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Botnet Christmas Cheer Businesses Government The Internet

How 'Grinch Bots' Are Ruining Online Christmas Shopping (nypost.com) 283

Yes, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer actually called them "Grinch bots." From the New York Post: The senator said as soon as a retailer puts a hard-to-get toy -- like Barbie's Dreamhouse or Nintendo game systems -- for sale on a website, a bot can snatch it up even before a kid's parents finish entering their credit card information... "Bots come in and buy up all the toys and then charge ludicrous prices amidst the holiday shopping bustle," the New York Democrat said on Sunday... For example, Schumer said, the popular Fingerlings -- a set of interactive baby monkey figurines that usually sell for around $15 -- are being snagged by the scalping software and resold on secondary websites for as much as $1,000 a pop...

In December 2016, Congress passed the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act, which Schumer sponsored, to crack down on their use to buy concert tickets, but the measure doesn't apply to other consumer products. He wants that law expanded but knows that won't happen in time for this holiday season. In the meantime, Schumer wants the National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association to block the bots and lead the effort to stop them from buying toys at fair retail prices and then reselling them at outrageous markups.

How 'Grinch Bots' Are Ruining Online Christmas Shopping

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  • Yeah.... but.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gfxguy ( 98788 ) on Sunday December 03, 2017 @07:38PM (#55669845)

    The shoppers are idiots, and they largely get what they deserve - anyone paying more than retail is exacerbating the problem, but god forbid your child doesn't get the latest gadget for Christmas. Anyone who has paid more than retail for a gaming system, or anything else that will eventually be available for the retail cost, is NOT A VICTIM, they are the PROBLEM.

    • by Ogive17 ( 691899 )
      Hey, that SNES classic is for me, bub.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      anyone paying more than retail is exacerbating the problem.

      What problem? I don't see that there is one. The toys are not going to fewer people, just different people.

      More importantly, more money is being extracted from rich people who clearly have too much, and distributed throughout society to bot writers, etc. This reduces inequality and is a Good Thing.

      Chuck Schumer seems to think that allocating limited goods randomly, or perhaps by rationing, is more "fair" than allocating them to whoever is willing to pay the most. That is backwards nonsense.

      • by Nutria ( 679911 )

        More importantly, more money is being extracted from rich people who clearly have too much

        The flaw in your argument is "credit cards", which allows any wahoo with sufficient credit limit to drown themselves (and then complain to the government about getting fleeced).

        • The flaw in your argument is "credit cards"

          Credit cards are not so easy for stupid people to acquire. Banks generally won't issue them unless you have someone (such as a parent) willing to co-sign, or a couple years of responsible behavior using a debit card backed by a bank balance.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            Credit cards are not so easy for stupid people to acquire.

            I got a Discover card with a $500 credit limit when I was 17. I used it to fly down to Virginia Beach and partied my ass off until it capped. Then they Discovered that I couldn't pay them back. You see, I just got out of high school. I never had a job.

            I've heard rumors that people have gotten credit card offers in their pets names. I don't know if it's true or not, but I wouldn't doubt it.

            • by uncqual ( 836337 )

              And, if you never paid it off, Discover ate it. If you never paid it off, they may have made a bad business decision WRT issuing you a card and paid the price. Or, maybe it was a good business decision because across all the dcolins117 in the country, they made money (in interest, late fees, and swipe fees). If they hadn't issued cards to any dcolins117 in the country, they might have had a lower ROI.

              I got a credit card without a cosigner when I was 18 (a LONG time ago) while I was poor (in college) and had

              • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

                The card issuer made a couple percent of every transaction you made in merchant fees. They did just fine with your responsible use. The deadbeats who carry a balance are just the icing on the cake.
        • The flaw in your argument is "credit cards", which allows any wahoo with sufficient credit limit

          But the flaw there is that you are defining people who have a lot of credit as "not rich" when access to that much credit is in fact very much a form of being rich.

          In the end if they declare bankruptcy that does not mean they did not literally live like a king for a while.

          Rich people lose money too (just look at actors) it doesn't mean they were not once rich, just foolish.

          • by Nutria ( 679911 )

            But the flaw there is that you are defining people who have a lot of credit as "not rich" when access to that much credit is in fact very much a form of being rich.

            No, it's not.

            In the end if they declare bankruptcy that does not mean they did not literally live like a king for a while.

            Living like a king is not the same as being a king.

      • by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Sunday December 03, 2017 @09:25PM (#55670273) Homepage Journal
        They actually are creating problems not only for consumers but for manufacturers and retail outlets as well. I think a lot of people are missing the asymmetric risk aspect of what these things are doing. Most retail outlets have relatively generous return policies meaning that bots buying up tons of these items assume almost no risk, if they can't scalp them they simply return them for a full refund.

        Meanwhile retail outlets and especially manufacturers are stuck in a shitty situation. They can order/produce more to meet "demand"(even though the bots may still be able to sap up all the supply) but if they overshoot they simply cannot return the "unused" product for a full refund, they have to sit on the unsold inventory until it sells(if it does).
        • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Sunday December 03, 2017 @10:14PM (#55670419)

          There are plenty of solutions to these problems that do not require new federal laws.

          1. They could change return policies on an item-by-item basis. Plenty of websites already do this.
          2. They could require that scarce items be ordered as part of a larger order with a minimum purchase amount.
          3. They could only display scarce items to online customers that have a qualified ordering history.
          4. They could limit how many scarce items can be ordered by shipping address.
          5. They could charge higher prices, and then adjust those prices downward on a daily or hourly basis until the inventory is cleared.

          None of these solutions require help from Chuck Schumer.

          • Or just ban multiple orders from an IP range known to be used by bots.
          • by Pascoea ( 968200 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @09:34AM (#55671803)

            6. Do nothing. There is no problem to be solved here. They just moved their inventory in record time.

            Although, a smart retailer would do 1 and 5. If they were able to recognize this was happening soon enough, double the price for the first 30 minutes that the inventory is in stock with a giant "NON RETURNABLE ITEM" plastered all over the place. #7, profit.

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        Consider, a healthy market is supposed to drive price to approach the marginal cost of production. Since the toy manufacturers are NOT losing money on each unit produced, they are NOT priced too low. That is the one and only way markets can create a sane and functional economy. Scalpers disrupt that function be creating an artificial scarcity and then taking advantage of it. That is, they create market inefficiency. They reduce the health of the market.

        MBA wet dreams like "value pricing" are driven out of t

        • a healthy market is supposed to drive price to approach the marginal cost of production.

          That is only for commodity goods. Barbies and Fingerlings are trademarked goods, and are sold at a premium. I have a daughter, and I can guarantee you that "Barbie-like" is in no way a substitute for a real genuine Barbie.

          Scalpers disrupt that function be creating an artificial scarcity and then taking advantage of it.

          Nonsense. If Scalpers had no expectation of being able to resell at a higher price, there would be no profit for them. Properly priced products are not "scalped". There is no one buying milk and bread from the grocery store, and reselling it at a higher price.

          • by sjames ( 1099 )

            Trademark and copyright DO also damage the market, but I don't buy your argument for scalpers. It's like saying "Gee, I have a nasty flu, so I might as well shoot up with smallpox and AIDS while I'm at it".

        • Scalpers disrupt that function be creating an artificial scarcity and then taking advantage of it.

          Others have addressed some of the flaws in your argument, but none of them have correctly addressed this one. Scalpers do not create scarcity, they take advantage of it. The term as first coined applied to ticket sales where the scarcity is a result of venue size and is not artificial. However, in the cases discussed in this article, the scarcity is intentionally created by the manufacturer by knowingly producing fewer than the expected demand. If the manufacturers did not approve of what the scalpers are

      • Ok... let's be a little more intelligent than this. I don't say it like this to be rude, I say it like this because I believe we shouldn't take the first answer that comes to mind.

        1) There aren't enough "rich people" to cause enough demand to pay these high prices. Also consider that a rich person can call the manufacturer and have a chat and try to get one allocated. I'm not rich and I've done this. In fact, I've gotten the items for free as a thank you for a nice conversation.

        2) Upper middle class, I thin
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Since when are middle men who contribute nothing other than inflating the price and burning some oil to ship things around for no reason a good thing?

        It also perpetuates inequality by transferring wealth to people who have the capital to run shopping bots.

        Imagine if someone bought a fleet of tankers and went around draining every gas station, then selling you that same gas at 10x the normal price. Would you be okay with that, because after all it's just extracting money from rich people clearly have too muc

      • anyone paying more than retail is exacerbating the problem.

        What problem? I don't see that there is one. The toys are not going to fewer people, just different people.

        A $15 toy intended for a 5-year old is targeted for the masses. A $1000 price tag on that same toy is targeted for fucking elitist morons who are creating spoiled narcissistic little shits that society will have to deal with in a more direct manner in the future. That is a problem. The world has enough spoiled narcissistic little shits running around.

        I'm also not sure how the hell you feel that scalping isn't a problem, no matter what is being sold. That's not price fixing; it's price fucking.

        Chuck Schumer seems to think that allocating limited goods randomly, or perhaps by rationing, is more "fair" than allocating them to whoever is willing to pay the most. That is backwards nonsense.

        No, he's

    • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

      Spoken like a non-parent. Look its fine to say all that but the problem comes when Tiny Tim, tells Santa all he wants for Christmas this isa $FADITEM.

      Well Tim did work hard in school this year, and he really has been more thoughtful about his little brothers needs like we asked... Why shouldn't Santa reward him? Its not his fault some script kiddie thru a bot together with nokigiri, cleared out Walmart.com and is now holding up Mom and Dad.

      • by Known Nutter ( 988758 ) on Sunday December 03, 2017 @08:32PM (#55670071)
        Spoken like a parent. There's no such thing as Santa, Tim is not tiny and he is not special. Tough shit, Tim. You don't always get everything you want.
      • so give Tim a gift card and tell him to wait a few months. Some years ago when skylanders were big my kids wanted a rare one. It was out of stock for months and I finally bought it for them in march or april. they played with it for a few minutes and got bored. the whole time i said it was sold out and they understood

        meanwhile stupid parents paid $100 or more for a $10 toy a few month prios

      • Look, I'm not a parent, but I have been a kid. Both "doing well in school" and "being nice to people" aren't necessarily things you want tied to rewards - they might just learn that. My parents were always very clear with me that while they expected me to do well in school, there wouldn't be any rewards for it. I knew kids who got $20 for each report card A or something and even as a kid that seemed like a bad attitude. As a side benefit, Tiny Tim won't think of his $FADITEM as transactionally due to him, h

      • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Sunday December 03, 2017 @09:13PM (#55670233)
        "Spoken like a non-parent. Look its fine to say all that but the problem comes when Tiny Tim..."

        As a former parent of small children, it's fine to teach them about advertising and fads. If they still want X in a year, fine, otherwise there's a life lesson about marketing, peer pressure, and temporality to be taught, which is far more valuable than a Cabbage Patch doll or Pet Rock.
        • Sociabilisation (Score:5, Interesting)

          by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @04:56AM (#55671195) Homepage

          If they still want X in a year, fine, otherwise there's a life lesson about marketing, peer pressure, and temporality to be taught, which is far more valuable than a Cabbage Patch doll or Pet Rock.

          On the other hand, this lesson comes at the price of being the only single kid who received it, and being ostracized by the rest of the school's kid for being weird by not following the same trends as every body else "normal", by not having the same outfit, the same popular toys, etc.

          Basically, by making the kid more aware and more immune of the above marketing/peer pressure/etc. problems, you're also pushing them into becoming social outcasts and being percieved as "that weird kid".

          There's a sweet spot of weirdness were the kid actually doesn't even give a damn about not fitting in the group, is creative enough to find their own interests in life (without needing group approval) while still being a tiny bit social enough to have a very interesting clique of other non-conforming friends.
          (And, personal experience, it also helps a lot when the kid happens to be quite a bit taller then any potential bully...)

          But that might not be the case of everyone. Some kids might be actively trying to resist your lessons about not needing to fit in because of sheer fear of rejection by the others.
          The part of the lesson about "peer pressure" actually goes much deeper than just "you'll see, in a couple of months you won't even want the toy anymore".
          It is a very valuable lesson, but it take quite some work to get there depending on the kid.

      • Thus, the problem is not scalpers or $FADITEM shortage. It's advertising. Especially, advertising aimed at the most vulnerable target: kids.

        In Poland for example there's a strict ban on advertisements aimed at kids. Alas, the companies found some loopholes, and selling toys based on the newest kid movie is legal, but the problem has been greatly reduced.

      • by geoskd ( 321194 )

        Spoken like a non-parent.

        Horse$#!7. A good parent understands that part of parenting is explaining the real world to your kids in a controlled environment so they can absorb the reality. There are two facits to that. The first is that a young child should never be given everything they want. Below the age of about 5, They simply do not have the cognition to equate their behavior throughout the year with a single regard in December. They haven't developed the ability to put cause and effect together when they are that far spaced in

      • As a parent, I never had problems with my kids wanting expensive items. I have always maintained a limited budget for birthday and christmas gifts. If they really wanted something that was exceeding the budget, I would give them the budget amount in cash, and then they could save up the rest themselves. Sometimes we would tell the grandparents to give cash too, so they could combine all of it.

    • Yeah! The government doesn't want people to pay artificially inflated prices... unless it is for health insurance or internet access.
    • I won't outright say you are wrong, but there is a bit of a flaw there. Yes, folks willing to pay above retail do create a market and that market feels "unfair". However, it feeling "unfair" only goes as far as the person trying to buy the good. For everyone involved in the bot creation, the drop shipper, the logistics team that gets it from point A to point B and then from point B to point C. Those are avenues of income for different folks. So while end consumers are getting screwed, this is actually

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 03, 2017 @07:43PM (#55669861)

    No toy commercials and a quicker hatred of government so we can bitch about it together.

  • Arbitrage (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 03, 2017 @07:43PM (#55669863)

    This kind of arbitrage is only possible if the original price was far too low compared to the supply/demand. If there is demand at $1000/ea, and you are selling at $15/ea, then something will fill that void. If not bots, then just people buying and immediately reselling.

    I have no idea what a "Barbie Dreamhouse" is or why it could possibly be worth $1000 to somebody, but if that's where the market values it, you can either (a) produce more to drive the supply/demand intersection point down closer to what you feel it should be, or (b) sell closer to the current intersection point, which takes the wind out of arbitrage, which also becomes very risky.

    These things are matters of basic economics, and have simple solutions.

    • I have no idea what a "Barbie Dreamhouse" is

      Wow. You and I must live in different universes. I presume you don't have a daughter between 4 and 10 years old. A Barbie Dream House is the sine qua non of girlhood. Parental refusal to buy one constitutes the worst form of child abuse. A girl without one simply has no reason to live.

      • by arth1 ( 260657 )

        Wow. You and I must live in different universes. I presume you don't have a daughter between 4 and 10 years old. A Barbie Dream House is the sine qua non of girlhood. Parental refusal to buy one constitutes the worst form of child abuse. A girl without one simply has no reason to live.

        I wholeheartedly agree with the last sentence. Unfortunately, helping them end their life is considered filicide, and not a viable option in the current socioclimate.

        I opt for teaching the tykes through practical exercises that greed does not pay off:
        "You get to wish for one major present which you will get if it fits within the household gift budget. If it's too expensive, you get nothing, nada. Not something cheaper instead, but nothing, because we don't reward greed. You get to decide what you ask fo

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by olsmeister ( 1488789 )
          You're going to wind up with kids who are really, really good at The Price Is Right.
          • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
            Or just good at google. So long as the parent is fair and not a complete douchebag, the child will be given a number. If they have a $50 limit, they'll pick an item at or below that limit. Though arth1 seems to be extremely douchey, so I imagine he'll have hidden limits and secret vetoes. He gets a car, and the kids get coal.
      • I presume you don't have a daughter between 4 and 10 years old

        My daughter is 18, and I've never heard of a "Barbie Dreamhouse". When she was younger, she had dolls and even a plastic play house for them, but they were all cheap generic toys.

    • Re:Arbitrage (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sjames ( 1099 ) on Sunday December 03, 2017 @09:10PM (#55670227) Homepage Journal

      The problem is, it's an artificial scarcity. It's not as if our industrial capacity is maxed out, it's just that demand if focused on a small part of the year and re-tooling takes time.

      Compounding that, it only takes a few kooks willing to pay those crazy prices to make the venture pay for the scalpers. A lot of product gets left on the shelf even in the midst of huge demand. That is, an inefficient market.

      • The scarcity is artificial because Mattel has a trademark on Barbie, Nintendo has a copyright on the Nintendo game system. Nobody else is allowed to make these things even though it would be trivial to make copies. And Mattel/Nintendo obviously aren't making enough of them. Welcome to the dark side of intellectual property - where the IP owner has created demand (via advertising and word of mouth) but decides it's not worth creating enough supply to fulfill that demand, while simultaneously preventing an
        • by sjames ( 1099 )

          When you have unmet consumer demand and a profitably manufactured product sitting on the shelf, you have a market failure. In this case, caused by scalpers.

          Trademark and copyright do damage in this area as well, but at least serve some useful social purpose (though I don't think the current balance is anything like correct to maximize social benefit). MAP and forbidding re-import should certainly be nullified. Likewise scalping should be banned.

      • You are correct that it is an inefficient market, but the actors who created the inefficiency are the ones who pay the price. Of course the key thing you are missing is that the scarcity was not created by the scalpers. The manufacturer did that in the first place by producing fewer of the product than the anticipated demand. They did this because they knew that the scarcity would drive up demand, both for the scarce product and for related products. The manufacturer is actually counting on the scalpers to
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This is not basic economics, but rather manipulation of the supply by purchasing it all. The bots are creating the shortage, not just taking advantage of it. By purchasing so many of those toys that they are hard to find, you make the supply short. Say they are selling at $15, you buy them all and offer them for sale at $1000. That would be around $900 profit, assuming fairly small expenses in addition to the purchase cost. You could sell very few and throw out most of they toys and come out way ahead.

    • Mattel's management is plainly asleep at the wheel and ought to be taken out to the woodshed by its major shareholders. All the money that resellers are making off this cheap chunk of plastic is money that Mattel could be making simply by increasing production. Some secondary markets are not important enough to worry about, but if you have a product that is being resold at a price two full orders of magnitude above its retail price, that is definitely leaving a giant mound of cash on the table. It's a rare

      • It's not really this simple. You can't simply turn up the fingerlings knob and get more of them. Items like this are generally contracted out to a factory for a certain size run, or a certain rate of manufacture. You might need to find a whole new manufacturer to get more of them, and it takes a lot of time. You may end up paying a lot for a new run and demand dries up leaving you out lots of money.

        Your cavalier attitude about warehouse space confirms that you don't know anything about retail. Warehouse sp
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      What they didn't tell you about on the first day of basic economics class is the other factors that determine price. The Barbie Dreamhouse is the gateway to many future purchases. Furniture, dolls to populate it, extensions, vehicles, supplementary media... So selling it at $1000 will reduce profits, because very few people will own one and thus very few accessories will be sold.

      Everything from games consoles to cars are sold using this model.

  • by Snotnose ( 212196 ) on Sunday December 03, 2017 @07:47PM (#55669873)
    I have to wonder who wrote Schumer's BOTS act. cuz you know damned well neither he nor his staff don't understand the issue, let alone legislate it. It was written by lobbyists who paid the most the Chucky's attention.
  • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Sunday December 03, 2017 @07:54PM (#55669915) Journal

    Screw that.... ANOTHER attempt by government to manipulate the free market economy, with the flawed idea it will improve anything.

    You can blame these scripts/bots all you like for product shortages, but I guarantee they'll continue to happen even if all of them are somehow magically prevented from running.

    The companies actually building the products are known to limit how many are produced after doing the marketing, knowing full well that shortages drum up more interest and free publicity than making sure there's plenty of supply. (When supply is plentiful, a lot of people decide to buy some other product instead that they feel is going to be harder to obtain as a gift. They figure, "Eh... I can easily get one of THOSE things any time, and judging by how many are on shelves? It'll probably go on sale by then too.")

    • Sounds nice, but in reality it doesn't happen a whole lot. Give a company the chance to sell however much they can as fast as they can and they will. This all has to do with inventory stock piling. Sure you can start to stock pile 6 months before xmas, but that costs money to warehouse them. Time from make to sell is in one of the most important metrics.

      Not to mention just because you may want X units for xmas doesn't mean the factories can deliver them.

    • Screw that.... ANOTHER attempt by government to manipulate the free market economy, with the flawed idea it will improve anything.

      Protectionism for the rich and big business by state intervention, radical market interference... welcome to the way the world has always worked. Only the uneducated believe there has ever been a free market.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHj2GaPuEhY#t=349 [youtube.com]

  • I'm sorry, but... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Known Nutter ( 988758 ) on Sunday December 03, 2017 @07:54PM (#55669917)
    Doesn't the good Senator from New York have more pressing issues demanding his attention these days?
  • Better idea... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Sunday December 03, 2017 @07:55PM (#55669925)

    Let's try something novel - if you can't find it in stores, just don't buy it.

    Trust me, your little darlings aren't going to be scarred for life.

    And even better, the so-called Grinch-bots will then be left holding the toys when noone is willing to pay $1K price tags for a $15 toy....

  • by Charcharodon ( 611187 ) on Sunday December 03, 2017 @08:12PM (#55669991)
    Retailers/Manufactures love getting their customers spun up. Hey let's not mark up something to a realistic price so that demand is strong but not insane. They mark it down to say 1/10 of what the "gotta have my precious NOW!" are willing to pay (initial launch 3 weeks out from Christmas), and watch the customers eat each other, while knowing they won't be able to satisfy initial demand for the item for another 6 months into next year.

    Its kind of evil if you ask me.
  • by santiago ( 42242 ) on Sunday December 03, 2017 @08:59PM (#55670197)

    And thus we learned that the true meaning of Christmas is not in buying whatever mass-produced junk is trendy at the moment, but in joining together in anger on the internet.

    • by c ( 8461 )

      And thus we learned that the true meaning of Christmas is not in buying whatever mass-produced junk is trendy at the moment, but in joining together in anger on the internet.

      Hear, hear. MY favorite part in the celebration is still where we all gather around the tree and call each other "Nazi"... never fails to bring a tear to my eye.

  • Hey I've got an idea for Nintendo et al. If the thing you are making keeps selling out so people will pay more for it, why not make more of that thing and/or charge more for that thing, either way you get to make more money and the scalpers don't! It's so easy it's almost as if it's a basic principle of economics anyone in business should've learned before they even held a job.
    • by gnupun ( 752725 )

      If you charge more, fewer people will buy (except during christmas when they will buy). If you produce more, retail and distributor space will get wasted (not sure who pays for that).

      And there is still the risk that scalpers will buy up all the extra product even at higher prices and quantities. With a profit of almost $1,000, why wouldn't they?

  • Why do kids need... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by b0s0z0ku ( 752509 ) on Sunday December 03, 2017 @09:18PM (#55670257)
    Why do kids need the latest plastic toy fad made by $1/hr workers in some sweatshop? Buy them toys that make them THINK creatively and allow them to build. Paints and a canvas, electronics set, chemistry set, Legos, Erector sets, Capsela (yep, re-released), electric trains. Those kinds of things seldom go through fads, so bots are unlikely to be a problem. And you can buy them in brick 'n mortar shops.
    • One of the most interesting gifts I ever received was this paper clock workbook [barnesandnoble.com] many years ago from my aunt and uncle. As I got older, they bought me various science books, keeping usually at least 5 years "ahead" in the "educational level". Eventually, the math parts of the astrophysics books got beyond me, but the non-math stuff stuck. I credit them with my intense curiosity.
  • by boudie2 ( 1134233 ) on Sunday December 03, 2017 @09:49PM (#55670347)
    Tell them that Santa was fired by his employers (Coca-Cola) because there were accusations of him sexually harassing the female elves Apparently he would get them to sit on his lap while telling them what he wanted for Christmas.
  • by Hercules Peanut ( 540188 ) on Sunday December 03, 2017 @11:38PM (#55670629)
    I sympathize with many of you who are concerned about free market manipulation and the relative unimportant nature of toy sales. Your not wrong. When it comes to toys for children, we can solve this "problem" with a little wisdom and self control.

    However, let's look at this like technology people (slashdot, right?). Toys today could be something else tomorrow?

    Those mandatory for school TI calculators?
    Chemicals necessary to produce certain kinds of 3D print material used in every household?
    Important drugs that are hard to produce?
    Preparation H?!? (Hey,when you need it and it is not there, then you will understand)

    I'm not sure if this is possible today, but when I think about how the market has changed over the past 10 or 20 years and imagine how it might change over the next 10 or 20, I'm not sure this "abuse" is going to be limited to rich people and their spoiled children's toy fetishes. When I combine a little imagination with the history of technology and its evolution, this practice makes me a little nervous.

    I don't know if Schumer has thought about this or even cares, but shouldn't we give it a little more thought before discounting this out of hand?

    How could bots disrupt the free market and legitimately hurt people by limiting access to stuff?
  • The toy manufacturers are obviously mispricing their toys if the 'Grinch Bots' are a problem. Sort of like a company that sets it's IPO price at $20/share and sees it climb to $50 the first day and stay above $40 for months -- the company just left too much money on the table and investors took advantage of it.

  • "Selling on secondary websites for $1000 a pop" is pretty misleading.

    A lot of those bot-sellers are automated, and look at similar items on various websites for pricing.

    So one bot sees another bot selling a $15 item for $20, and ups the price by 10% to $22. Which triggers Bot #3 to sell for $24. They get into high-speed feedback loops that push the prices up until they hit arbitrary caps (in this case, $1000). You see this with low-end electronics on Amazon from time to time: a no-name, nothing fancy cable

  • by Timothy2.0 ( 4610515 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @12:10PM (#55673009)
    Funny how the chest-thumpers of modern capitalism sob into their hands when the free market does something they *don't* like...

(1) Never draw what you can copy. (2) Never copy what you can trace. (3) Never trace what you can cut out and paste down.

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