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Scalpers gouge China's fanbois for Genius Bar appointments

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Chinese scalpers have found a new way to make a few extra yuan: book up all the Genius Bar slots in the nation’s Apple Stores then sell them on at a profit.

Black market traders are snapping up time slots months in advance and then charging 10-40 yuan (£1-4) for each appointment on third party sites like the popular C2C trading platform Taobao, according to Beijing Morning News.

There’s not much other choice for fanbois, most of whom work far from an Apple Store and may not be able to risk wasting a lunch hour in the Genius Bar queue hoping for a no-show.

One customer even told the paper the situation was as bad as getting a train ticket during Chinese New Year, a period when demand typically exceeds supply and the scalpers step in to make a tidy profit.

A Beijing Morning News reporter purchased an appointment number from an online tout to see if it worked, and was promptly presented with two local stores and two time slots to choose from.

After receiving the reservation details by instant message, the reporter was able to log-in to “My Bookings” on the Apple site and change the name and email details to his own.

Black market traders in the Middle Kingdom have until recently mainly concentrated on buying up large quantities shiny fondleslabs or iPhones to sell on at a profit, especially from neighbouring Hong Kong where they can be snapped up cheaper than on the mainland.

However, with Apple instituting its “reserve and pickup” policy this became too difficult.

It’s a testament to how popular Genius Bar appointments are that this black market trade has sprung up, but with hundreds of reservations a day apparently still being made it's unlikely to go away unless Apple changes the system.

The fruity technology giant's China PR team couldn't immediately be reached for comment on this one. ®

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