Previously, Hong Kong was gripped by iPhone 4S fever as more than 1,000 fans and scalpers queued outside the Apple store to buy Apple’s latest smartphone. In order to stop the incidents of repeated violence over sales of the iPhone 4S, Apple has recently implemented a new system to fight those pesky scalpers, and the new system makes the scalping business very difficult.
How difficult it is? Well, an update to Hong Kong Apple online store now presents customers with a lottery system, by which they have three hours each day (9am – 12pm) to place a request for a specific iPhone model. Here’s the tricky part: only those who received confirmation of their reservation via email are allowed to go to the Apple retail store and collect the device, and they’ll need to provide a government-issued ID matching the name and ID number before Apple staff will sell them the handset. The registration process “first come first served” is no longer valid.
According to Apple:
“Due to high demand, we are accepting a limited number of iPhone reservations per day. To request an iPhone reservation, please choose your store and the iPhone you want. If we have an iPhone reservation for you, you’ll receive a confirmation email by 9:00 p.m. tonight that includes the time when you can pick up your iPhone tomorrow. A government-issued photo ID matching the name and ID number on your reservation is required for iPhone purchases. If you don’t receive an email, we were unable to reserve an iPhone for you, and you can try again another time. Only those who receive an email confirming their reservation will be able to purchase an iPhone; we will not be selling iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S to walk-in customers.”
Previously, Hong Kong Apple online store’s iPhone reservation system would open at a random time and it would often fail as bots kept pinging the server all day, meaning genuine customers have no way to place a reservation as evil scalpers have been utilising bespoke software that allow users to place a reservation before anyone does. So, the new safer, more secure system will provide a fair deal for both genuine customer and scalper. Here’s what a local customer said after he tried the new reservation system,
“Just got email on 8:55pm. Tomorrow 4pm go to IFC pickup 2 x 16G Black. I register on the email on today 10am. I believe “not relate to time.” Not first come first served. Only a lucky draw game.”
You may ask, how does requiring a government ID prevent scalpers from purchasing iPhones? Well, we’re living in Hong Kong, and we can tell you that most of the scalpers came from mainland China, so they don’t have Hong Kong ID card. What’s more, due to the scalpers, it’s almost impossible to get hold of an iPhone 4S in Hong Kong. Scalpers are always seen at sales booth in Sin Tat Plaza (the largest iPhone gray market in the city), and they got paid 5800 – 6000 HKD ($748 – 774) for their brand new, unsealed iPhone 4S. Then, the gray market dealers will sell the phone for 6600 HKD ($851). The verdict? Easy money for the scalpers and for the people behind the seamingly organized trade.
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