A hot potato: While most people aren’t fans of Best Buy’s graphics card paywall that allows only subscribers to purchase restocks of the latest GPUs, there’s one group who loves it: scalpers. Several resellers have been boasting about using the scheme to grab up to $20,000 worth of GPUs, ensuring they end up on auction sites or with other retailers at obscenely inflated prices.
Last week brought news that Best Buy had received a restock of Ampere products, but the only way you could buy one of the RTX 3000 cards was to become a member of its Totaltech program.
The $200-per-year subscription service offers perks such as free delivery and installation, free Geek Squad tech support, and access to exclusive Totaltech member prices, the latter of which appears to cover the locked GPUs.
PCMag reports that while most gamers hate the scheme, scalpers are thanking Best Buy, which is the exclusive US retailer for Nvidia Founders Edition cards. One person, known as Bipper, used Discord to boast about buying “almost $20,000 in GPUs” via the Totaltech program.
— B1PPER (@xB1PPERx) February 10, 2022
Bipper noted that customers can only buy one of each SKU, which could be the extent of Best Buy’s anti-scalper measures, but the variety of cards on offer meant they were still able to purchase $20,000 worth of GPUs. The scalper said they are selling them to a local computer shop, which will then sell them for a higher price.
Bipper also added that unlike other restocks, scalpers don’t even need bots to scoop up Best Buy’s inventory—they just have to pay the $200 membership fee that could be recouped from the resale of a single high-end card.
We still don’t know if Best Buy locking its cards behind the Totaltech subscription was a one-off experiment or if it will become the norm for GPU restocks. The company could also mix and match, placing some cards behind the paywall and making some available to everyone. Whatever Best Buy does, it needs to improve its anti-scalper measures.