A hot potato: There are several reasons why people struggle to buy new consoles without paying over the odds on eBay. There's the chip shortage, of course, the continuing material/logistical issues stemming from the pandemic, and overwhelming demand. On top of all that, there are the hoards of scalpers who grab those PS5 and XBSX machines first to sell at a profit. But the person behind a scalper service has defended his actions, saying he is just helping young entrepreneurs, some of whom really need the money. Moreover, anyone who can afford a new console shouldn't mind paying a little extra on top.
Jack Bayliss runs Aftermarket Arbitrage, a subscription service where members pay £30 (~$40) per month to be notified when high-demand items such as the PS5 and XBSX are back in stock. The 24-year-old told Sky News he earns around $61,000 each month from the 1,500 scalpers who have signed up to his scheme, the majority of whom are "very young."
Bayliss said the thought that families weren't able to purchase a games console due to his business hadn't bothered him, yet he was "very in tune with my moral compass, as a person."
"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."
Bayliss also asked those families who couldn't find or afford consoles over the holidays to think about how much scalpers benefit from the situation. "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."
"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," he explained. So remember, if you choose not to make money scalping, it's because you're lazy.
Some scalpers have even been able to quit their jobs. "They spend more time with the family, with their kids," he said. "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." News that should fill people's hearts with joy.
"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."
Bayliss also compared scalping to the stock market. "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."
This isn't the first time scalpers have defended their way of life, having previously referred to themselves as "acting as is a middleman for limited-quantity items."
Back in January 2021, it was reported that scalpers had sold over 53,000 new Nvidia/AMD cards worth $65 million. There have been government proposals to ban scalping and numerous attempts to curtail the practice, but little has come of either. At least we can sleep soundly knowing people are making good money by purchasing and reselling items via a subscription service. And there's always the PlayStation 4 now that Sony has been forced to make more of them.