A shortage of new gaming consoles has increased the demand for a ban on console scalping– the practice of using bots to buy stock and resell for profit.
PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles are still quickly selling out each time they restock, as lockdown restrictions are making it harder for consumers to get their hands on one.
Douglas Chapman MP has now brought a private member’s bill forward in the House of Commons to criminalise this practice.
In late 2020, an Early Day Motion to ban scalping was brought forward by a group of MPs. The motion, led by Mr. Chapman, gathered 32 signatures from MPs across multiple parties. The new bill goes further by bringing the issue for debate in the commons.
Speaking to Sky News, Mr. Chapman said, “We’ve proposed that a legislative process be brought forward to ensure that consumers can purchase gaming consoles and computer components at no more than the manufacturers’ recommended price, and that resale of goods purchased by automated bots be made illegal.”
He is backed by several other MPs and countless consumers. Though Mr. Chapman has accepted that the bill may not pass, he hopes it will affect new legislation in the UK, as previous private member’s bills have.
The practice is currently legal, with scalpers finding a way around any purchase limits on new consoles.
The bill, titled ‘Gaming Hardware (Automated Purchase and Resale) Bill 2019-21’ could see the practice banned in the coming months. This ban is likely to be similar to the ban on ticket touting introduced several years ago.
In recent years, scalping has caused problems for retailers as well as consumers. Some stores have had to cancel thousands of orders made by bots.
Consoles have been re-sold on eBay and other websites for hundreds of pounds more than retail price, making it particularly difficult for consumers to get their hands on one.
The second reading of the bill is yet to be given a date.
Words by Emily Withers
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