Scalpers Swipe Stupidly Small Stock of Tech: How Valuable PC Parts Went In The Wrong Hands

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Alexander Jansiewicz, Senior Staff Writer

Within the most recent months leading up to the winter and fall, many tech geeks, gamers, and even ordinary people were excited to see what 2020’s remaining months would offer. For example: PC enthusiasts were hyped for NVIDIA’s new RTX 3000 lineup, a new series of graphics cards boasting higher framerates and extreme resolutions; other enthusiasts were also excited for AMD’s new generation of Ryzen processors; and lastly, ordinary gamers were both excited for the new release of the PlayStation 5 and XBox Series X, also boasting significant performance increases compared to their previous generations. All in all, the last 4 months of 2020 proved to be significantly revolutionary for the tech world. However, just minutes after each of these revolutionary products went into their pre-ordering or release phases, their stocks simply vanished. Thousands were, and are still frustrated; how could the stock go out after just minutes of it opening up? Scalpers.

Scalpers have long existed in history, traditionally finding their way to resell tickets for sports or pop culture events. Sports events, especially, have been extremely prone to sports events; families and sports-enthusiasts would pay anything to get a ticket, so they would sell it at a ridiculously inflated price. Is it greedy? Yes. Does it work, though? Also yes. For them, the plan is simple. As soon as the stock for a new product releases, they swipe as much stock as possible, even using bots to place mass orders. Once the stock runs out, they list their products with incredibly inflated prices. While a good portion of orders are only 50% more expensive than the original product, some scalpers take it a step higher, selling products even 100 times more expensive. Recently, as the tech industry opened up more revolutionary products, scalpers worldwide found themselves a new market, starting with the PC gaming industry. 

In September of 2020, NVIDIA released their famed RTX 3090 and RTX 3080 graphics cards, ones that made headlines around the world. The release even prompted previous generation card owners(RTX 2000 series and GTX 1000 series) to sell their cards in order to afford them. To many people’s dismay, these efforts were in vain. Scalpers already bought a majority of the stock just after the card was released; some claimed NVIDIA’s stock went out in a mere 15 seconds, while others claimed it sold out before the “Add to Cart” button would actually function properly (Ehrhardt). When it was revealed that scalpers held a majority of the current RTX 3000 series stock, there was outrage directed towards both sides, oddly enough. Understandably, many were angry at scalpers for swiping the stock and reselling it for thousands of dollars per card. However, handfuls of prospective purchasers were angry at NVIDIA for not managing their stock properly. Had they put up a CAPTCHA to prevent bot purchases, they believe cards would still be in stock. Even though NVIDIA apologized for their mistakes, and is now manually reviewing every order for legitimacy, many still don’t forgive NVIDIA, as they should’ve been practicing it from the initial release.

It looks like things won’t stop there for the near future. NVIDIA is planning on adding a 3060-Ti to their RTX 3000 series lineup. And according to a poll of 12 different retailers run by HardwareCanucks, they all agree that the stock will run out in the same way the 3070s, 3080s, and 3090s ran out. Of course, this may be just a popular bit of paranoia: after all, NVIDIA did give a solid affirmation to manually reviewing every order for legitimacy after the initial debacle rose up. Is it wrong though to still be aware of a repeat issue? Absolutely not. While NVIDIA may cause a repeat, the opposite side may still strike again. Scalpers may still continue to work at getting an upper hand against the Green Force, using bots and coding to swipe stock of the most recent technology: even PlayStation 5’s and XBox Series X’s. This possibility of a continuation is very realistic, and should be acknowledged. Hopefully, though, companies and trollers online can help to lead a counter, preventing them from even purchasing in the future or making money off existing stock. Right now, lots of eBay listings from scalpers are being trolled, as anonymous bidders are bidding tens of thousands of dollars for cards, without paying it in the end. Thus, the scalpers would eventually have to re-list the part, continuing to a point where they may eventually give up. For the time being, though, let’s all cross our fingers and hope that this current situation will resolve itself thanks to the PC gaming community and the lovely folks in green at NVIDIA.