‘Tis The Season For Price Gouging
Call it a consequence of the free market, the law of supply and demand, or just good old-fashioned opportunism. I’ll leave the ethics debate up to you. After all, is it really any different than selling Guitar Hero III for $9,000?
Maybe it just seems worse when a retail chain does it at Christmas time.
A Midwestern retail chain named Slackers was busted hiking up the price of Nintendo Wii game consoles and selling them on eBay instead of inside the store.
Ben Kuchera at Ars Technica did the busting, and quotes an employee tipster who says at his/her location, there were about 20 Wiis in stock, but none of them were placed on the racks. Instead, they were put up for auction on eBay, with an initial Buy It Now price of $499, lowered to $399 when product wasn’t moving.
The seller ended the listing early, presumably due to some bad press coverage.
The Nintendo Wii is smoking hot this holiday season after Nintendo goofed by not producing enough units. The company has gone as far as to stop advertising during the busiest shopping season of the year and to ask retailers not to force console bundles in light of the shortage.
While it seems like that might be a slick marketing move – creating rabid demand – others have astutely noted that the lack of availability may drive scores of would-be Wii owners to shell out the extra cash for an Xbox 360 or Playstation 3.