlawed ticket bots. Schumer called on his colleagues in Congress to pass The Stopping Grinch Bots Act of 2018 to ensure that New Yorkers across the state aren’t held at ransom when trying to purchase gifts for their families and loved ones.
“The average New York 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. No New Yorker should have to fork over hundreds – or even thousands – of dollars to buy Christmas and holiday gifts for their children and loved ones,” said Senator Schumer. “That’s why I’m calling on Congress to pass my legislation, The Stopping Grinch Bots Act of 2018, as soon as possible. It is of the utmost importance that these Grinch bots are stopped in their tracks, before they’re allowed to steal Christmas – and money – from the hardworking residents of Upstate New York.”
Schumer explained that “bots” are sophisticated computer programs often used by nefarious scalpers and brokers that plague the online sale of many items. In years past, cyber scalpers primarily used bots to snatch up popular tickets to concerts and live theater productions, leaving fans with no choice but to buy tickets through secondary resale sites at much higher prices. Artists, musicians, theater owners and concert promoters alike led the charge against bots used by online hackers and scalpers in an attempt to improve the ticket-buying experience for customers and guarantee increased transparency for fans.
Schumer added, “These cyber-scalpers use Grinch bots – the same technology ticket scalpers employed – to purchase at lightning speed the hottest Christmas toys en masse, create a false shortage and then resell them to desperate parents and grandparents – at obscene mark-ups. It is a cynical rip-off pure and simple, and we should put the clamp-down on these predatory scammers ASAP. It is more hurtful to Christmas consumers than any ‘Bah, humbug’ ever uttered by Scrooge.”
In 2016, Congress passed the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act, led by Senator Schumer alongside Senator Blumenthal (D-CT), and Representative Paul Tonko (D-NY), which prohibits the unfair and deceptive act of using mechanisms such as bots in order to scoop up tickets before consumers are given a fair chance to buy them. However, the legislation does not extend to items beyond tickets.
Therefore, Schumer, along with his colleagues Senator Blumenthal (D-CT), Senator Udall (D-NM), and Representative Paul Tonko (D-NY), introduced The Stopping Grinch Bots Act of 2018 on Friday, November 23. This legislation would use the framework of the BOTS Act and apply it to the use of bots on popular consumer products that have now become extremely difficult to purchase at a reasonable price.
According to Consumer Reports, bots are now being used to buy and sell popular holiday gifts like toys, gaming equipment and high-end sneakers. According to the report, bots subvert typical consumers through complex programming that guesses a product's ID and locates the product page, which is typically launched just a few hours before the product goes on sale. Bots can scan the product website’s APIs (application programming interfaces) to learn about sales before consumers and then automate the purchase of a product itself. While consumers must choose their size, shipping, and payment details manually, bots can automatically fill out these pages in fractions of a second, allowing them to purchase items in demand much more easily. As a result, regular consumers simply cannot compete with the speed of bots, forcing many to purchase these popular items on secondary resale sites at prices far above the original retail price.
“When it comes to speed-of-purchase of hot holiday gifts, your average consumer is bringing a knife to a gun fight,” said Schumer.
Last year, Schumer’s office searched online for some of the top holiday toys: WowWee Fingerlings, Super Nintendo entertainment system NES Classic Edition, the L.O.L. Surprise! Doll and the Barbie Hello Dreamhouse Playset.
- Fingerlings, which typically sell for $14.99, were out of stock online at Toys-r-us, Walmart, and Target. However, the item was available for sale on Amazon and eBay for as much as $1,000 each – an increase of 6,571% over its retail price.
- Super Nintendo entertainment system NES Classic Edition, which sells for $79.99, was out of stock online at BestBuy, Game Stop, and Target. However, the item was available on Amazon and eBay for as much as $13,000 each – an increase of 16,152% over its retail price.
- L.O.L. Surprise! Doll, which sells for $9.99, was out of stock online at Toys-r-us, Target and Walmart. However, the item was available on Amazon and eBay for as much as $500 each – an increase of 4,905% over its retail price.
- Barbie Hello Dreamhouse, which sells for $300, was out of stock online at Toys-R-Us. However, the item was available for sale on Amazon and eBay for as much as $1,500 each – an increase of 400% over its retail price.
Schumer explained that according to Distil Networks, a leading company that researches and helps to prevent bot-use, in 2017 there was a 20% spike in bot use during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Schumer said that this statistic both illustrates the widespread prevalence of bots during the holiday season and the importance of passing The Stopping Grinch Bots Act of 2018 immediately, before they are able to snatch up any more of this year’s hot gifts. Schumer strongly urged his colleagues to pass The Stopping Grinch Bots Act of 2018 as soon as possible, to give New Yorkers and their wallets some serious relief this holiday season.