Members of the U.K. parliament are considering legislation that would make scalping a criminal offense. The term describes the use of automated bots to buy the entirety of an online store’s inventory, allowing the ‘scalper’ to then create an artificial shortage and resell the item at a higher price.
The practice has been the bane of gamers everywhere and has caused significant shortages for both the latest generation of consoles and high-end GPUs by Nvidia and AMD. The situation has been made even worse due to the pandemic, as transactions have moved online, making the use of bots for buying surplus inventory even easier.
Retailers have tried thwarting scalpers using various measures, including limiting purchases to one console per address, but to no avail. Not only have scalpers found ways of circumventing these measures, but products specifically designed to fool retailers’ systems are now being sold as well.
The scalped consoles are being sold at up to twice their retail price, in some cases.
Given the current state of affairs, the Scottish National Party’s Douglas Chapman has brought a private member’s bill to the U.K. parliament with the aim of banning scalping. The MP referred to the practice as “profiteering” and, in a recent statement to Sky News, remarked, “It seems to me a total scam.”
Chapman noted that his bill was unlikely to pass, but noted that its thrust was similar to previous legislation banning ticket touting, the practice of buying tickets for events or concerts and then selling them at a higher price than intended by the event’s organizer.
The U.K’s minister of state for digital and culture Caroline Dinenage responded to a previous motion Chapman by noting that “officials are discussing this issue with the trade association for the video games industry.” She added that her department was “working with their retailers to improve experiences for customers.”