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Bots are Buying Up Hot-Selling Toys for Holiday Resale
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By: Teri Bernstein

 

 KTNV report on toy-buying bots

 

Have ever tried to buy concert tickets and have logged in again and again from the moment the ticket sales opened--but have failed to successfully complete a transaction? If so, it is totally possible that tickets were being bought up by "bots". Their efficiency at analyzing markets and split second timing can foil even the most dedicated of fans. Companies employing bots then resale tickets to diehard fans at a mark-up above ticket price. 

The same technique is being used in the online retail market--against children, albeit indirectly. Bots are buying up coveted Christmas-requested toys, then reselling them on Amazon or eBay at inflated prices. Some toys that have been affected for Holiday season 2017 include: 

 

 

And from previous years: 

 

 

Chuck Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader, has taken a stand against bots: "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.

 

What will it take to enable consumers to get a fair deal?

 

Source: "Can't Find Any Fingerlings? Bots Snap Up Popular Christmas Toys For Resale," by Christina Caron, New York Times, December 5, 2017.

 

Discussion: 

  • Define "bot" and list various arenas where bots are deployed.
  • Shop for each of the toys listed above online. What is the MSRP? For what cost can you buy one from at least 2 sellers?
  • Do you think that bot purchases should be regulated for all in-demand items?  Should concert tickets be treated differently than popular toys, books, or iPhones? How do bots hurt consumers, retailers, manufacturers, and marketing strategies? Who do bots help those groups?
  • What strategies can be used to combat bot purchases? A couple ways are mentioned in the video, but think of other ways as well.