In Chinese, scalpers are called "yellow cows". It's an old story, with its origins back in the mists of ancient days in the Middle Kingdon. But this month, Apple has been forced to stop direct sales of its iPhone 4 at its retail outlets in Beijing and Shanghai due to rampant scalping.
Just 13 days after the company launched the new phones in the communist country, the "yellow cows" started milking what they saw as a golden opportunity, and all hell broke loose.
After Apple launched the popular handset in China on Sept 25, customers began lining up in front of four main Apple stores in the two cities. But as often happens in that land that Mao launched, the popularity of the iPhone 4 gave China's legions of "yellow cow" scalpers their golden opportunities.
What did these savvy scalpers do? They hired people to line up outside Apple stores and charged an extra 600 yuan per phone. According to the Shanghai Morning Post, the Sanlitun Apple store was forced to close it doors on Sept 29 due to "yellow cow" activities.
In the wake of the attack of the ''yellow cows'', Apple China has now announced new rules for purchases of the iPhone 4 on its website. Customers have to pre-order the phone online with their real name and pick it up from Apple outlets with their identity card or passport.
Each customer can only pre-order one iPhone 4 per day, in order to discourage scalping.
"It's a very good way to prevent scalping," said one Beijing office worker, adding: "In fact, I'd rather not have an iPhone 4 than pay unscrupulous scalpers."