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Beth Macbain

Second Life Merchant BBB?

Question

I understand that the Lab stays out of issues between merchants and customers, but is there any recourse whatsoever for a customer who gets ripped off?

About two weeks ago, I purchased a fatpack of an item from an extremely well known merchant at a large shopping event. The item that was delivered was the wrong product. I provided the transaction information showing that the item that was delivered was indeed not the item advertised (or demo'ed) at the event. I've sent multiple notecards to the merchant, and her two CSRs, and haven't received a single reply from any of them and I'm livid.

They don't sell on the MP so there are no reviews of items or customer service. 

Do I put them on blast here? On FB? On my blog? How long is a reasonable amount of time to expect some sort of response? I know that any purchase in SL is essentially buyer-beware, but I also don't believe in just rolling over and accepting it when a merchant behaves badly.

I'm also angry enough about this right now, as well as two other recent experiences I've had with large merchants with crappy attitudes and just ignoring notecards or inquiries, that I've thought about creating the SL version of a Better Business Bureau, or Yelp, maybe, where consumers can submit their reviews or experiences, and merchants have a chance to respond if they wish. I mean I probably won't do it because I don't want the hassle but, damn. Merchants should have to answer for providing bad products, wrong products, and bad customer service.

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I've been in SL for around 13 years and I've had issues with merchants before, and almost always they've helped as soon as possible. In this case, the merchant has two CSRs so even if they are involved with something in the real world that is keeping them from responding to my requests, someone should still be available, and certainly in under 2 weeks. And when I say contacted multiple times, I mean I've sent all three of them a notecard twice, so none of them have been contacted more than once a week.

This is a case where they messed up, and with it being at an event, I can't imagine that I'm the only one who purchased it and got the wrong item. I would be happy to exchange the incorrect item I received with the correct one, but it's, of course, no transfer. I just want the thing I paid for.

People talk about many things that could possibly kill LL. When, and this is certainly already happening, unscrupulous people find out that they can basically steal money from people because LL doesn't get involved in 'resident disputes', it could topple the entire economy when people start getting really gun-shy about buying things because they've been stung so many times. What's to stop someone from setting up a shop selling, I dunno, a thing that people want for L$300 and sending them something utterly worthless? Does LL really not step in there and say, "hey, you're in our world scamming people"?

It's beyond me that LL doesn't have a procedure for dealing with these type of issues between buyer and seller. 

But there's nothing stopping someone from creating a little website where items that are bought in SL can be reviewed? In order for it to be governed well, there would need to be some strict rules about reviews, and certainly a chance for merchants to respond... hmmm...

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Also, check if there is a redelivery available.  If they merchant now knows about the issue, they may have updated the actual event vendor and the associated redelivery.

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My normal inclination is to assume that the merchant's problems are worse than my own (she's probably dealing with an invalid mother, is in a coma in the hospital, is in prison in some distant country, ....) and has more important things on her mind than answering my frantic calls for customer service.  After a while, though, I begin to lose patience, as you have.  So I sympathize. 

Unfortunately, there is blessed little that you can do.  Naming and shaming here in the forums will get you banned quickly (or at least get your posts tossed).  You can get yourself AR'd for doing the same thing in world, if the merchant decides that you are stalking.  I truly don't know what to suggest, but although I understand how angry you must feel, I doubt that anger will get you very far.

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2 minutes ago, Beth Macbain said:

his is a case where they messed up, and with it being at an event,

Just a thought, have you contacted the event?  If you aren't the first, maybe they are aware of some issue and could put your mind at rest.  I agree with 3 contacts at least 1 should have been in touch with you though

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1 minute ago, Cindy Evanier said:

Just a thought, have you contacted the event?  If you aren't the first, maybe they are aware of some issue and could put your mind at rest.  I agree with 3 contacts at least 1 should have been in touch with you though

I haven't, and that's a very good idea! Thank you!

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8 minutes ago, LittleMe Jewell said:

Also, check if there is a redelivery available.  If they merchant now knows about the issue, they may have updated the actual event vendor and the associated redelivery.

I checked... it's delivering the wrong item, and even showing the wrong item. If I didn't have my transaction information showing what I purchased and where I purchased it, I'd think I accidentally bought the wrong thing. 

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Posted (edited)

BBB for SL... If YOU want to build one go for it. Before you attempt it I suggest you research the RL BBB.

BBB has a history and is based on a good idea. But, it is not the wonderful organization many think it to be. It gets lawsuits and exposure articles. People abuse it. People lie to  it, both merchants and customers. The net result is few people in the know (those that have researched it) pay attention to it.

One of the more effective consumer protection groups is Consumer Reports (CR).

The difference between the two is their financial models. BBB is paid for by merchants, the people they are supposed to review. CR is paid for by the customers that need product reviews. The difference in possibilities for conflicts of interest by those two should be obvious.

I also suggest you research various "protection" groups in SL. Most have a long history. 

You mention that such a group would have to be governed by strict rules. But, who enforces the rules? Or even monitors them?

Consider. In the USA documents released by FOIA lawsuits instigated by Judicial Watch are suggesting people at the FBI, DOJ, Dept of State, and members of Congress are corrupt and conspiring to control elections. Abusing power. My point is even a complex system with numerous built in safe-oversight aspects and RL prison sentences is being abused. Getting some group in SL to do better is unlikely.

There is always the likelihood that good people will do good things. It is just that in time the good people move on and things devolve. 

I kept a list of merchants I've had problems with. Now I keep a list, actually a folder in inventory, of merchants in SL that I like and buy from. It is shorter.

Edited by Nalates Urriah

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Posted (edited)
On 6/4/2019 at 4:29 AM, Beth Macbain said:

... Yelp, maybe, where consumers can submit their reviews or experiences, and merchants have a chance to respond if they wish. I mean I probably won't do it because I don't want the hassle but, damn.

if you are going to do anything then do a Yelp like thing. Will be a bit of a drama fest at times, but there will be as much positive feedbacks for SL merchants also

 

Edited by Mollymews
be

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I should have been a bit clearer... I'm well aware of what an utter scam the RL BBB is. I was just using it as an example because most people have heard of it.
 

If I did anything, and I really don't think I have the energy to, it would be more of a Yelp model. 

As far as my problem goes, after 6 notecards to three different people over the course of a couple weeks, I have finally heard back from two of them saying they're looking into it (days ago) and haven't heard anything since. 😕

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