Scalping should be illegal

January 6, 2021 11:50 AM

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Photo taken by Tamara Bitter that shows the PS5, which is the main scalping product. Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Photo taken by Tamara Bitter that shows the PS5, which is the main scalping product. Image courtesy of Unsplash.

“And what do you want for Christmas?” is what every parent asks their giddy, Santa-minded child in December. “Oh! I want the PS5!” That is when sadness is met with the innocent tears of a child. That sadness was at the hands of people spending energy purchasing every PS5 in sight, while parents' energy is used on feeding their family. The reason why these people are purchasing the PS5 is because they are scalpers. Now, with the holidays coming around, scalpers see the opportunity to force desperate parents to purchase an item that cost two times the original amount, so they can spare the hearts of their children.

In an article by Emily Norris called “Scalping: Small Quick Profits Can Add Up,” the author defines scalping as “profiting off of small price changes.” An example of this would be buying a $1 candy bar and selling to someone else for $1.50. This example also fits with the PS5 as scalpers have bought the $500 console and are selling them for $1,000. The only flaw with this method is if the product is not selling well. In that case, the scalper will lose money and customers will purchase from the store’s cheaper price on the product.

However, this is not the case with the PS5 as it was and is a high selling product. The sales of the PS5 caught the attention of scalpers, which led to every scalper wanting to get their hands on a PS5. An article by Business Insider explains how one reseller group bought nearly 3,500 PS5s. The article describes the methods scalpers use to get a hold of the PS5 and the resale market. “Bots that are able to buy items faster than any human being could . . . bots were at least particularly responsible for repeatedly crashing Walmart’s website when PS5 stack has been replenished.” The usage of online purchase due to the pandemic makes buying PS5s at their original price all the more difficult. The swift change and control in the reselling market seems a bit unfair to others and should not be allowed.

Scalping is somewhat legal in the United States. An article by Michelle Kaminsky reads, “There is no federal law against scalping but, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures(NCSL), 15 states ban the practice in some way, most labeling it as a misdemeanor with penalties including fines. . . . States that restrict scalping include: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin.” Although these states have stopped the action of scalping, places including Massachusetts still have scalping legalized and abused. A solution to the scalper problem would be to have all states make scalping illegal. However, not all states are passionate over the sales of the PS5, and scalping making things difficult for those in Massachusetts.

Although not all state legislatures are interested in scalping, some companies are finding ways to deal with scalping bots. In an article by Aden Carter called “Should Console Scalping Be Illegal? Xbox Series X And PS5 Sales Are Being Abused,” the author writes how Nike is dealing with their scalping problem: “[Nike] partnered with the restaurant Momofuku for one release. During this release, buyers had to scan a menu from the restaurant to prove they were a real person. Other companies have tried using their own Bots to help the use of Scalper Bots. Some companies now use a raffle system to help get more real people on the website purchasing their sneakers.” The only problem with this is Sony, the maker of PS5, is not following this action and trying to prevent scalpers.

The only way to solve this problem is to avoid buying from scalpers. If customers stop buying from scalpers, scalpers will lose money and slowly drop prices so they don’t lose money. Sony should also be aware of what is going on with the selling of its products and take action since the holidays are around the corner and more kids will ask for the PS5.

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