A sale of second-hand iBook laptops in Richmond, Virginia, yesterday ended in complete pandemonium as thousands of bargain-hungry punters stormed Richmond International Raceway in a desperate scramble to get their hands on the $50 machines.
Up to 10,000 Henrico County residents queued for hours outside the RIR's gates where 1,000 four-year-old iBooks were due for knock-down disposal after the county school system decided to switch to Dell kit.
According to a Richmond Times-Dispatch report, dawn broke over a half-mile-long queue of bargain hunters, many of whom had arrived at 1.30am in an attempt to secure the best position for the assault.
Shortly after 6am, police called for back-up after the mood began to turn nasty, with Apple aficionados reportedly hurling abuse at the officers. In total, 45 cops struggled to keep order, backed up by fire and rescue services. At 6.54, the gates opened and all hell broke loose.
The first casualties occurred at the main entrance to RIR, followed by another logjam of crazed laptop hunters at the doors to the building in which the actual sale was taking place.
Devra Sirot, who was at the sale with her two young sons, said: "My kids almost got stampeded. If it wasn't for these two really strong guys... Everyone was stampeding to get in."
Happily, Ms Sirot did not allow concern for her offspring to divert her from the task in hand, and she secured three iBooks.
Other were not as fortunate. Seventeen people were treated for injuries, "the majority for heat- or diabetic-related problems", as a shaken fire Battalion Chief Steve Wood later explained. One person was whisked to hospital with a "leg injury", the Richmond Times-Dispatch adds.
The local press is not apportioning blame for the fiasco, although we would like to suggest that Apple be exonerated in this case and the finger pointed at the true culprit - Dell. After all, if the company did not offer such top-notch products at unbeatable prices to the US education system, then Richmond would not have had to witness these disgraceful scenes. We have no doubt that victims' lawyers will be in touch. ®
Missed out on a $50 iBook?
If you're one of the many unlucky Henrico County residents who failed to secure a laptop, console yourself while recovering in hospital with a marvellous t-shirt now featuring on eBay. It reads: "I went to Henrico County for a $50 iBook... but all I got was kicked in the balls!"
Thanks to reader Paul Tuckey for alerting us as to the complete breakdown of law and order across the Pond.