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YOu have no recourse if you get ripped off?


Eric Castanea
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I bought an item from the market place. The merchant absolutlely will not make good.  I wrote a review explaining my negative experiences, and it was astro-turfed. The merchant is lying on the market place and ripping people off. What can I do to get justice?

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I am very sorry to hear you had a bad experience with a SL merchant. Each time this happens it is hurtful to the individual customer & to the wider Second Life economy as it can make people trust commerce here less.

There would be a lot less of this if there was a bit more of a bar to entry to begin doing business in SL. It is a little too easy to open up shop in Second Life and this can hurt the customers when they face an irresponsible merchant. On SLM it requires zero investment into SL to begin selling so you can imagine some merchant's attitudes.

It can be just a sort of casual fun to begin selling items in SL, some don't even create their own stuff or even understand they are opening a business.... so it is very much a joke to them, like Farmville, or some game like that. Just buy a pile of wares, slap it up on SLM and.... tada!... they are now playing in SL as a "merchant". If they get any customers, whatever kind of service they may receive is at this merchant's sole discretion. So sadly for customers there can be no support in these situations.

I wish Linden Lab enacted stronger business measures to discourage most of these joker merchants from opening up shops in the first place.

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Um, I am not sure of what happened but usually a resend is no trouble for a merchant. I mean, isn't it like just a few clicks to redeliver?

But, there might not be a record of the transaction. This is another issue, in this case maybe you can contact LL or look or a Jira entry for non delivering marketplace purchases. I mean, I don't know for sure if there is one, but you can always check. To figure out Jiras, I recomend the Wiki and anything you find in video from from Torley.

On a side note, I was just pondering how odd it is..not many people make star ratings these days. So, You might have a point about the astroturfing sort of effort...but then again, this is so hard to find out and in some respects always a fear. I mean, it could simply be mystery shopping services. They ask them to shop and try the service....obviously, this leads to astro turfing as you know the mystery shoppers do not have much of a flock to run with to hide lol. I mean, many products sit for years and get only 2-3 stars. They might sell several times, but only have 1-2 reviews lol. These days, less people review stuff or star things....but maybe it is just me that is seeing this due to my own experience? I don't have any data or measurements, but they might have used a mystery shopping service. I don't use one myself, I guess I am a bit harsh and am sort of wanting to get legit numbers to learn more about business and sales here. It would skew my resultant experience as a "normal" business person. But when you think about it, a mystery shopper is hard to mask and it becomes obvious they didn't star. So, unless instructed they might star to sort of get hired again? I don't know, I am not a mystery shopper nor have I spoke to any. I have heard of something similar in world though.

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Eric Castanea wrote:

I bought an item from the market place. The merchant absolutlely will not make good.  I wrote a review explaining my negative experiences, and it was astro-turfed. The merchant is lying on the market place and ripping people off. What can I do to get justice?

Correct, you have little recourse.

Although a burden, if you're unsure, check their policy first although again some don't have one.  Check other reviews, pop them an IM.

If I see a merchants policy that reads something like "products are no transfer, NO REFUNDS, NO EXCHANGES POSSIBLE, YOUR FAULT IF YOU BUY THE WRONG THING", that's a bit of a red flag to me.  As for the NO REFUND OR EXCHANGE EVER POSSIBLE part of some policies,well anything is possible so again that gives me a hint of their approach to customer service.  At that point, i'm probably already furiously searching for alternate products.

Every merchant is entitled to their choice of policy, just as every customer is equally entitled to spend elsewhere.

SL is a huge case of Caveat Emptor.

 

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My recourse, is normally what you have done already, if I am buying something "big" or from someone who can be a bit "iffy", I buy it from the Marketplace.  If notecards for support or any other reasonable contact is ignored I then review both the product and customer service (giving them 24-48 hrs notice usually to correct it prior to leaving the review).  I shouldn't have to do it but it's life.  Some people have idiotic store policies that forget we are customers and preach about how we should or should not make contact instead.  If I have had no contact, I probably would not review until I was satisfied the person wasn't on holidays or something similar.

Failing that, I guess there is no recourse really, other than the fact that one bad review can get around. I am sure we all know well known brands in-world we don't shop at anymore due to poor treatment, my friends don't either, then their friends don't, and so on until suddenly they are no longer flavour of the month and wonder why.

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If I'm looking at the right product review, there are 16 positive reviews and 2 reviews after the one you posted at the beginning of April from other customers explaining to you how to get it to work in your viewer. Am I right?

I don't know, but with so many other people leaving positive reviews that it works, I'd be inclined to believe it's a problem on your end and not with the product or merchant, but that's just me.

I'd send the creator another notecard. Unless your first card was flat out aggressive and rude, they probably didn't receive it the first time. Try sending an IM as well notifying them that you sent a notecard.

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Ah, well that puts it in a different light then, doesn't it?

And once you have left a negative review, you have pretty much lost all leverage, unless you can convince the merchant to believe you if you say you will delete it if they teach you how to use the product correctly.

When I am shopping I am used to seeing the negative reviews from the customers who can't figure out how to use something that most ppl can -- those reviews don't hurt sales at all.

 

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Well unfortunately there are always creators who will be willing to get positive reviews anywhere and anyway they can. I won't pretend they don't exist, although I don't think *as many of them exist as some would like to claim. Heck in some cases I've noticed products get awesome reviews for a while, and then all of a sudden one or two bad ones. Sometimes it makes you wonder if perhaps something done during one of LL's infamous "changes" screwed something up along the way. It's entirely possible that something *did happen and it's not just that one person who had something go wrong. Just as it's entirely possible for those changes that screwed things up to be fixed, making the product work right again. Then who comes out looking like an ididot? The customer. It happens, not very often imo, but it does happen. Sometimes creators get folks to leave positive reviews after a negative without said person actually being a real customer too. I'm sure we've all heard of someone doing this at one point or another. Not that I'd sit there and finger point, but I've had a similar experience and it definitely soured my view for a while, especially my view of someone I thought was a wonderful creator.

That said, no, you don't really have an recourse. But neither does a merchant who gets an unwarranted review, either. It's not all that fair on either end. Customer gets the shaft with a crappy product and poor customer service in one scenario, merchant gets a crappy review, bad word of mouth and lost business in the other.I don't think it should *ever* get to either scenario, but it does. I personally think open communication needs to be had between both parties. It's not pleasant to be on either side of a negative review, regardless, though.

As unfortunate as it may be, that is the way things work. Right or wrong, in some instances it's not possible for one party or the other to *not* feel as though they're the one getting shafted.

I do think that problems ARE worked out more often than they used to in the past. Unfortunately we don't often hear about the issues that get resolved as much as the ones that *don't. I don't think there is an answer that leaves everyone, or even mostly everyone, happy. No matter what system they work out. The review system sucks in and of itself, whether you are a merchant or a customer and needs a complete overhaul. But on the other side of the coin, without the reviews who will ever hear about the *warranted negative reviews? Quandry, eh? The disgruntled customer is still left with little to no recourse. I definitely do not have the answer, I haven't found anyone yet who does either.

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I don't know the story here so I can't judge, but it does bug me that when people come into these forums to flame merchants, very few people look for the merchants' side of it. In this scenario, if I found the correct product in question (and it seems pretty obvious it is), then this person flaming off that the merchant is a "liar" is unfounded and unfair given the 16 other positive reviews and follow up reviews from other satisfied customers trying to aide this fellow.

As a merchant and a customer, I can unbiasedly say there are idiots in both realms. You can't always assume people that come in here raging are always the golden victimized children.

Although I think this is in-part to the gag-order put on people here when calling others out (which I like because it offers protection for the other party in case they are wrongly accused), I do encourage people to do simple google searches before automatically taking sides on issues and joining in bashing and blame games.

Googling this fellow's name turned up several marketplace reviews and common sense allowed me to educatedly guesstimate which product he was talking about from the review he left. I find it good ethics to look to the product/merchant in question before saying OH SOME MERCHANTS ARE JUST RUBBISH *RAGE*.

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I ahve had this issue occur many different times, in fact recently a friend purchased soemthing from marketplace that was never delivered. He contacted the merchant over 4 months ago and has yet to hear from them. It seems as if the merchent themselves no longer logs into Second Life.

Maybe it would be a good idea to regualte that, show proof that you are an active user especially if you are a merchant. Maybe also there should be specific guidelines in relation to issues that should be followed for all merchants.

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A large number of positive reviews is something I would automatically regard as suspicious due to my experience as a merchant.

Customers who have actually contacted me (roughly 100?) have almost always been VERY satisfied with the product, and yet I have practically nothing for reviews. Nothing AT ALL for written reviews, as far as I know, since the change-over from XStreet, even though I have almost 600 products and get never less than a page of multiple-item orders every day.

I can imagine someone getting a written review. Sure. But when I see more than 2 on the same recently-offered item, it's only natural for me to think there's something fishy, or at least political going on.

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Josh Susanto wrote:

A large number of positive reviews is something I would automatically regard as suspicious due to my experience as a merchant.

Customers who have actually contacted me (roughly 100?) have almost always been VERY satisfied with the product, and yet I have practically nothing for reviews. Nothing AT ALL for written reviews, as far as I know, since the change-over from XStreet, even though I have almost 600 products and get never less than a page of multiple-item orders every day.

I can imagine someone getting a written review. Sure. But when I see more than 2 on the same recently-offered item, it's only natural for me to think there's something fishy, or at least political going on.

I completely agree with you on this.  If a listing has a very large number of positive reviews...

I dont care how good the product in SLM or Xstreet is supposed to be.  In my 2+ years of xstreet/slm experience of selling, even my oldest sculpty pack (from Fall of 2008) that is to this day still my most popular selling sculpty pack and has rough around a 800 sales since it was release and that I have had countless customers that have raved to me about it in IMs and notes and personal discussion.... 

this pack has only had 29 XSTREET+SLM Customer Reviews (22=5 star, 4=4star, and way back in 2009 I got a blast of 3=1Star that I am 99% sure was a griefer of some kind).

29 most all positive SLM customer reviews in over 2.5 years of sales around 800.

So as soon as I see any Merchant with an item that has 100 or 300 5 star reviews... to me...

IT WAS GAMED ! 

But the whole review system on SLM is garbage and bogus.  I just hope most customers of SLM realize that the SLM Customer Reviews / Rating systems is a gamed system and dont put too much stock in it.

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I don't think most people ever come in assuming the person who feels wronged(whether they are the merchant or the customer) is automatically "right". At least not anyone with any sort of common sense-most people here seem to have at least a little bit of that. I don't need to google someone, or even need to see the product they are talking about, to care, or offer my own opinion on the entire matter as a whole. On the flip side, just because someone uses an approach you may not like, doesn't necessarily mean they are entirely wrong, either.

It goes much deeper than just one single instance, one product, one customer. The entire process is whack at best. It's not uncommon at all to find both merchant, and customer alike, who think the system needs an overhaul because *they feel as if they have no recourse, at one point or another. I agree 100% with that sentiment, even if the person who feels wronged was entirely incorrect.

I do wonder about people who go around googling and looking others up though. Does it really matter who, or what, the complaint is about? Can't folks just make a general claim when they feel wronged? Even if they *are incorrect in their assumptions or opinion.. they're still free to express that the experience they had was less than stellar. Heck I even tell people that have made complaints to me in world about one thing or another that wasn't right with something they bought from me. Even when they've been 100% wrong. I still thank them for letting me know. I still do my best to be objective. I still give them the time of day to express their opinion and feelings if they so desire. Maybe it's just me, but I do believe even folks who are 100% wrong, ought to be given the chance to express themselves. Preferably without scrutiny, although I know that's not really feasible for a platform such as this.

 

On a slightly related note...Have you ever had to leave a negative review and then had that merchant's "friends"(I use this ter loosely as I wouldn't consider anyone who did this to be a friend, lol) come at you in "defense" of that product and person? Or worse have a merchant do that all on their own. I have, it's not all that pleasant. I'd never dream of doing such a thing, but it happens more often than it ought to.(in other words it should *never* happen) It's no wonder customers have a sour view of merchants and are afraid to even dare speak ill. The retaliation far too many take, or those "representing" them take, prevents a lot of people from even bothering. It shouldn't, but it does. Some merchants have a "I can't be wrong" attitude and aren't afraid to show it. I couldn't imagine taking that approach even if I 100% KNEW I was right. I would never approach a customer like that, ever.

 

 

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I didn't say people can't express themselves. I just am one of those people who need to be wondered about, who google others. Oh my. :) I don't know, I just have this ~dangerous~ need to know both sides before I give an opinion. Insane, I know! I know a lot of people find flaming fun but I know merchants and customers alike see these forums, so before I agree someone was in the wrong, I try to find out a bit more, because I know when someone says THIS MERCHANT IS A F!@#*($ LIAR AND STOLE FROM ME ROAR, it's better to try and learn a bit more before you go OH YEAH MERCHANTS ARE THIEVES THEY SHOULD ALL BE SHANKED.

My response would have been articulated differently that yes, customers need better recourse when ripped off; I have been ripped off and know it sucks that LL doesn't do squat about it, but it wasn't simply about that. The merchant was called a liar, accused of ripping people off, and using fake accounts to write reviews.

When accusations like that are thrown around, it's pretty silly not to look to both sides if you're going to give a comment. I agree on the general topic, "Customers need better recourse against scammers". So I agree with you, but when such inflammatory accusations are tossed about, that's a whole other ball game. That's where my problem is. If it does look like the person genuinely is a scammer, send them to the gallows, but in this case, I have a hard time believing they are.

=)

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<shrug> eh, people say stuff all the time out of sheer anger and frustration. It's not always the best choice, that's for sure. But I still listen to the complaint. Knowing both sides IS nice, I'll give you that. But I don't personally go looking for it. I didn't really see this op as a complete and utter attack though. That very well may be where we differ. I figured the OP was most likely as frustrated as I was when I ran across a similar merchant not too long ago. Granted I took a different approach, lol, but it certainly didn't stop me from being frustrated and even showing that frustration to friends inworld when  was discussing the issue. I had plenty I would have liked to say about the similar experience I had. It's likely some of my friends inworld saw/heard a similar reaction from me too, lol I wouldn't put it on a public forum, but I did use the review section to state my opinion and perception of the raw deal I got. Sometimes less than stellar customer service brings out the bear in folks. People, generally speaking, when they feel they've been wronged, tend to throw a bit of emotion in with it. I may not always agree with how they go about things, but I have to give folks credit at all for speaking up. Any merchant who fails to provide 100% awesome customer service, is failing their customers. I've done it, lots of other merchants have too, because we're not perfect. Some folks aren't afraid to let us, and others, know when we're not too. I figure if I am going to be a merchant, I need to learn to wear my big girl panties. Accusations, foul language, poor choice of expressions, using the wrong platform to express anger and so much more.. those are all part of business. They're ugly, and no one likes them. But they happen and they teach us an awful lot.

I may have spent way too many years irl in the customer service field. I tend to overlook things others might not. I also tend to take a bit more mild approach than some think I should. I prefer to look at the problem, and not the person. I've been told it's a character flaw I need to work on. I just haven't yet found a reason to work on it.

 

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Tari. It seems to me that you are tilting at a windmill by finding fault with someone who chose to get some facts about the topic of this thread. Whether or not you would choose to get some facts doesn't matter. The fact is, it is *good*, and preferable, to have facts when discussing something, and Ai did a very good job in getting some which, as someone said, threw a completely different light on the matter.

You said that you prefer to look at the problem than the person. That's exactly what Ai did.

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Toysoldier Thor wrote:

this pack has only had
29 XSTREET+SLM Customer Reviews
(22=5 star, 4=4star, and way back in 2009 I got a blast of 3=1Star that I am 99% sure was a griefer of some kind).

29 most all positive SLM customer reviews in over 2.5 years of sales around 800.

So as soon as I see any Merchant with an item that has 100 or 300 5 star reviews... to me...

IT WAS GAMED ! 

But the whole review system on SLM is garbage and bogus.  I just hope most customers of SLM realize that the SLM Customer Reviews / Rating systems is a gamed system and dont put too much stock in it.

 

But some items are selling more than that and are selling for 3 years or more. Imagine one item selling more that 3000 times in a year...
There could be some not gamed ratings in some items, maybe cause they are good or cheap or are selling for years. I notice most of my reviews are from people who had problems with delivery or whatever, and after my redelivery they are grateful enough to go and make a review. I'm also shy to ask for reviews, so they are doing for their own ^^  So there are special items that could have lot of good reviews for their own.

The suspicius ratings for me are the ones that have a review each day... or even more than one each day. You have to sell more than 30 each day to have this, I guess ^^'
Maybe would be great to see not only rating, also the number of sold items. That way we could guess how many times item was sold without problems ^^

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Tilting at a windmill? I thought it was just a discussion. I didn't say it was "bad" to have facts or information about a specific issue. I said that *I* am not the type to go looking for it. And yes it does make me wonder about folks who do, and folks who suggest others go google. Does that mean they're bad people? No, and nowhere in any of my posts did I say that they were. Past experiences lead me to believe more often than not, those who "search out" others like that, aren't always doing it for the right reasons, and aren't all that helpful with the issue at hand, either. I didn't say that was the case here, though. For this specific topic, *I* don't need to see the exact incident. It is a huge problem, that expands beyond just this one person and this one incident. It's a big problem actually, that affects a lot of people.

And no, it didn't throw a completely different light on the topic, for *me*. Someone actually send me a stupid link yesterday in world to this product and the review the OP made. To try and show me "proof" that the OP was bashing the merchant up one side and down the other. I find it rather fishy myself too that two really great reviews came directly after this person's bad review. Yet before his review not a single one for quite some time. Does that mean the creator did in fact find a way to get those good reviews by shady means? No, it doesn't. But it does leave room for for people to be suspicious. If folks are free to be suspicious of the OP and lay claim that this person is indeed wrong from the get go, I ought to be able to be suspicious of a merchant for the very same reason. That's why I looked at the actual problem (the title says it all) and not just this one incident. I was discussing the problem of people having no recourse when they get ripped off. I don't particularly care about the one incident the OP was discussing.

Though, truth be told, I can't help but feel a bit of empathy as I've been through a very similar incident not too long ago. Even right down to the product getting, oddly, two glowing reviews after a negative one was left by me(including follow up comments). Especially on a product that I *know does not sell that often as I was told it doesn't. It only takes two reviews to push one off the first page. For a lot of people, they'll never go to the next page(s) of reviews, so they won't even see what you have to say. It sucks when others try to make it seem like your claims are completely out of left field or you are 100% wrong no matter what and the merchant just HAS to be right. Even folks who go and look for the review have no more to go on other than the review itself. So they didn't even get all the facts, nor the merchant's side either. They still have just as much info about the one incident as anyone else who reads the OP and/or the review. That's why I was discussing the actual problem as a whole and not a singular incident. Unless the merchant comes in here with their side, none of us has anymore info than anyone else, lol.

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Thats a good question Josh. I have products with 5k+ sales and not a single review. So I've honestly got no clue. I have some items that have only sold a few times, with more reviews than products that have sold more(granted some of them  were reviews originally on xstreet, not marketplace, so now they're just stars)

I don't think products in general get reviewed all that often, anyway. So I understand exactly why some folks might wonder why a product got a few(or more) in a relatively short time frame.

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