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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Scrooged: Christmas Scalpers Suck!

We're coming up on the home stretch for the POP CULTURE ADDICT'S ADVENT CALENDAR, and honestly with me not having a whole lot of comfort and joy regarding the holidays this year, I'm sort of relieved that there's only a few days left of it.

Welcome to Day #15 - the Scrooged edition.  And believe me, I have definitely got a holiday rant for all of you!

And, it sort of ties in to yesterday's post about the Sears Wish Book.  And no, the rant is not about how much the Sears Wish Book sucks now because I already said this yesterday.

No, it's actually sort of linked to the part about how one of the wishes that I had from that Wish Book was the Nintendo game StarTropics.  I loved that game so much when I was a kid.  I played it a lot.  I remember battling that gigantic ghost.  I remember having to dip the letter in the water to try and find my way out of a maze.  I even remember getting swallowed by a whale!  It was definitely a challenging game for a ten-year-old boy, but I loved every moment of it.  When my Nintendo got fried in a lightning storm, I remember being very sad, and I wondered if I'd ever get the chance to play StarTropics ever again.

Well, this year, Nintendo came up with a way to play that game - plus 29 other NES classics in one device that you can plug into your television screen via HDMI cable.

Behold the Classic Mini NES!  Thirty of your favourite games in one tiny Nintendo.  You can play every game from Super Mario Brothers and the Legend of Zelda to Final Fantasy and Bubble Bobble!  I don't think Nintendo has ever done anything this cool in years.  And considering that of the thirty games on the machine that I've played 28 of them (I've never played Punch-Out or Double Dragon), this is a great way to relive part of my childhood.

Unfortunately, it seems as though everyone else wants to relive that dream too because I cannot find one of these babies anywhere in any store!  As soon as they come in, they are immediately bought up.  And, you know, that part I don't have a problem with.  Nintendo made a select number of them not knowing just how popular they would be, and they were caught off guard by the demand.  At least I'm trying to give them the benefit of the doubt.

No, what I have a problem with is when I log onto eBay and see this.

Now, in the United States, the retail value of this machine is somewhere in the price range of $60-70 - in Canada, add about another $20 to the price.  It's not a bad price when you consider what it is supposed to be.  But this person (whose screenname and location I've blotted out for privacy reasons) feels justified to charge twice or three times the price to make a profit. 

And THAT I have a problem with - especially given the time of year.

I mean, this is Christmas.  This is the time in which boys and girls make their Christmas lists for Santa and hope that Santa can bring them everything that they wanted for Christmas.  And yet holiday scalpers are buying up all the inventory so that they can double the prices and make people spend more just to make a huge profit.  I understand how capitalism works, but this seems so wrong to do.

But hey, at least the person above is selling actual mini NES consoles.  Take a look at the next ad.  Can you spot something a little fishy about it?

Well, did you notice the part about how it said PACKAGING ONLY?  And yet someone will legitimately think that they are getting a bargain on one of the hottest toys around.  Sadly they would be paying a fortune on an empty box.  I mean, this time of year, one has to be very careful not to get taken in.  Although this one clearly states PACKAGING ONLY in the title, not everyone will read the fine print.  And seriously, why would someone sell just the package?  To me that's even worse than buying up the stock and selling it at inflated prices.

And it's not just video game consoles either.  Toys are marked up at insanely high prices at some online retailers.  One of the biggest fads this year is a toy known as a Hatchimal.  It's essentially a cross between a Furby and an Easter Egg.  You buy an unhatched egg and you wait for it to come out of the egg.  Once it hatches, you take care of it.  You know those Tamagotchis that were really huge in the late 1990s and early 2000s?  It's reminiscent of that.  Personally, I wouldn't pay the $79.99 price tag or whatever amount they normally sell for here because I have no need for one.  Even if I got one as a kid, I'd be interested in it for all of four days before it started gathering dustbunnies in the corner of my toy box.  But millions of children in the world want one from Santa this year.

Too bad they're hard to find and people on eBay feel justified to charge THIS MUCH for one.

I mean, this is getting out of hand.  I mean, it's bad enough people scalp concert tickets and sell them for big bucks (which I ranted about last summer regarding the final tour of The Tragically Hip).  But scalping toys?  At Christmas?  To me that's almost like the equivalent of the Grinch stealing Christmas from the Whos in Whoville and promising to sell it back to them if they sign over their homes, cars, and first born children.  It's not very Christmas like, and I think people who are doing this should be very ashamed of themselves.

And to be honest with you, this is where retailers need to step in and control the issue by offering limits on how many people can purchase at one time.  Unless you're Octomom, there is no need for one person to purchase fourteen Hatchimals.  I know there are ways to get around store limits, but really we all have a responsibility to stop scalping around the holidays.  Christmas is already materialistic enough without people capitalizing off of it.

As for my dream to own a Classic Mini NES...well, my birthday is in five months.  Maybe I'll get one then.

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