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Editorial: Linden Lab With Egg On Its Face Once Again

by Metacam Oh
Published August 29, 2011

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Linden Lab, the company that runs Second Life, is once again feeling a cold glass of water chucked in its face, over something easily prevented. Riding a high note off of SLCC 2011 and Mesh launch, Prim Perfect just reported the closing of two sims from a major content creator. Grendel’s makes fantastic content for the Second Life Grid that won’t break your wallet, but more importantly for Linden Lab, they are customers who pay $14,000 US annually (4 sims) (Side note: Second Life sticks 8 sims on a server that they themselves probably rent for $250/month US or less).

So why is Grendel’s shutting down two of their sims? No, it is not financial reasons, but the fact that they couldn’t get a call back from the Lab. Yes you heard that right, a $14,000 yearly customer could not reach them so they got fed up and decided to contract some of their monetary contribution to Linden Lab.

I mean, I hate to see anyone lose their job, but who on earth is responsible for all of this? There is a problem at the Lab, and this has gone on probably as long as Second Life has had a large user base. They can never seem to get it right, their interactions with the customers, and their priority on customer service. Rod Humble has been a bright spot. He seems to get that people are not going to shell out $295 US a month for virtual land for some God given right forever. He knows Linden Lab customer service needs work and it has gotten better, but stories like this and others, it seems like Rodvik is the only guy in the customer service department.

I think I read it in one of those employer review websites where fired or ex Lindens go to bitch about the company anonymously and sometimes you get a little glimpse of what office life is really like at the Lab. He/She said there is a major disconnect between what is really considered the core of the company, and the customer service department. They are kind of like the rejects at table 9, not the cool guys who get to make policy or look under the hood of this virtual world. We as virtual world evangelists often get immersed in the world and forget that the people who control it and are responsible for it are stuck in some real office somewhere “dealing” with each other.

Really though, I am just speculating I have no idea what is going on behind doors at the Lab, and I sure as hell am not going to offer my opinion on how to fix their internal atmosphere that they still cannot get straight. If they want me to come in and turn the ship around, for a price, I’ll listen :) but I digress.

The bottom line is this, a product that costs $3540 PER year (plus membership fee) is a substantial investment, let alone $14K. You know what most normal companies do when someone spends that kind of money? They assign a specific person who is your sales representative, or support representative that you can speak to on a personal level as your liaison. They don’t tell you to file a report and we’ll get back to you and lose the paper in the shuffle, and they don’t forward you to a call center in India with some teenage kid making 4 bucks an hour. They have one person who will practically wipe your ass if you need it, and why? Because when you take your $14K and walk they know who to blame!

Get your heads out of your ass Linden Lab, for pete sakes. In the words of Adam Sandler, “YOU BLEW IT!!!!!!!!!!!!”

  • valsadie

    Even my supercheap Go Daddy account, for which I pay a fraction of Grendel’s fee to Linden Lab, assigned me an account manager — and he called me personally to tell me I could get my web services at an even cheaper rate!

    Linden Lab ignores customer service at their peril. Any real businessman will tell you the same; it’s not what you sell, it’s how you treat the customers who have already bought.

  • Metacam Oh

    I have a Staples account manager who I know their name, calls me every month, asks how things are, and all I do is order a few things that arrive at my door the next day no questions asked. If I had a problem I would know who to call, and if I decided to take my business elsewhere or stop using them, citing terrible customer service, they would also know who is at fault in this case. You think the Lab is going to be able to find out which customer service idiot didn’t help out Grendels? It just makes the whole company look incompetent as a whole, even if it really is just a few people not doing their job.

  • angela seale

    This is something that I’ve preached about to anyone that would hear me for the last 4+ years.
    Ever since the linden’s ended the “ambassador” programs, and they essentially left their world for their RL offices, the world has gone downhill. Business is about one thing, and one thing only “customer service” if you want to make money, you respect and want to keep your customer’s happy and paying their small fee every month/year/whatever to keep your company running. The instant that LL decided to end customer service in world, and refused to even visit their creation, i knew this was going downhill…
    a bit of a history lesson for computer geeks, Philip Rosedale was the one that created Realplayer G2, and if you don’t remember those headaches…..
    he also was with AOL during the big explosion in users during the late 90′s when it was regarded and derided as “America Offline” cause you’d dial at 4:00pm and hope to get on by 10pm….
    Mr Rosedale has never really had a huge success in dealing with customers, if he were smart, the next CEO he promotes to the board will be from a company that deals with nothing BUT customer service

  • Foxxe Wilder

    I often wonder what would happen to these ‘ivory tower elitist’ jerks if all the little lambs that jump to their bidding told them collectively to go screw themselves and buy their own toilet paper, just how long would these elitists exist?

    You can ask any street person; the lowest of the low are not winos and crackheads. The lowest of the low are executives.

  • http://poultryreport.blogspot.com/ Uccello

    In defense of Phillip, he’s not involved with day-to-day activities involving Second Life. He’s merely on the Board of Directors. http://lindenlab.com/about/management

    Could this be a “Steve Jobs Is Fired From Apple But Comes Back To Save The Company From Itself” kinda moment?

    Oh, he did return once. hmmf.

  • http://primperfectblog.wordpress.com/ Saffia Widdershins

    To me, the significance is not just in the importance Grendel’s has as a paying customer, now downsizing. It’s the knock-on effect on all the people who’ve found Grendel’s when relatively new, tried on the most amazing avatars and then explored them in the Avaria sims, maybe tried some of the games … and been hooked to SEcond Life. Places like this should be nurtured and cherished by the Lab, not left to hang in the wind.

    As when a large company downsizes, there’s a knock-on effect in lots of smaller companies.

    On example – Grendel’s dropped out of the Destinatiion Guide for a while, and then went back in with a photo that the Grendel’s team hate. They’ve been asking for that photo to be changed since April, with no success.

    Not a dealbreaker in itself, but one more ongoing niggle that ends with hands thrown up in despair. Famously, it’s individual straws that do for the camel (and I believe Grendel’s makes camel … not sure if they spit in your eye, but their lama certainly does).

  • http://primperfectblog.wordpress.com/2011/09/02/two-simple-steps-to-make-second-life-residents-happy-and-one-is-cheap-as-well-step-1-support/ Two simple steps to make Second Life residents happy (and one is cheap as well): Step 1 – Support « Prim Perfect

    [...] saying, “Hi … is everything ok? Let me know if you’re having any problems.” As Metacam Oh said on his blog: “The bottom line is this, a product that costs $3540 PER year (plus membership fee) is a [...]

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