Sold out at release?

Both in the already published Nvidia graphics cards GeForce RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 as well as the new game consoles to be released in November Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X There was a lot of trouble and frustrated customers in connection with orders or pre-orders. Because the coveted products were quickly sold out. Analysis suggests that vendors were using unfair means to sell the products on, some at exorbitant prices shortly thereafter, which in my opinion, although presumably legal, goes far beyond what is still called fair trade and competition can – it is, quite simply, an absolute cheek. Those who suffer are players who are honestly interested in the product and who would have liked to get their desired product as soon as possible, but also the manufacturers whose image is now suffering because some customers accuse them of insufficient production quantities. In this column, I explain the details of the unsightly processes and give my opinion on the perfidious salesperson strategy.

Nvidia RTX 3000, Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X – what's the status?

On September 17 and 24, respectively, Nvidia released the two top models GeForce RTX 3080 and RTX 3090. The copies available for the release were sold out in no time, both the Founders Editions at Nvidia and initially still available custom models in the online shops. Neither the one is up to date GeForce RTX 3080 can still get the RTX 3090 directly available from stock in regular, established hardware shops. Only with portals like eBay are there individual offers, but at horrendous prices. The situation is currently so tense that im PC Games Hardware Price Comparison Listed Custodelle of the GeForce RTX 3080 and 3090 With a few exceptions, there is only one shop that has an offer, namely Alternate. Two to three models of the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 are available from stock at other shops, but they have adapted to the cheeky prices away from the regular hardware shops and charge over 2000 euros – Alternate lists them for under 1800 euros, but does not have any Delivery date ready. Lots Regular dealers like Caseking keep getting new copies of the two Nvidia bolides, but only forward them to the customers who have already ordered, so that they do not even end up in the online shop. Some desperate customers took access to portals like eBay despite exorbitant prices and paid 1000 euros and more for a GeForce RTX 3080 instead of the usual 700 euros. Very similar to the case of the new GeForce top models, gamers fared one last week Wanted to pre-order Playstation 5 or Xbox Series X. The possibility of pre-ordering a copy started for both consoles in order to be able to get started on time for the official release in November. Here, too, a number of potential buyers looked into the tube. Since a few weeks will pass before the console is released, Sony and Microsoft could at least offer a second pre-order phase in this case (in contrast to the graphics cards, which should actually be available directly). Nevertheless, the two new consoles, the Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X, are likely to be sold out when they are released. And with the consoles, too, there is the phenomenon of cheeky sellers who were able to secure a few copies of the consoles and apparently have nothing else in mind than to sell them on at high prices when they are released. Both with graphics cards and consoles, there are two reasons for the scarcity of products that make exorbitant prices possible in the first place. I'll get to that on the next page.


Hardware shortage – why?

Why is it that these hardware products are currently not available or at least not available with a reliable delivery date at normal prices? The general reason for this is of course simply that the demand exceeds the supply – Nvidia is not able to produce enough units to produce so many of the new graphics cards that they have at least a delivery time of just a few days. And Sony and Microsoft are apparently not in a position to produce enough copies of their top consoles by the time of release to be able to supply everyone who wants to pre-order. But why don't Nvidia, Microsoft and Sony just make more copies of their products? Quite simply: because it would have too many disadvantages. If the manufacturers were to significantly increase their production in order to be able to serve even a very high number of expected buyers without any problems, this would be very expensive, and after one has served the first phase of purchases, the production facilities would largely lie idle, which is even more Costs money. The products would consequently have to be sold more expensively, which of course would not be positive for the customers. Another option would be to move the release date far back so that there is enough time to produce the planned quantity with the existing production facilities. Even most of those who were unlucky with a (pre) order should not see this alternative as particularly positive, but my focus is on a second cause of the shortage of the gaming products mentioned: bot purchases. There is a lot of hints and sometimes evidence that quite a few of the buyers or pre-orderers were in truth bots, i.e. programs that place an order automatically and faster than a human. The aim of bot-based purchases: human customers snatch the goods away. Sometimes there are gamers behind the bots who want to secure a copy stress-free so that they can actually use it themselves. In one proven case, for example, it was about a provider who secures the goods as a service for individual customers via bots, i.e. a kind of bot-supported collective purchase. In many cases, however, they are rip-offs – and I use the word here consciously and without a hint of guilty conscience. Because these rip-offs use the bots to secure as many graphics cards or consoles as possible and then sell the products at exorbitant prices, because they speculated that the goods will be scarce. They were also right with their speculation, especially since they themselves contributed to the fact that the products became scarce. Since the order quantities were limited by Nvidia, Microsoft and Sony, such pseudo-dealers who are not official sales partners of the manufacturers could not simply pre-order 20 copies of a Playstation 5 – this obstacle made the use of bots even more attractive because You can create a separate account for each bot and thus fake several individual purchases. There are no precise figures as to how high the proportion of such bot-based purchases is. I may well be talking about a phenomenon that may not even affect one percent of all orders. But since the Nvidia graphics cards and the game consoles from Sony and Microsoft are sold en masse, even less than one percent ultimately means many thousands of users for whom a bot snatched a copy from under their noses. In my opinion, this is antisocial behavior characterized by greed when someone hoards products with the help of bots, only to sell them on at significantly higher prices. In the EU, such pseudo-dealers are even protected from the fact that their plan may not work out after all, if there are enough copies on the market in the end. If you do not identify yourself as a commercial dealer when buying, you can simply return the goods you have ordered within two weeks and get the money back.


Means against bots and rip-offs

It is of course difficult to understand whether and how many customers play the game of rip-off providers and also pay the exaggerated prices. But there are already methods that defend themselves against rip-offs. In order to disturb the rip-offs working with bots on eBay, many users posted pictures of a GeForce RTX 3080 they had painted themselves as an auction or for immediate purchase – with a corresponding note in the description, which bots often do not recognize. But what could manufacturers and reputable retailers do to make it more difficult for bots to buy away supplies and the associated rip-offs? My idea: Captchas. Captchas are actually used to prevent attacks on websites that are supposed to paralyze a website through artificial traffic, as well as to artificially generate masses of clicks on websites financed by advertising banners. A captcha is actually a simple task that you can perform must be in order to progress on a website. The tasks are designed in such a way that bots have a hard time doing it. Example: a sequence of letters that is displayed as a graphic. Distortions and objects that partially cover the letters make reading the letters relatively difficult for humans, but it is almost impossible for bots. Such captchas would at least make it very difficult for bots to make purchases in a short time. It would be important to have a method in which the captcha appears before the product is placed in the shopping cart. Because a product placed in the shopping cart is usually reserved by the shops first, so that strong bots have a few minutes to solve a captcha necessary for the purchase. If you had to solve a captcha for every product that you want to add to the shopping cart in an online shop, this would certainly annoy customers and would be counterproductive. But for special cases, such as pre-orders for the Playstation 5, Xbox Series X or new top graphics cards, I would like such a regulation. What customers can do about the rip-off: don't go into it. Yes, it is annoying when you are allowed to unpack the new graphics card or console at the release and get started. But under no circumstances should pseudo-traders go online – because the more successful this type of trade (s) becomes, the more likely it is that this will happen again and again in the future.

Buying away and exorbitant prices are anti-social

I find it absolutely antisocial when a few want to enrich themselves by making goods that are already in short supply, only to sell them at a much higher price. In the end, such pseudo traders may even disguise themselves as in many cases Private users so that they don't even have to pay taxes or give any guarantees and benefit from private consumer law. This also increases the prices at regular retailers. Because when goods such as graphics cards are really in short supply – we know that at the latest from the mining boom – the prices of reputable shops rise above the manufacturer's previous RRP. Above all, the manufacturers should do something against providers who operate with bots, because the manufacturers don't earn anything if individual rip-offs buy the products at the normal price and then sell them on at a higher price. However, the dealers' interest in countermeasures could be rather low, because in case of doubt they simply go along with the rising prices. However, the manufacturers could of course also put pressure on their official sales partners among the dealers. Finally, I would like to say that I am not against every exploitation of a price increase. Let us assume that someone got hold of a product that was very scarce at the time of release, for example a graphics card, which he actually wanted to use himself. Then he finds out about the high prices due to the scarcity and offers the product himself at a high price, also because he doesn't mind if he won't be on the road with more graphics power for a few weeks or even months. I think that's okay. What I do not think is okay, even if it is only about a single copy of a product, would be a targeted (pre) order with the firm intention of reselling it at a significantly higher price – regardless of whether with or without the help of a bot. Unfortunately, one sees such procedures or at least the suspicion of such a strategy for years with various products, for example when some Collectors Edition of a game is offered at the release of the game much more expensive than the pre-order price, provided that it is already offered in online shops is out of stock before release. How do you see the topic? Do you see yourself as a victim of the rip-offs because you wanted to order one of the new Nvidia graphics cards or consoles and failed?

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