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Should Merchants Ban Residents from Purchases?


Prokofy Neva
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Yes, I'm aware that the top vendor seller in SL has this function, and likely others do. While the MP sometimes returns this error, I think the MP also has an option to ban someone from a purchase.

I find it a pernicious and small-minded feature that turns SL into a medieval fair based on class and connection, far from an open society, and far from a viable metaverse incubator. Instead, it becomes something like a bazaar in the khanate of Kokand in the 19th century where  Alisher would not sell to Bahadur and turned his back to him and spat on the ground because their families were in a blood feud for a century. 

I don't think there could ever be a valid reason to do this in SL in modern life. Imagine if Amazon behaved like Twitter and banned people based on their views.

What is really a good reason for doing this? I don't see any.

For one, if someone is copybotting your product, you need to file an AR and a DMCA notice and get the avatar completely removed from SL, not just blocked from your purchases.

If someone griefs your store with particles, spam, harassment etc then that's a larger problem that needs a ban of that avatar, not just a block of a purchase.

If you don't like what someone says on the forums, or inworld, or you don't like their real life or virtual life persona or views or lifestyle, of course you are free to do so. And many think that freedom of expression should extend both to vendor blocks and to boycotts. But cutting off commerce like this only hurts you in the end, not your target.

I seldom join any boycott because they don't work and they sometimes punish the wrong people.

I personally have expelled a paying tenant only about 3 times in 17 years, twice because the person was just yet another obvious griefer alt trying to annoy by attempting to get resident powers, and once because someone who constantly heckled me on the forums and was also late with their rent repeatedly just didn't seem to be a candidate to go on enjoying my cheap rentals. 

There are many, many people and lifestyles and forums divas I don't like in SL, but I believe in an open and free economy. I will go on purchasing their  products at events and at their stores regardless of their behaviour because they may make a decent product and have design and technical skills that should be appreciated and supported by a purchase. It's a way of making the world a viable and open one for many kinds of people, which it has to be in order to grow.

Anyone can come and buy my products or rent from me if they obey the TOS and my simple rules i.e. not building builds over two stories which is reasonable and followed by many. I can't see any advantage in blocking purchases in an economy that struggles enough these days.

Yet I find that certain merchants, particularly the most popular and mass selling who could afford not to live in this petty monoverse are the worst culprits for this practice of ideological or speech bans.

And I find one that is willing to block and ban a loyal customer inworld and on social media despite numerous purchases and glowing reviews, merely for filing a ticket and saying a product didn't work. This merchant kept denying that this was possible, when shown screen shot evidence and online evidence that solutions offered were not viable. In the end, this merchant offered to give the name of their scripter to contact, and that seemed to have politely ended the episode, when suddenly they reversed and put in this ban as making the customer go away instead of fixing the technical problem.

I think the large merchants are well served by hiring store clerks and CSRs who do this admittedly boring and difficult work so that they can keep their precious artistic and thin-skinned personas focused on making their delightful products.

Of course, it's kind of silly because to put in these bans, because even if they IP ban you and your alts from their store (using illegal products still for sale on the MP), even if they identify you and all your alts to ban from their vendor (imagine wasting the time on that!), you can always find someone else to buy something and place it on your property set to your group. So it's kind of pointless.

 

 

Edited by Prokofy Neva
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I can think of only one legitimate reason for banning someone from purchase on the Marketplace, and that's when the customer systematically leaves incorrect or misleading negative reviews, either due to malice or to their inability to read product descriptions/instructions. Yes you're getting a sale from that customer but potentially losing hundreds more.

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If people ban someone from buying their products just because they don't like them , I assume they're just roleplaying as a business owner rather than, you know, actually trying to make money, and modify my customer service expectations accordingly.

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I've been threated for leaving a less than stellar 5star marketplace review, one notable (and well established) store owner went on a 20 minute rant in my IM's going as far as to threaten me with a ban from their store and blocking all future updates to the products I had already purchased. They came back a couple of hours later and ranted at me some more. Which was nice.

It all amounted to the same thing in the end. I was several thousand L$ down with purchases I couldn't ever bring myself to use.

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I actually never questioned it until you posted this thread and come to think of it, it's quite silly. This doesn't exist in rl - no one is stopped from making purchases online and leaving negative reviews on, say Ebay (ETA: oops I was wrong on this, have since been corrected so please ignore!). So the fact that it exists here makes transacting in sl into a petty fest. Not to mention, the function doesn't exist the other way around which is a bias against customers and for sellers. If sellers can block customers, customers should also be able to block sellers (on mp).

Edited by AdminGirl
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17 minutes ago, AdminGirl said:

no one is stopped from making purchases online and leaving negative reviews on, say Ebay.

Do your research before you just assume. Apparently Ebay allows you to block buyers while Amazon does not.

for brick and mortar (as in physical; able to be walked into with your meat body) establishments, they can stop anyone they dislike from entering their store.

https://www.ebay.com/help/selling/working-buyers/buyer-blacklist?id=4082&mkevt=1&mkcid=1&mkrid=711-53200-19255-0&campid=5337590774&customid=&toolid=10001

https://sellercentral.amazon.com/forums/t/can-i-block-a-buyer/323483

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In fairness, many things in SL are rather petty. Parcel bans, for example. I've been given lifetime bans by people I've never even met. Once in a while they post things in their land description to make clear they are mad at me for an opinion I stated on these forums--usually for saying something needs to be done about orb and ban line abuse. Other times I have no clue who the person is or why my name is on their ban list. 

I hate to say it, but why should retail transactions be any exception?

SL is a community full of all kinds of people. That's part of what makes it so great. Most people are pretty decent. But unfortunately, some people are petty jerks. That includes merchants too. I just wish we had better means of addressing it when people cross lines beyond being merely petty jerks.

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40 minutes ago, AdminGirl said:

I actually never questioned it until you posted this thread and come to think of it, it's quite silly. This doesn't exist in rl - no one is stopped from making purchases online and leaving negative reviews on, say Ebay. So the fact that it exists here makes transacting in sl into a petty fest. Not to mention, the function doesn't exist the other way around which is a bias against customers and for sellers. If sellers can block customers, customers should also be able to block sellers (on mp).

Donation services initially didn't have a way to block someone from donating, but ended up having to add it. After all, it's free money and who'd want to block that.

What hadn't been taken into account was you can leave a message with a donation. For the cheap price of one dollar, stalkers could send messages to their targets to get around blocks on other platforms. Even if messages were removed, sending the donation was a way to remind the target that the stalker was still there. So, blocking was added.

That said, I've never needed to block anyone from buying items in Second Life due to stalking or similar issues. Blocking someone because you disagreed with them on the forum is extreme to me. Then again, I find the idea of hating someone forever for that extreme. If I disagree with you here, it doesn't mean I never want to speak to you again. Nobody is going to agree on everything.

Edited by Polenth Yue
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4 hours ago, Quistessa said:

Do your research before you just assume. Apparently Ebay allows you to block buyers while Amazon does not.

for brick and mortar (as in physical; able to be walked into with your meat body) establishments, they can stop anyone they dislike from entering their store.

https://www.ebay.com/help/selling/working-buyers/buyer-blacklist?id=4082&mkevt=1&mkcid=1&mkrid=711-53200-19255-0&campid=5337590774&customid=&toolid=10001

https://sellercentral.amazon.com/forums/t/can-i-block-a-buyer/323483

Ah sorry I didn't know that function but thanks.

4 hours ago, LittleMe Jewell said:

This is called "just do not buy from any particular seller".  The buyer is 100% in control of that.

True and I know you're right. But what I mean is that the function would be more of a convenience to buyers rather than a necessity. I am really just thinking about the sheer number of gacha resellers that a buyer can't realistically keep track of. I've been burnt by quite a few and I have a list that I peruse before checking out. Sure it's doable but like I said, it'd be more of a convenience.

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A better way would be for LL to come up with a system where if you have a high percentage of negative reviews you are banned from leaving reviews. One bad review from someone on a product doesn't warrant a ban but if you continue to leave bad reviews, especially on the same sellers MP store, well you should be smart enough to not buy from them again. Some sellers really do deserve a bad review but I never buy from them again.  There is also the opportunity for the seller to respond to bad reviews as well. Also…leaving a review is sometimes the only way you get a response from some.

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14 hours ago, Maitimo said:

I can think of only one legitimate reason for banning someone from purchase on the Marketplace, and that's when the customer systematically leaves incorrect or misleading negative reviews, either due to malice or to their inability to read product descriptions/instructions. Yes you're getting a sale from that customer but potentially losing hundreds more.

If someone griefs that way they will simply create an alt and continue. Not banning is better here since then it's only one bad reviewer instead of many that you are not able to connect. 😁

Besides of that the banning is perfect for all the wannabe merchants that take bad reviews personal instead of reviewing their products.

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I think that everyone here would agree that any kind of arbitrary bans would always be frowned upon. However, I would not want this feature of being blocked from purchasing as well when a merchant blocks your profile, was entirely erased just because of a few bad apples who abuse this to compensate their lack of anger management. I myself block rarely but if it happens, the reasons are significant. Depending on the case, an AR/DMCA would be filed additionally. 

 

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I've been banned from regions because of bad reviews, banned from regions for stuff I posted on the forums, and one merchant blocked me (and blocked me from buying their stuff) because I flagged their items and their items got taken down.

People will ban and block you for anything or nothing. Welcome to SL.

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22 minutes ago, Paul Hexem said:

I've been banned from regions because of bad reviews, banned from regions for stuff I posted on the forums, and one merchant blocked me (and blocked me from buying their stuff) because I flagged their items and their items got taken down.

People will ban and block you for anything or nothing. Welcome to SL.

Wait.. what? Do merchants get told who flagged their listings?

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IMHO absolutely. Just like in RL, the business owner gets to decide who they do business with. Period. No further reasons or justifications need be given.

Right? Or have I been fundamentally misunderstanding the way the world works for my entire life?

They are providing a service to you. Not something your automatically entitled to. 

I have a couple of friends who are involved with RL online retail, and they say its perfectly standard to pre-emptively ban a customer even if they ask a question that comes off like they may be a "problem customer" in future if they make a purchase. For example, asking too many very exacting questions about quality, or even just speaking in a "generally negative" tone.

Happens. All. The. Time.

Places like Amazon and Ebay (and to some extent our very own SLMP) are more of a free-for-all because the companies running them are just middle-men. They don't give a crap about any of us so long as they get that sweet sweet % cut. They generally only take action against problem customers when the abuse is absolutely clear and/or the law requires. Nothing more.

But small companies especially will go out of their way to avoid problem customers. Because they are small, a little negative press can sink them easily. And barring maybe a dozen of SL's hugest brands, EVERY merchant is a "small company".

Sorry folks, that's them Capitalism's for ya.

 

 


 

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5 hours ago, AdminGirl said:

Wait.. what? Do merchants get told who flagged their listings?

Not that I'm aware- but they must have guessed due to the negative review I left before I flagged it.

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On 6/15/2021 at 3:07 PM, AnnabelleApocalypse said:

IMHO absolutely. Just like in RL, the business owner gets to decide who they do business with. Period. No further reasons or justifications need be given.

Right? Or have I been fundamentally misunderstanding the way the world works for my entire life?

They are providing a service to you. Not something your automatically entitled to. 

I have a couple of friends who are involved with RL online retail, and they say its perfectly standard to pre-emptively ban a customer even if they ask a question that comes off like they may be a "problem customer" in future if they make a purchase. For example, asking too many very exacting questions about quality, or even just speaking in a "generally negative" tone.

Happens. All. The. Time.

Places like Amazon and Ebay (and to some extent our very own SLMP) are more of a free-for-all because the companies running them are just middle-men. They don't give a crap about any of us so long as they get that sweet sweet % cut. They generally only take action against problem customers when the abuse is absolutely clear and/or the law requires. Nothing more.

But small companies especially will go out of their way to avoid problem customers. Because they are small, a little negative press can sink them easily. And barring maybe a dozen of SL's hugest brands, EVERY merchant is a "small company".

Sorry folks, that's them Capitalism's for ya.

 

 


 

No, the world doesn't work that way in most modern cities outside of developing countries with marketplaces or bazaars. And most markets have middlemen of some kind in them whether an online platform or a mall or a store.

If you make a product and it is delivered to stores all around the US, you don't have a way of blocking the purchase of it by someone you don't like, say, Trump voters.

Amazon doesn't have a way for you to block people as far as I know. Good!

It's not just about middlemen. Even if you're a little boutique gift shop, it's not in your interest to block customers because sales enable you to go on existing and making a profit.

I once paid about $35 on Etsy for what appeared in the photo to be a print of a fairly well known painting on stock. 

I had no illusions that it was original work -- it was a known work from the 1930s. I had no illusions that it came framed, because it said "unframed".

What I did expect was that it be printed on more or less heavy stock of some kind so it could be framed. Instead, when I got it, I discovered that it was very thin paper out of a magazine, like a Soviet magazine printed in the millions. So that was annoying and I left a bad review. The item was a gift for my daughter. The owner pleaded with me to take the bad review off, and said he would refund me. I didn't want a refund -- I had the item, I wasn't returning it. I then decided to remove the negative review when my daughter said she liked it anyway, as I couldn't really see the point of ruining someone's small business on Etsy. Negative reviews stick forever. A single negative Google review can really sink the business of a new cafe struggling to make it.

It's interesting that this conversation has taken the turn of examining how people can or should ban over bad reviews. But in my experience, it has not been about bad reviews for the most part, but about unrelated speech, or about filing a complaint ticket which isn't publicized but one-on-one. That's what I found really crazy.

In such a struggling economy (for so many) in SL and RL, I see no good reason to place obstacles in the way of commerce. It's not about the openness of what capitalism and free markets are about; it's about the provincialism and small mindedness that socialism is often about. If you don't want to bake a certain kind of a cake for a customer that can go to another bakery, that's indeed about freedom of expression and freedom of association. But this is another level. This is after you have made the product and placed it on the open market -- and then made a claw-back over some beef.

 

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@Prokofy Neva   As much as you may not like that merchants can and do ban people from buying from them for what you think (and I tend to agree) are stupid reasons, that doesn't mean the feature is itself without use.

One tangent that I don't think has been brought up yet is Full-perms sellers. If someone buys something Full-perm that comes with a clear license agreement that the product is not to be sold as-is (usually among other terms) and then blatantly disregards that license, banning that person from your MP or in-world vendor system seems like a justified course of action (even if it's not perfect (doesn't ban alts) and obviously not the /only/ thing the seller should do ) to me at least.

SL is not RL and you can't really compare apples to oranges or RL limited-availability products to SL digital images. and even when you do compare you're cherry-picking. There are clear RL scopes where merchants can't block customers form purchasing their products (ex. Amazon and large pre-retail sellers) and scopes where they can (ex. Ebay and individual retailers), and maybe you could try and create a justification for why some scopes are or should be one way or the other, then analogize SL to your favored scope, but at that point it's really just an academic exercise.

Funny you should mention Capitalism, who's central tenant is maximizing profit. If you give a merchant a tool (banning certain people from purchases from their store) then by a Utilitarian model they will on average use that tool in the way that maximizes profits. Are you really surprised that banning people who leave bad-faith bad reviews should lead to more profit (either through increased sales due to fewer bad reviews, or less CSR overhead or both) in the long-run?

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3 minutes ago, Quistessa said:

@Prokofy Neva   As much as you may not like that merchants can and do ban people from buying from them for what you think (and I tend to agree) are stupid reasons, that doesn't mean the feature is itself without use.

One tangent that I don't think has been brought up yet is Full-perms sellers. If someone buys something Full-perm that comes with a clear license agreement that the product is not to be sold as-is (usually among other terms) and then blatantly disregards that license, banning that person from your MP or in-world vendor system seems like a justified course of action (even if it's not perfect (doesn't ban alts) and obviously not the /only/ thing the seller should do ) to me at least.

SL is not RL and you can't really compare apples to oranges or RL limited-availability products to SL digital images. and even when you do compare you're cherry-picking. There are clear RL scopes where merchants can't block customers form purchasing their products (ex. Amazon and large pre-retail sellers) and scopes where they can (ex. Ebay and individual retailers), and maybe you could try and create a justification for why some scopes are or should be one way or the other, then analogize SL to your favored scope, but at that point it's really just an academic exercise.

Funny you should mention Capitalism, who's central tenant is maximizing profit. If you give a merchant a tool (banning certain people from purchases from their store) then by a Utilitarian model they will on average use that tool in the way that maximizes profits. Are you really surprised that banning people who leave bad-faith bad reviews should lead to more profit (either through increased sales due to fewer bad reviews, or less CSR overhead or both) in the long-run?

Once again, banning a copyright violator and theft is hardly a solution when that needs a DMCA takedown and ban inworld. And that is not the the most common use case as far as I can tell.

I don't see that Ebay has the option to ban buyers.

It's not the norm.

SL is more like real life than you are willing to concede because it has humans in it, who have had markets for millenia despite the best efforts of tyrants to control them.

Speaking of "scopes," you're seeing capitalism only through the keyhole of one merchant who gets upset at a bad review.

Looking at the entire system of a free market, free press, and independent judiciary -- all of which are necessary -- you see the ability to call out bad products helps the good ones get attention and value. The inability to name names and call out bad behaviour on the forums is a significant obstruction to civil society. It is designed to prevent libel cases and more practically, drama, but in real life, you have a BBB and reviews of various sort from Google to Yelp on down because truth about products increases value for all good products and the marketplace itself as a location where a willing buyer meets a willing seller.

A merchant who is banning someone over bad reviews is a merchant who is going to get talked about in various circles and lose building, whatever gullible newbs it is able to rope in by sanitizing its reviews.

 

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Nailing some boards and a tarp to my roof to fix a hole is not a solution, I should hire a roofer to do actual repairs. The roofer will take a month to actually do anything, but I shouldn't patch my roof because it's not a perfect solution? </analogy>

Also about ebay FWIW: https://www.ebay.com/help/selling/working-buyers/buyer-blacklist?id=4082&mkevt=1&mkcid=1&mkrid=711-53200-19255-0&campid=5337590774&customid=&toolid=10001

and

Also Etsy: (Edit NVM the Etsy block function isn't what it purports to be)

 

Edited by Quistessa
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While selling through a distributor (Amazon/Ebay/Etsy/B2B) might have some practical differences, individual businesses are absolutely able (and willing) to ban individual customers in real life. It would be crazy if that wasn't the case; some customers are simply not worth the money they might bring in, and it's very easy to find stories of people getting barred as customers, especially in the US.

Edited by Wulfie Reanimator
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Quote

Even if you're a little boutique gift shop, it's not in your interest to block customers because sales enable you to go on existing and making a profit.

Strip away the superfluous verbiage about returning the world to the pre Enlightenment era, and your point seems to boil down to this. 

I would say - you cant please everyone and to try to do so is foolhardy. At some point, a customer with an issue becomes more of a drain on your time resources than the actual sale is worth. And time is money.

From a small boutique perspective, its better the focus your energies on your customers that are happy than the few who are/appear they may cause problems. 

You seem to be assuming that they NEED your money. While that may be true in some cases, most are not THAT desperate for a sale. Especially if they can foresee from prior experience that the customer may cause them issues. 

 

Quote

I don't see that Ebay has the option to ban buyers.

Then clearly you didnt do even a perfunctory Google search and find the official eBay page where it explains exactly how you do that. Ebay gives you a block list. You just drop the account name into the list, click update and done. 

And its been that way since Ebay has existed. 

Amazon does not have a direct function to do this. You have to report the customer to Amazon and they take action if they deem it necessary.

The very concept of Capitalism is predicated upon the idea of businesses and individuals voluntarily transacting with each other for mutual benefit. 

Quote

A merchant who is banning someone over bad reviews is a merchant who is going to get talked about in various circles and lose building, whatever gullible newbs it is able to rope in by sanitizing its reviews.


No, because your review still stands. You had your say. Isnt that enough for you? Also, if that Etsy seller offered you a full refund, where is the problem? You get your money back + some free stuff. Why potentially ruin someone's livelihood? Have a little compassion maybe? They did the right thing by offering a refund. 

Scrubbing reviews is an entirely different issue and one I don't agree with. But a merchant is perfectly entitled to pre-emptively avoid a transaction they feel has a high likelihood of going bad, or from a customer who has already proven difficult for them to please.

You cant force someone to sell you something if they dont want to. P.E.R.I.O.D.

Its a very basic principle. I have thing you want to buy. You have money. Its MY choice whether I sell to you or not.

That decision can be based on any number of factors. The market value, do I want to ship to your location, my previous experiences with you and/or how I perceive you. So long as I dont make it arbitrarily personal (Eg: not selling to you because "I dont sell to women" or "you have a Hispanic surname"), I am within my right.

Edited by AnnabelleApocalypse
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