Yesterday we broke the story of the retail chain Slackers' shady dealings with their Wii supply. Basically, the owner of the chain orders systems for his stores, butinstead of selling them through his retail locations, puts the systemson eBay for $400. Since we ran the story, we've spoken to, and have been contacted by, numerous employees of the chain, confirming this practice, and offering more details of how it works.
One person claiming to be an employee created an Ars account to comment on the story. I asked him what Slackers tells customers when they ask if the systems are in stock. "We tell them we are out and we don't plan on getting any in the near future," he replied. But they aren't sold out; they have three in stock, according to their eBay page. But is that even true?
"Also, it may say we have three, but that is just to make it appear as though we don't have a stockpile," the employee said. "The actual number is usually much higher."
So how many systems are they scalping? One e-mail that claimed to be from another employee told usthey had twenty or so, so I asked the source in the comments. "Twenty probably wouldn't be too far off. I believe that they just received a considerable amount recently, but I can't confirm that." He then confirmed that it's the logic of the store to let systems trickle out onto eBay to make sure demand is high.
"I'm not defending anything. I'm simply giving you the facts," he said. While the economy of scale certainly allows a tidy profit to be made from this practice, it's unlikely that regular customers would be happy knowing they're being lied to while the store stockpiles systems in the back just toscalp them for a much higher price online. Rest assured, they have units in stock, they just don't want to sell them to their regular customers, and they don't want people to know what they're doing.
I wonder what they're telling customers now that everyone knows where the systems are going?