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Just like a bank, fees, fees, fees


Marcus Hancroft
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Before I even get started, let me apologize because I am so hacked off right now.

I am a small merchant in SL.  I haven't had a store for very long but I am proud of the products I and my partner create.  We just moved to a larger parcel with more prims thinking that having most everything displayed in a much larger building would help our sales.  Every day, I make at LEAST two new products and place them in our store.  I always want to keep the store looking fresh and new.  I work hard to make sure my vendor graphics and other signs look professional and neat. 

Two weeks ago, we did three listing enhancements (Featured Items) on 3 of the items listed on the Marketplace store in a effort to get our products seen.  In 2 weeks, not one of the items we enhanced had a single sale. 

In all honesty, ALL the sales I make on MP and at my inworld store have gone to upload fees (vendor graphics, textures, etc) Shown In Search fees and the rest.  And NOW, to top it ALL off, I guess I set the enhanced listings incorrectly because they all three just renewed and my account was charged $1,800L!  It almost completely depleted my balance and now I don't have any lindens to DO any more upload fees or things.  This $1,800 was taken out of my account with no warning.  Today...it just went and I had no idea it was about to.  Okay...maybe that's just the way it works here, but I feel like LL could have at least sent me a message indicating that the enhancement was about to expire and would be renewed on such and such date.  That way, I could have reacted. 

I know there are those of you who will blame me for setting up the enhancements wrong and then blame me again for not knowing that the enhancements were expiring and you're right.  I SHOULD have been looking at the enhancements daily and triple checking that everything was as I wanted it to be.  But I didn't.  And now, I have no money in trying to MAKE some.  I have been SO busy trying to get our new store location set up and looking nice that I haven't looked at the enhancement page in a few days.  Yes, I fixed them when I saw the charges so it won't happen again, but, the damage is done.

I feel fee'd to death at this point.  In reality, I HAVE been fee'd to death.  I can't, at this point, afford to add any money to my linden balance so there will be no more upload fees for vendor graphics, textures and the like until we make a bunch more sales.  And even then, I may hesitate. 

For those of you considering a listing enhancement on any of your products on Marketplace, please take this story to heart and double check, triple check and then quadruple check the settings before you allow those enhancements to go into effect so you don't have the sudden account depletion like I just did. 

A friend of mine keeps telling me; "Linden Labs has to make money SOMEWAY." when I tell him about the upload fees and all the rest I have to keep paying them just to be a merchant.  But nobody could make me believe that LL doesn't make plenty of money through tier fees and the Lindex.  All the money we exchange into lindens goes into the LL accounts and we get virtual currency in exchange that can ONLY be spent inside Second Life.  So they are making the money.  I'M certainly not.  And even if my stores were doing fantastically good, I would not take the money out of SL like some people do. 

And so the fees are killing me.  I would love to go shopping again.  Spend some of my hard earned money at YOUR stores.  I can't now though.  I'm sorry.

Thanks for listening to me.  I'm one frustrated small time merchant and I know I'm probably not the only one this has happened to.  Still...fees, fees, fees.  *sighs*

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Thanks, Monti

I changed them all to "Do Not Renew" instead of cancelling them outright because since I've already paid for them I didn't just want to GIVE the money away.  I may as well have the next two weeks enhancements.  I haven't gotten to the "break even" part yet, but I sure am looking forward to getting there!

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I know what you mean, I've been knocking around SL on and off for a couple of years, hadn't really given serious thought to starting an SL business until about 8 months ago when they annouced they would be adding meshes to the grid, I expected it to be here alot sooner than it actually was but that aside its coming next month and so I have returned with the intention of setting up a mesh business, but when you start considering some of the costs it gets to the point where you really have to be committed to even stand a chance.

To rent a tiny sim with 15k prims you have to pay LL $3540USD per year which imo is insane and that doesnt include set up costs then you consider the thousands of sims out there, other providers are able to charge between $480 - $1080USD in the SL clones out there and they dont even have a smidge of the resources LL has, to say land in SL is at a premium is an understatment, and its not even real.

Then there are listing fees as you have mentioned, and then on top of that, sales fees if you sell via the marketplace, to top it off you also have upload fees, which is what im getting to right now. Uploading meshes is not going to be cheap (the minimum is L$150 even if its a mesh cube and it scales to insane costs as it gets more complex), as content creators we feed the creation of second life, without people like us making content LL wouldnt even have a business, they wouldnt stay leaps and bounds above the competition and they wouldnt be making any money at all, its shocking to see how LL can think up new ways of draining every penny out of you, if they could stop sucking people dry for even 1 year, i bet the population of SL would increase alot.

One day an SL clone will come out and will be a huge success, its just waiting to happen.

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Nix Manx wrote:

I know what you mean, I've been knocking around SL on and off for a couple of years, hadn't really given serious thought to starting an SL business until about 8 months ago when they annouced they would be adding meshes to the grid, I expected it to be here alot sooner than it actually was but that aside its coming next month and so I have returned with the intention of setting up a mesh business, but when you start considering some of the costs it gets to the point where you really have to be committed to even stand a chance.

To rent a tiny sim with 15k prims you have to pay LL $3540USD per year which imo is insane and that doesnt include set up costs then you consider the thousands of sims out there, other providers are able to charge between $480 - $1080USD in the SL clones out there and they dont even have a smidge of the resources LL has, to say land in SL is at a premium is an understatment, and its not even real.

Then there are listing fees as you have mentioned, and then on top of that, sales fees if you sell via the marketplace, to top it off you also have upload fees, which is what im getting to right now. Uploading meshes is not going to be cheap (the minimum is L$150 even if its a mesh cube and it scales to insane costs as it gets more complex), as content creators we feed the creation of second life, without people like us making content LL wouldnt even have a business, they wouldnt stay leaps and bounds above the competition and they wouldnt be making any money at all, its shocking to see how LL can think up new ways of draining every penny out of you, if they could stop sucking people dry for even 1 year, i bet the population of SL would increase alot.

One day an SL clone will come out and will be a huge success, its just waiting to happen.

Howdy, Nix.

Yes, I have looked at mesh as well and nearly had a coronary when I saw just how much it was going to cost to simply upload a mesh.  Not to mention the PE calculations.  I would love to have my own sim too, but there is no chance in hades I'll ever be able to simply because of the fantastic cost associated with it. 

/me walks up and shakes your hand

 

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Why not use Phoenix to save on upload fees. 90% of my uploads are temp files for testing only. When you sculpt it's practically essential not to pay for uploads. I upload and test with every small change I make in blender. 

As for paying for listing enhancements....well, I've already expressed my views on that :matte-motes-sour:. But some people swear by them.

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Many of us have been caught out by adverts renewing both inworld and on the marketplace, I know how annoying it can be, I sell seasonal items so often there is zero value in advertising them after a particular date, it breaks my heart when I forget and end up stuffing some of my profits down the drain. 

Having said that, I think its worth applying a little perspective here, you say the L$1800 has effectively stopped you in your tracks because now you have no upload fees. L$1800 is less than $7 US, so a little more than the cost of a Big Mac Meal, a L$10 upload fee is less than 4 cents. If you are serious about making money here then you really need to inject a little capital into your business, if a $6-7 loss is going to force you to down tools, moving this business forward is going to be a struggle.

Of course it is possible to build a business without bringing any money in at all, there are regular posters here who have done it, I think this is very admirable but also very difficult and often seems to involve Pole Dancing!. Personally I spent about $300 US over the first 6 months or so until I started making some back, in the 4 years since then I have only ever taken money out and without naming the actual amounts involved I can tell you I have made that initial investment back 100s of times over.


Marcus Hancroft wrote:

All the money we exchange into lindens goes into the LL accounts and we get virtual currency in exchange that can ONLY be spent inside Second Life.  So they are making the money.  I'M certainly not.  And even if my stores were doing fantastically good, I would not take the money out of SL like some people do. 

 

One of us at least  is a little confused here, L$ can of course be exchanged for your local currency through a number of outlets, I am not sure why you have already decided that you will never be taking money out of SL, this may be the root of your problem as it effectively means that anything you invest in your business you are guaranteed to lose, since you can never truly profit from it.

You seem quite cross with LL for making a profit, don't be, that profit sustains our world and provides a  wonderful opportunity for many of us to make money in a really enjoyable way. It's also worth remembering that LL make this profit because some years ago people were prepared to risk their hard earned cash on an untried and risky business venture and now that risk is paying off, they deserve to get paid. You are currently in that investment phase, sacrifice some RL luxury in the next few days, bring the money you save in here and use it to restart the production line, if you continue you to work as hard at this as it sounds like you have been doing, you WILL see success and in a few months time you will be able to take back everything you put in and a whole lot more besides.

Remember - It's not supposed to easy!

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Marcus Hancroft wrote:

And even if my stores were doing fantastically good, I would not take the money out of SL like some people do. 

Oh yes you would ;)

 

As someone mentioned already, using Phoenix will allow you to upload textures for free - temporarily. Then, when you are sure that the texture is right, you can pay the 10L to upload it permanently. The Beta grid was always there for checking too. I spent thousands of free L$ uploading to the Beta grid before I started to use the free temporary uploads to the main grid. The same applies to animations if you ever get into making those.

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Nix Manx wrote:

I know what you mean, I've been knocking around SL on and off for a couple of years, hadn't really given serious thought to starting an SL business until about 8 months ago when they annouced they would be adding meshes to the grid, I expected it to be here alot sooner than it actually was but that aside its coming next month and so I have returned with the intention of setting up a mesh business, but when you start considering some of the costs it gets to the point where you really have to be committed to even stand a chance.

To rent a tiny sim with 15k prims you have to pay LL $3540USD per year which imo is insane and that doesnt include set up costs then you consider the thousands of sims out there, other providers are able to charge between $480 - $1080USD in the SL clones out there and they dont even have a smidge of the resources LL has, to say land in SL is at a premium is an understatment, and its not even real.

Then there are listing fees as you have mentioned, and then on top of that, sales fees if you sell via the marketplace, to top it off you also have upload fees, which is what im getting to right now. Uploading meshes is not going to be cheap (the minimum is L$150 even if its a mesh cube and it scales to insane costs as it gets more complex), as content creators we feed the creation of second life, without people like us making content LL wouldnt even have a business, they wouldnt stay leaps and bounds above the competition and they wouldnt be making any money at all, its shocking to see how LL can think up new ways of draining every penny out of you, if they could stop sucking people dry for even 1 year, i bet the population of SL would increase alot.

One day an SL clone will come out and will be a huge success, its just waiting to happen.

One of the things I find amongst residents who are not involved in business here is a total inability to see the bigger picture, and if you don't mind me saying, Nix, this is where you are.

I do agree with you that the cost of a full sim does seem too much, I would certainly like it to be cheaper, but I think in reality it could never be a lot cheaper, the infrastructure required to generate a world like this, is incredibly expensive, and it really isn't fair to draw comparisons with other SL type grids. From a business point of view spending $480 - £1080 in another grid is much worse value for money than LL are offering, even the biggest of the other grids can only provide you with a concurrency of 2-300 users at peak times, compare that with 70,000 or so here and maybe SL doesn't seem quite as expensive, in fact lets do the maths

70000 / 300 = 233 - SL has 233 times as many customers as the biggest alternative

3540 / 233 = 15.1 - So really those other grids should only be charging you $15 per year for a sim in order to offer you a similar % profit rate to SL, and this is % profit NOT turnover. 

You talk of 'Insane' fees to upload a mesh, is that really the right word to use? If it costs you $10US to upload a complex model, you are likely going to be able to sell that an unlimited number of  times for AT LEAST $10 a go, compared with selling resources on other sites (I mean web sites rather than grids) the amount you are asked to pay is tiny, Turbosquid for instance will take at least 40% of every sale, and this sort of figure is common across similar sites like Istock, Revostock, Dreamstime, Envato etc.

It seems expensive because at the moment you can't imagine how you are going to get a return, if you are skilled at Mesh and it sounds like you are, you are in a position to make an absolute killing during the next year or so, I personally know self taught sculpty makers who are currently cashing out several thousand dollars a month, if you have the skills, there is no reason at all why you can't exceed this, but as with any business you will have to spend substantial amounts to cover your costs, many RL retailers would be jumping for joy if they were able to clear a Net profit of even 20%. 

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Melita Magic wrote:

Sorry Marcus hope it gets better for you soon. Or, hope at least the vent did you some good.

Howdy, Miss Melita and good morning

Yes, the vent was good.  *laughs*  It got my frustration off my chest and I hope some who read through  it learned to watch the enhancements they place so this doesn't happen to them too.

Thanks for the compassion.   :matte-motes-wink:

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Rya Nitely wrote:

Why not use Phoenix to save on upload fees. 90% of my uploads are temp files for testing only. When you sculpt it's practically essential not to pay for uploads. I upload and test with every small change I make in blender. 

As for paying for listing enhancements....well, I've already expressed my views on that :matte-motes-sour:. But some people swear by them.

I use the temp uploads all the time to make sure things look good, so I'm right on board with ya there, Rya.  But, temp uploads only stay until you clear your cache, so you still have to pay to upload it sooner or later.  I can certainly understand needing to temp upload a sculpt map (or mesh for that matter) to make sure it looks good before you do the full upload and if I were creating sculpts and meshes I'd do the same thing. 

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Ziggy21 Slade wrote:

Many of us have been caught out by adverts renewing both inworld and on the marketplace, I know how annoying it can be, I sell seasonal items so often there is zero value in advertising them after a particular date, it breaks my heart when I forget and end up stuffing some of my profits down the drain. 

Having said that, I think its worth applying a little perspective here, you say the L$1800 has effectively stopped you in your tracks because now you have no upload fees. L$1800 is less than $7 US, so a little more than the cost of a Big Mac Meal, a L$10 upload fee is less than 4 cents. If you are serious about making money here then you really need to inject a little capital into your business, if a $6-7 loss is going to force you to down tools, moving this business forward is going to be a struggle.

Of course it is possible to build a business without bringing any money in at all, there are regular posters here who have done it, I think this is very admirable but also very difficult and often seems to involve Pole Dancing!. Personally I spent about $300 US over the first 6 months or so until I started making some back, in the 4 years since then I have only ever taken money out and without naming the actual amounts involved I can tell you I have made that initial investment back 100s of times over.

Marcus Hancroft wrote:

All the money we exchange into lindens goes into the LL accounts and we get virtual currency in exchange that can ONLY be spent inside Second Life.  So they are making the money.  I'M certainly not.  And even if my stores were doing fantastically good, I would not take the money out of SL like some people do. 

 

One of us at least  is a little confused here, L$ can of course be exchanged for your local currency through a number of outlets, I am not sure why you have already decided that you will never be taking money out of SL, this may be the root of your problem as it effectively means that anything you invest in your business you are guaranteed to lose, since you can never truly profit from it.

You seem quite cross with LL for making a profit, don't be, that profit sustains our world and provides a  wonderful opportunity for many of us to make money in a really enjoyable way. It's also worth remembering that LL make this profit because some years ago people were prepared to risk their hard earned cash on an untried and risky business venture and now that risk is paying off, they deserve to get paid. You are currently in that investment phase, sacrifice some RL luxury in the next few days, bring the money you save in here and use it to restart the production line, if you continue you to work as hard at this as it sounds like you have been doing, you WILL see success and in a few months time you will be able to take back everything you put in and a whole lot more besides.

Remember - It's not supposed to easy!

I hear what you're saying, Ziggy, and I appreciate the last paragraph of your response.  I have invested a lot of money and time already and am still working on my inworld store location.  There's more to the reason I can't right now afford to add more to my account that I haven't divulged and I'd rather not go into them in these forums (they are, after all, personal). 

I'm not bitter that LL is making money.  Just that they took money out of my account with no warning, even though that may just be the way its done here.  That was the 1st time I'd ever tried any listing enhancements so I had no experience with them.  I was horrified when I logged in yesterday and saw my money gone.  Hopefully, all this will help another new merchant avoid the same shock.

 

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Phil Deakins wrote:


Marcus Hancroft wrote:

And even if my stores were doing fantastically good, I would not take the money out of SL like some people do. 

Oh yes you would
;)

Yeah, you're right...I probably would.  :)  But I am a LONG way from being able to at this point.

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The cost of listing enhancements is not a "fee".

At least not unless you call the cost of the coins you drop into slot machines also a "fee".

Every time you buy a listing enhancement, you're gambling on LL to make the product A) visible, B) orderable C) deliverable and D) payable.

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Josh Susanto wrote:

The cost of listing enhancements is not a "fee".

At least not unless you call the cost of the coins you drop into slot machines also a "fee".

Every time you buy a listing enhancement, you're gambling on LL to make the product A) visible, B) orderable C) deliverable and D) payable.

Howdy, Josh! Good to see ya, Man!  /me waves

Yeah, I should have known.  I'll not make the same mistake again. 

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It is not your fault Marcus. Enhancements are done in a piss poor way. It is almost like it is designed this way on purpose to trick people. I personally hate having to go back and set the listings to not renew. I'm now just setting the 1's that I know draw customers to the 999/month setting and leaving them. The only time I rethink my enhancements is when I release a new product. Generally, I run an enhancement on the new product for a month, then only renew it if it see it drawing a following.

This whole system and stats should really be a lot better and better designed tho. If anything, the default should be to not renew. The extra step should be to renew it, not to unrenew it.

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Product Enhancements are hit and miss.  Just because it pushes it out in front for all to see does not mean that anyone will buy.  I have not had great success with this either but when I do enhancements, I find that overall, my MP sales go up, just not  necessarily for the products I am advertising.

By far, the best selling products are clothing and it seems if you are not in fashion, you are only going to get about 10% of the traffic interested in the first place. 

It's a tough one to say as each product is different but in the end, yes, they can be a very costly way to not get sales unless you make hair, skins, shoes or clothing.  It's almost as if they need two sites, one for Fashion and one for everything else.

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I question these assumptions. Oh, I'm sure you are exaggerating a bit. If you take a look at the "What customers are buying now" products on the main page, and keep refreshing the page, you don't see mostly clothing, or fashion. It percentage might reach 50% if you join all the fashion related items together. Not that this is at all scientific or can represent the whole market, but it does show that people buy alot of different things.

Originally tho, if I just think about how much I sell, then look at where my products rank in the search. If those other products are selling more than mine, and there are alot, then that is a crapload of sales everyday in just the main products I sell, which cover a pretty vast array of things, not just AOs.

I just think that the notion of the fashion market being so important to SL, or that it somehow drive the whole market is not really totally true.

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Medhue Simoni wrote:

I question these assumptions.

 

So do I...

In the olden days when everything was ranked on recent sales, and the most popualr items were shown in order on the homepage, there was always a complete mix of products, noteable long term chart toppers, were the Mysti tool, NMC Media Centre (a TV), Avatar Painter ( I think it was called), and Bits and Bobs - Lovescene. I managed a few days in the number 1 spot myself  on a few occasions with seasonal props packs and shoulder pets.

Of course there was always fashion too but each item was very short lived, although I guess thats what makes it fashion.

If items were ranked in that way today I reckon the top spots would be filled with various pet foods and accessories, more than any other type of item. If you look back at the economic stats for July 2009 you can clearly see a huge peak when the chicken craze reached its height and an Extra $100k US plus poured into the economy, no dress, or pair of stilettos ever did that and the breedables market has grown and developed since then.

There is no denying that fashion, is a massive part of the economy, but it certainly isn't 90% and its also true to say its almost certainly the category with the most creators and listings, so when it comes to getting customers to view your products I would suggest its possibly the toughest game to be in.

 

 

 

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Unfortunately their listing page thingamajig defaults to the "renew" enhancement thing, and would imagine that most people don't catch that.  You have to go back and adjust that.

The featured enhancements have worked very well for me, but it took some practice.  It's just like physical world business - you will spend some time, effort and money to experiment until you get the right mix. 

The right mix involves packaging and price and store presentation and selection and promotion and marketing.  Lots of tweaking to do there.  Takes a while to do that.  Months maybe.

If you need a place inworld to try your product sales out, let me know...I've got several people reporting good sales out of an open-air market that I just set up, and for now the booths are free.  I'm doing web promotions on that, so you get a taste of whether or not your product will sell in general.

If you've only got 10 to 20 products....you're probably going to have a tough road making some profit, unless they are just outrageously amazing.  And I think that only fits with Bax Boots and Meeros.  Certainly doesn't apply to mine!  So you have to work super hard and have a huge amount of product to experiment with.

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Chelsea Malibu wrote:

It's a tough one to say as each product is different but in the end, yes, they can be a very costly way to not get sales unless you make hair, skins, shoes or clothing. 


My experience is that clohting is the most costly segment when it comes to promoting your product. It costs you both a lot of time and money to get attention for your producs. You must do so many things to get your products seen, next to designing the clothes.

I have three different shops, the first one where I started with is a curtain shop. I invested a lot of time to develop the products together with a scripter. We first created enough to fill a whole shop and then we builded the shop. To our own surprise from day 1 the shop was there the products started selling. We had not worked out any marketing plans yet when the product was already booming. For about two year the income of this shop was very stable. Whether we advertised or did not advertise at all, it made no difference in sales. After a while we stopped every form of promoting and still the product was sold in the same volumes as we were used to.

When economy began to sink down the income from this shop changed with it. But it is still a profitable shop and I haven't spend one dime or one minute of energy for more then three years now on promotion. The only thing I need to take care of for this shop is customer service.

My second brand is a ladies fashion. I created clothes for about two years. Fashion is very promotion intensive, because the competition is so high, and the competition is also always busy with promotion, promotion, promotion. In the period I was a clothing designer I did spend about half my time at creating the clothes and half the time at promoting them.

In the beginning the promoting of the brand was kind of challenging. There was something to discover about marketing and I was always glad to find new ways to promote. But after a year or two I started to hate the promotional rounds after a design was finished more and more. For me promoting fashion in SL is mainly dull, repetive work.

I have always enjoyed the desiging part of the job very much, but at a certain moment I remarked I started the hesitate to finish a design, cause finishing a design ment a new release, with another round of promotion... and I just didn't want to do it anymore. I wanted to spend more time on desiging.

 

A few months before I got my 'fashion promotion crisis' I started learning to work in Blender. In advance mainly because I found most sculpts I bought for fashion design so hard to texture. Then someone had shown me how you can make a template for sculpties, so you can texture the template of the sculpt, just like the clothing templates. But to learn how to do that myself I had to understand a bit more about Blender first, and though it was not very easy in the beginning this program fascinated me.

So the discovery of Blender combined with my growing resistance against the promotional work of my fashion brand, made in the end that I changed my working field in SL again. I'm now in the sculpty market, and I love it. The story of cYo is more comparable with my curtains brand then with my fashion brand. I spend about 5% of my time at promotion and customer service, and for the other 95% I can concentrate on designing. And that's just how I want it. Still my sculpty brand makes  4 times more money as my clothing shop ever did (and my earnings with clothing were not bad at all in the rich years 2007/2008).

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