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Can't find PS5 stock? This retailer is fighting back against scalpers

PS5
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Most PS5 retailers in the U.S. have taken a laissez-faire attitude toward scalpers and bots snatching up their stock. It’s a shame, yes, but as long as the consoles get sold, that’s the most important thing. Not so with Gamewoori, a South Korean game shop that has adopted a zero-tolerance policy for scalpers. If the company sees someone reselling one of its PS5s, it will cancel the preorder and sell it to a regular old customer instead.

This info comes from Kotaku, which learned about this process from one of its readers. Gamewoori posted on Instagram that its employees are on the hunt for any of its merchandise being resold for higher prices online. If an employee spots a scalper, he or she will cancel the pre-order — even if the scalper has already paid in full. (The scalper presumably gets a refund, which is a relatively merciful arrangement.)

Finding scalpers that bought from Gamewoori, specifically, is actually not as hard as it sounds. Among scalpers who are actually selling PS5s (as opposed to scalpers who simply take the money and run), it’s a common practice to show a receipt, which proves that there’s a real console involved in the transaction. If a scalper shows off a Gamewoori receipt, the company will cancel that pre-order. To that end, it’s also asked everyday customers to keep an eye out for this unscrupulous behavior — which also works out in customers’ favor. After all, every PS5 out of scalpers’ hands is one more for regular buyers.

Granted, there’s one big flaw with this plan, which is that it involves human oversight after the fact. You could hunt down scalpers all day, and still not find the underground websites where they congregate, or the business they conduct in private messages. But Gamewoori’s direct involvement is at least symbolic: It wants excited gamers to buy PS5s instead of greedy scalpers. Just because the company can’t catch every malefactor is no reason not to try.

At present, Gamewoori seems to be the only retailer taking such extreme measures, but there’s no reason why companies in the west couldn’t follow suit. Western scalpers on eBay and other sites often use the same “receipt as proof of purchase” strategy. Companies like Best Buy have implemented some rudimentary anti-scalping protections, such as e-mailing codes to customers. But the general rule of thumb is that any system that relies on automation is vulnerable to bots, and scalpers tend to catch up sooner or later.

Since Gamewoori doesn’t have a presence in the United States, there’s currently no American company taking such a proactive anti-scalper stance. But if the idea spreads, regular customers could have an easier time finding a PS5 until stocks stabilize.

Marshall Honorof

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.