How to beat the Grinch bots that are buying up hot holiday toys

If you’ve been trying to buy a PlayStation 5, or an Xbox X Series gaming console, and it suddenly disappeared from your checkout basket, that may be because Grinch bots are buying up the hot holiday gifts.  People use bots to snap them up and resale them at inflated prices.

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Before you pay up, there are ways to beat the bots.

"Think about the most popular items people are talking about, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, the new OLED Nintendo Switch, smartwatches also," rattled off CNET's Dan Ackerman.

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Bots are buying them up.

"There are bots out there, software programs that swoop in and get all the stock, click all the 'Buy Now' buttons before human beings even get started," said Ackerman.

Compounded by shortages and supply chain snarls, buyers then sell the hot items for much higher prices on sites like eBay, and desperate parents get gouged. However, experts say you can beat the bots at their own game.

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First, follow retailers on social media to get alerts when hot items are restocked.  Some retailers will also let you sign up for restocking alerts.  You can also use stock trackers such as NowInStock.com and Zoolert.com.  

"At CNET, we have a huge Playstation tracker that we update five times a day and it's really to give people the most chances possible to try to get that item," explained Ackerman.

For a fee, you can join retailer membership programs, such as Walmart Plus, My Best Buy, and Amazon Prime.

"You have to be a paid member to get access to their new drops. They add a few new consoles to the inventory and you can go buy them," said Ackerman.  

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Experts also suggest you check back on a retailer’s site every 15 minutes.

"They’ll add 10 or 20 or 50 units to their inventory system, and then they’ll come back and do it again 15 minutes later," Ackerman said.

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Once you find the item in stock, it's all about ordering fast.  Experts say the fastest way is to download the retailer’s app onto your phone, pre-fill your address and credit card information, and only order that one item.  Don’t spend time shopping for other things.