“Grinch bots cannot be allowed to steal Christmas, or dollars, from the wallets of New Yorkers,” Schumer said, referring to the automated programs used to purchase mass amounts of products online. “Middle class folks save up, a little here, a little there, working to afford the hottest gifts of the season for their kids, but ever changing technology and its challenges are making that very difficult. It’s time we help restore an even playing field by blocking the bots.”
Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader, sponsored legislation approved by Congress last year that bans the use of bots and other “unfair” mechanisms to scoop up scores of theater and concert tickets before consumers are “given a fair chance to buy them.”
Schumer said he plans to work with lawmakers to expand the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act to include retail purchases, but with a legislative fix likely months away, he called on retail industry groups such as the National Retail Federation and Retail Industry Leaders Association to “block the bots.”
The National Retail Federation and Retail Industry Leaders Association did not respond to emails seeking comment.
Schumer said his aides found examples of sold-out toys that are now being resold for inflated prices by third party vendors on websites including Amazon and eBay.
Fingerlings, a popular brand of finger puppets that usually sell for $14.99, are selling for as much as $1,000 by scalpers, Schumer said. A Barbie Hello Dreamhouse, which typically sells for $300 at Toys R Us, was listed for as much as $1,500 on other e-commerce sites, and a Super Nintendo NES Classic Edition video game system that usually sells for $79.99, was being sold for as high as $13,000 on secondary websites, Schumer said.