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PS5 and Xbox stock: Inside a full-time scalping operation keeping consoles off shelves this Christmas. Sky News UK

https://apple.news/AA1cBrOeuR0WrGQw7LQwn5g

Thoughts?

Calls are growing for the government to step in as some families face a second Christmas without being able to purchase a gaming console unless they pay a "hugely inflated" price.


The underlying problem with supply is a global shortage of computer chips, but scarcity at a retail level is being aggravated by scalpers bulk ordering items as soon as they're available to sell on for a profit.


This cottage industry is supported by businesses like Aftermarket Arbitrage, which uses software to track retail stock, and - for a £30 monthly subscription - alerts members when units are available.


Calls to 'Ban the Bots'


Douglas Chapman MP has called for the practice to be banned in a similar fashion to ticket touting and has received support from colleagues across the House of Commons.
Last week, Mr Chapman wrote to Nadine Dorries, the digital secretary, asking the government to reconsider prohibiting the use of automated bots to bulk buy goods for resale.


A government spokesperson said they were speaking with trade associations to ensure consumers were protected from bulk purchasing in a similar fashion to the ban on automated purchases for ticketed events.
But speaking to Sky News, Jack Bayliss, the 24-year-old owner of Aftermarket Arbitrage, estimated that 95% of his company's 1,500 subscribers didn't use bots and instead manually purchased the consoles and sneakers thanks to his restocking monitoring alerts.


"If there was legislation around this it would benefit me just purely for the fact that those few people still running bots and securing bulk consoles, they wouldn't be able to do so any more. But I don't ever see it happening. I don't think it's feasible," he said.


Wealth creation or extraction?


Aftermarket Arbitrage's posts on Instagram show boxes of the latest PS5 and Xbox consoles, as well as Adidas Yeezy sneakers and other consumer goods, stacked from the floor to the ceiling.
The sneakers were where the business started, Mr Bayliss explained: "We basically just adapt when we see a shortage in like a supply chain, a supply and demand issue. We can then capitalise on that.


"If you look at the stock market, and the moment you see an arbitrage opportunity, where someone thinks an asset is undervalued, traders are gonna jump on it and arbitrage that profit away. That's exactly what we're doing.


"Look at every single step in the supply chain. Someone is adding value somewhere.


"It's not being sold at cost price. It's capitalism."
Mr Bayliss said he was "very in tune with my moral compass, as a person" and the thought that families weren't able to purchase a games console as a result of his business had bothered him.


"But I get to see the flip side of the coin, the area that the media and the general public who hate us quote 'scalpers' [don't see]," he said.


"To me, owning the PS5 or an Xbox isn't a necessity, it's a luxury, okay? If you can afford to spend £450, spending the extra £100 should be pretty marginal, if you've got cash ready to splash on that.


"Yes, some families are gonna have to pay another £100, but what you don't think about is our members, they've got 30 consoles, they're making £100 on each one. And then they're making a good month's salary in a couple of days."
Benefits of membership


The majority of the people who subscribe to Aftermarket Arbitrage's alerts are "very young", Mr Bayliss told Sky News, adding that he thought they were showing a lot of initiative.


"What they're doing is they're being entrepreneurs, they're going out, creating a side income, and they're doing something that 90% of the population can't be bothered to do," said Mr Bayliss.


He said some of the company's older members have been able to quit their jobs and escape their debts due to reselling consoles and other goods on a full-time basis.


"They spend more time with the family, with their kids. We've had people who've been able to renovate their house, they bought the kids a climbing frame, they bought the wives new cars, they bought themselves new cars," he said.


"We've then had one of our members, he was £20,000 in gambling debt. And we've took him on. He's been with us for a year, he's now in the clear, and he's made, I think, he's made a significant amount of money."


MP Mr Chapman said: "The bottom line is that this is a consumer fairness issue, which also impacts on business. This is a situation where shoppers are being treated badly and having to pay way over the odds for goods, goods which are then not covered with warranties or the right to return, or recompense for faults."

 

SteadyEvo

Member
I can only speak for myself. Given the lack of stock and scalpers, Sony is off my radar for the foreseeable future. And the longer they’re unavailable, the more I realize I can wait on spending $500 to play a handful of games that I’ll be buying for full price.

But I’m just one man and idiots will continue to support scalping. I’ll wait it out with Gamepass and Nintendo.
 

Kagey K

Member
So this guy is basically Wario64 but makes people pay for the alert instead of just tweeting it?

Seems extra scummy.
 
If people are willing to pay the scalper tax, they don't deserve better. I would rather not play anything before i pay more. Sclaping is fine, being scalped not.
 

cireza

Member
As long as consoles are being made available in small stocks very regularly, it is playing in favor of scalpers, as they get money back from the sales and can buy the new stock, and repeat again and again.

Manufacturers need to keep consoles for some time, and release a huge stock at once. It will definitely hurt scalpers a lot. But they won't do this, as it means accumulating a ton of stock, which they don't want to do of course.

Every time someone buys from a scalpers, you can be sure the guy will buy another console and repeat.
 
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AV

We ain't outta here in ten minutes, we won't need no rocket to fly through space
Be handy if parents knew that their kids were going to be playing exactly the same games that they were playing on their PS4s, only now they load faster and play smoother. I bet you a lot wouldn't bother even for RRP.

Seriously, the number of kids excited to be opening the 9th Ratchet & Clank game this Christmas is gonna be microscopic next to those who are just gonna keep playing Fortnite and Minecraft at a higher framerate/res.
 
Yeah scalpers can fuck off. Luckily, there has been quite a lot of stock dropping online over the last few days and people have been managing to get them without much hassle.

Good luck trying to buy one in walking into a store. I’ve seen nothing on that front.
 

dvdvideo

Member
Scalping has actually become such a problem and so widespread, it's actually creating shortages in some places.

Think football game, if there's 50,000 seats for sale and the scalper buys a 100, it doesn't matter much. But if he and a thousand of his friends each buy 25, all of the sudden the game is sold out and ticket prices rise. This is what's happening now.

It's great if you can put on 10 more games and demand drops, but if you can't your suddenly at the mercy of the scalpers.
 
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German Hops

Gold Member
Scalping has actually become such a problem and so widespread, it's actually creating shortages in some places.

Think football game, if there's 50,000 seats for sale and the scalper buys a 100, it doesn't matter much. But if he and a thousand of his friends each buy 25, all of the sudden the game is sold out and ticket prices rise. This is what's happening now.

It's great if you can put on 10 more games and demand drops, but if you can't your suddenly at the mercy of the scalpers.
Yeah, but you can mitigate scalping by having anti-scalping measures in place.
 

Roni

Member
Scalping videogames come on, how about people scalping and hoarding houses to inflate rent and house prices. I think the government should focus on this issue first
Historically, people who make this much sense get hanged, I'd be careful...
 

Reallink

Member
Retailers could solve this problem in 5 minutes by limiting sales to 1 matching billing and shipping address (no businesses and no PO boxes). And thats 1 unit period, not 1 unit every shipment restock, not 1 of every SKU, you get 1 PS5/3080 period. Scalpers only have so many credit cards and residences they can ship consoles to. At some point the effort required will be greater than the $100 return.
 
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Nitty_Grimes

Made a crappy phPBB forum once ... once.
True. But I really don't think retailers give a toss. The stock sells out they get their money.
 

StreetsofBeige

Gold Member
Can somewhere here explain the way scalpers do that backdoor way of ordering in bulk?

Every day people go through the website in a normal way logging in, going through a captcha and trying to buy one at a time (if there's qty limit).

But there was something about scalpers having scripts or some backdoor way of bypassing all the shit and ordering in a different way.
 

cyberheater

PS4 PS4 PS4 PS4 PS4 PS4 PS4 PS4 PS4 PS4 PS4 PS4 PS4 PS4 PS4 PS4 PS4 Xbone PS4 PS4
Retailers could solve this problem in 5 minutes by limiting sales to 1 matching billing and shipping address (no businesses and no PO boxes). And thats 1 unit period, not 1 unit every shipment restock. Scalpers only have so many credit cards and residences they can ship consoles to. At some point the effort required will be greater than the $100 return.
Yep. They could stop if they really wanted to.
 

dave_d

Member
Can somewhere here explain the way scalpers do that backdoor way of ordering in bulk?

Every day people go through the website in a normal way logging in, going through a captcha and trying to buy one at a time (if there's qty limit).

But there was something about scalpers having scripts or some backdoor way of bypassing all the shit and ordering in a different way.
The way I understood it is they use bots to parse the data coming from the web server. (Since it's really just text for the most part if you don't bother rendering it you can download it very fast.) Then they have the bot generate the web response to do the order, which again is pretty much just text so it's very fast to assemble it and send it.) The bots can do that in a split second where a human has to wait for the page to render and then click on the button that generates the response that then does the purchase. (IE behind the scenes the data going to and from the web page is all text so if you can skip rendering you can do stuff amazingly fast.)
 

chonga

Member
Can somewhere here explain the way scalpers do that backdoor way of ordering in bulk?

Every day people go through the website in a normal way logging in, going through a captcha and trying to buy one at a time (if there's qty limit).

But there was something about scalpers having scripts or some backdoor way of bypassing all the shit and ordering in a different way.
Almost always lazy developers.

Let's go through some of the obstacles put in the way of ordering.

A website will have a Quantity drop down and you pick your quantity. For a console they might make it so that the only option to pick from is '1'. Every browser comes with debugging tools that web developers use to help them create websites. These tools allow you to edit what is on a page. Therefore, so long as you know the simple code structure, it is trivial to add extra options for '2' or '3' or however many you want. Once you have edited the page you can simply select that value and proceed to checkout.

Of course a good developer will validate when you checkout that you haven't done this. But lazy devs won't.

Similar is also true when they disable basket buttons. It is very easy to either reenable that button, or if the page lacks the functionality required for the button to work to view another product that is available to buy and simply edit the page to change the product number to the product number you're trying to buy and then click the button. I used this technique to snag a PS5 on launch day.

Again, a good developer will check that if the product is available to purchase when checking out but a lazy dev will just rely on the button being disabled.

Another classic are wish lists. A good developer will think of all the places and avenues for purchasing an item. A lazy dev will not, meaning if you add a product to a wish list it might not observe the same button or quantity drop down rules as the product page. This is a technique I used to identify a retailer who I knew would have stock on launch day. Buying wasn't possible, but it's stock status was visible - unlike the product page.

Queue systems can also be implemented badly. Some queue systems redirect you to a queue after the page has been formatted by the server and sent to your browser. You may notice sometimes you see a page and then poof - you're taken to a queue. This type of queue can be bypassed by blocking the scripts that trigger this redirection. I used this technique to help a friend buy their PS5.

Once more, a good developer will implement a queueing system that redirects the user before the page is formatted, meaning there is no chance to bypass the queue. A lazy dev won't.

These are all techniques that anyone with a tiny amount of knowledge can do, but there are also other techniques that again rely on laziness of developers, but also require more technical understanding of how websites and apps work behind the scenes. The data communication that mobile apps use for example are often comically unprotected from validation procedures you see on websites - mostly because they're more time consuming to implement and lazy devs think 'yeah but who is gonna do that' because you need to know what you're doing.
 

Justin9mm

Member
It's really up to Sony and the retailers to implement a better system. It's really not that hard to do..

The bottom line is that it costs money and resources to implement and run. If Sony cared about their consumers they would work together with retailers to do this but guess what.. Sony and their retailers don't give a shit.
 
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