This Is Why We Can’t Have Good Things
A few hours after Saturday’s post, I decided: “Yep, that PS3 bundle is the way to go.” Part of the ordering process is choosing the bonus game, which I did. “Part of this bundle is out of stock.” Alright, maybe everyone is picking LittleBigPlanet 2? I tried another game, and got the same error. Finally, I refreshed the page and saw this:
Given the fact that I would have been getting five games, all of which I had a passing interest in, along with the 250gb console itself for $219, I started kicking myself for not jumping all over this thing. Why didn’t I order as soon as I saw it on Friday?
Bah. Let me check some other places to see if they offer similar price ranges…
You goddamn sons of bitches.
In the heat of my rage, I did end up laughing a bit over the fact that I was partly mad that I hadn’t thought to do this exact thing myself. These assholes aren’t even including the bonus game, which means they basically got paid $65 to take a free videogame.
But, seriously, this sort of shit is why we cannot have good things. Capitalism and free markets working as intended, sure, whatever. But can you sit there and tell me that this sort of arbitrage is anything more than nihilistic? There is zero difference in “markets” between Walmart.com and eBay, especially when the latter is being sold by a small-time retailer. I am fine with arbitrage conceptually because while the profit is essentially risk-free, it can be argued that value is actually being generated by the arbitrageurs by virtue of them moving product between markets. For example, I am fine with some local store basically buying shit online and selling it in their store at a markup, because hey, maybe I don’t want to wait for it to get mailed. Or maybe I’m not internet savvy. And so on¹.
These guys though? Fuck those guys. Stores are posting deals to encourage more shoppers to show up, and what they get instead are opportunistic leeches extracting other peoples’ consumer surplus while adding nothing. These are concert ticket scalpers buying thousands of tickets, artificially creating the scarcity they prey upon to the detriment of all parties.
And what really sucks for me personally? I am not going to be able to look at any sort of lesser PS3 deal without a jaundiced eye. Future deals will be contrasted with a $219 possibility and likely be found wanting. Just like with the Steam Autumn Sale going on right now, if I somehow miss a 75% deal during its window, I am not ever buying that game until it is back on a similar discount. It may not be entirely logical, but it is the way things work for me.
Moral of the story: Jump on these sort of deals immediately. Worst case scenario: eBay.
[Fake Edit] As I pulled into the Best Buy parking lot on Sunday to pick up my $180 32″ TV and $20 MoP expansion (uh oh), I noticed there was a Walmart right next door. Went in to get some groceries, walked out with the $199 (!) aforementioned Infamous/Uncharted PS3 bundle (cheaper because no bonus game). My “normal” Walmart didn’t have any, but this one had at least four. I was sorely tempted to go “I’ll take all of them,” but internet bravado rarely transfers into real life. Plus, I was already feeling worried I was going to get ‘jacked on my way to the car by carrying around a 32″ TV and PS3, let alone several.
¹ It did occur to me that I did a lot of this sort of thing in MMO AHs, i.e. “flipping.” However, I would argue that I was still providing a service insofar that the original seller was desiring a quick liquidation and nothing else. Or maybe it is the same thing in the abstract. Then again, the person who ends up buying my flipped good never knows how much I bought it for, which is the source of a lot of my ire right now.