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Premium Account Results in Avie Death


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Qie Niangao wrote:

The "stick" may sound useful, but if fear of the stick is driving people to avoid the carrots, there's a problem. 

(snip)

 

 

I agree with Qie.  Yes, LL has the right to use this particular "stick" to get people to pay, but they offer no real "carrot" for being premium in the first place.  As it stands now, premium membership is far more of a liability than it is an asset. 

While LL does have the "right" to have and enforce the policies that they do, any business has the right to run itself into the ground due to bad business decisions and poor customer service.

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Two ways, either holding land without premium, (usually happens if the person doesn't abandon/sell off the land before the end of the premium subscription) or buying L$ and not having sufficient funds on their payment type.  I think using USD for the marketplace might do it, but having never used USD for it, I can't be sure.

Well, I stand corrected.  I had it pointed out to me in RL that a stick LL could use is to absolutely refuse any form of buying by the delinquent account.  LL can and should sell the land and/or L$ balance to recover the amount owed, return the account to basic and then.. block it from making any purchases with USD ever again.  No buying L$ via the LindEX, no premium/conceirge and no USD purchases on the Marketplace.  Personally, I think that's a case of cutting one's nose off to spite your neighbor, but it does make an odd sort of sense, if we were still under M's rule. 

Actually, I could see this in place of putting an immediate hold on the account, with some modifying.  So instead of a hold on the account, why not block the ability to buy or transfer L$/USD to another account?  The only thing you'd be able to do is sell stuff in world and then sell the resulting L$ on the Lindex. (Third party marketplaces require a transfer of L$ funds to another avatar.)  If the account is not brought up to current within 30 days, then any land and L$ balance is sold, and if that doesn't pay off the balance owed, then the account is put on hold.  A grace period that encourages (or only allows) payback, then the hammer.  30 days is plenty of time to get the situation sorted if it's going to be sorted.

 

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Vania Chaplin wrote:

That’s the major problem here; OP has to pay for a full year to have her account back.

But if they'd been a monthly payer, only a month would be required ?   -  that's a bit rough on someone who has had sufficient faith in LL to pay a year ahead previously.

 

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Yes, that’s one thing that I feel is wrong with LL’s policy on this: the more one is confident in paying in advance, the more they are punished if something goes wrong. I’m not asking for give us anything for free, I realize that they are a private company in search of money, and they deserve it. But the actual policy, although better than previous one, in fact prevents people to upgrade to Premium, or to choose a longer plan, for fear of being suspended and having to pay a large sum for something that was not used, as is the case in the OP.

I have two premium accounts, both yearly, but to anyone who ask me if it is worth to become Premium, I give the same answer that others gave here: make a brand new, disposable, alt and make it Premium. And, as I was not aware of the possible problems if my payment fails, I have ever sufficient funds to pay my bills for next 2 months ahead. My Premium account will be renewed in July; during this month I will increase my credit to fulfill it.

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Thanks, Raudf.  I had no idea it worked like that;  I always thought that if you downgraded to Basic, any land was immediately and automatically abandoned, and any group tier contribution withdrawn.  I guess I thought wrong.

I also mistakenly thought that any L$ purchases were cleared through the charging institution before the L$ balance was credited, but even if that were true, there's always a chance that credits could be backed-out later (fraud, insufficient funds up-chain, or something).

Anyway, back to the main point:  I'm not trying to promote leniency for leniency's sake -- rather, I'm casting about for whatever policy:

  1. least discourages new Premium members,
    and to a lesser extent:
  2. most encourages the once-paying member to eventually return (either as Premium or as an Estate landowner),
    and to a much lesser extent:
  3. discourages dropping Premium status in the first place.

To me, the main thing about #1 and #2 is the unboundedness of the liability that a Premium member can incur if payment lapses.  In the case of the OP, they're hit with the full year renewal because they were on the annual renewal plan, but I think it's even worse than that: as I understand it, the Premium fee* continues to be charged against the account, so that to restore the account (even if only to downgrade), one has to pay membership for the entire time the account was inaccessible because of non-payment -- meaning that the barrier to returning just keeps getting higher.  That's a huge disincentive to ever come back, and the risk of it occurring is a strong reason never to go Premium in the first place.

Instead, there should be a cap on continued charges.  I agree that 30 days is as good an interval as any, so I think a reasonable approach is to limit charges to one month of Premium fee (about US$10) plus one additional month of tier ("additional" because tier is billed in arrears for the peak usage of the prior 30 days, so by the time there's a billing problem, tier is already a month in arrears).  And that should be as far behind as a lapsed Premium can fall.  After that, they revert to Basic automatically, their land is reclaimed by LL, and if they want full access to their (now Basic) account again, they have to pay that fixed balance due.

This isn't that different from the current approach, really, but it removes the negative incentives by which the current policy discourages both new and returning Premium members.

I'm not sure I completely understand your proposal, but I think I like the idea of freezing a lapsed account's ability to transfer funds to another account.

__________

*I don't know, but I've always supposed that tier fees also continue to be charged until the land is repossessed. No idea how that works with group tier contributions.

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Qie Niangao wrote:

Instead, there should be a cap on continued charges.  I agree that 30 days is as good an interval as any, so I think a reasonable approach is to limit charges to one month of Premium fee (about US$10) plus one
additional
month of tier ("additional" because tier is billed in arrears for the peak usage of the prior 30 days, so by the time there's a billing problem, tier is already a month in arrears).  And that should be as far behind as a lapsed Premium can fall.  After that, they revert to Basic automatically, their land is reclaimed by LL, and if they want full access to their (now Basic) account again, they have to pay that fixed balance due.

This isn't
that
different from the current approach, really, but it removes the negative incentives by which the current policy discourages both new and returning Premium members.

This seems like the simplest, most reasonable approach to this problem I've heard yet. The thing is, LL may not even be interested in changing their policy on this. Let's face it, LL hasn't been well known for their sensibility when it comes to making decisions. I have guarded hope that this may be changing.

Even if this policy, or something comparable, is set into place, there will still be issues that come up and will need to be resolved on a case by case basis. This is why improving customer service is so important, and should be on top of Rodvik's to-do list.

This emphasis on new user registration is wonderful, but what if LL were to put forth a concerted effort into providing their users with top notch support? Think of what that could do for their reputation. Though it may take a while to wipe out the negative perceptions they've inspired over the years in that regards, eventually, it could happen. Then people wouldn't be getting disgusted and pulling out of SL left and right.

That and lower the damn tier fees, ffs.

...Dres

Edited to change one little word... what can I say, I'm a perfectionist.

 

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Well, I did research the issue of land still owned by time of expiration when I had to stop my premium account for a bit.  I knew I'd still be charged tier if I didn't get rid of the land by one month before the date. 

Honestly, LL could simply get rid of premium at this point and just charge straight tier, given the quality of support that Premium accounts get.  Yeah.. that's supposed to be one of the carrots, along side land ownership and a stipend, the use of the online chat.  It's outsourced to people who don't really have the tools to do anything more than answer questions, using the info they find in either the knowledge base or forums anyways.  A this point, the carrot wouldn't be big enough even if LL had a policy that favored the resident :matte-motes-frown:

One thing I want to make clear is that there is no policy that will make LL anything other than the bad guy.  Usually by the time it's gotten to the point of account lock, the resident is already mad enough to never return.. or has no intention of paying, ever and thus shouldn't be allowed to return.  A grace period of no less than 15 days fees capped (though I thought they already were) might help, but they're going to still be the baddy when the hammer does come down.  We're still going to see posts like this. 

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Raudf Fox wrote:

Honestly, LL could simply get rid of premium at this point and just charge straight tier, given the quality of support that Premium accounts get.  Yeah.. that's supposed to be one of the carrots, along side land ownership and a stipend, the use of the online chat.  It's outsourced to people who don't really have the tools to do anything more than answer questions, using the info they find in either the knowledge base or forums anyways.  A this point, the carrot wouldn't be big enough even if LL had a policy that favored the resident :matte-motes-frown:

I've thought about this proposition before. It would certainly change things in a major way, though I'm not sure how this would benefit LL. I say this simply because if it doesn't benefit them, they won't do it. The only thing I can think of in that regards is they might be get more people to buy mainland property, thereby increasing their tier intake. Might being the operative word.

Also, it would entail a complete reworking of their business model; of which, the case could be made, that this needs to be done anyway. The problem with that is it would have to be thoroughly thought out, carefully constructed and impeccably implemented, or people will be setting themselves on fire and rioting in the streets. Can LL really be counted on to smoothly make such sweeping changes? Doubtful at best.

Furthermore, the question begs to be asked, if LL can't provide adequate support to their existing premium members, what happens when they're faced with having to provide it to everyone?

...Dres

 

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If LL did do away with the Premium vs. Basic system, they wouldn't have to provide stipends anymore, which might be a small advantage to them.

What if instead of the system they have now, they offered their dumbed-down, limited use Basic viewer for free & then charged $5 / month to use the "Advanced" viewer. Maybe customer-service options like Abuse Reporting & buying lindens would only be possible with the "Advanced" viewer. If this package also came with the 512m of "free" tier, if would basically be a new form of Premium membership. If these people could then buy tier in units of 512 m, instead of having to double land-holdings at every upper increment, I think more people would buy more land & LL would be happy with all the Tier revenue they'd be getting.

Alternatively, they could avoid a monthly charge & just charge a $20 a one time fee to download the "Advanced" viewer.

 

(Edit to correct typos & add last sentence)

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That is true about the stipends; and if they charged for use of the "Advanced" viewer they'd make a killing. But I think that idea would not be the slightest bit popular among existing non-premium residents, and that counts for a large number of users. *pictures nails being driven into a coffin*

Besides that... what about third party viewers?

...Dres

 

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Yeah, I think charging to use the "Advanced" viewer would be hideous. I'm using Pheonix myself because I hate Viewer 2.

Yet, Linden Labs seems to be heading in a direction similar to what I suggested. They say that Viewer 1 based Third Party Viewers won't work pretty soon, the Search function won't work & maybe other functions won't work either? Maybe they'e getting sick of providing a service for free while other people make viewers that users prefer? 

Of course the real solution to a laging customer base is provideing a better service, not just enticing more new potential customers to give it a drive around the block. But will Linden Labs really understand that reasoning & follow it? Time will tell.

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Persephone Emerald wrote:

Of course the real solution to a laging customer base is provideing a better service, not just enticing more new potential customers to give it a drive around the block. But will Linden Labs really understand that reasoning & follow it? Time will tell.

 

This is my greatest wish for SL, and you're right, time will, indeed, tell.

There's an argument to be made for having only one viewer base, there's little sense in supporting two completely different code bases. Eventually, there will be so many things implemented in the V2 code that porting them back to V1 will get increasingly tedious.

I've used Firestorm and though it's not ready for prime time yet, I can see how I could end up preferring it in the end.

What I can't see is LL getting rid of third party viewers all together, especially when it gives them an opportunity to use code developed by TPV devs instead of having to pay someone to develop their own.

...Dres

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  • 1 year later...

And to think I was almost ready to try out premium on an alternate account that I would use for R&D...

This single issue negates any real benefits the Premium membership would have granted me. Sure, it'd be easy enough to mark the day of renewal on a calendar and downgrade before its up, but I would have to cut it very close to the deadline in order to maximize value. That combined with payment issues scarcely seen anywhere else makes a subscription seem a fair bit risky, seeing as not only do you lose your land holdings, but also access to your avatar if something goes wrong and the downgrade doesn't 'stick' in time. I have seen premium residents burned in more ways than just this, of course, which is also factoring into my decision.

Though I have never had a subscription, I rent land in Second Life, and know how annoying and even traumatic it can be to get your builds returned or have to remove your build in order to move away from potentially unfavorable business agreements. And from that experience it is my belief that having your land repossessed and your builds returned is penalty enough for a monetary delinquency on your account. I think at the very least there should be an account option where subscribing residents may choose how delinquency is handled, choosing between account suspension or loss of land holdings and downgrade to basic. I also think in either case there should be a 1 week to 1 month grace period, and one's payment plan should be adjustable even during that grace period, perhaps adding a fee of $10 USD or so as a late fee.

Another way to set this up would be to do away with the subscription-based premium membership entirely, or offer a completely prepaid way for residents to get the benefits premium members enjoy, perhaps at slightly higher rates than a subscription (analogous to a contract), if that matters to LL. The main difference would be the ability of residents to pay for the services they want in the same way that one would rent from a private estate, for instance. If they don't want or need a particular service anymore (such as land or a Linden home, or a stipend, or anything else LL offers), they can easily cancel it while keeping what they do want/need. If tier were also restructured to be a flat rate per square meter, or even a flat rate per 512 square meters, I imagine there would be a lot more people willing to pay LL more money.

Fingers crossed that the Lindens are paying attention...

~Alex

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am pretty sure you can change your plan anytime upto the expiry date. can do on your dashboard. if you got a year plan and change to monthly plan then when the year plan runs out then you get billed only for monthly after that

is when you do nothing and the current plan date expires then is problems 

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  • 4 months later...

Hun i know it stinx and atm my account is also frozen but if you did spend thousands of dollars wich is a lot of money btw why dont you just spend the $79 to re new your yr account then cancell the membership so you dont end up FROZEN not DEAD theres a diference. your probably thinking right now this B dont know what ive been through and what ive spent well I also have an account Frozen Donna Geddins probably 3yrs old that i stop playing for 1 wole yr and now im back i will unfreez her and right before i run out of membership i will cancell the premium pay ment i spent 10 thousand U.S.A dollars in a matter of 2 yrs and i know i can pay $100 or so to get it back ...

People dont be missinformed you wont loose your account but it will be frozen untill you can get it back ...

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