The supply chain in America has been rough recently, for a multitude of reasons. This problem has been made even worse by Grinch bots, which are programmed to snap up popular products listed online.
These products are then resold on platforms like eBay and Craigslist at much, much higher prices than their market value. People desperate to get their children a Playstation 5 or Nintendo Switch for Christmas will be forced to pay these prices, lest they encounter the disappointed faces of their children on Christmas morning.
While there's not much individuals can do to stop Grinch bots from sweeping away all the Playstation 5's on the market, both the government and providers (like Target and Walmart) are making moves to stop these malicious bots from stealing Christmas.
What are Grinch bots?
Grinch bots are a pretty simple script that lays dormant until a product is listed on a shopping website. The second the product goes live, the bot immediately buys as many units as possible at a speed that leaves regular human buyers in the dust.
As mentioned, these products will be listed elsewhere at higher prices, allowing the owners of these Grinch bots to make a very tidy profit from very little effort. This is commonly known as “scalping,” a practice as old as money itself. Lest we forget the individuals who hoarded hand sanitizer and toilet paper at the height of the pandemic in order to sell it back to a desperate populace.
Much like the act of scalping itself, Grinch bots are by no means a new occurrence. However, they've seen a massive spike over the past year, with a 73% increase from October to November, and online shoppers encountering an incredible 258% increase in out of stock messages in November 2021 when compared to 2019.
How to prevent Grinch bots
There isn't much a consumer can do to stop Grinch bots from swiping all the fun products out from under our noses. Obviously, one solution is to be proactive in your gift-buying process, but if you've already missed the boat, there's not too much you can do, outside of looking at resellers.
However, these resellers are probably the perpetrators of the Grinch bots in the first place, so if at all possible, it's a good idea not to encourage this behavior by paying whatever outrageous prices they're asking for. It can be disappointing to let your child down on Christmas, but unless we all want to deal with dastardly resellers till the end of time, we have to draw the line somewhere.
That being said, while there's not a lot we can do to stop Grinch bots and their reign of terror, providers and the government are doing their part to stop grinch bots from harvesting products the second they go live. Walmart and Target have developed their own software to recognize and stop Grinch bots, while democrats are introducing the Stopping Grinch Bots Act of 2021, which is looking to stop their creation and activity on a country-wide scale.