Apple’s flagship store in Beijing was forced to close its doors early today after a group of iPhone 4 scalpers created a chaotic scene. MIC Gadget reports that Apple removed its limitation on the number of contract-free iPhone 4 units any single customer could buy at the store, perhaps unintentionally paving the way for the problems ahead. The store opened at 7:00 a.m. local time, but closed only three hours later, with many customers left in the queue outside, unable to enter. The report claims that scalpers were entering the store and buying large quantities—20-30 units at a time—of iPhone 4s, then proceeding out into the mall and attempting to sell the units to passerby at a higher-than-retail price.
According to the report, people were literally being pushed into the cashier’s counter, some holding stacks of bank notes, prepared to buy as many iPhone 4 units as they could afford. The situation escalated when a group of regular customers got into a fight with the scalpers; Apple’s own security staff, along with local police, were called in to clear the store and restore order. An update to the article states that all four Chinese Apple Stores are now requiring each customer to show his/her identity card when purchasing an iPhone 4, and are limiting sales to just one per customer. In addition, Apple employees are unboxing the iPhone 4 units for customers and activating the phones immediately, preventing scalpers from purchasing the phones and reselling them as “brand new.”