Second Life Roughly a couple of times each month, some large Second Life account (an estate owner or large landholder) has some sort of billing issue that threatens to shut them down. These generally fall into three classes.

  • Linden Lab fails to generate a charge against a payment method. We’re talking about systems built out of software, actually multiple layers of them, through multiple companies. Sometimes things don’t go perfectly, end-to-end.
  • The system fails to accept new payment information. Grid status notifications indicate numerous problems with that, especially in the last six months. It isn’t clear if the incidence of problems with that is higher than before, if if the problems are just being announced more frequently by the Lab.
  • Something goes wrong in transfer-of-ownership in the case of a sale or a death by the original owner (since Second Life users do rather trend towards the elderly or infirm), and the Lab can’t figure out what’s going on, who should be billed or who to talk to and drops the ball.

In each of these, weeks or months can go by while the customer tries to sort things out with Linden Lab. I’ve been BCC’ed in on a lot of conversations with Linden Lab, Support Tickets and so on, and it is baffling and frustrating seeing them play out and getting nowhere.

There should be a process for these situations. Unfortunately, the successful process over the last year or so has been to contact a user who knows one or more senior people at Linden Lab, get them to pass along the information with names, dates, particulars, support-tickets and so on, and have that senior person at Linden Lab shake the tree.

Once that’s done, resolving the problem generally takes less than a couple of hours for issues that have otherwise been in limbo for weeks or months in the hands of multiple Support staff.

Now, that’s the wrong process. Elf Clan’s recent troubles (there are other issues there like sim costs, but they’re not really relevant to this discussion), and recent solution didn’t quite follow the usual path – I presume that they didn’t know who they could contact to get the Lab to take notice – but their pending public exit caught the attention of Linden Lab CEO, Rod Humble, and the problem was apparently quickly fixed.

That’s the wrong process too, though. It should never have come to that point.

When you can’t get action from Concierge or Support, who do you turn to? When these two run into stumbling blocks, they don’t think creatively; they don’t operate outside their scripts. Situations inevitably occur that are outside of the normal parameters, and aren’t necessarily anyone’s fault.

That’s the point that you need someone with the authority to troubleshoot issues outside of the usual scripts and parameters, to whom the incident can be escalated.

Right now, that’s … well, nobody. Or Rod Humble, I suppose.

Not the right process.

If there is any proper avenue for escalating these issues – so that they can be resolved, if they are genuinely valid – then nobody seems to know about it.

There needs to be a process.

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