To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of existing regulations to tackle the use of automated bots to bulk purchase gaming consoles and computer components upon release, circumventing retailer policies against bulk purchasing and enabling immediate resale at prices higher than the Manufacturer’s Recommended Retail Price.
15 April 2021
We know that bulk purchasing for the purpose of reselling at profit through automated bots is a concern for some members of the games industry and their customers. Officials have discussed reports of games console scalping with the trade association for the video games industry, Ukie, who have been considering for example whether there is any additional advice games companies could provide to consumers.
The UK has an extensive framework of consumer protection law to ensure people get a fair deal when buying goods and services. For example, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 protect consumers when they make online purchases of goods, services or digital content from business traders. This includes rights of redress should there be a problem with a product, rules around clear labelling and pre-contractual information, and protection from unfair contractual terms.
However, these rules do not generally extend to guaranteeing the price for the product, nor its availability. Traders are generally able to set their own prices, so long as the price is clear and not misleading and the firm is not abusing a dominant position.
More broadly, as a government we want the UK to be a society in which technology works to the benefit of all citizens. For this to be the case, we must ensure we have the right rules in place to unlock these benefits while also protecting people from harm. That’s why we will pursue a pro-tech approach to regulating digital technologies, which will promote competition and innovation and build public trust through greater safety and security for users of digital tech.