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Schumer battles toy-shopping bots.

Byline: Diana Louise Carter

Echoing 2016 legislation that outlawed use of bots that gobble up concert and theater tickets, Sen. Charles E. Schumer this week is proposing a ban on bots that collect the hottest toys, causing both a shortage and a market for outrageously marked-up playthings.

Citing research by Consumer Reports, Schumer said spikes of bot activity has been detected in online holiday shopping, allowing high-tech shoppers to corner the market on such toys as Wow Wee Fingerlings, L.O.L. Surprise Dolls, Nintendo's NES Classic Edition, and the Barbie Hello Dreamhouse. The toys, which can sell for as little as $10 in retail stores, are offered at resale sites for tens, hundreds and even thousands more than their original prices.

"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 hundredsor even thousandsof dollars to buy Christmas and holiday gifts for their children and loved ones," Schumer said.

Previously, Schumer was successful in getting the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act passed into law. The Stopping Grinch Bots Act of 2018 and would ban toy market practices similar to the ones that had forced theater and concert fans to buy overpriced tickets on the resale market.

"These cyber-scalpers use Grinch botsthe same technology ticket scalpers employedto purchase at lightning speed the hottest Christmas toys en masse, create a false shortage and then resell them to desperate parents and grandparentsat obscene mark-ups" Schumer said. "It is a cynical rip-off pure and simple, and we should put the clamp-down on these predatory scammers ASAP."

Schumer and colleagues Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), and Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY), introduced The Stopping Grinch Bots Act of 2018 the day after Thanksgiving. The legislation would use a framework similar to the BOTS act but apply it to sales of popular consumer items.

Schumer said bots can detect sales even before consumers know about them and fill out online orders in fractions of seconds, allowing them to purchase mass quantities before consumers even have a chance to shop.

"When it comes to speed-of-purchase of hot holiday gifts, your average consumer is bringing a knife to a gun fight," said Schumer. 363-7275

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Publication:Rochester Business Journal
Date:Nov 29, 2018
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