When I was at Imperial not so many years ago, there was a story in Felix, the college newspaper, about local ruffians selling knocked-off speakers from the backs of white vans in the South Ken area. At the time, students were advised not to approach them and to inform the police. I thought not much more of it, apart from it being a slightly bizarre way of fencing.
However, I recently read a story in Seth Godin’s book, All Marketers are Liars, which cast a new light on this. Apparently, something similar was happening in 80s Harvard: entrepreneurs would buy last year’s model of speaker (hence cheaply) and sell them to local students from the back of a van. Because the students assumed they were stolen, they could rationalise why they were cheap. The entrepreneurs made a tidy profit.
Is there something more to the Imperial story? Did the folks at Felix skimp on their research?