Tuesday, October 18, 2011

« Resource for Playing Zombie Games in Second Life Reminds Me How Much SL's Game Dev Tools Need to Improve | Main | The Next Generation of Virtual Interaction is Being Shaped by Kinect and Sesame Street »

Miss Ophelia's Metaverse Manners: How to Deal with Entitled SL Customers -- And Avoid Being One Yourself!

Entitlement Etiquette

Iris Ophelia's ongoing take on etiquette & ethics in virtual spaces 

Earlier this month I posted a rant about the attitude of entitlement that's seeped in to SL's fashion world. It started a lot of discussion, and raised quite a few questions worthy of answers from Miss Metaverse Manners. This week, I'm answering the three most common questions that came up, starting with...

I released something for a daily deal type of event so theday after I set the price up to a normal price like everything else in my store. Later that day a customer started harassing me in IMs and calling me greedy. Should I have waited longer to set the price, was this person just a bitch, how do I handle this?

                    - Anonymous

An event with a specific day in its name takes place on that specific day, it shouldn't be hard to understand. No one should expect an item set out at a discount for Supahfly Saturday or whatever to still be there on Sunday. I'll admit that I often shop these events late and I greatly appreciate when some designers choose to leave the item out longer, but I certainly don't take it for granted or begrudge a designer who has removed the item or reset the price. Your customer was 100% in the wrong on this one, both in what they expected and how they approached you.

When a customer approaches you about an issue like this, it's best to apologize and politely remind them that the sale price was only for that day. If the customer is being gracious about it, it would be nice of you to give it to them for the discount price as a one-time act of goodwill, but sometimes this can cause other problems down the line (as you'll read in a later question,) so don't feel like it's an obligation. If the customer is being abusive, keep your cool and just close the window. If they threaten you or make a scene at your shop, then don't feel bad about muting and banning them as well. Remember, it's your store and your choice.

Keep reading for more!

Hey Iris. I'm a fashion blogger and am part of a large bloggers group which designers use to send review copies. Lately the items sent have sucked and there's been nothing worth reviewing. Do I have any right to complain?

                    - Anonymous

Honestly no, I don't think you have a right to complain. I was in this situation recently myself, and do you know what I did? I left the group. I found that I was getting spammed with releases that were of little interest to me, so I left the group. In a large group like that designers aren't picking items to suit individual bloggers' tastes or sending items to bloggers that they specifically enjoy or respect, so many items won't be to your liking. If you want "good" things to review, you need to approach designers yourself. Plan what you want to write about the product and approach them with your ideas and a link to your blog. Show them that you're willing to work to earn that review copy, and not just expect the next amazing thing to fall into your lap.

I have a customer that always asks me to recolor my limited releases for her. I did it a couple times to be nice, but she asks me to recolor more and more now and I think I opened a Pandora's box because she takes it as a given that she can have anything in any color. PLEASE HELP!

                    - Milked dry

Oh boy, I'll admit I'm sympathetic to both sides of this issue. I won't say I've never turned my puppy-dog eyes on a designer in a moment of shallow desperation, but you've got to respect a designer's time and not make that kind of behaviour a routine. You have to put your foot down gently on this. Tell her that you're getting busier and you won't be able to keep recoloring things for her all the time. If she's a nice person and you feel a little badly about it, it would be sweet to offer to recolor one more thing for her, either a current release or one in the future, but once again you shouldn't feel obliged to do this. Either way, let her down easy and try your best to end it on a positive note. She is a loyal customer, even if she's also a royal pain!

Submit your virtual etiquette dilemmas to ophelia.iris [at] gmail [dot] com, or submit anonymously to the Metaverse Manners Formspring.  Be sure to include a pseudonym (i.e. "WTF from the Welcome Area") so you know when I'm addressing your query!

Mixed_reality_iris2010 Iris Ophelia (Janine Hawkins IRL) has been featured in the New York Times and has spoken about SL-based design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and with pop culture/fashion maven Johanna Blakley.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Miss Ophelia's Metaverse Manners: How to Deal with Entitled SL Customers -- And Avoid Being One Yourself!:


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Shug Maitland

The limited time sale issue is a bit of a no win trap ---- Whose "day"? Since there are SL residents in all RL time zones it is best to leave items at the sale price for some hours before and after the stated time.

rawst berry

I think Iris was too soft on the last one. Do you charge for recolors? If not, tell the customer that due to being overwhelmed with too much work that there is now a fee for it, and make the fee a high one that makes it worth your time. Or just say no, you have no time for it. Sounds to me like she's taking advantage of your kindness, so I probably wouldn't give her one more.

Oriella Charik

I have a friend who enjoys bargaining and getting a 'good deal' in RL and she behaves the same in SL, even though it's over real cents rather than dollars. Most shop owners take this in good spirit as roleplay, and they, as in RL, are the ones that get repeat customers!
Really I think the same retailing rules apply in both worlds, despite the topsy turvyness of beds costing more than houses etc. You can for example stack high and sell cheap or provide good after sales service at a premium in both.

Arcadia Codesmith

I would always charge a premium for a custom piece, even if it's a relatively simple mod. One-of-a-kind items may be the only true luxury good in a world where materials are endless and the cost of reproduction miniscule.

Eleri Ethaniel

I'm wondering if making some sort of one time use Customize Token and selling those would be useful. Love the style of a shirt, but want it in blue, not green? Buy the shirt, buy a customize token, return both to the creator, get the blue shirt back.

Ananda Sandgrain

If the clothing was sold with modify rights, the customer could tint it the way they like... *ducks*

Virtual Clover

Speaking of mod/copy/trans rights and permissions, between creator vs consumer who pays real money to creator for virtual (not real) stuff...if the consumers turned around and handed off their Lindens to purchase a no perms item and then demanded that creator likewise has no permission to use those Lindens to make more Lindens, has no permission to trade or give away those Lindens to anyone else, and has no permission whatsoever to modify those Lindens into real USD/Euros, how long before the content creators recognized the glitch in their no perm "whining entitled customer" logic...

Real cash for virtual goods should always be full perm. I can't trade in that nifty Steampunk dress for a real Steampunk dress the way content creators can trade in my virtual Lindens for real cash...so if it's not good for us, why should they take our money and provide nothing of actual value?

*doesn't duck...I aint scared* ;-p

Sileny Noel

"Real cash for virtual goods should always be full perm...why should they take our money and provide nothing of actual value?"

Why should someone work for hours, days or weeks just to sell to someone who can turn around and sell unlimited copies? The RL vs. SL argument really doesn't work there. I do, however, know a lot of creators that will provide a trans/no copy version in lieu of a no trans version, which is a more real life sort of option, in my opinion (though I myself prefer copy/mod/no trans permissions on almost everything.)

Chandni Khondji

Uhm... RL stuff you buy is *not* full perm. I would be happy if someone would automatically copy itself before i give it away though *lol* And there always is a way to get Non Copy but Transferable items from the creators, sometimes one only has to ask. But with SL's instability and server problems the more common copy version is much more useful when the item you sent/rezzed just vanished, you still have a backup.

Airedine Poe

Really great post, Iris!

I have to say, though, that I'm a bit agog at VC's reply, for a few reasons. Chandi and Sileny have covered most of it, but I'd like to add a further clarification.

I, as a designer, hold intellectual propery rights to everything that I upload into SL, thusly I can set permissions on what I sell. Conversely, Linden Lab holds the rights to the Linden Dollar, and so (short of ethically, and filing an abuse report) the spender of L$ has no right to tell the recipient how they may or may not spend it.

Now: about not having value. You're not paying for pixels. You're paying for the designer's time, as well as their cumulative experience that has brought them to this point in their expertise. If you want an item that you can 'trade up', as Sileny and Chandi have said, ask the creator for a no copy/trans version of the item before purchasing. There are some groups dedicated to swapping / yard sales. That being said- even if you don't have a version you can pass along or sell (just the one, mind. IRL, if you sell your Tshirt, you don't come home the next day to find another tee in your drawer, ready to sell again) the item still has value. You could wear it to blog, or go to a club and win prizes. You could get simple enjoyment out of wearing it.
And really, there's the best bang for your buck right there.

Post a comment

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In.