High-tech software bots popular toys to buy and sell at a profit
Molly Line has more on the efforts to block cyber price gouging.
High-tech software is the latest holiday Grinch, making it more difficult than ever for parents to find that must-have toy on a regular retail price.
Software robots, called bots for short, perform automated hunts on the web, immersive retail sites with mass-orders, gobbling up the most sought-after gifts. The so-called “cyber-fact” to then resell the goods, sometimes in mammoth mark-ups, and benefit from the spoils.
“We have with the sales that are popping up on the major retailers, which are then sold in seconds,” said Laura Oliver, who runs the deal-look at website AFrugalChick.com
This year is the top bot purpose: to Fingerlings. The creatures are aptly named, as they are just the right size to wrap around a child’s finger. Fingerlings may be small, but finding them at a fair price can be a big challenge.
“I’ve certainly had the readers on a AFrugalChick.com who have told me that they have their fingerling in their cart and when they’re gone to check out, it is already gone by the time they’ve gotten there,” said Oliver.
The pint-sized critters cost nearly $18, but they are sold out at most toy stores. Now, fact have been selling online for about $1,000.
Fingerlings, small robot monkeys, one of the holiday season’s hottest toy and already hard to find because cyber fact his creation.
Another bone aim – the Super Nintendo NES Classic Edition, allowing players to “Live from the golden age of the 16-bit gaming like never before.” It is out of stock on most sites, but you will find the gaming system on eBay for double the money.
Many retailers try to block the bots, what the sale of a sought-after item, “only in store” or the set of online flags and purchase limits.
“How do you know the difference between a grandmother with 14 grandchildren, all of which have similar holiday gift and you know someone who is a bad actor and trying to sell this property somewhere else? It is very difficult,” said Ellen Davis of the National Retail Federation.
Lawmakers have called on the retail groups to the battle of the bots more aggressive. New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall is among those working to expand a law that already prohibits the use of bots to mass buy tickets for concerts or theatre events.
“What we do is to prohibit the kind of activity that spoils Christmas for young people and consumers, who are Grinches, and to ensure that they can not continue with this kind of activity, which is illegal,” said Senator Udall.
The new rules come too late for this holiday season, but Oliver has a suggestion: Instead of paying a mark-up and giving those Grinches all satisfaction, consider writing an IOU.
Molly Line joined Fox News Channel as a Boston based correspondent in January 2006.