Why you can't buy the Christmas must-have gift

Many parents know that feeling of dread when you can’t get your hands on the hot toy of the holiday season. But what you might not realize is that it’s not just high demand that’s making these items scarce -- it’s actually hi-tech, high-speed software robots that snatch up the sought
after toys before you can get them in your cart. Once they buy up as many as they can, they turn around and sell them on the secondary market at a premium.

Hatchimals / MGN Online

Scalpers have used this technology for years to snatch up tickets to concerts or sporting events. The BOTS Act -- or better online ticket sales act of 2016 -- tried to end to that practice but the law only applies to tickets, leaving scalpers to move on to things like toys or sneakers. Not illegal, but many feel that bot users should go on the naughty list.

So how do you get the must-have toy without getting played? Bree Fowler of Consumer Reports says you won’t beat the bots, so try to get ahead of the trend. When there are pre-orders for things like the nintendo systems, you can get online and try your best. It also pays to shop early. Get in before the hype. CR also recommends finding out what the actual retail price is so that you aren’t gouged by a reseller.

All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2017. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED