Scalpers go elsewhere for ipads

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 March, 2012, 12:00am


Apple's online sales arrangements for the new iPad - under which the gadgets were not available from its own shop except by pre-order - have failed to eradicate scalping on the launch day yesterday as the product was also available at other outlets where professional queuers lined up early to make a quick profit.

Groups of South Asian buyers, told not to queue up outside Apple's flagship store in Central, turned to 84 other stores across the city to buy the product. After chaos during last year's launch of the iPhone 4S, when thousands of buyers besieged its store in the hope of being among the first to own the new gadget, Apple only accepted pre-orders through its Hong Kong website.

But Efe, 26, a Pakistani who queued up outside DG Lifestyle Store in Times Square, Causeway Bay, said he was buying the iPad for a 'friend' who had a shop in Tsim Sha Tsui.

He said his friend would sometimes give him 'several hundred dollars' and sometimes even more.

'But sometimes he just treats me to a meal,' he said. Others were paid HK$600 to HK$700 a day to join the queue, he said. Efe was seen talking to another South Asian man who collected 40 to 50 iPads from people in the queue but who claimed they were for his own use.

The Causeway Bay branch of electronic appliance shop Fortress gave out 100 tickets to early birds at 8am and by 11am had sold its entire stock of iPads. Rival chain Broadway required customers to buy a HK$1,990 sleeve together with the iPad.

Outside Apple's flagship store in Central IFC, some 40 to 50 people who had successfully pre-ordered iPads online queued up to wait for the store to open at 8am.

The first man in the queue, a 28-year-old computer repairer giving his surname as Ko, said he arrived at 7.20am and planned to buy two white, 64GB iPads for his own use.

But he was unhappy about the arrangements, saying the time allocated to him was inconvenient for those who had to get to work. 'We are not allowed to find somebody else to pick up the iPad. Not everybody can get to the store at this time,' he said.

Frederick Lo Ting-hing, 28, a tour guide who bought two black, 16GB iPads, agreed with Ko. He said Apple should have allowed buyers to choose a convenient time.

Several parallel import traders were stationed outside the store and one man was seen pocketing HK$13,100 for two 32GB iPads he had just bought for HK$4,688 each.

Parallel import trader Kurt Lo King-yau, sales manager of Digital Action Telecom in Mong Kok, said he had bought 150 iPads ranging from 16GB to 64GB from buyers and resold them for HK$4,780 to HK$6,680. He said only about 60 customers bought the new iPads from him, fewer than at last year's iPad 2 launch.

Apple declined to comment yesterday on the online pre-order sales arrangements.