Ever since the PS5 and Xbox Series X debuted, both have been plagued with stock shortages. While many were due to outrageous customer demand and an inability to keep up with eager buyers, there was (and still is) another culprit to blame for a continued lack of consoles: scalpers.
As soon as PS5 systems come into stock, it seems they disappear as readily. All across the world, these systems are being scooped up for retail value and then resold at a premium through marketplaces like eBay and other venues. It's become a major problem for consumers, who just want to be able to purchase a system without having to pay double or triple its worth. In fact, a recent analysis revealed scalpers had ended up claiming about 10-15% of all consoles for sale in recent months.
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Politicians are now working to ask the UK government to look into a console scalping ban or other protective legislation. This is in a bid to ensure scalpers don’t overwhelm systems so that consumers on the hunt can snag a PS5 or Xbox Series X.
In late 2020, UK MPs discussed an Early Day Motion to look into a scalping ban as well as outlawing bots for purchasing "gaming consoles and computer components." This effort was spearheaded by Douglas Chapman MP.
After amassing 35 signatures from other MPs, Chapman is ready to explore the issue further. He indicated to IGN (opens in new tab) that he and other MPs are looking to present a "Bill in Parliament so that we can further explore legislative options to protect consumers from this unfair practice."
Chapman's move would be viewed as a form of escalation to keep the bill in the government's eye. He expressed first catching wind of the issue when he was contacted personally by constituents in Dunfermline and West Fife. He received complaints about being unable to pick up Christmas gifts like PS5s, Xbox Series X systems, and other components.
"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," Chapman explained.
There's no new movement in terms of what to expect from the bill just yet, but the UK is at least working toward a solution to keep this problem from plaguing buyers who’d just like to spend their own money on a product. If protective measures or legislation are put into place, it’s quite possible we could see the same in the US, though it doesn’t appear there’s any federal legislation in the works at this time. At the moment, 15 states have laws in place (opens in new tab) that restrict scalping, with infractions ranging from misdemeanors with penalties to up to a year in prison.