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Black Friday blighted by bots buying all the bargains

Online bargain hunters are increasingly losing out due to ‘scalper’ and ‘grinch’ bots buying up all the good deals first ahead of Black Friday, writes Elizabeth Streeter. 

Regardless of legislation, roughly half of online shoppers suspect that these bots were snapping up the best deals before real people could get to them. The result of this is that these bots resell them on other secondary websites for a higher price. 

Studies show that one in four millennials use scalper bots to get in demand products online. The software known as scalper bots are designed to automatically bulk buy purchases – and do this at lightning-fast speeds. They often find newly released inventory before real buyers. This has led to people having to buy the goods at inflated prices elsewhere, or resorting to using bots themselves – if you can’t beat them, join them. 

According to the report How are Bots Changing Buyer Behavior? – which surveyed more than a thousand people across the USA who frequently purchase popular goods online – revealed that 47% of shoppers believe scalper bots are preventing them getting high-value purchases and deals on bulk buys. Some 39% suspected interference on consumer goods and 20% on travel. 

However, 58% from the same survey were affected by grinch bots that target the purchases of buying tickets for live events and trending products. A third (35%) of online fashion buyers were affected by grinch bots – preventing them from buying the content as a deal and resorting to buying it at an inflated price elsewhere.

Read more: Social holds the key to discovery, sales – and cybercrime – this Black Friday

Live music or sport lovers are especially at risk of falling victim to grinch bots as they are often willing to leave paying for tickets closer to the date of the concert or game; this is when grinch bots release them at a drastically increased rate.

Despite increased rates of more than half (57%) of the people on the survey still continue to (or have in the past) bought products from secondary markets, with more 90% fearing having their data stolen, or compromised. A few of these have been sold fakes and many more fear this happening and yet still continue to purchase from these places. 

High demand goods can even have a bot increase of price by 168%. On average, people are 13% more likely to use scalper bots when buying medicine, 17% more likely to use them with event tickets. 

The amount of data compromised has resulted in the US introducing The Better Online Tickets Sales (BOTS) Act, with the aim of restricting the usage of bots. It will be enforcing fines of up to $16,000 to help dissuade consumers from using bots to purchase tickets and other goods. The Act hopes to tackle the ‘scalper’ and ‘grinch’ bots from bulk buying all the available goods around the various holiday seasons. 

The act came about as a result of another survey where 82% of participants wanted a government policy to stop bot usage. 

In consumers eyes, the retail companies are equally as at fault as the government when regarding bots. Bots have no morals and see no negative consequences to their actions – so the millennials that are using them will only see the upsides of using them also. Bots leave people with the dilemma of only using the official sites and losing out. Or using secondary sites at higher prices with a higher risk of their data being compromised.

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