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News PS5 restock disaster — these scalpers really don’t appreciate the ‘bad press’

Feb 14, 2021
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This article describes only one facet of the problem which is almost entirely angled at the consumer perspective. There is good reason why some labeled as "scalpers" are frustrated and I believe additional explanation is needed to address why there is a shortage and who the different groups at play are.

A little background about me. I'm a regular consumer (I don't scalp for a living and buy my products through sanctioned means). I work in tech as a software engineer (being educated doesn't exclude me from being regular). I was able to acquire a console. It was challenging, especially at first. I just didn't complain about the 100s of times I failed.

Scalpers I observed or read about fell into one of a few types:
  • Commercial scalpers: use commercial bots and paid services for an advantage. These bots cost thousands but can purchase multiples. Takes a fair bit of technical ability. A lot of time and effort but will yield results. It's a full time job until it's all setup, tested and going.
  • Consumer scalpers: consumers dedicated to finding a system. Some have technical know how. Some don't. Most use traditional purchase flows but simply beat other consumers because they're more obsessed.
  • Informed consumers: only interested in a single system, maybe two (Dads, moms, young and middle aged). They spend the time to figure out how to track the systems and are persistent. Very similar to Consumer Scalpers but just don't care to sell any for profit. Same strategies are employed.
  • Manufacturers or their subsidiaries like the extra hype and have participated in questionable practices (https://www.techradar.com/news/msi-subsidiary-gets-caught-selling-rtx-3080-gpus-on-ebay)
Scalper groups like CrepChiefNotify (CCN) :
  • Are mostly average consumers that are in a chat room. The benefit of the chat room is hearing how others are grabbing the products and getting good notifications. It's a paid membership.
  • The pros in this group have many avenues for leads on products. CCN is only one. Other avenues might include reseller relationships with manufacturers. They often use commercial bots. They also use manual purchasing. They contribute to shortages but are too few in numbers to cause this problem unless there is already a massive supply issue. Furthermore, they can't function at all unless etailers support them
  • CCN purposely releases marketing statements claiming thousands of systems but the group itself only wants subscription money and is not getting the systems directly. The marketing is quite misleading and most subscribers find this out rather quickly.
Articles and press follow the formula:
  • Scalpers are the problem. Scalpers are evil.
  • Bots are buying everything
  • Restock information which is old and mostly uninformed
The press is very misleading including marketing from scalper groups. For scalping to remain viable, there needs to be a high demand product, shortages from the manufacturer and etailers create sites that allow bot purchases. Sony IS shorting the market. Many people I talked to were able to gain 20+ systems during pre-order. Easily. No special tools. They could've timed it differently to ensure greater supply as well. Certainly COVID hasn't helped. Working in software I can tell you its very easy to circumvent bots. It's trivial. Use a queue like Sony; ticketing system; local pickup only is a massive deterrent; 2FA or some variant during purchasing; paid memberships like Sam's club, just to name a few... That's it. No more bot purchases. I'll let you speculate why etailers like Newegg, Walmart and Antonline are top choices for bots, yet there is all this press saying they're fighting the good fight. It's an utter lie.

Etrailers that don't cater to bots:
  • BestBuy: no bot support the SMS verification
  • Target: local pickup is a major deterrent
  • Sam's club and Costco because of the paid membership
  • You're competing against real people and in most cases people from your area
Scalpers are a symptom of the market created by the manufacturers and etailers. The service the scalpers provide, and should be paid for, is they're willing to stay up late at night, follow monitors and outpace everyone else through persistence. They mark up the system slightly to allow early adopters to go straight to the front of the line without any effort. I think that's worth paying for... A little. Everyone I sold too understood this and were happy to pay a markup (before Christmas 850. After Christmas around stulus 750). These consumer scalpers are individuals like you and me, simply willing to spend the time to compete at the highest level. Most are not cheating the system. Most aren't using bots. The perspective that it's "unfair" is only true for a small subset of the scalpers. It's simply a better story to victimize yourself by conflating everyone that buys, then sells a system as a bot or an evil scalper feeding off hard working citizens. Fact is, you're just losing against real people. Think about this, if bots and scalpers were suddenly gone, only 5M individual households (under the best of circumstances) would have a PS5. That's nothing. Everyone would still being crying but they'd be screaming directly at Sony. Sony expects to make another 18M this year? Is that right? You still think scalpers are the problem?

If you're going to blame the scalper, be specific that you're directing your frustration at the cheaters. Also realize they're a very small piece of what's really going on.

I knew nothing about scalping end of November. I was able to purchase 8 systems just by manually clicking. I wrote my own bot which didn't cheat and only worked for 1 etailer which netted another 7 systems. I gave most away at retail and only sold others to make up for the late nights and time writing the bot, however, I'm still lumped in with the cheaters by the misinformed masses. This same entitled population is simply losing to regular people that want it more than they do.

Your article is either uninformed or just writing a perspective that will get the most page views possible. Again, scalpers exist because of how manufacturers and etailers are distributing product. Don't blame the symptom of the issue, blame the ecosystem that yields the undesirable outcome.
 
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Feb 14, 2021
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I'm a regular consumer (I don't scalp for a living and buy my products through sanctioned means).

I knew nothing about scalping end of November. I was able to purchase 8 systems just by manually clicking. I wrote my own bot which didn't cheat and only worked for 1 retailer which netted another 7 systems. I gave most away at retail and only sold others (...at a profit...) to make up for the late nights and time writing the bot, however, I'm still lumped in with the cheaters by the misinformed masses.
he doth protest too much, methinks. The article isn't misinformed. You're just trying to justify your scalping. Rather poorly I might add. The hypocrisy is overflowing.

You're taking away systems from the average consumer so that you can sell it to them at inflated prices. That's called being a scalper. If you're going to go about doing something like that at least be a man and acknowledge what you are doing. Instead of cowering behind some poorly thought out justification to try and make yourself feel better about scalping.

The author of the article is right folks. Don't support cheaters like flowjacked. Yes it sucks they are gaming the system causing us to wait a few extra months to get our hands on the PS5. But it's not like there are any killer apps right now anyway. And it won't be long before stock is easy to find. Just hold out. Save yourself some money and don't reward scummy behavior.

Mod Edit
 
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d0x360

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Wow largest comment ever from an obvious scalper. Bravo to you for keeping me from buying something I want that would already be hard to find..

There is no excuse.. none. Even if this is your temp job because of covid it's still BS.

You wanna do the leg work, go to stores and buy some and mark them up $100 then fine but using bots to clean out online stores and then selling them for double or more... scalper..

Jesus I worked at EB during the ps2 launch and 6 month shortage...I could have made a killing but I have morals. I could have bought consoles and sold them or held to the side if you slipped me some cash but nope, morals. Believe me I needed money, I was a single father at the time but...morals.

Hell I could make a killing on pc hardware right now. Through work I could get 3080's, 90's, 6800xt's, ryzen cpus.. but I don't because of morals. I haven't even used this ability for myself and I've been itching to upgrade my 2080ti and i7 but I'll wait until I can just buy one like normal. Hell it will probably benefit me because by the time CPU's are easy to get it will nearly be time for next gen ryzen and they won't be as hard to get as stuff is right now. Blame the console launches for this insane shortage.

Mod Edit
 
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Feb 15, 2021
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I missed out on a PS5 for the first 2 waves. So for the third wave I just set up my own alert bot for free. They're readily available on android, their intended use is to track blogs etc. for updates.
You just set it up to track whatever store you want to buy the ps5 from and your phone will notify you the minute it goes on sale. It worked perfectly for me, i had it set to refresh every minute and had checked out by the time the twitter accounts started alerting people.

EDIT: I bought ONE console for myself. Mod Edit
 
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Reactions: flowjacked
Feb 14, 2021
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he doth protest too much, methinks. The article isn't misinformed. You're just trying to justify your scalping. Rather poorly I might add. The hypocrisy is overflowing.

You're taking away systems from the average consumer so that you can sell it to them at inflated prices. That's called being a scalper. If you're going to go about doing something like that at least be a man and acknowledge what you are doing. Instead of cowering behind some poorly thought out justification to try and make yourself feel better about scalping.

The author of the article is right folks. Don't support cheaters like flowjacked. Yes it sucks they are gaming the system causing us to wait a few extra months to get our hands on the PS5. But it's not like there are any killer apps right now anyway. And it won't be long before stock is easy to find. Just hold out. Save yourself some money and don't reward scummy behavior.

Mod Edit
It's easy to say what I said was wrong, contradicting or hypocritical and offer nothing in return for your position.

"You're taking away systems from the average consumer so that you can sell it to them at inflated prices." Taking away systems from the average consumer? Did you mean to sound like the average consumer is somehow entitled to buy something because it's on the market? Nobody is entitled to buy anything unless it fits into essential needs. Certainly the PS5 is nice to have but nobody is entitled. Give me a break.

Fact is, for my state there is nothing unlawful about reselling your own property at a price everyone is willing to pay. Who cares if that's the only reason you purchased it. This isn't a necessity like medication. It's a PS5 and you're not entitled to one even if you have money to pay for it. If you want one, it's not very hard to get. Heaven forbid anyone has to learn something new or try.

I'm just saying it's absurd to blame the result on immorality (give me a break... Gag. Virtue signaling about single PS5 purchases. I've heard it all) rather than look at the constructs that create whatever you think is undesirable. Way to be a critical thinker.
 
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Feb 14, 2021
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Wow largest comment ever from an obvious scalper. Bravo to you for keeping me from buying something I want that would already be hard to find..

There is no excuse.. none. Even if this is your temp job because of covid it's still BS.

You wanna do the leg work, go to stores and buy some and mark them up $100 then fine but using bots to clean out online stores and then selling them for double or more... scalper..

Jesus I worked at EB during the ps2 launch and 6 month shortage...I could have made a killing but I have morals. I could have bought consoles and sold them or held to the side if you slipped me some cash but nope, morals. Believe me I needed money, I was a single father at the time but...morals.

Hell I could make a killing on pc hardware right now. Through work I could get 3080's, 90's, 6800xt's, ryzen cpus.. but I don't because of morals. I haven't even used this ability for myself and I've been itching to upgrade my 2080ti and i7 but I'll wait until I can just buy one like normal. Hell it will probably benefit me because by the time CPU's are easy to get it will nearly be time for next gen ryzen and they won't be as hard to get as stuff is right now. Blame the console launches for this insane shortage.

Mod Edit
I gave away most at retail. The other systems I sold were an average of 750. Each and every person was happy about it. They didn't have to wait in line or spend numerous hours online, they just picked one up. I didn't have a truck load of PS5s and my LONG (proportionately long when compared to the original article) post was to clarify that many are generalizing about scalpers.

"Through work I could get 3080's, 90's, 6800xt's, ryzen cpus.. but I don't because of morals." I agree this would be immoral. Using work or some backroom connection would be an unfair advantage. However, if an etailer posts inventory and either myself or a bot I wrote makes a purchase following the same work flow as everyone else, then that's not immoral. Everyone shared the same opportunity, I just got there more quickly. As for the bot, I posted it online the moment I wrote it and not one person used it. I even offered to help people with it. Nobody. People just complain. Unbelievable.

Nobody is keeping you from buying a PS5 other than your own lack of effort. Sounds like you've been around for a while, so you know better than to blame me. Immorality? So you're more virtuous because you don't buy something available to you and resell it at market price (not retail but market)? That's your angle? Hysterical.
 
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Wolfshadw

Splendid
Moderator
Fact is, for my state there is nothing unlawful about reselling your own property at a price everyone is willing to pay. Who cares if that's the only reason you purchased it.
See now, in my state, they actually DID frown on the "resale" of your property. In particular when it came to sporting events. If you were caught outside the stadium on game day trying to sell tickets above face value, you where ticketed, fined, and forfeited your merchandise. The PUBLIC reason they frowned on it was because OLD season ticket holders who no longer wanted to go to games would not relinquish them (because they're making money by scalping them) for NEW wanna-be season ticket holders. The REAL reason was that Uncle Sam wasn't getting his fair share.

Once the local governments figured out how to tax these sales (resellers need to be licensed and pay taxes on any sale), they started issuing "Reseller" badge id cards and viola! It's legal now!

Of course, this happened long before anyone with a cell phone could purchase tickets online.

-Wolf sends
 
Reactions: flowjacked
Feb 14, 2021
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See now, in my state, they actually DID frown on the "resale" of your property. In particular when it came to sporting events. If you were caught outside the stadium on game day trying to sell tickets above face value, you where ticketed, fined, and forfeited your merchandise. The PUBLIC reason they frowned on it was because OLD season ticket holders who no longer wanted to go to games would not relinquish them (because they're making money by scalping them) for NEW wanna-be season ticket holders. The REAL reason was that Uncle Sam wasn't getting his fair share.

Once the local governments figured out how to tax these sales (resellers need to be licensed and pay taxes on any sale), they started issuing "Reseller" badge id cards and viola! It's legal now!

Of course, this happened long before anyone with a cell phone could purchase tickets online.

-Wolf sends
As a matter of public opinion, and probably stating the obvious, it seems some types of reselling is acceptable while others aren't. The threshold seems to be (or should be) if someone is using an UNFAIR advantage (cheating) over regular consumers to corner the market and force a higher price on products. At least in my case, that's not what I did. Anytime I mention I sold systems for profit (not all my systems, just some) I receive all this irrational hate and claims of immorality. Isn't everyone in the US a reseller to some degree? Few people are selling original items online so this is more about the type of reseller but commentors refuse to distinguish between the two. In my case, I get upset with scalpers that are hacking sites to checkout more quickly or stealing systems outright. It doesn't bother me if resellers are just competing well and winning. It's a free market and healthy capitalism (if there is such a thing) as long as everyone is using the same rules to engage.
 

Wolfshadw

Splendid
Moderator
Public opinion says this: "As long as it doesn't affect me, I don't care! Wait... what? It does affect me? BURN THEM AT THE STAKE!"

My personal opinion is that it shouldn't be done. There is a limited supply. If you want one and manage to score one, good for you. Leave some for the rest. If you don't want one, don't buy one and unless you intend to give them away, no one should be able to purchase more than one.

Am I going to vilify you for it? Doubtful, but you're definitely not getting a Christmas card from me this year!

The thing is, some people are equating consoles to food or life-blood. They ABSOLUTELY NEED IT! Here's the comparison in their mind:

You managed to find 5 tomatoes in a garden.
Rather than picking just one and leaving the rest for others to find, you pick them all.
You see four people approaching and decide to keep one tomato for yourself.
All four arrive at the garden at same time. All four are starving.
Had you not picked all of the tomatoes, each would have gotten one.
Two of the people have items to trade for TWO of your tomatoes, each, leaving none for the others.
Two of the people have nothing to trade for even a single tomato.
Instead of leaving the tomatoes for everyone, you picked them all and demand something in return for the tomatoes.
While you could have given each a tomato, you did not and thus left two people to starve! (you big meanie!)

Of course, the flip side of that story is, "Hey! It's an unfair world. Get over it!"

-Wolf sends
 
Feb 14, 2021
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Public opinion says this: "As long as it doesn't affect me, I don't care! Wait... what? It does affect me? BURN THEM AT THE STAKE!"

My personal opinion is that it shouldn't be done. There is a limited supply. If you want one and manage to score one, good for you. Leave some for the rest. If you don't want one, don't buy one and unless you intend to give them away, no one should be able to purchase more than one.

Am I going to vilify you for it? Doubtful, but you're definitely not getting a Christmas card from me this year!

The thing is, some people are equating consoles to food or life-blood. They ABSOLUTELY NEED IT! Here's the comparison in their mind:

You managed to find 5 tomatoes in a garden.
Rather than picking just one and leaving the rest for others to find, you pick them all.
You see four people approaching and decide to keep one tomato for yourself.
All four arrive at the garden at same time. All four are starving.
Had you not picked all of the tomatoes, each would have gotten one.
Two of the people have items to trade for TWO of your tomatoes, each, leaving none for the others.
Two of the people have nothing to trade for even a single tomato.
Instead of leaving the tomatoes for everyone, you picked them all and demand something in return for the tomatoes.
While you could have given each a tomato, you did not and thus left two people to starve! (you big meanie!)

Of course, the flip side of that story is, "Hey! It's an unfair world. Get over it!"

-Wolf sends
I like your response quite a bit. I see your point and your analogy is humorous. Despite the feeling of importance PS5s seem to hold, they aren't anything remotely close to life sustaining. Not to mention our society is built upon the most wildly successful system in history and its inherently competitive. If you regulate it, then the system starves and falls apart. The PS5 is not a special product and is not above the very system that motivated a company like Sony to create it in the first place. If for no better reason than principle alone, the PS5 should be sold first come first serve with reasonable efforts to prevent cheating and market manipulators.

I had money to buy a scalped PS5 in November for 1200. I thought the price was too expensive and I was willing to figure out another way or wait. I put in the time to build a tomato sniffing and picking machine and let it run while I continued to work at it. I played by the rules and now other consumers want to purchase my fairly acquired systems without any regard for my time and energy. As though my time is free or they're entitled to my efforts simply because they exist. Who raised these people?

You can't always pick the game being played or the rules it's played with but you can decide to play or not. If you do play, people shouldn't cheat. If you don't play, that's your prerogative but don't yell from the sidelines how unfair the game is to yourself. It's absolutely an entitled perspective in my mind and extremely deluded.
 

Wolfshadw

Splendid
Moderator
As though my time is free or they're entitled to my efforts simply because they exist. Who raised these people?
Sorry, but I just had to laugh about that comment. I've been a member of Tom's Hardware/Guide since August 2006. That's almost 15 YEARS of giving free advice to people.... just because I can. I ate my tomato, saved the seeds, and planted more.

If you don't play, that's your prerogative but don't yell from the sidelines how unfair the game is to yourself.
Obviously not a sports fan. Every time a bad call goes against a person's favored team, this is exactly what they do! It's in-grained in our DNA.

I know where you're coming from, but you're responding as if people are reasonable all the time. They're not. If a person feels they've been wronged, slighted, or cheated, many of them are going to lash out; reason and logic be damned. If you don't believe me, go to YouTube and search on "Black Friday Riots". A perfect example of how normal and generally reasonable people react when they feel they've been wronged or cheated.

-Wolf sends

P.S. The only Black Friday I ever participated in was working at a store that year. Fortunately, it was pretty tame.
Yeah. I'm one of those non-players who screams after a bad call.

P.P.S. You're STILL not getting a Christmas card from me!
 
Reactions: COLGeek
Feb 14, 2021
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I ate my tomato, saved the seeds, and planted more.
I like giving free advice and even my code. But I only want to help them as much as they help themselves. It sends me through the roof when those crying foul not only don't grasp the importance of this but are unashamed to demand what you have... for nothing. At the end, they have what they wanted... excuses about how unfair the world is. Definitely not a PS5 and that's fine by me.

Every time a bad call goes against a person's favored team, this is exactly what they do!
Sure, but it's still a self described "bad call". These people are complaining about others beating them fairly and squarely. To make themselves feel better they generalize that bots and scalpers are causing all the problems. Seriously, that's simply not true. Geez, C8 corvettes are on sale, I wish the dealer didn't mark them up 40k or people didn't buy them just to sell them for a profit. I'm going to bring a lawsuit rather than realize I'm swimming in capitalism. Again, I don't have a problem calling from the sidelines that the ref is a moron, when he is. I have a problem with blaming others for my poor performance and lack of effort.


No Christmas card?! I'll consider the absence of your card tuition for standing against the entitled masses. As a show likeminded kindness, I WILL send you a Christmas card of me lying naked on a bear skin rug nestled up to my PS5s :tearsofjoy: Jk, I only have one PS5.
 
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HC1Gunner

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Legislation is needed yesterday, Bots / scalpers need to be prosecuted. Just like its illegal to scalp tickets for a concert, sporting event. But for some reason as soon as the internet comes into play, then there are NO laws, and its anything goes.
 
Feb 14, 2021
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Legislation is needed yesterday, Bots / scalpers need to be prosecuted. Just like its illegal to scalp tickets for a concert, sporting event. But for some reason as soon as the internet comes into play, then there are NO laws, and its anything goes.
Get this man his PS5 so he can hurry up and sit on his couch. He's about to blow! His thumbs are anxious!! 😂
 
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