Most things about waiting in line suck: The waiting. The standing. The boredom. The guy who decides everyone around him really wants to hear his insipid conversation about how his Kickstarter is totally sick, yo.
Now, if you absolutely must have a new iPhone 6 S the moment it hits stores today but can’t stomach the thought of actually waiting in line for it, there is no shortage of services that can help out. You can hire a TaskRabbit. You can try that new service Enjoy if you have AT&T and live in the Bay Area or New York. And you can always find someone on Craigslist do your dirty work.
These tactics are strictly for small-timers. Kevin, a wily sort from Tacoma, is not a small-timer
“Hi,” reads his grammatically-challenged Craigslist ad, “my names [sic] Kevin and all I need is some folks to line up with me at apple [sic] so that I can buy iPhones for you.”
For you. Therein lies the genius of Kevin’s plan. You see, Apple limits a buyer to two iPhones per day. But if you’re part of a group, you can buy a phone for everyone in that group. Instead of being limited to two, you are limited only by the size of the crew you can round up.
Now, you might be able to talk your best friend into killing a night waiting in line. But a stranger is gonna want to get paid. Kevin realizes this. “Pay is simple every phone that I can get for you being there I’ll pay you $75 so that means $150 for less than an [sic] 12 hours worth of standing around,” he writes. Pretty good pay for a dead-simple job: Show up. Stand around. Maybe become friends (or friendly). Watch Kevin buy an armful of phones. Pocket your 75 bucks and walk away.
Kevin’s got a few riffs on this gig posted on Craigslist, and he’s far from alone. Gaming the system to resell brand-new iPhones is nearly as old as the iPhone itself. But with every iPhone hotter than the last, business is booming more than ever. The iPhone 6 S and 6 Plus S will be no exception: Apple stopped accepting preorders Wednesday, and flat out suggests anyone who didn’t preorder go wait in line.
One benefactor of this crazy popularity is Tim Fung, the CEO and cofounder of Airtasker, an Australian company similar to TaskRabbit. “Last year, most Airtaskers that were lining up were doing so for buyers who wanted that phone for personal use,” he says. However, he says that were a “very large amount of people” who seemed to be buying iPhones in order to quickly resell them while demand was still high and make a buck.
Bobby (who wouldn’t confirm this was his actual name, but he says “it’s my street name so pretty legit”) started out earning a little extra money standing in line for people who didn’t have time for such things. But he soon saw the real money was in the phone, not the waiting, and started reselling handsets.
“If you do this the right way, you can make in excess of $30,000 within two days,” Bobby, who says he has an MBA in finance. Like Kevin, he uses Craigslist to enlist people happy to help rake in handsets and says he pays $50 for each phone. While Apple limits you to two, you can change your clothes and get back in the line and repeat the process, he says—one time, he says, he’s managed to get 8 to 10 phones from a single store.
iPhone resellers like Bobby and Kevin stand to make the most during a revamp, when the hardware gets a redesign. But this S cycle is special, because of the rose gold option, which Bobby says he’ll be able to sell for a $150 premium over retail. (He expects gray, silver, and gold phones to net $30 to $40 over retail). “This year since I’m only buying [the rose gold iPhone], I offered some kids $75 each on the first two phones, and then $25 each on the second two.”
He hires college students because it’s “a safer option as compared to hiring homeless and random people, because college kids are less likely to run away with your money.” He verifies they are in school by asking for a class schedule, and makes copies of their IDs.