MIA – Linden Labs’ Customer Service…

SECOND LIFE PUBLIC HEALTH WARNING: do not continue reading if you’re not a fan of the public rant!

For now, I am no longer a Second Life Resident. Linden Labs have decided to upgrade their system for taking payment from residents outside of the US and in the process are unable to take my payment and have suspended my account.

In mid May, I received an email from ‘My Friends at Linden Lab’ advising that I may experience problems in making payments because they’d upgraded their system for International customers and had ‘run into a few bugs and systems issues’. However, my friends provided a link to a post on their blog which reassuringly advised that ‘Recent Billing Issues Will Not Affect Your Account Status’.

I was at least prepared then, when 2 days later, I received an email advising that LL had failed to bill my account. I responded to the email and asked if their failure to bill was related to technical issues; after all I knew the credit card was good and had been since I started using it for Second Life payments in 2007. They replied and instructed me to call to sort out billing. They provided 2 telephone numbers, both of which were invalid when called so I emailed back and told them so. I then received a set of instructions, by email, on how to update my billing. The instructions involved a complicated 26-step process and required me to purchase L$600 to satisfy the new minimum transaction of at least $2.50 USD; ironic when you consider that the upgraded system, which caused the failure to bill in the first instance, was implemented to ensure billing would be ‘easier, and less expensive’ (quote taken from ‘My Friends at Linden Lab’ in their original email). I responded and advised that I had no intention of going through their suggested long drawn out process and purchase L$600 which I did not need in order to rectify their technical problem. I was somewhat pleased when I received their reply which advised that my case was being reviewed by the relevant department and that I would receive a response in 2 to 5 working days.

In my naivety, I expected that the response would take the form of an apology and offer to accept my payment without inconveniencing me or putting me to additional expense. Hmmm … no … the response was notification that they hadn’t received payment and that if they didn’t do so within 30 days ‘your account will be canceled, and your inworld land holdings (Linden Home included) will be foreclosed on’. At this point, my ability to log into Second Life was disabled. Having come to the conclusion that taking the moral high ground was going to result in my loss of account, possessions and land, I swallowed my pride and logged on to the Second Life website to update payment details. At this point, I was presented with a message asking me to call them or submit a support case. I called the provided number (plus others given on the website for billing support) 7 times, but every time I called I was cut off with the message “Call ended. Thank you for your call”. Unperturbed, I returned to my account and selected the link to submit a support case, at which point I was logged out of the system and invited to submit a question as a guest. There was an option to log in and I chose it and engaged in a few minutes of technical merry-go-round, eventually returning to my starting point – the guest question submission screen.

The introductory message on LL’s billing support advises that Second Life residents can find help on the website or through chat support. Running out of options, I decided to look for the chat support option on the website. I couldn’t find it, but in looking, I came across an option to restore my account and update my payment details (you have to wonder why the original message I received when logging into my account didn’t just direct me there?). I noticed that there was an option to change country of residence. As you may know, I’ve recently moved to the US. I intended to update my residency details and change billing to a US credit card at some point in the future, but as I was being forced into updating billing, I thought I’d might as well do it there and then. I successfully changed my country of residence to the US, but after selecting the option to make payment, I was advised onscreen that I was still being billed in pounds sterling. Not only that, but the amount being billed was $52.50 higher than I’d previously been notified I owed. It was at that point I saw a golden glimmer of hope in the corner of the payment screen – the elusive and magical chat support button – squeee! I was sure that a LL support staff member, once aware of my plight, would empathise and rush to take my cash; we could all then move on from this painful incident.

I’m not sure how long our chat lasted – it seemed like over an hour and I won’t take up your time with irrelevance. I more or less relayed the series of events as outlined above and in a stereotypical customer services styley, she reassured me that she was listening … I was hopeful. Afterwards, she responded by asking me if I’d followed the 26-step procedure to update my billing details. After realising my hopes were in vein and internalising a big sigh, I explained that I had not because I did not feel it was fair to expect me to spend time and money sorting out their technical problems. Besides, updating my billing details would not resolve the problems I was now experiencing after changing my country of residence in being billed in the wrong currency and for the wrong amount. She went on to explain that “the upgrade has caused a lot of issues that we are trying to resolve”, that my account should not have been closed, that they would move my account back to the old system, but that it would take some time to complete, the system was automatic and they had no control over it. I would have to log on again in 48 hours and attempt to update my billing information then. In the meantime, my account would remain locked and I would continue to have no access in-world.

I told the chat operator that I had no confidence in LL and that I felt would be faced with the same issues in 48 hours as I had then. I told her that I wanted a telephone number so that I could speak to someone. When none was provided, I advised that I wanted to escalate the issue and asked for the details of someone I could contact to make a complaint. All I received in return was a generic email address; she refused to offer me anything further except for some advice; after explaining that they knew they had problems after their upgrade, she went on to tell me that is why they had sent me the emails to tell me to update my billing information. Obviously, I felt a fool … it appeared that this was all my fault. My advice, for any International Second Life Residents who may be experiencing similar problems to me is, when asked to step up by LL with your time and your money to resolve their technical problems, do not shirk your duty. Do your bit and help them out … God knows, they need it!

Advertisements

11 Comments

Filed under Dolly's Soap Box

11 responses to “MIA – Linden Labs’ Customer Service…

  1. Chance G.

    This is horrible!! are you not coming back?!? I miss you!!! I have not had any of these issues, thank god! BIG HUGS and I hope you are Well otherwise! Love! /Chance

  2. Hi Chance :*. Yeah, my situation is grim and I’m not the only one. Loads of us are in the same boat according to the Second Life Official Forum – many complaints here and stories of suspended accounts, support requests unanswered, etc – http://community.secondlife.com/t5/Forums-Blogs-Answers-and/On-the-Road-to-Local-Payments-Blog-from-FJ/td-p/845675/page/2.

    I did get an email from LL saying they’d opened up a support case for me, but the link provided took me back to exactly where I was before – being billed in the wrong currency and for the wrong amount. If I want to get Dolly back, I might just have to grit my teeth and pay it, but I’m not sure that will even work because some of the affected residents have been unable to update their billing details. Wish me luck!!!

    I am very well otherwise – hope you are too – catch up soon. Love and hugs xxxxxxx.

  3. I am so glad I stopped paying tier and moved to InWorldz or I could so easily be in the same boat.

  4. Good point soror – thanks for commenting :). I’m not sure how many customers SL will lose through this. I imagine, like me, people are reluctant to leave because we are all invested in one way or another. I’m beginning to wonder how wise it is to invest in something like SL. It seems as if we’re all willing to put our time, money and emotions into this project which at its core its just another corporation which can do as it pleases. Would we invest in any other corporation without a stake-holding or return? I think not! If I were running a business in SL right now and it was my main source of income, I would be seriously reevaluating!

  5. Arkady arkright

    And this is why – quote from F J LInden on the forums today :- “We are continuing to work through technical and policy issues that are identified through the beta test of our new billing system.”

    LL are using the live financial accounts of their entire non-USA customer base to beta-test,/em> an entirely new method of collecting money – and the applying that age-old principle of business the customer is always wrong when, inevitably, it falls over…

    Ref:

  6. I had similar issues except I refused to listen to them, I ranted and raved on the telephone, email, live chat and got nowhere.

    I had to pay manually and pray they didn’t take it twice. I have 1/4 region of mainland and residents – I could not risk losing that, they provided no reassurances that actually reassured me my account wouldn’t be suspended. I also have a 4 year old club I did not fancy losing.

    The same will happen on 1 June. They don’t care. Emails to Rodvik go ignored.

    Josephina Bonetto

  7. Sandor Balczo

    This makes me glad I downgraded from Premium in 2009. My experience with LL’s billing “service” has always been bad every time I had a problem (and even after downgrading, my credit card information was MYSTERIOUSLY deleted twice and in both cases I was told I had deleted it and even harrassed for being sarcastic about it) and I see it hasn’t improved the least bit.

    Not to mention that if you elect to pay an annual fee for premium membership, then change your mind before the end of the year and want to downgrade, they will not refund you pro-quota.

    If this is customer service, no wonder there are fewer people in SL than there used to be.

  8. I felt much the same as you Sandor when I received an support ticket update from Second Life which advised ‘We have found that some of these issues have been caused by Residents deleting their payment information between payment dates. If you have been deleting your payment information between payment dates, we kindly ask that you refrain from doing so. If you continue to delete your payment information you will encounter future issues.’ Isn’t it the number one rule in a corporation that when you get it wrong, the last thing you do is blame your customers for it??!! Talk about adding insult to injury.

    Well my latest is that I have bit the bullet and decided to pay, even though I am being over billed and in the wrong currency. Unfortunately, my attempt at paying my outstanding account using the method provided by Second Life in their support ticket and using the same credit card as they have been taking payment from since 2007 resulted in the following:

    Your payment of US$XX.XX has failed due to the following reason:
    The transaction could not be processed due to technical reasons.
    You are welcome to try to make a payment with a different Credit/Debit Card or any other payment method.

    I have spoken with online chat again and asked “Are you going to cancel my account and take my land despite the fact that I am trying to pay you with a credit card that is good for all other transactions other than Second Life and has been good for you since 2007?” She responded …

    Deniece Z.: There was an upgrade done to the viewwer.
    Deniece Z.: I am sorry
    Deniece Z.: the cashier
    Deniece Z.: if you are unable to make the payment in 1 hour, please contact us back.

    Thanks to everyone for taking the time to leave your comments. I don’t want to think that anyone else is having to deal with this as well as me, but in some ways I am glad I am not alone.

  9. Alessandro Cintoli

    Dolly,

    Whatever the outcome, I would suggest you send a report to your credit card company with copies of any written exchange between you and LL. I did. And as if by magic….poof, they stopped bothering me.

    Sandor 🙂

  10. Sandor Balczo

    This just in, Dolly:

    My account has just been terminated, with the usual mail informing me I repeatedly or severely violated the TOS and without explaining how. I was invited to “appeal” to explain the reason why I MIGHT HAVE BEEN TERMINATED!

    This is ludicrous and a very very very very bad way to end 4 years of residence in Second Life.

    Needless to say, LL will receive very bad publicity from me from now on.

    I am sure that the comments I made about what happened to you and my termination today are related.

    I appealed of course, asking what I am accused of. I am sure LL will not respond.

    I am leaving a partner in SL who is appalled at what happened and hopes this is all a mistake. Fortunately we also know each other in RL.

    I hope someone in the real world will be so kind to start a journalistic inquiry about the methods used by LL to alienate its customers, stealing them money in the process (I cannot erase my credit card information or take back my L$ deposit of course, and I cannot even access my account on the web).

    I don’t give SL more than one year of existence: they have passed the mark way beyond anything remotely acceptable.

    Sandor 😦

  11. Dolly! I just stumbled back onto your blog and I can’t believe this happened 😦 I’m so sorry about it and I truly hope they manage to update your billing information and return your account back to you. How’s everything at the moment? Any luck with that?

    And I’m also really excited that you’re living in California now as you updated before… for some odd reason that makes me feel somewhat reassured that you’re in a great place and feeling happy with your new life! Waving from Los Angeles and hope you’re enjoying the sunny weather we’re having thus far.

    Do update us on what’s going on, thoroughly miss you so much and *HUGS* I hope all is well, your presence always brings a smile to my day 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s