Gamers face paying up to Dh10,000 ($2,700) for a PlayStation 5 after profiteers snapped up most of the UAE’s stock to sell at up to five times the price.
A global shortage of Sony’s next-generation games console, which came on to the market in November, was expected to ease after Christmas. But most shops have yet to receive shipments.
Shoppers have turned to private sellers on various online platforms, many of which charge far more than the Sony guide price of Dh1,700 to Dh2,100.
Geekay Games, one of the biggest retailers, told The National it has a waiting list of more than 1,500 people.
Private sellers on Noon are selling PS5s for up to Dh4,300 for a bundle that includes the console plus extra controllers and games.
On Amazon.ae, third-party sellers offer the cheaper Digital Edition – which has no disc drive – for slightly under Dh3,200.
That’s still almost twice the retail price of Dh1,700.
Dubizzle had the steepest prices, with consoles on sale there for as much as Dh10,300.
“I paid Dh3,700 through a third-party seller, which is more than a thousand bucks – it’s absolutely ridiculous,” said James Raison, 50, a British resident of Dubai.
“I wanted to get one for my son as we weren’t able to go back to the UK for Christmas, and it has been such a difficult year for children, with Covid-19.
“With all that in mind, I thought it was important to treat my son, but the price people are charging is outrageous.”
Mr Raison was even more frustrated when he found he had paid that amount for the cheaper Digital Edition, which he said the reseller had not made clear.
“I ended up paying more than double what I should have for it, but there was no way I would have got it otherwise,” said Mr Raison, who works in oil and gas.
The National contacted every major electronics retailer and could not find one that had the console in stock.
Geekay Games staff said they did not know when stocks would arrive, while managers at Virgin Megastore at Mercato Mall, in Jumeirah, said they were in the dark as well.
Jumbo Electronics at The Dubai Mall was also out of consoles, with no estimates about when they could be back in stock.
Usman Shah, from Pakistan, was lucky enough to get his hands on a PS5. He paid Dh3,000 for a bundle package that includes extra controllers.
He said it took more than 150 phone calls and WhatsApp messages to various distributors before he tracked one down.
“It was more than I wanted to spend, but I thought it was the only way I could get one at the time,” said Mr Shah, 36, who works in Dubai as an auditor.
“When I got home it turned out my wife had also bought a PS5 as a surprise for my birthday. She spent Dh3,600 to get one from a third-party seller.
“We certainly both overpaid and I am stuck with an extra one.
“There’s no way I could sell the second one in good conscience to someone for what my wife paid for it. That was a scalper taking advantage.”
Aisling Hubert, from Ireland, said she was prepared to stick it out and wait until more stock comes into stores, rather than pay an inflated price.
“We are still on the Geekay Games waiting list since late December,” said Ms Hubert, who lives in Dubai.
“In principle, we refuse to pay above the retail price. Thankfully our teenage son understands and is happy to wait.”
An Amazon.ae representative said the company took a dim view of price gouging.
They said sellers were allowed to set their own prices on the site, but Amazon monitors the merchandise and removes anything it finds to be breaching its policies.
"If price gouging is spotted on Amazon, then the item is blocked or removed in line with Amazon’s long-standing policy,” the representative said.