Okay, we are well past the launch frenzy. Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone. And the last-minute Christmas shopping craze is well behind us. So how come I still do not have a PlayStation 5? The answer seems clear. I refuse to pay a scalper double.
The recent scalping furor has generated quite a bit of press, most of it casting these opportunists as villains. Apparently, these people, who have no qualms about cutting to the front of a digital queue and bypassing quantity limitations on purchases, don’t like the bad press they are receiving and are speaking out about it.
A man going only by Jordan spoke with Forbes, saying that he thinks the press coverage has been unfair.
“There seems to be A LOT of bad press on this incredibly valuable industry and I do not feel that it is justified, all we are acting as is a middleman for limited quantity items [sic],” he said.
Jordan co-founded a private group called The Lab, which charges people for advice on how to scalp products. This type of business is known as a “cook group.” Jordan admitted that he picked up 25 PS5s last month and sold them for about £700 ($967) each. He justifies this practice by comparing it to the retail market.
“Essentially, every business resells their products,” the scalper said. “Tesco, for example, buys milk from farmers for 26p or so per litre and sells it on for upwards of 70p per litre. No one ever seems to complain to the extent as they are currently doing towards ourselves.”
It is probably not necessary to point out the flaw in his logic. Buying from the source at wholesale then selling it to the public at retail is far removed from unfairly snatching all of a store’s stock at retail and selling it for double on eBay. The fallacy was not lost on Forbes either, which put the analogy to its readers for comment.
“He is deluded. He doesn’t get he’s another layer of profiteering in his own Tesco analogy. He’s not Robin Hood,” one of them said.
These “middlemen” are not even shy about admitting to using software to cheat purchasing systems. The Lab’s other co-found, who goes by Regan, shared screenshots (above) of the bot they use, called Velox. Regan said in some cases the program could complete a purchase in under three seconds. The software can also bypass 3D Secure, a credit card authentication process required in the UK.
Hardware and console scalpers are nothing new, but it has gone crazy in the last several months with a massive proliferation in bots used to bypass online queues and purchase-quantity checks. It’s a problem only exacerbated by brick-and-mortar stores banning in-store sales in an attempt at crowd control during the pandemic.
Furthermore, with Sony, Microsoft, Nvidia, and other manufacturers struggling to get enough components to meet demand, it’s not going to go away anytime soon. As such, it’s not surprising that there have been talks of taking legal or regulatory measures to tackle the problem.