back to article Holy margins, Batman: Pandemic tech prices balloon as demand outweighs stocks and suppliers get greedy

Whether it was price gouging or the laws of supply and demand playing out - or both - the average margin paid to IT suppliers during the pandemic were five times higher than in the months before it. Analysis of £4.7m worth of business spending on hardware was undertaken by tech services outfit Probrand from November 2019 to …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "a bit like life in general"

    Please don't say that.

    I need life to return to a point where my daughter can get work again and where I can bring my wife to the restaurant now and again.

    1. Shalghar

      Re: "a bit like life in general"

      Then i hope for you you do not intend to live in germany. Our politicians are absolute lockdown fetishists with no chance of lifting their beloved panicdemic anytime in this century - or ever again.

      It will be interesting what kinds of complete and utter male cattle manure the approved "experts" will spew out once summer does what it always does to certain types of virii and the holy "incidency values" support the continuous oppressive covid martial law even less.

      1. LovesTha

        Re: "a bit like life in general"

        Rather you'd want to live somewhere that has done real lock downs, preferably with a sea border.

        1. Shalghar

          Re: "a bit like life in general"

          Quite so. Apart from destroying restaurants and tourist ventures as well as the smaller event management entitites and every delivery logistic dependant on those, german pseudolockdowns still ignore almost every kind of workplace or public transport, going even so crazy as to reduce the amount of busses "due to corona" (looking at you, hanover and hamelin public transport) so more people are crammed into the remaining ones.

          If you come back from a job in austria and want to get to schleswig holstein (or back to britain or denmark), be prepared to have different quarantine regulations in every federal state you have to travel through. One would assume that germany alone has 16 variants or in panicspeech "mutations".

          Nevertheless, if you lockdown only to lockdown, the WHO has other ideas about that, stating that a lockdown should only be a last resort to buy time until your effective measures can be realised. Too bad for germany that after 15 months of total cluelessness and widespread destruction of livelihoods, our so called "experts" still dont have any effective measures nor any idea how to get out of the mess.

          On topic, the prices for the mandatory masquerade are fluctuating immensely, ranging from around 30 cents per mask up to 5 euros. Tests of any quality also mirror this daily changing price range, which triggers memories of the DRAM price fluctuations of the later 1990s.

  2. Chris G Silver badge

    Cheap at twice the price

    Compared to the alleged £65,000 that two fourpacks of bogroll went for on ebay last year.

    I wish nothing but ill to greedy bastards who capitalise on misfortune.

    1. oiseau Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: Cheap at twice the price

      ... nothing but ill to greedy bastards who capitalise on misfortune.

      Ill?

      The problem is that these miserable AHs start doing it with overpriced hardware.

      And end up with medicine and food.

      How about the business end of a dozen Lee Enfields?

      A.

      1. logicalextreme

        Re: Cheap at twice the price

        I had a brainfart while reading that and imagined the business end of a dozen Lee Evanses.

        Don't have nightmares

      2. HildyJ Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Cheap at twice the price

        Monsieur Guillotin has an alternative suggestion.

      3. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Alert

        Re: Cheap at twice the price

        Interestingly enough a local auction house (2 locations) have online auctions, chief among the goodies being offered up recently were boxes containing 24 bottles of hand sanitizer.

        The cynic in me says this was a get rich quick merchant, offloading his stash, but given the number of "branded" beer glasses new & used, more likely to be from at least one local bar that's had to close permanently due to Alberta's policy of closing down the bars for December - February & then did the same thing in early May.

        1. Shalghar

          Re: Cheap at twice the price

          Dont get me started on the price fluctuations for isopropanol.

          Some people seem to make their own moonshine sanitiser brewery while i badly need that stuff for technical reasons, mainly non corrosive cleaning of contacts and connectors as well as removing spills from one of our plotters (special labeling system, wipe proof and suchlike...).

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Cheap at twice the price

            "Dont get me started on the price fluctuations for isopropanol."

            I used to work in a computer room where we cleaned the tape decks with isopropal alcohol and the bottles were covered in red labels warning "Do not get this crap on your hands EVER as it will suck every drop of moisture from your flesh".

            Now we are encouraged to practically bathe in it...

            Thanks and all, but I will stick to soap and water.

            1. Shalghar

              Re: Cheap at twice the price

              Soap and water as well as any kind of scented cleaning fluids tend to leave unwanted residue on the surfaces you want to clean.

              Brake cleaner can be quite aggressive, especially to all sorts of plastic. Once you see the white or yellowish outwashed whateverchem, its too late and the plastic or rubbery isolation or casing turns to one of the infamous accidents/failures waiting to happen.

              The other reason we use isopropanol is the effectiveness against certain types of ink as mentioned with the plotter. Anyone who once tried cleaning an inkjet after a cheap ink refill experiment went wrong can relate, i suppose.

              Isopropanol is not a substance that is environmentally friendly nor healthy but it gets done what we need it to do with the least hassle of all substances tested until now.

          2. Arty Effem

            Re: Cheap at twice the price

            Any reason non-flammable Brake Cleaner would not be suitable?

            https://www.toolstation.com/holts-brake-cleaner/p43710?searchstr=brake%20cleaner

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And yet I bought a 3.5 year old latitude with original price near £1k on eBay with 99% battery and 1500 hours of use reported by the add for £340.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Shalghar

        Re: Used goods in a seller's market

        Thinkpad T510, refurbished, 210 Euros. Ebay has some commercial resellers i often refer to in times of uncertain, delayed or (temporarily) too expensive suppliers. There might be an additionel battery replacement or memory/HDD augmentation on top, dependant on how long the units were inactive and whats their base config but at least the additional items seem to still have normal pricings at this time.

        Siemens field PG laptops are a different kind of weird pricing, though, but that might be because the pricing at Siemens is based on the individual customer and maybe also astrology.

  4. MOH

    The only silver lining is that Gartner are predicting continuing shortages into next year. If they predicted sunrise tomorrow I'd be stocking up on candles.

    1. logicalextreme

      If it's light you're after I hear those Goop ones give you a lot of bang for your buck.

      1. martyn.hare

        I’d rather chance the coof

        ...by betting on Tinder wood.

  5. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Greedy?

    It's not the seller's fault. They're in business to sell at the highest price the traffic will bear.

    It's the morons that buy it and encourage them. They're the ones at fault.

    1. tfewster
      Facepalm

      Re: Greedy?

      > ...a Logitech wireless combo MK270 mouse and keyboard that cost the supplier £13.71 and the central government customer £110...

      You need to know the pre-pandemic cost to the end-buyer to put that in to proper context. It's expensive to set up a purchasing framework, so costs are added in to each item.

      If the user were to buy one themselves and expense it, add at least £50 for the cost of handling an expense claim.

      If it's done by purchase order, add hundreds to the cost.

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: Greedy?

        a Logitech wireless combo MK270 mouse and keyboard that cost the supplier £13.71 and the central government customer £110...

        Sounds normal for prior to the pandemic.

    2. Arty Effem

      Re: Greedy?

      In that case, what's wrong with encouraging them?

  6. ecofeco Silver badge

    Rising prices?

    Everything except wages it seems.

  7. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    The shortages are very real

    We're seeing increasing lead times on certain OEM spares for warranty repairs. Screen panels in particular. Heaven help anyone wanting a repair not covered by the warranty. The OEMs are quoting lead times of up to 2 months for some parts needed for user damage repairs. And with Work From Home, out of warranty, user damage repairs are significantly increased. They don't don't seem to be keeping as large an inventry of spares because they are using them to build new units to sell, making hay while the sun shines.

    1. Shalghar

      Re: The shortages are very real

      This also happens in other supply chains. Siemens components can be traced quite effective and the usual delays from order to delivery have risen to insane levels. Not for mass production china made stuff like S7 or LOGO PLC components, but mundane items like mechanical switches for certain conditions like Ex or AtEx are up to a projected delivery time of up to 6 months (last of those we have seem to be made in the philippines).

      As for consumer level, anything amazonely from Shenzen to germany still needs about 1-2 weeks, except everything going via Frankfurt. From china via Amsterdam Shiphol to germany will take a week, Via Frankfurt can take up to three months after customs clearance, not sure why the panicdemic affects those unnamed* "facilities" that badly.

      *tracking info does not give the name of the facilities involved.

  8. Blackjack Silver badge

    Well I wanted a new desktop but at these prices, my ten year old plus machine will have to keep enduring.

  9. adam payne

    We had a company we have dealt with for years recently come to us with their software maintenance renewal quote. The quote was 50% more than last year.

    To say I was shocked would be an understatement.

    1. Shalghar

      Might be the cost of constanly spraying the keyboards with military grade supersoakers.

    2. DJV Silver badge

      Not quite as bad as 50% but up until earlier this year I was using SiteGround for hosting several websites. I last renewed in 2019 in order to get a bit of discount by opting for 2-years. Their renewal this year was 33% up on the 2019 price (including the discount of going for a 3 year renewal). I opted to find somewhere cheaper instead.

      Bloody glad I did as they've done a massive update this year to replace cPanel with their own home-grown and somewhat appalling SiteTools package that managed to screw up several of my client's sites.

  10. tiggity Silver badge

    Just In time

    JIT is great ... when things are going well, but low inventory production methods struggle when things go wrong (be it supply problems, transport delays, etc.). IT also struggles with pace of change with components been in demand for a short while before the next latest & greatest comes along, so very inventory averse on some components as nobody wants to be left with superseded items (that are now worth a lot less as better things have come along) .. ironically many consumers would not be that bothered about latest & greatest (as pandemic shortages have shown)

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Just In time

      Yes, that had already been demonstrated many times over the last 15 or so months due to various COVID-19 restrictions in various parts of the world. It was more than amply demonstrated when the Evergreen jammed up the Suez Canal though. Not just for the many ships delayed by a week or more, but the Evergreen itself, one of the worlds largest container ships, fully laden, was then impounded while investigations and negotiations were carried out as to whose fault it was and who should pay.

  11. Aussie Doc
    Coat

    Optional title here

    Here's a picture of all those who are surprised:

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    My old AU$2 mouse is in my coat.

    1. Shalghar

      Re: Optional title here

      At least the usual mockingbirds who laugh about the collections and hidden heaps of still working hardware got suspiciously silent.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You don't need a pandemic to do this. Just market to an "audiophile" and you can markup 2000%

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Market Forces

    This is capitalism working as defined. There should be plenty of proponents of the unfettered market posting soon. Waxing lyrical about how great this all is!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Meh

    Capitalism

    The world wanted capitalism.

    It has got capitalism, and this is what it looks like.

    If you don't like it, replace it with something else.

    1. IGotOut Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Capitalism

      Quick shot the commie!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Capitalism

        Is Quick Shot The Commie a Russian cartoon character?

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Capitalism

          Sounds like Yosemite Sams youthful sidekick (in alternative universe!)

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    incompetence

    pretty ironic - businesses seek savings (aka 'streamlining') by getting rid of competent people, so decision-making is left to low-paid, incompetent ones, who generously make up the difference in savings by buying overpriced kit.

    that said, I'm not surprised, if they need a micro-sd card, they won't go hunting on the internets and wait days for a delivery, they'll just go get it round the corner. Although you wonder why on earth they can't just sacrifice a micro-sd card from the youngest, least experience builder on the site: you! mate, gimme your phone!

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