A program that quickly grabs items from online stores
Ever heard of a Grinch Bot? It’s not a character from a Christmas story, but a computer program that’s notorious for spoiling holiday shopping for many. Grinch Bots are designed to scan online shopping sites for specific goods and buy them all up, often emptying out the stock. They’re particularly active during the festive season, hence the nickname “Grinch”.
These shopping bots have been around since the 90s but only started gaining traction in the mid-2010s. The term Grinch Bot was coined in the fall of 2017, when these bots began causing headaches for holiday shoppers and retailers.
The primary use of Grinch Bots is to grab popular items that are in short supply, buy them all up, and then resell them at a higher price for a tidy profit. A classic example of this was during the 2020 holiday season when these bots bought up all the PlayStation 5 consoles and resold them for two, three, or even four times their original cost. This is what’s known as “console scalping.”
So, what exactly is a bot? Well, a bot is a computer program that’s designed to automatically perform tasks. These tasks could be as simple as reformatting Word documents or as complex as posting on social media platforms to influence public opinion on key voting topics.
In the case of Grinch Bots, these bots are programmed to hunt down online retailers selling a specific item, then fill out online purchase forms to buy the item as soon as it’s available. This allows the bot user to buy multiple items way faster than regular online shoppers. Sometimes, these bots just search for the availability of the item and alert the user, who then manually completes the purchase.
Once a Grinch Bot user has bought up all the in-demand items, he can then resell the items at a higher price. While this might seem unfair, it’s not illegal. It’s simply a case of supply and demand. If a buyer is willing to pay the inflated price, then it’s just a lesson in economics.
But don’t lose hope. Online retailers have started to fight back against bot purchases to give real shoppers a fair chance at getting their hands on popular items. They track suspicious user activities and implement security measures like captchas to distinguish between genuine users and bots.
Example for using ‘Grinch Bot’ in a conversation
Hey, did you manage to get the new PlayStation 5?
No, I tried but it sold out within seconds! Those Grinch Bots are so annoying!
I know, right? They snatch up all the inventory and then sell it for crazy prices.
It’s so frustrating. I just want to buy it at the regular price!
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