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Premium Account Results in Avie Death


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SoonerGlass wrote:

Can't pay the balance.


And if I pay, I'm in the same spot I was the prior year.


I told them I was not interested in continuing - if you want to be particular, I gave them a YEAR of warning I wanted the account closed. So I paid the account and they still re-charged us and took all of it. If you pay, you're back on the hampster wheel. They did not close my account at the end of the year. They re-charged us and took everything.

SoonerGlass Resident

the ghost of Anik Pavlova

 

 

Sorry to see anyone go through such dramas, though it is reassuring to know that your avvie isn`t dead its just in jail until you can come up with the bail payment.

I am slightly confused by you saying that you gave them a year`s warning, it is totally in your own hands to downgrade your account, the link is there on your dashboard. If you have paid $1000s into that avvie, why not save up the $72 to get it out of jail and then downgrade it the day you get it back if you can`t remember to do it closer to the renewal date?

You will still get the stipends for the year & you would at least know that your account was safe forever.

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davidventer wrote:

I have downgraded from premium to basic various times. I did not lose anything. - It is important that you manually downgrade via your account management page BEFORE the premium account renewal date otherwise you are legally obligated to pay the recurring fees. - Always read the fine-print when initiating payment agreements with any company.

 

David,

It's not really a question of what Anik / SoonerGlass "should have" done ... it's more a matter of how to handle non-payment situations. Clearly there are much more graceful and respectful means to handle this conflict and failure to pay, but doing it as they (LL) have done ensures lost business and ill-will.

When you subscribe to a Premium Membership, you receive certain benefits that are not available to Basic Members. Among these are the monthly stipend, right to own Mainland, possibly a Linden Home .. and access to more support options. When you fail to pay for your Premium Membership, LL's "remedy" should be simply to strip you of those benefits.

However this is NOT what they do. Their "automatic" process is to Suspend your account for non-payment .. thus effectively kidnapping your account and holding it ransom. However this is a tactic that, while intended to ensure payment, actually causes people to react in anger and rebellion. You simply do NOT begin conflict resolution by smacking your opponent and blaming them for all the problems. (Especially not when you are a multi-million dollar company facing off against a single individual.)

They would find a higher rate of resolution by reducing people to Basic, automatically returning all of their items on any Mainland they own, and then pounding them with weekly email offers extolling the virtues of Premium Membership.

Their current method was designed under a regime that focused on "The Bottom Line" and nothing else. But they are presently attempting to change their focus from "Screw the customer, they have OUR money" toward something like "We want to be your Entertainment Destination ... please spend your money here." Unfortunately the existing method of resolving non-payment situations leaves little chance of that happening.

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Imnotgoing Sideways wrote:

I hope you realize that many business operate this way.  Pay your bills or lose your service.  If your inability to manage your charge accounts leads to this kind of trouble, imagine if it were a car, a cell phone, an apartment, financing a refridgerator... and so on. (=_=)

Just because you refused to read the terms and pay attention to your account status, doesn't make it LL's fault and doesn't degrade the value of a premium account at all. (=_=)

Chalk this down as a lesson in financial responsibility and learn from it so that you don't repeat an event like this with any other service. (
^_^
)y 

 

The problem with your analogies is .. people that sell cars, cell phone service or apartments don't give away free ones. You pay, you get one. You can't get one for free.

But Second Life is way different. You CAN have a "free one" .. it's called Basic Account .. and it's a way to keep people around while they work up the money to start paying again.

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Honestly, I didn't know I would still be able to resurrect her. their CR people told us we would have "a couple of months".

Regarding the dashboard, I NEVER came out to the website. Just logged in and out of SL. So this is a good idea if I want to get my stuff back.

I'd been out of SL entirely for about four months, though. I wasn't even sure I wanted to open a free account. They did a lot of damage with this.

I was a raving fan. I can't overstate this. I typically spent three or four hours a day in SL and more time drawing skins, etc... I work for an international corp and I actually pitched SL as part of our social media strategy three years ago.

So maybe I'll do as you suggest. There's this one great vest by Tres Blah I really want back. I'm not sure at this point it's worth the $72. I can't disagree with the people pointing out this is just a financial agreement that I screwed up and SL is just like any other corporate flesh eating monster . They are exactly like every other corporate flesh eating monster.

That made it a lot less fun for me.

SoonerGlass Resident
the ghost of Anik Pavlova

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You can have a free avatar, but, you can't have a premium account for free.  I'm well aware of this.  I could always post with any of my 13 free accounts to prove that point.  Every single one of those accounts are subject to my personal responsibility to stay out of situations which may get me banned. (^_^)y

 

 

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Nathaniel Flores wrote:

I have never understood the rationale for confiscating the account if the membership lapses. Returning landholdings, sure, remove the benefits of premium membership and revert the account to basic. Basic accounts, as has been pointed out, run no risk of losing their avatar.... why should those who -pay- to have a service that is labeled 'premium' have the potential to be treated far worse than an account that essentially accrues no direct benefit to the lab? Why treat your paying customers worse than the freebies? What sort of sense does that make? Who would want a 'premium' account under those conditions? As a penalty for paying to have an account and getting behind you take away the very thing that everyone that signs up gets -for free-. The avatar and the account.

 

 

Bingo! Whereas I do believe that people who owe the lab, should pay the lab, the way these issues are dealt with for premium members, simply sucks, these are people who are happy to pay to be here but for one reason or another, it has gone awry.

Make a deal with them, let them pay their dues, don't delete them off the face of the earth.

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davidventer wrote:

Hello SoonerGlass - I am sorry to hear about your misfortune. Many residents forget that if you do not wish to re-new your premium account it is important to downgrade your membership to basic before your premium account is set to renew/expire. It is also important to abandon any land that you own prior to doing so otherwise you will not be able to downgrade. The downgrade is not instant, it only takes place at your next billing cycle so if you downgrade a month or even a week before your account is due for renewal you will still receive your weekly stipend until the next billing cycle and you will not be billed for the next billing cycle - instead, your membership will return to basic, you will stop receiving your weekly stipends and your allowed land holdings will return to 0sqm.

You have to downgrade your membership to basic or switch to monthly billing
BEFORE
the renewal date.

If however you do not downgrade in time then legally there is nothing that you can do besides either paying up or losing everything. This works the same way as any other billing agreement in the real world such as a cellphone contract or something that is set to auto-renew unless you cancel before the renewal date. Please keep this in mind for future account management.

It is however unfortunate that Linden Lab does not send out reminders about this matter close to the renewal/expiry date but it is stated in the initial billing agreement that it is a continuous agreement and that the same payment method on file will be used for future billing cycles unless you downgrade to basic beforehand. (not in those exact words but they do mention a recurring agreement).

That is very interesting information to know. I've read a number of hard luck stories about people's inventories on delinquent accounts and I wouldn't have known the safe proceedure without that post. Thank you for posting it.

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Ciaran Laval wrote:

 

Nathaniel Flores wrote:

I have never understood the rationale for confiscating the account if the membership lapses. Returning landholdings, sure, remove the benefits of premium membership and revert the account to basic. Basic accounts, as has been pointed out, run no risk of losing their avatar.... why should those who -pay- to have a service that is labeled 'premium' have the potential to be treated far worse than an account that essentially accrues no direct benefit to the lab? Why treat your paying customers worse than the freebies? What sort of sense does that make? Who would want a 'premium' account under those conditions? As a penalty for paying to have an account and getting behind you take away the very thing that everyone that signs up gets -for free-. The avatar and the account.

 

Bingo! Whereas I do believe that people who owe the lab, should pay the lab, the way these issues are dealt with for premium members, simply sucks, these are people who are happy to pay to be here but for one reason or another, it has gone awry.

Make a deal with them, let them pay their dues, don't delete them off the face of the earth.

If someone wants to pay up to date and then carry on as a basic account, it certainly wouldn't hurt to let them do it once but not again. However, am I right in thinking that a good amount of time goes by (several months) before a delinquent account is deleted? If that's so, I would imagine that very few people with delinquent accounts would actually want to pay up to date. Also if that's so, there has to be a limit on the length of time an account can remain delinquent before it's deleted - LL can't maintain it forever on the off-chance that the person will want to return and pay it up to date. The OP had been gone for 4 months and (I think) doesn't actually want to pay the arrears.

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There is a lot of room for improvement on this matter. As it stands the free accounts are safer. This is backwards.

 

I would make suggestions but LL is not open to suggestions. All we have for feedback is the public jira and that is restricted to technical matters.

 

LL needs to look at itself and it's people hard.

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Qwalyphi Korpov wrote:

You usually are on top of stuff but I found this wiki item:

Which may not be accurate.

It says once you downgrade you lose your weekly stipend.

 

Now there's a good example of unclear messages. That warning is true, when you are a Basic member you will obviously lose all those benefits, but when you actually go to downgrade your account it specifically says that the downgrade takes effect from when your current plan expires, so does that warning apply to the period up to your renewal date?

I know that in the case of Land ownership, the idea that you are still Premium until it expires can`t work, because it won`t let you downgrade while you still have land holdings and I have also always wondered if its true that Support would still recgonise you as Premium. But I was sure the stipend was still paid, because you have paid for that money.

/me wonders if a Linden will post and clarify it for us. 147.gif

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I hope the LL folks responsible for these payment policies read this thread.

I love Second Life, but policies like this cause them to lose Premium members.

And it's Premium members who pay their RL rent & payrole. 

My boyfriend has had his account suspended several times for non-payment. He's also had his phone & internet service turned off & had his new motorcycle repossessed.  When a person makes an agreement to pay installments for an item or a service & then stops making payments, this is what happens in RL.

Ok, so your account has been suspended. - What do you do next if you want it back?

1. Phone Customer Service & explain what happened. Ask nicely for help. They may offer suggestions for what you can do next. Your avatar account & inventory may still be in the computer system somewhere.

2. Pay what LL says you owe them. Then downgrade your account to a Basic free account. This way you still keep all your Inventory.

3. If you ever decide to get a Premium account again or if ANYONE wants a Premium account, make sure you keep a Basic account alt & give full Edit permissions to your avatars for each other's stuff.  This way if your Premium avatar gets suspended, your alt can probably still pay rent on rental property & may be able to take stuff your Premium avatar has left in world.

4. Remember there are big risks & reletively small benefits to being a Premium member in SL. That's not to say there aren't some benefits though. I'm happy to be a Premium member myself. - But I also keep track of my payments, try not to spend too much on inventory, & keep a couple Basic account alts for insurance.

 

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Nathaniel Flores wrote:

This is partly why my once-Premium alt was downgraded the moment I heard about this policy. I didn't want to risk losing the account if something happened and I couldn't make the payment.

 

Same for me. I dropped my land and Premium a/c last year after discovering all the different ways LL could shaft me, without consultation or recompense. It will take quite a lot to restore my confidence in the Lab.

 

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Something similar but worse happened to me when I moved in RL and wanted to cancel my DSL contract, since I already had a new contract with a different provider at my new place.

They told me that I could not cancel by letter or fax and had to use their website instead, which I had never used before. Since I had no account password to log in there, I requested a password from their phone support, which only arrived after two weeks. At that point, the cancelation period was up and I had to pay for another year.

That's 480 Euro / $713 for a phone line that has long been disconnected and a 16 Mbit DSL connection that I can't use at my new place. Just great. Of course they cleverly timed this so that the cancelation period would run out. I later learned that they were legally required to accept my original cancelation letter, but now it's too late to do anything about it. They could just deny that they ever received it and point at my belated online cancelation.

The reason that I'm telling you this is that it could have been much worse. Unlike you, I didn't have the option not to pay. I have to scrape the money together somehow or they'll send me a bailiff at some point. Things like this are common practice in the business world, and Linden Lab didn't act quite as unethical in your case.

Sure, they failed to tell you that you had to downgrade your account in order to stop the recurring billing. That was a serious failure on the side of their customer support. But once your fee was due, there was not much else they could do other than following the standard procedure. You owed them money, so they froze your account.

That's rather tame considering that other companies would send you one reminder after the other, all the while adding additional overdue fees to your existing bill. Instead, you can take a year to get the money together, which is a comparatively small sum. I mean, bleep happens :( I'd rather bite the bullet and save up the $72 instead of losing my inventory. And of course I'd downgrade immediately after having my account restored.

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I am left to wonder, why didn't you downgrade your account on the website?

It is the only way to stay out of trouble. And I believe you were not very well informed on how it all works. 

One of the first things you should of done was to check how you cancel a contract that you pay for, that way you make sure that when you don't want to pay for it anymore, it can be easier to cancel.

 

And I have a premium account, and i use lots of land, and i love it. I dont think that your experience brings "down" the value of Premium account. Linden Lab gives us ways to downgrade our accounts, but if we don't downgrade the account, they will need to charge your account because you didn't ask to get downgraded.

 

Sorry to hear that this happens to you, but I think that if you have a good Skin Business, you should be able to make enough money to pay off the 72$ they are asking for with no problem!

 

Good luck!

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The people saying "well you should have downgraded, then, there's a place on the website to do that", while factually correct, are missing the point.

An avatar can be had for free by anyone that signs up. There is therefore no monetary value assigned to having an avatar account, and therefore no valid reason the avatar account should ever be held or frozen for 'nonpayment'.

A "premium" membership for Second Life confers certain benefits: The ability to own land in your own name, supposedly better access to customer support (for all the good that did the OP), and a periodic L$ stipend.

the payment arrangement is pre-payment, you pay ahead of time for the following periods' access. When I payed my annual membership it was paid before I had premium access at all. It's not like you have premium access for 30 days and then a bill comes due; you pay, and then you get premium access.

So when a membership lapses, LL not only revokes the premium membership and the benefits of it (It is well within their ability to reclaim the land holdings, return the prims, and even back out a stipend if they have to, and downgrade the access to support) they also remove your access to the item everyone else can have for free if they just never bother to pay for a membership.

This amounts to a paying member being subject to a penalty for being a paid member that no free account is subject to. It's not fair treatment of paying customers, it's bad policy, it's harmful to the company's bottom line, and it should be changed.

Whether the OP followed the proper procedure to downgrade their account and is now screwed is secondary to the main point that this is a bad way to conduct business. Add to that Customer Supports' apparent inability to instruct the OP as to how to downgrade the account when the request was made to not be billed for the next cycle, and that's two strikes on the Labs' part. Strike three is that when the account freeze occurred and the customer complained, some effort should have been made to resolve this in a way that wouldn't leave the customer feeling abused and angry enough to complain loudly to a large audience.

A better policy would be, say, a 30 day and 15 day notice of expiration, explaining that at 12:01 am of the expiration date your land will be returned to Governor Linden and all prims on the land will be returned and your stipends will cease and your access to support will be returned to the basic level, and then at 12:01 am on the expiration date if you have not made your membership payment all of that occurs and your account is reset to Basic. There should never be any reason that your avatar account which, again, is free to anyone who signs up, should be locked out.

Leaving the avatar account in place costs the lab nothing in comparison to all the free accounts, they would not be expending any additional resources supporting the land and the stipend and they would save an awful lot of negative word of mouth (this is far from the first time this subject has come up). They would probably even gain more Premium memberships. From a customer service perspective this policy is short-sighted and foolish and I hope the Lindens will finally see a need to change it, though I'm not going to hold my breath.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I sympathise with the original poster.  I think if people stop paying their Premium, they should only lose the privileges they gained from being Premium, not everything.  They should just revert, unceremoniously, to Basic.

One way to safeguard your main avatar / resident is to keep them as Basic and have an 'administrative' alt with the Premium account, which can deal with land etc., leaving your main free of any money worries.

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I am sorry that you had to find out about the ugly truth about SL, LL and their customer service this way.  Yes, as many people including yourself have said, you should have manually downgraded your account before the billing date.  That being said, the situation stinks to no end.  I used to have an account with a premium membership.  Like many, I opted for the more financially efficient annual membership.  Problem with an annual membership is as the months pass, one forgets exactly when the rebill date is.  It's easy to lose track of that.  Not full excuse, but I do understand how it can happen.

This is why it is so important to know all of the terms and conditions especially when so much of your time, money, and "yourself" is invested in something like an account here. 

For those who would dismiss the OP's statements with a blase' "Well she should have known better.", how many "surprise" biling policy changes have there been in SL's history?  How many people went to put in some real world money only to find out that the method of payment that they have been using was no longer valid?  LL often makes changes that are poorly communicated.  Their support is well... for crap.  If someone runs into a billing issue and has to wait for help from LL and it is close to their billing cycle... they are going to have problems. 

I have to agree with the OP on the inadvisability of getting a premium account.  What reason is there to have one?  Land isn't really the best "purchase" anymore and once you "own" it, one incurrs a financial responsibility that is tied directly to the "life" of their account.  "Debtor's prision" is a very real thing here in SL.  If you can't pay tier, you don't lose the land, you lose everything.  Much better to rent and let someone else take those risks for precious little profit. 

It makes very little sense for LL to have it set up that a premium account provides no particular advantage over a basic account yet has all of these additional liabilities.  Odd move on their part.  I don't understand them.  I try to, but more out of recreation than any real expectation of figuring them out.  I like imponderables.  They are fun.

 

Edited to add:  OP, they have you by the short-hairs... Your original avie is probably just in "cold storage" and you will have to cough up what they claim you owe them to get them back.  If you can't then yes, they are indeed "dead".  Starting over from scratch isn't so bad... You will still go reaching in your inventory for things that aren't there anymore for a bit bit you get used to it.

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Hi Sooner -

I am sorry to hear what happened but it seems there may be hope - you might still be able to save your original avi.  I have been struggling lately in world with a variety of issues, mainly being lonely and your post made me see that there are still people who feel very passionately about SL.  So I am still hoping that maybe I can still find someone to hang out with and explore with.  I have actually been pondering leaving and your post touched me and made me reconsider.  So, in honor of your post and my RL birthday (which was Tuesday) I am going to send you some Lindens tonight when I log on.  Not enough to pay your account and regain your avi but some assistance.  And yes, I know some will say I don't need to do that and perhaps should not do that.  You are probably right but I am celebrating my birthday but sharing with someone else.  I am hoping that with my assistance and perhaps whatever you can get together you can regain your account and your original avi and then take care of whatever needs to be done to make your SL continue to be exciting and fun.  An of course downgrade to basic *winks*

And if you want someone to hang with - please give me a holler.  I am definitely looking for friends and people to explore SL with.  I know there is so much I haven't seen but it is not as much fun alone.  Hope to see you inworld.

Sapphire Hissop

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Hey all,

First of all, Sapphire, thank you very much. I had not checked this thread and logged in to discover your generosity. Thank you. I will try to find a way to celebrate your birthday and I will use the Linden you sent to either save for Anik's resurrection or try to make some progress with my skin biz (which was NEVER thriving, sad to say - i'm ok but i'm not a wildly skilled artist like some folks who make skins... still... fun for me and a little spare change once in awhile).

I found a lot out in the real world that I love. That was the secret benefit of being bounced. Knitting, for example - who knew? Yep. Knitting. And reading. You know, old school - books. With pages and everything. And my relationship with my s/o, which improves with actual time just like any relationship, RL or SL.

Big benefits. Obviously I'm still furious with LL and won't be going premium again, but I really appreciate the kindness of many of the  posters, who often did a better job of explaining the issue than I did. I still hope to learn some scripting and more about meshes and so on, but I believe my alliance with this corporation will be much more clear eyed and calculating that it had been historically. And I really don't see that I'll be inviting any more RL friends to join. A nice cup of coffee and a chat in RL face to face wins.

One of the better lessons learned from this experience.

Cheers all and thanks again,

SoonerGlass Resident
who will miss the ghost of Anik Pavlova

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This is the reason I cancelled my Premium acct. Too risky. Also, I own sims so there was no additional benefit to being Premium. In the past having access to Live Chat might have made the risk of having my avi killed off worthwhile, but Live Chat has for quite some time consisted of: File a ticket (even for time sensitive things, and the ticket is ignored for weeks or months).

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You only lose the account if you let it lapse.

If you want to leave premium just tier down and then switch an account to basic.

My 2006 account used to be premium, and is no more - I went basic on it.

You need to of course get rid of any land you own when doing so.

Very easy, very simple process. If you've been around since 2005 you would know.

 

 

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So should Customer Support so that they can instruct someone how to do so when told "I don't want to be billed for next year, please cancel my premium account".

Better yet, they should have the ability to do the transaction themselves so they can assist the customer instead of blowing them off and leaving them to get their account frozen when they lapse.

The OP admitted fault in not properly getting their account set back to basic, so the high-horse proclamations are no longer neccessary. Doesn't change the fact that this is a bad policy and should be changed, and is most likely preventing customers from signing up premium, which hits LL right in the wallet. They really -really- need to take a look at this if they are so worried about their income streams.

 

 

 

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Imnotgoing Sideways wrote:

You can have a free avatar, but, you can't have a premium account for free.  I'm well aware of this.  I could always post with any of my 13 free accounts to prove that point.  Every single one of those accounts are subject to my personal responsibility to stay out of situations which may get me banned. (
^_^
)y 

Maybe I missed something but .. this isn't about being banned .. this is about being taken hostage because the OP didn't pay the yearly Premium fee. My point being, if you only have paid accounts then it makes sense to cut someone off totally for non-payment. But when you provide free accounts, it makes more sense to reduce someone to "Free Account" status until they pay again.

 

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