It’s the holiday season, which means it’s time to buy gifts for everyone on your list. There are two new consoles on the scene: Microsoft’s Xbox Series X and Sony’s PlayStation 5.
However, they’re both impossible to find in-stock anywhere. If you head to a store like Target or Wal-Mart in person to ask for one, they’ll probably laugh at you. If you check their websites, you’ll see “out of stock” notifications.
Many fans are scrambling to buy the systems when they see restock alerts from Twitter accounts dedicated to tracking inventory. This issue is compounded, however, by scalpers using automatic scripts to buy as many consoles as they possibly can in order to turn around and sell them on secondhand sites for a massive markup to make a quick buck. This situation, understandably, has many customers frustrated.
Of course, this also means that online scams are going to be everywhere this holiday season. The systems are in high demand but short supply, meaning that sellers on eBay and Craigslist are eager to make a quick buck off of desperation.
Be on the lookout when you’re buying from secondhand sellers: there have been reports of scalpers selling pictures of systems or the system’s box for hundreds of dollars, misleading customers and ripping them off.
Of course, eBay has vowed to strike down any such fraudulent listings and take action against sellers who engage in such scams. However, for parents trying to secure a Christmas present for their kids, it’s little consolation to spend their Christmas budget on a fake.
This, coupled with the extreme difficulty of finding a system, has made some people willing to spend upwards of triple the systems’ retail prices to get gifts under the tree for Christmas.
While it might be tempting to just break down and shell out the money to buy a system on eBay from a scalper, it’s a good idea to not do this. The systems will be restocked in time, and they should be widely available in a few months. The current panic around them is a perfect storm of scalpers buying them out, COVID-19 keeping everyone indoors and driving up demand for gaming systems, and the pandemic leading to stock shortages of both systems.
Over time, the systems will be easier to find, and you’ll seriously regret spending over $800 to buy a system that retails for $500. Save your money, tell scalpers to get lost, and just wait for the systems to come back in stock at normal retailers.