Some shoppers use bots to get free holiday gifts

Forget Black Friday deals. So-called freebie bots can get discounts of up to 100% on merchandise before the holidays.


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Beyond bravery Black Friday crowds to do their holiday shopping this year Dan, a 46-year-old data analyst in Buffalo, New York, doesn’t go farther than his basement. All year long, he’s been picking up free stuff from Amazon, which a robot he runs on his computer picks up and brings down daily on the front slope. It’s a head-scratching hodgepodge of random products: cordless vacuums, drones, slush makers, mermaid swim floats, solar-powered string lights, satin pillowcases, dog beds, printed phone cases, Christmas ornaments, collagen pills, And the turtleneck sweaters and blankets that say, “Best Mom Ever.”

“It’s anything and everything. You name it,” said Dan, who started experimenting with bots during the early days of the pandemic so he could get his hands on a PlayStation 5. He now uses so-called freebie bots to automatically collect items that get listed on Amazon for free. , sometimes by accident.

It is the sign of the times. Tech-savvy shoppers are increasingly turning to free bots, which have grown in popularity in the past year. They scan the internet for products listed by retailers for free or at very deep discounts. Sometimes, a retailer will mistakenly display a discount code for 100% off. Increasingly this seems to happen by design.

Retailers have aggressively ramped up their discounts in recent months in an effort to offload excess inventory, offering deep discounts on pandemic-era favorites like sleepwear, home goods, and outdated electronics. Some brands, especially those that sell on Amazon and pay a fee for storage in the company’s warehouses, have decided it seems to make more financial sense to give up the inventory.

“They’re selling at a loss because they really don’t have a choice,” said William Rogers, 24, a software developer who created a free bot, called Nova, this summer to help shoppers take advantage of the trend.

Nova Fee – $50 up front, $25 per month. Users can set their own parameters. The vast majority only choose to receive the truly free items. Some choose to receive products that are marked 80% off, for example, with a maximum of $10.

“With the holiday season around the corner, I think the big selling point is you get freebies,” said Noah Hirschfeld, 22, a software engineer at Nova, MD. Many users have reported receiving free cordless vacuum cleaners and drones. Nearly 900 of these life jackets landed on users’ doorsteps. Rogers recently got some Christmas lights to give to his friends as they put up their holiday decorations, as well as some outfits perfect for his sister’s French country.

The use of freebie bots is expected to spike during Black Friday sales, said Cyril Noel Tagoe, principal security researcher at cybersecurity firm Netasia. Some will then turn around, he said, and try to resell the items for a little more.

“Users aren’t quite sure what they’re going to get, they just know they’ll get them cheap,” he said.

In the basement of Dan’s Buffalo, there are plenty of goods that would make great gifts for his family and friends, such as remote-controlled cars, building blocks, and electronic flashcards for his nephews. An early Christmas gift to himself was a winter hat with built-in headphones that he wore outside at the first big snow dump of the year.

Dan also doesn’t expect to be able to gift all 30 dog life jackets he’s collected, so he thinks he’ll stop by a nearby doggy aquatic center and see if he can trade them in for swim time for his Belgian Malinois.

He said that he would not dare to give any of the jewelry, clothes or shoes to his wife Forbes with a laugh. “She knows very well.”

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