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Chelsea Malibu

Time for a SL Better Business Bureau?

120 posts in this topic

It is NOT a Myth
 
It happens to people daily, and for some it has been going on for years.  They do not talk about it publicly, because when you do that, it just stirs it up further.  There are work-arounds.  It requires constant effort.  It detracts from creating.
 
I don't know where the instigators find the time for it, but they do.  For years.  People come to SL for all kinds of reasons, and for the instigators this is their reason, just as creating things is your reason.
 
There is a rather lengthy thread at SL Universe, or perhaps several, that deals with a Police organization and their antics this year.
 
This attempt is no different than what that organization attempts to do. 
 
 

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People already use "common sense" in their businesses.  People already give exceptional service.

If that's not working for you, or for Miss Chelsea, then fix your own house, before venturing into my house.

Anyone who needs to join a group for back-up or assurance, or as a tool to monitor other businesses,  or for a list of guidelines on how to do good business, or as a guise to promote their own business....

....then they've got problems in their own house.

I do not "live" in second life.  I am a customer of a service provider.  I use other service providers, and I can't think of one that has a group of customers manning a "Bureau" that defines what is the best policy or provides guidelines that are considered best practice. 

If you have an example, that is run by customers, I would be happy to study that.  But if there is one, that is run by customers, I doubt seriously that they are anonymous avatars (capable of mass reproduction) with no accountability.

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Several months ago, I wrote a blog article in which I addressed and called out an instigator.

People came out of the woodwork with messages to me with similar experiences that had been going on for years.  Far worse than mine.  Some are using the system already in place, to toy with people.  Creators. To fix it requires legal counsel for some.  Most were not willing to do that.

Several wise people told me not to waste time on it.  It's not worth it.  It's not.  Except that when the instigators have a bad week in the physical world, they show up again, out of the blue, ready for action.  Doesn't matter whether you were quiet about it or not, they show up.  So there really is no tried and true method for dealing with them, because they are anonymous avatars.  Linden Lab has it's limits on that, when the instigator takes it to the web. 

I noticed that when the instigators form a circle, a club, a team, and have a web site or blog....it becomes downright vicious.  Anonymity, no accountability, no recourse, no law, and the Internet is that person's playground.

 

Do NOT Hand them a Loaded GUN and a Back-Up Squad
 
Some day they might use it on you.

 

 

 

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LOL, guess I really set you off huh Mickey? I didn't know you had this kind of issue with me. Perhaps you would like to contact me in world and we can discuss what I have done to offend you to this degree.

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Your audacity is offensive, yes.  And this is not the first time, that you have tried to dictate what is right or wrong policy for businesses.

I explained right here.  There is no need for an inworld conversation.  I would have expressed same opinion to anyone who has the audacity to propose the same.  And I gave pretty clear reasons why.  As did others.

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yes I am an advocate of quality customer service.  i am sure you do a good job and admire your tenacity but please realize, that there are many out that are not.  and also keep in mind that if a customer has enough bad experiences, their likelihood of coming more in SL goes down.

Your comments are appreciated but flaming is really not becoming of someone at your level of professionalism.

 

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I only support such an idea in theory.

In practice it could never work, for all the reasons already stated. Humans in this virtual world simply cannot remain unbiased. So exactly how would you support/protect *all* merchants and not just those bigger names out there? You'd require some kind of "fee" to join, right? That right there is where the buck stops. No one, in sl, should have to PAY to be known as a good business. Sorry, that just doesn't fly with me. A good business, a great creator, these things will stand on their own merit as they always have.

What recourse could a BBB in sl do for the customer who's been wronged? Absolutely nothing. In rl the BBB while still not a perfect solution, remains one *tool for consumers to offer them a little bit of something. But it offers them absolutely nothing if the business isn't registered(much in the same it would do in sl). So what exactly would a BBB in sl do that word of mouth can't, and doesn't, already do?

If you want to convince people that this idea would work beyond simply theory, you need to give them *reasons it would work. Not just state the obvious. Of course customers have problems. In any world, this happens, and while we'd all love for no one to ever have problems, that's not realistic thinking. You do realize that for the most part we only hear from folks who have bad experiences, not nearly as often from folks who don't. Those experiences tend to trickle down when we make recommendations and such to others. But rarely will you see someone post, for example here in the forums, about a fantastic experience. But you will hear about a lot of the bad ones. That's the nature of the beast. Nothing anyone does can, or will, change that. People who are upset about something are more likely to be loud(er).

So, if you really think this is a great idea, you're going to have to convince the masses before you'll get much support. It would be a wise idea to actually break down how you think it should work, what it would entail(right down to the nitty gritty details), what you can do for consumers and merchants alike. Just posting the idea, which is done, as someone else said, at least once a year, isn't enough. So provide proof that "your"(general you, of course, as this is a frequent pipe dream around the merchant world, lol) idea will be different from anything we've already got, won't simply be some "what's hot" list like all of it's predecessors, will offer something we actually need and isn't just an idea that isn't fully thought through. Give folks something to actually think about, a reason to believe this is a fantastic idea. Theories won't work here. We'd love it if they did, but they just won't.

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I dont recall every mentioning a fee.  In fact, I had planned on using a hosting account I already have for the website and that it would be open to anyone.

BTW all ideas start from a theory.  SL started as a theory.

 

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I'm not really in a passive-aggressive mood lately.  I was blunt.

If you feel as though it is "flaming"....there is a control and a proper button for that.

The link that you provided as an example, was not a particularly good example of policies that you would like to address, spearheading a group that is titled or will be similarly titled Better Business Bureau.  There is no right or wrong on much of that list. 

I will fight the placement of any group that attempts to define those policies with promotion to customers.

We all do business differently.  We all set product policy differently.  That does not make one or the other's right or wrong.

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Chelsea Malibu wrote:

I dont recall every mentioning a fee.  In fact, I had planned on using a hosting account I already have for the website and that it would be open to anyone.

BTW all ideas start from a theory.  SL started as a theory.

 

How exactly would you get all merchants together? How would you inform merchants all over the grid that the service exists?

I'm going to be blunt here....you need to quit taking offense to everything people say. Just because some point out flaws in the idea doesn't in any way negate the 'theory" or the idea, nor you. In fact, if I were you, I'd be encouraging people to point out the flaws. You do want your idea to come to fruition, and to be successful, and to provide a valuable tool for merchants and customers alike, right?(I think thats kinda obvious, lol). Then you need to be willing to accept that people are GOING to challenge this. You're aksing merchants what they think about an idea...and then acting offended when they answer. That's a bad start, if you ask me.

I've made that mistake myself, both in real life and even in second life, as a business person. Never, ever ask others what they think, if you're not prepared to listen, and accept what they say. Some folks will be bluntly truthful with you-whether they are for or against the idea. Some folks won't be quite so blunt. But that doesn't mean either one is right or wrong. Your reactions to the answers you receive however, will speak volumes. Right now, I'm not convinced you've thoroughly thought the idea through. I'm sorry if you don't like that, but it's the truth. Coming as someone who may be a teensy little creator with a teensy business in sl, but one who has owned a business in rl for more than 13 years now. That's about the only time you'll ever hear my toot my own horn, lol. I didn't get where I am by being defensive anytime I was challenged, not learning from my mistakes and the mistakes of those before me, and pretending to know it all(again I apologize for being blunt but I don't know any better way to say this, it's just exactly how you're coming off in this thread and I don't think it's intentional, but, yeah, you're giving people a reason to *not be confident the idea will work). I have no qualms being honest with people, when they ask me to. But I do, at least slightly, take issue when people ask for opinions but don't really mean they want honesty. That rubs me the wrong way.

So....good luck with your idea. I'll check into it a year from now and see how it's panned out. Right now, I don't believe it will. Please prove me wrong :)

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Thank you all for your candid input and this has helped me a lot.  Clearly not a good idea and I am glad I ran it by everyone to get more clarity on this.  I guess thes is just not viable now that I have seen all sides and something I will clearly not pursue.

Always good to get more perspective and why I came here to see first.

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Chelsea Malibu wrote:

yes I am an advocate of quality customer service.  i am sure you do a good job and admire your tenacity but please realize, that there are many out that are not.  and also keep in mind that if a customer has enough bad experiences, their likelihood of coming more in SL goes down.

Your comments are appreciate but flaming is really not becoming of someone at the level of professionalism you are.

 

I commented on audacity and a few other problems with your plan.  I did not evaluate your "level of professionalism" within those comments.  As did you, above.  And that is a very good example of why your plan is not acceptable.  I do not want a group of people with agendas defining professionalism for our businesses.

Frankly, I'm not all that professional most days.  My store is a mess.  It would not meet your group's standards, according to that list you supplied.

And that's one of the reasons I enjoy having a little business in SL.  As far as I know....my regular customers are not offended by my current lack of attention to some empty display areas.  It's a huge relief and a huge joy to come in here and not have that hanging over head, and to just have fun and play around a bit, with no pressure.  I've never felt pressure from any customer to go organize the store or fix some messed up displays.  Never.  And this is a joy.

Please understand, that many are having fun here, without guidelines.  Freely, without evaluation cards and without time clocks or agencies to report to. 

Customer service is one thing, but attempting to go beyond that into proper product design, permissions, store display, etc.....that's going way too far, and that's the example that you gave. 

And even as far as customer service goes, I do not trust anyone's judgment on that, based on prior forum participation.  Somewhere around here, there is a thread that spells that out perfectly, concerning use of notecards, and there have been many others.

You have an agenda.  Why don't you spell it out very clearly.

eta:

here's that thread, and it's a very good example of why a group should not be in place to make judgment calls on a person's business policy, and why a group should not be in charge of defining what is right or wrong, and why that certainly should not be used in promoting to customers what is acceptable and what is not acceptable from another merchant, and it's on something as simple as returning messages.  Imagine what it would be like on other issues and policies:

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Mickey Vandeverre wrote:

 

Frankly, I'm not all that professional most days.  My store is a mess.  It would not meet your group's standards, according to that list you supplied.


lol, you stated that better than I could. I am far from a professional in sl. I've been creating for some time now and sometimes I even wonder why I call myself a creator, haha, I'm often times just  "playing", you know? Don't get me wrong I absolutely LOVE what I do, and I love learning new things. I enjoy the fact that my rl benefits from it as well. But I'm not on some top 10, top 50, even top 500 list for a reason. I don't have the means, and most times desire, to be that "big and famous", for lack of better term. But I do provide a level of customer service that I expect of others. If/when there is an issue(hey, it happens, lol), I fix it as soon as I can. I have only had one issue never resolved and when that was over I realized the person had mistaken my product for something else, likely felt sheepish, and stopped contacting. Eh...such is life, right? Beyond that though, I've always handled things as quickly as possible.

My standards aren't the same as others, my stuff isn't nearly as good as a lot of stuff, but I wouldn't consider anything I offer(service or product) as substandard....still I wouldn't want to place myself on the same "level" as it were, as someone with a huge business-been here for years-thousands of customer base-huge group-constantly putting out new content-up to date on the content they put out(ie mesh and such)...it just feels wrong.

I like being a little hole in the wall, mom and pop, type shop. It serves me well. I love knowing that I can always go up from here, so to speak. My content can always be improved, I'll never plateau. I am always learning, always improving, always doing better than the year before. My store is tiny, it's not even a building and it likely never will be(unless someone wants to give me a building rent free forever...bwaahaaaa...I kid, I kid, I wouldn't want that). My actual store has less items than my MP even. I put stuff out pretty slowly, unless I've a ton of time on my hands-like right now since we're a couple months ahead in lessons and waiting on curriculum, lol. I'll likely put out a couple month's worth of stuff in the next couple weeks. But then it'll be a bit before I add more. That's just how I work. I'm a very small fish, in a very big ocean that doesn't want to strive to be a big shark :D

Not saying a BBB, or anything like it, would require such things. It just seems to me that being on such a list, there are certain expectations that may manifest simply by association, and I have a very difficult time thinking otherwise. You're going to have people on there that do all of the above I've already described and folks like me just wouldn't fit those "standards" set forth by others(intentional or otherwise), it would make me feel awkward. But that's just me. That doesn't mean the IDEA behind it is bad, or couldn't benefit others. Even if it did come to fruition and work grandly, I'd likely never participate for that reason alone. I'd feel weird, and I think I'm weird enough :P

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I am really not sure why Merchants in this thread are taking this topic so serious and passionately and with a lot of barbs flying back and forth.  As I have said early in this thread... it really is not a topic that has ever been received well by the merchant community on the countless times it is brought up.... and as you all can see from this thread... it hasnt again.

Personally I believe that the unique dynamics of the SL Business economy and ecommerce environment is not suitable or supportable of any formal structured type of BBB or Merchant Standards Group or Association. 

There are those that treat their SL business as serious as if they were running a RL business with B&M, staff, assets, inventory, taxes/fees/insurance.  To these people. a BBB will sound like it makes all the sense in the world.

There are those (i.e. I would suggest MOST of the Merchant community of about 70,000+) that do not treat their SL business with the same level of business operation criticality as a RL business.  As much as I love the awesome monthly profits my SL business generates for my RL pocketbook, I 1000% fit in this category.  I own a RL business and if I ran it like I run my SL business, I would be bankrupt. 

For someone like me, as much as the concept in theory might have merits, it would be an utterly useless group/organization.  In fact, as many have stated, this BBB would likely add a new risk to my business rather than help me.  Why?  Because I am happy how my business operates.  As sloppy as my business runs, I have customers with near 100% satisfaction and that love my products and love my awesome customer service. 

I would not want to jump through hoops just to get a "Im a SL BBB Member" sticker to place on my store and products.  Since I wouldnt, then there is the risk that a SMALL % of customers in SL might actually make a buying decision based on it.  I doubt many would care if a merchant is BBB or not but a few would.  As such, the BBB adds risk to my business. 

Finally, the added risk is that IF this BBB Merchants group were to somehow be successful, it would likely be populated by the top sales generating merchants - the COMMERCIAL Merchants.  The risk is that LL might begin to listen to their opinions and thoughts on the fiture direction of MP or the SL economy or how the business us run.  These BBB opinions would obviously be of self-interest to the top teir merchants and against the 90%+ of hobby merchants.

Pretty much most Merchants know that LL management is already secretly influenced by these top merchants but this group would give LL a legit argument on why they do some of the stupid things they do... "Because the Merchants told us to as stated by the BBB".

 

Anyway, fighting and personal attacks over this topic is not worth it.  If someone wants to take a shot and basically waste their time creating this BBB group, more power to them.  I will put 10,000L down now as a bet that a year from now there will not be any significant BBB like group in SL.  This thread clearly proved why.

 

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"I am really not sure why Merchants in this thread are taking this topic so serious and passionately and with a lot of barbs flying back and forth." 

-----------------------------------------------

no sweat, Toy. someday you might just feel compelled to take something seriously and passionately, and understand.  You might even feel compelled to

CAPITALIZE AN ENTIRE THOUGHT
 
 
ya just never know!

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There may be less of a need for establishing a level of trust for merchants, depending on what LL's idea of "things for merchants and landowners be more profitable" as Rod announced in that last blog post. Supposedly coming in 2012.

Hopefully those are solid tools and establishing what separates a merchant from a non merchant rather than another way to nickle and dime more money from merchants, thus decreasing profits.

Would like to see some detail on that soon, entirely vague and "hurry up and wait", but if sooner, I would hold out to see how that pans out.

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nahhh....

I now only CAPITALIZE the occassional word to piss off Sassy and if I really am trying to make a point.

 

LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME !!

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Chelsea Malibu wrote:

Toy completely sided with you and now you attack him as well.  Just give it a rest.

Good Grief!  I was making a Funny!

It was not an attack at all.

Get a Grip.

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Dartagan Shepherd wrote:

There may be less of a need for establishing a level of trust for merchants, depending on what LL's idea of "things for merchants and landowners be more profitable" as Rod announced in that last blog post. Supposedly coming in 2012.

Hopefully those are solid tools and establishing what separates a merchant from a non merchant rather than another way to nickle and dime more money from merchants, thus decreasing profits.

Would like to see some detail on that soon, entirely vague and "hurry up and wait", but if sooner, I would hold out to see how that pans out.

Perhaps the best input on this thread so far.  Thanks Dart and yes, I hope so as well and am excited to see what he means other than being able to create NPC's. 

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Dartagan Shepherd wrote:

There may be less of a need for establishing a level of trust for merchants, depending on what LL's idea of "things for merchants and landowners be more profitable" as Rod announced in that last blog post. Supposedly coming in 2012.

Hopefully those are solid tools and establishing what separates a merchant from a non merchant rather than another way to nickle and dime more money from merchants, thus decreasing profits.

Would like to see some detail on that soon, entirely vague and "hurry up and wait", but if sooner, I would hold out to see how that pans out.

What do mean separating a merchant from a non merchant?

Sounds dangerous.

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That actually does sound scary if those words came from the LL Poobah.

There are no Merchants and non-Merchants.  As I classified the two Merchants before... there are Commercial and Hobbiest Merchants.  But since I would estimate that over 90% of ALL merchants are the Hobbiest Merchants (if they agree that they are or not), having LL come up with a model / benefits / restrictions that promotes the Commercial merchants and hurts the Hobbiest merchants would have....

 

HUGEEEE IMPACTS to the SL economy.

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Well, as harmlessly as possible. I've done a flip-flop myself since that whole listing fees thing and the financial reality of SL is that it requires a large degree of free to users, like Zynga and other free-play or virtual goods models.

Personal preference would be that it includes a way to purge content and sellers not active, eliminates sellers that only "sell" free content, demos and freebies by valid merchants kept to a bare minimum ... don't take away the demo or occassional giveaway, just rid of the huge volume.

Don't mind even tiered packages myself such as more benefits to merchants that also own registered store land. I could even go with a montly package (as an alternative opt-in) subscription for some high value data and information with included advertising, etc.

Problem with that last personally is that I'm not in a giving mood with LL these days for any sort of fee after this crowd-funding mess and the fact that my tier now partially funds their new experimentation and products that they want to get going. Those products "completely unrelated to SL" that were announced in that last blog post as well. Or maybe it's Will's buy-in money for jumping on the LL board and my tier goes toward paying back that debit if SL is now no longer in profit because of it, who knows?

I'm basically ok with variations on that, more can be done to provide a professional merchant class without taking the "free" out of SL overall.

Not a clue what they're actually going to do though, I'm just smelling future fees everywhere and SL as the funding for other projects until their mobile apps, or SL spinoffs that manage to suck more cash per user than this world does take off.

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Restrictions - Model - Monitoring - Guidelines - Bureau

Merchant - Non-Merchant

Even in a fully blown, professionally run system like ebay and etsy....I don't recall every seeing a merchant versus non-merchant separation.  Granted, ebay has the Power Seller - suppose that could be considered a separation maybe.

Pretty sure a ton of ladies on etsy would be quite ticked off if that system ever classified them as "non-merchants"  holy cow.

And this is ExploreWorld - Fantasyland - AdventureWorld - whatever you want to name it.  You get to be whatever you want to be, whenever you want, pretty much your own design, your own call. 

That would not set well.

 

 

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Something like Power Seller might work, right. I don't see how they can pull that off though, "yet".

Before anyone can establish trust or add value to merchants, you have to have guaranteed delivery a much more trustworthy environment with funds. This isn't funny money, if someone blows $4 USD on an outfit, it needs to get there, with receipts, tracking and resolution if it doesn't.

It also needs some sort of consumer protection, which is a joke in the world of commerce here because of the funny money.

You can't police anything without the above, what am I going to say to customers in-world now that claim they didn't get their things on a daily basis and I'm left guessing whether that's the truth, an error in payment or an error in delivery or some bug of the moment?

No better tools, organization or even LL merchant tools can help me with that.

Even LL can't give me a good or bad stamp of approval without providing a mechanism that their underlying system actually works reliably for those basics, which it most certainly does not and I've got months worth of support incidents to prove it.

If LL can manage that, they begin treating us like adults and professionals.

The only sticking point I have about the whole freebie or amateur thing is that if you put a price on something you've shown an intent to sell. (Ugg, that sounds like dealing drugs). That can be in the sense of playing a game for entertainment, for covering fees. Whatever the reason for selling, you're a merchant and if anyone can be one with minimal hassle, it should be fine.

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