In a sign of just how truly weird 2020 (and 2021 at this point) has become, the scalpers responsible for aggravating the console and GPU shortages claim the press doesn’t treat them right.
Forbes’ Janhoi McGregor spoke to members of “cook groups” that take money from people, apparently to teach them how to scalp. One of those scalpers had this to say about scalpers’ image problem: “Essentially every business resells their products. No one ever seems to complain to the extent as they are currently doing towards ourselves.”
The scalper used the Tesco supermarket buying milk from farmers as an analogy. The problem with this strand of thinking is easy to see: there’s nothing preventing consumers from heading out to a farm and buying milk straight from the source – Tesco isn’t manufacturing a supply scarcity so as to increase prices, which is exactly what scalpers do.
The scalper in question apparently earned revenue in the vicinity of US$25,000, just last month by using automated bots that purchase PlayStation 5 units far faster than a person making a manual purchase. It’s not hard to see the obvious ethical issues with scalping. What is confusing here is how scalpers seem to be blind to it themselves. In a year where everyone’s struggling and disposable incomes are down across the board, manipulating the market to inflate prices for entertainment – for something that takes your mind off the bleakness out there – is just, plain wrong.
Personally, I’m one of the lucky few people who managed to get hold of a GeForce RTX 3080 at some approximation of the retail price. I paid INR. 82,000 for my AIB card. This works out to a little over $1100. While that might seem like scalping prices, the MSRP for a reference GeForce RTX 3080 is in the INR 70,000 range. While timing, careful follow-ups, and geography were on my side, that’s not the case for the vast majority of the people out there looking to buy a console or a graphics card. Scalpers aren’t misunderstood at all, and the only way to stop them is by not buying what they sell. If you’re considering picking up a graphics card or games console from a scalper, we strongly recommend you just hold off on that purchase. Cut off the demand. Preserve the supply that goes to people who actually intend to use the hardware themselves.