Tuesday, February 9th 2021

UK Parliament Members Aim to Introduce Bill to Fight Scalping... But the Problem is a Complex One

Members form the UK Parliament are apparently preparing to introduce a bill that would regulate the scalping phenomenon that's being witnessed worldwide. According to Scottish politician Douglas Chapman, in an interview to IGN, "The issue of scalping first came up with constituents contacting me to explain their frustration about being unable to get hold of certain games consoles or computer components pre-Christmas." He then expanded on that by adding that "On investigation, we uncovered more details of the unscrupulous practice of 'scalping' by automated bots to bulk buy these goods and sell them on at inflated prices." Oh, and this bill is unlikely to pass, by the way.

Scalping, however, isn't done only in the UK; it's a pervasive international issue that crosses borders. And scalping, as it is known, is nothing but a form of speculation, which some might say is part of the backbone that keeps the world's capitalist blood pumping through the economy - some might even argue that scalping occurs directly due to mechanisms of supply and demand, and thus, isn't an unlawful activity in and of itself. Companies, corporations, and all other legal entities, however, have to adhere to strict anti-monopoly/anti-cartelization laws, which deal with the same base issue, although in another facet of it. The problem is that it appears that in some countries, speculation is regulated at the enterprise level, but not at the citizen level. And herein lies the crux of it.
Speaking as a Portuguese resident, Portugal does have anti-speculation laws. In fact, they are enshrined in our Criminal Code. In essence, Portuguese law defines the crime of speculation as "the sale of goods or services at prices above those permitted by law", and as "the sale of goods or services at pricing higher than the one affixed in tags, lists, or other ways of public pricing disclosure made available by the manufacturer, distributor, or service provider". This, of course, means that all citizens selling products above MSRP are incurring in the crime of speculation, and is automatically universal: it applies to everything, from concert tickets for summer festivals to technology goods and everything in-between. Of course, having the crime enshrined in law is only half a step; the other half is actually executing the required investigation, due process, and ultimately, reaching a court decision. This is where most of the issues remain to be ironed out - at least in Portugal.

So, there is precedent in countries around the world regarding the criminalization of speculation. However, this will have to be adapted to each countries' code; and will then have to be enforced (with all the problems, delays, and due process for those particular steps). even where this law exists, it is likely that the law will have to be revised so as to consider the usage of automated bots for the purchasing process.
I suppose one good way of increasing the reach of these pro-consumer laws is by holding reselling platforms - such as eBay - responsible for the pricing practiced under their purview. One doesn't have to think too hard that reselling platforms - which do take a share of the profits, as we've shown over and over again - are raking in profits from an operation that is - or in some places, should become - illegal. Should these platforms be criminally accountable for profits taken from illegal conducts in their ecosystem, that would give them the necessary budge, so to speak, for them to implement actual anti-scalping measures. Deny scalpers their sale and distribution platforms, and you have taken away most of their internet-magnified power.
Scalping brings profits; and as such, and considering a certain faction of humanity's propensity for narcissism and egomaniacal ventures, it's only a matter of time before scalping extends its reach to other products - whether on the technological side of things, as we see with the latest graphics cards, games consoles, and even gaming laptops; or to other things which have a much more real impact in people's lives. There only need to be two elements for a product to be scalp-worthy: limited supply, and high desirability.

Legislation will have to be put forward by countries who don't currently have it, international task forces will have to be assembled to deal and investigate cross-border practices, and companies will have to integrate the most fundamental ways of customer-checking, such as Captchas, for this issue to if not go away, at least become manageable. Until then, we'll just have to wade and wallow through articles upon articles such as this one. And if countries and legislative bodies only take action when scalping reaches other product areas that are more crucial to society's functioning than the latest gaming graphics cards, it might be too late to avoid some disastrous consequences.This post is marked as an Editorial
Source: IGN
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38 Comments on UK Parliament Members Aim to Introduce Bill to Fight Scalping... But the Problem is a Complex One

#2
_JP_
Raevenlord
This is where most of the issues remain to be ironed out - at least in Portugal.
Because it's the customers that need to speak-out first, here. You(we) do have the arbitrary court for consumerism to settle these disputes, when we find prices above MSRP, part of our national system of defense of the consumer, but then again, you can't really go after a grey-market 2nd hand sale that provides no official document regarding ownership or receipt, which is the ususal case with storefronts.
Grey area sales actually are seen as a good one when they actually have the recepit of the purchase, even if with a lower value, because it legitimizes your ownership...it's your decision if you overpaid, and there's no warranty to cover your butt.
I see that court being the main tool to avoid stores to overcharge for products that had their prices raised from one day to another. Here, we pay the price that is on the tag ON THE PRODUCT. If it differs from online to on-site, too bad. The store is sued if it tries to overcharge, and believe me, they try.
What we have, running amok, is price fixation (almost) everywhere and/or cartelization, which is another side of things, in which many of the prices are speculated, but everyone selling agrees to them...and we pay, because of the (almost) lack of options. Thanks domestic free market! /s
So, regarding hardware, if one store actually gets stock and sells it at 150% MSRP, another store will gladly sell it at 149%, another at 151%, claiming their margin % is the same, justifiying the price they obtained the stock from the supplier and the rest is taxes. Here, we cannot do anthing about that. It's still speculation, but made common.
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#3
mouacyk
So complex Nvidia threw it over the fence to BestBuy.
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#4
medi01
pcminirace
OOOH YEA!!! AMEN!!!
Amen what?
Exactly how would that improve availability of anything?

I wish people would realize places like USSR and, now, Venezuela have "experienced" all that wise management first hand.

When demand is much higher than supply, only a fraction of potential buyers will buy the stuff.
Price does not matter, there are simply not enough units.

And, talking about scalping... the last time I've checked ASUS and other AIBs quite "officially" spiked MSRP.
So, what gives, is it "scalping" again?

If I cannot freely buy stuff, it does not upset me that whoever wants it more, gets it for a hefty premium.
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#5
ZoneDymo
medi01
Amen what?
Exactly how would that improve availability of anything?

I wish people would realize places like USSR and, now, Venezuela have "experienced" all that wise management first hand.

When demand is much higher than supply, only a fraction of potential buyers will buy the stuff.
Price does not matter, there are simply not enough units.

And, talking about scalping... the last time I've checked ASUS and other AIBs quite "officially" spiked MSRP.
So, what gives, is it "scalping" again?

If I cannot freely buy stuff, it does not upset me that whoever wants it more, gets it for a hefty premium.
Well the problem is that you can only not get it because a handful of people bought up all stock (what was it again, a 15 employees scalping company managing to get hold of 3500 PS5's?) and are selling it now for higher prices, a second level store if you will which im pretty sure does not have to deal with any of the regulations and laws an actual store has to, so on top of it all it seems like a loophole type of thing that should be policed.
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#6
medi01
ZoneDymo
Well the problem is that you can only not get it because a handful of people bought up all stock (what was it again, a 15 employees scalping company managing to get hold of 3500 PS5's?) and are selling it now for higher prices, a second level store if you will which im pretty sure does not have to deal with any of the regulations and laws an actual store has to, so on top of it all it seems like a loophole type of thing that should be policed.
Well, I would blame Sony for that, if that is really anything typical that is going on.
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#7
Fabio
medi01
Amen what?
Exactly how would that improve availability of anything?

I wish people would realize places like USSR and, now, Venezuela have "experienced" all that wise management first hand.

When demand is much higher than supply, only a fraction of potential buyers will buy the stuff.
Price does not matter, there are simply not enough units.

And, talking about scalping... the last time I've checked ASUS and other AIBs quite "officially" spiked MSRP.
So, what gives, is it "scalping" again?

If I cannot freely buy stuff, it does not upset me that whoever wants it more, gets it for a hefty premium.
If you advertize a 499 consolle, a 699 gpu, whatever you want, you are responsible of that, otherwise you are a lier and deceiver ed you mast be pursued by law.
Its not a fault of the customer if you are not able to produce enough, customer will wait for his product.
Dont like it? ok, dont advertize prices, but it is at your risk because maibe another producer are able to sell his product at a known price and mantain his word.
Posted on Reply
#8
medi01
Fabio
If you advertize a 499 consolle, a 699 gpu, whatever you want, you are responsible of that, otherwise you are a lier and deceiver ed you mast be pursued by law.
You then deliver your chips to AIBs.
And they can advertise whatever the heck they want.

Shortage won't get away no matter what.
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#9
Fabio
medi01
You then deliver your chips to AIBs.
And they can advertise whatever the heck they want.

Shortage won't get away no matter what.
in fact, aib must be responsible of wat they advertize. Amd and nvidia are only responsible for the priducts they sell directly, very limited indeed. So yea, big responsible are the aib partners
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#10
Bones
medi01
Well, I would blame Sony for that, if that is really anything typical that is going on.
Would have to disagree to an extent with Sony being at fault since once it goes to the retailer from Sony, that's it on their part of responsibility.

Yes, I'm aware some can buy directly from the retailer and in that case it does become an issue involving the manfacturer - Certainly involving their sales department.
However (And admittedly) I'm not aware of how many, if any buyers that can buy directly from Sony aside from actual retailers like Gamestop, Target. Wal-Mart and so on.
Others like Nintendo, AMD, Nvidia and so on do things their own way and responsibility if any falls on them accordingly.

Concerning the retailer;
As we all know retailers have to buy PS5's from Sony and that means the sales part of it directly involving Sony is done once the retailer buys them and to whom and how many the retailer sells to is beyond Sony's control.

I'm personally aware there are individuals that go around trying to buy up all the stock retailers have period, that's a retailer issue and not Sony's. Same goes for the Switch, those are also being sought after by the scalpers in the same way causing high prices and shortages of stock.

I personally know one Gamestop manager had a guy come in and try to buy all the Switches he had in stock - The manager refused and then they tried to buy up all their PS5 stock, again the manager refused.
In the end after calling the manager a few choice names this guy even tried to bribe him to sell his entire inventory of Switches and the manager still said "No, I have other customers that want these too, I'm not going to sell them all to just one person".

It's a mix of retailer and the sales dept of the manufacturer but largely the retailers allowing multiple items to be bought and sent to the same shipping address or at least a good amount of them going to the same place.
I'm sure scalpers have several addresses they can ship to but even then a set number of units per address can be enforced along with a time period between sales going to each address.

Scalping is not an easy problem to fix - For example I've yet to see any AMD 5000 series chips in stock at the egg aside from the third party retailers having them listed along with their crazy prices (Scalpers themselves?) and it's already February.
We had heard earlier things would get better after the start of the New Year but I haven't seen it yet.
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#11
Rob94hawk
I have a very simple solution to scalping, I just don't buy. Hurt the companies bottom line and scalping will come to a crashing halt.

I was going to build a 4k gaming rig. But now I'm not. Money saved.

/thread
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#12
vitorek
ZoneDymo
Well the problem is that you can only not get it because a handful of people bought up all stock (what was it again, a 15 employees scalping company managing to get hold of 3500 PS5's?) and are selling it now for higher prices, a second level store if you will which im pretty sure does not have to deal with any of the regulations and laws an actual store has to, so on top of it all it seems like a loophole type of thing that should be policed.
This is suppy/demand issue. Nothing else. Go to ebay UK, check how many 3080 cards there are available. How many of them are .jpg edition, and some "empty" removed listings. It will be around 50. Another 50 in another marketplaces. If You think issue would sudenly disapear if those 100 cards were available to those who actualy want them, then You couldn't be more wrong. Nobody is speculating with milk, because even if You try to wipe out shelves across the country, shelves will be full again just next day.
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#13
mouacyk
How is it a supply/demand issue when miners are buying the cards up en mass, in quantities of 10's and 100's? I would dare any gamer to play two games at once, even if they do get 2 cards. The gross over-demand of cryto-currencies is corrupting everything -- laptops are now being bought en mass to mine...

Supply and demand in economics is a measure of health. What we have is not healthy...
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#14
ThrashZone
Hi,
Briexit went well so this is a piece of cake.
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#15
Renald
I have seen scalping of toilet paper.
Since then, it's impossible to remove from my head that humans are primal animals stupid as hell, even though some of them manage to be smart enough :)
vitorek
This is suppy/demand issue. Nothing else. Go to ebay UK, check how many 3080 cards there are available. How many of them are .jpg edition, and some "empty" removed listings. It will be around 50. Another 50 in another marketplaces. If You think issue would sudenly disapear if those 100 cards were available to those who actualy want them, then You couldn't be more wrong. Nobody is speculating with milk, because even if You try to wipe out shelves across the country, shelves will be full again just next day.
This is illegal since they know stock is limited, and they are creating a monopoly. And monopoly is illegal in pretty much every country.
As you said, there would be no problem and no scalping if production capacity was unknown and somehow high
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#16
moproblems99
Lol. I need a law so I can buy a video game console. Priceless. People are starving and we are wasting time making laws so people can buy video games and become violent murderers.

Hahahahahaha. We're great
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#17
Octavean
And if countries and legislative bodies only take action when scalping reaches other product areas that are more crucial to society's functioning than the latest gaming graphics cards, it might be too late to avoid some disastrous consequences.
That seems to be the case in the USA.

During the height of the epidemic / pandemic (or an early high point) a noteworthy arrest was made of a scalper selling N95 protective masks. These N95 masks were in very short supply and and in this case thousands were amassed.

With the arrest the product was seized and likely impounded for evidence which then created a situation where no one could make use of it.

The legal action was justified IMO. However, such action for any product should be illegal. If not then the ground is fertile for such activity. The type of product should not mater nor should the demand. No one is saying people shouldn't be allowed to make a profit but there should be reasonable limits just like with money lending.
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#18
moproblems99
Rob94hawk
I have a very simple solution to scalping, I just don't buy. Hurt the companies bottom line and scalping will come to a crashing halt.

I was going to build a 4k gaming rig. But now I'm not. Money saved.

/thread
I have to ask a few questions just to make sure:
  • Did you have any vomiting?
  • Diarrhea?
  • Dizziness?
And last but not least, did you die? I think if rule out these withdrawals then most people will be able to survive until they grow a pair.
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#19
DeathtoGnomes
Renald
I have seen scalping of toilet paper.
Since then, it's impossible to remove from my head that humans are primal animals stupid as hell, even though some of them manage to be smart enough :)


This is illegal since they know stock is limited, and they are creating a monopoly. And monopoly is illegal in pretty much every country.
As you said, there would be no problem and no scalping if production capacity was unknown and somehow high
A monopoly is not illegal, the road getting there might be, depending. Twitter has a monopoly, just ask Parler.
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#20
evernessince
medi01
I wish people would realize places like USSR and, now, Venezuela have "experienced" all that wise management first hand.
You do realize those are dictatorships are different than democracies right? I don't see how the UK is comparable to those. If your point was that government is bad, the police, public schooling, public healthcare, and much much more has existed for a long time now. Hopefully you read about the industrial revolution and the meat packing industry? You sure the government did a poor job cleaning that industry up?

It's a dumb point to make as not only are you comparing apples to oranges, you ignore the fact that wise management from the government has existed for a long time now. The quality of a democratic government largely depends on the people and the system.
Posted on Reply
#21
vitorek
mouacyk
How is it a supply/demand issue when miners are buying the cards up en mass, in quantities of 10's and 100's? I would dare any gamer to play two games at once, even if they do get 2 cards. The gross over-demand of cryto-currencies is corrupting everything -- laptops are now being bought en mass to mine...

Supply and demand in economics is a measure of health. What we have is not healthy...
Miners made things worst just last 4-5 weeks. Last proper stock of 3080's in UK was in November. After that just single digit numbers time to time in various shops. Best example is amazon. Can't remember when was last time i saw "10 in stock".
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#22
zlobby
With them out of EU the price of stuff in the UK are only about to go up, up, up.
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#23
yotano211
So what is going to be the legal profit margin limit on reselling items in the UK. When I was reselling items on ebay fulltime, I would have items for sale with profit margins of over 100%. Lots of these items where used but some of them new or new enough, "open box".
If this law passes in the UK, I'm going to see how it will stand up over time and lawsuits.
I dont see this law passing.
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#24
Prima.Vera
EU should pass a simmilar law not bill....
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#25
Caring1
zlobby
With them out of EU the price of stuff in the UK are only about to go up, up, up.
Wouldn't that be the other way around?
Without the U.K. subsidising EU, the prices in Europe will rise.
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