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Want an iPhone 5? You might get tasered first

Mark Gibbs | Dec. 17, 2012
The demand for iPhone 5s is amazing and the dangers of overseas grey markets appear to have got a Chinese woman from Massachusetts tasered. Really.

Well, this is it, the last Backspin before we roast another beast and drink heavily in a forlorn attempt to damp the pain of endless caroling in every store we go into (does the tire store really need to play "Away in a Manger" amid the perfume of new tires?).

Anyway, in this season of compulsive consumption, the gift that keeps on giving (at least until it is superseded by a newer, better version in six months or a year) is the iPhone 5.

Consider Mumbai, where the high cost of the iPhone 5 as compared to consumer income was predicted to result in weak sales. All stocks of the device were sold out a few days after its November launch! Moreover, it was reported by India's CNN-IBN that despite resupply, a "minimum waiting period for [the iPhone] is around 10 to 15 days" which, in turn, has triggered a wave of gray market sales.

China, where the price of the iPhone 5 compared to the average wage is even greater, saw the phone go on sale on Dec. 14 with "around 300,000 online orders already placed with China Unicom" reports Japan's NTD Television.

Even in the U.S., iPhone 5 availability is limited, and at some Apple store locations, a "two per customer" maximum is in place. Of course, if you're committed to getting one for each member of your family and there's more than two of you, there's going to be a problem.

And there will be even more of a problem when your English is poor, you think that other customers are being sold more than the maximum of two, and you attempt to document this outrage by taking a video (presumably using your existing iPhone), thereby annoying the store's management.

Such was the rather confused tale of one Xiaojie Li, of Newton, Mass., who, after scoring two iPhone 5's at Apple's store in Nashua, N.H., had ordered two more online and went to pick them up at the same store. The reason she drove 40 miles to Nashua, even though there's an Apple store in Newton a few miles from her home, is the lack of sales tax in New Hampshire.

When the Apple store management saw Ms. Li they asked her to leave and this was, it seems, when she started videoing and a policeman, who was moonlighting as store security, got involved and did the obvious thing: He tasered her (there is, of course, a video of the whole incident).

This ridiculously over-the-top response to a small Chinese woman who doesn't speak English very well was described by Nashua's chief of police as justified because security is needed to control "groups who will buy large numbers of the devices and then sell them for a profit overseas."


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