Sunday, April 24, 2011

and I've been putting out fire with gasoline

I realize that I had a choice to manage sims for a living. I could have said no. And most of the time it's not arduous in any way, though it's nearly always challenging. The combination of customer service and repo girl, admittedly, can fray my nerves.

This went a tad bit above and beyond.

[03:26 PM] bFlat Unplugged: Hi Emilly. Is there any way you can either turn off those annoying tier reminders on Solace Paradiise, or else cut them down to maybe 1-24 hours before it expires and 1-12 hours before?
[03:26 PM] bFlat Unplugged: they hit me every 6 nhours for 48 hours before my tier expires, and frankly, that's harassment
[03:27 PM] Emilly Orr: Unfortunately, that's a standard of the scripting across all our sims. We want to make sure that people get the message, because repossession when people really want their parcels is annoying all around.
[03:27 PM] bFlat Unplugged: you reallyt need to tone it down

First off, what he's talking about is our terminal box scripting. When you are within two hours of expiring, the terminal activates to start sending out reminder IMs, once every six hours. This is to ensure that our tenants get the messages, and have the time to pay tier. While we have the right by covenant, which every tenant agrees to in order to move in, to repossess exactly when the parcel expires, we try not to do that.

Winterfell sends me reminder messages when I'm coming due. Caledon sends me reminder messages when I'm coming due. Every parcel I've ever lived on has given me reminders, either via script IMs, notecards, or just the land owners dropping by and telling me. No one receives zero reminders on the grid. Anywhere.

But Mr. Unplugged took exception.

[03:27 PM] Emilly Orr: And it's not harassment. Harassment would be me personally IMing you every five minutes. That's once every six hours, that's considered keeping in contact.
[03:27 PM] Emilly Orr: Why?
[03:27 PM] bFlat Unplugged: i'm an adult, after all :)
[03:27 PM] Emilly Orr: Overjoyed to hear it.
>[03:28 PM] bFlat Unplugged: i'm sorry others aren't adult enough to remember when they need to pay their tier
[03:28 PM] Emilly Orr: Well, first, when you pay your tier, the reminders stop. Secondly, some people aren't in SL daily, and those reminders end up being capped for them.

Was that rude? Maybe. But he was asking about an autonomic process that no one in Solace has control over--not me, not Ayesha Lytton, the owner of the sim. The system was created for the Cove Islands chain, back when there was a Cove Islands change, before it became Solace Beach. Just Dinkin scripted it, and there's not a lot we can do beyond hiring another scripter--and she or he may put in the same every six hours notification system, or script in an even shorter notification system!

[03:29 PM] bFlat Unplugged: every 6 hours isn't keeping in contact, it's annoying
[03:29 PM] Emilly Orr: We try to average between intrusive, and being out of touch. Obviously this doesn't work for all residents, but you'd be surprised how many people tell me they never got a reminder before they're up for eviction.
[03:29 PM] bFlat Unplugged: uh huh
[03:29 PM] bFlat Unplugged: and they would say that if you sent one every hour too
[03:29 PM] Emilly Orr: They might, yes. But so far, we've found that sending one reminder every hour isn't helpful.
[03:30 PM] bFlat Unplugged: nor is sending one every 6 hours
[03:30 PM] Emilly Orr: For most residents, it is.
[03:31 PM] bFlat Unplugged: while I have you on here, it says that performers get a discount on their tiers in Solace
[03:31 PM] bFlat Unplugged: i have yet to get one
[03:34 PM] Emilly Orr: Have you talked with Ayesha directly about the tier discount? Or I could ask. I don't know about it, but that doesn't mean it's not an active program.
[03:34 PM] bFlat Unplugged: I thought you wqere my estate manager
[03:34 PM] Emilly Orr: I am your estate manager. But if you're saying I should take care of it, I'll do my best, but I don't know about the program.
[03:34 PM] Emilly Orr: So I'll talk to Ayesha.

Actually, I asked another estate manager, since Ayesha wasn't in world. She told me to contact Kalli Birman, our music and events manager:

[03:35 PM] Emilly Orr: Kalli, do musicians get discounts for tier in Solace Beach? I've never heard of the program, and a performer is asking.
[03:36 PM] Kalli Birman [Kalli Birman]: performers can contact me....which performer?
[03:36 PM] Kalli Birman [Kalli Birman]: we will do land trade for good musicians
[03:36 PM] Emilly Orr: bFlat Unplugged
[03:36 PM] Kalli Birman [Kalli Birman]: tell him to IM me tomorrow...i'm getting a Mankind show going right now

She means Mankind Tracer, who's very well known for being very good, and that information I subsequently conveyed to Unplugged. In the meantime, he was still sniping:

[03:35 PM] bFlat Unplugged: Good. I'll chack back every six hours, to "stay in touch"
[03:36 PM] Emilly Orr sighs.
[03:36 PM] bFlat Unplugged: see?
[03:36 PM] Emilly Orr: Thank you for the sarcasm. I'm asking Kalli, she may know.
[03:36 PM] bFlat Unplugged: it works both ways
[03:36 PM] Emilly Orr: Actually, it doesn't.
[03:37 PM] Emilly Orr: It's a reminder which can easily be circumvented by paying tier. It only gets annoying for those residents who don't.
[03:37 PM] Emilly Orr: However, contact Kalli Birman about the discount.
[03:37 PM] Emilly Orr: Though she's in now, you'll need to IM her tomorrow; she's managing a show at the moment and cannot receive non-staff IMs.
[03:37 PM] bFlat Unplugged: i don't pay nmore than a week at a time. you know why? because owners change hands all the time with no wearning to residents and i'm not ging to pay it more than a week at a time
[03:38 PM] Emilly Orr: And that is your choice. We rent by the week and by the month to make it convenient for tenants who want more options.
>[03:38 PM] bFlat Unplugged: i've known peoplew who logged in to find their land gone

Yeah. It happens. It's a virtual world. Sims disappear. Funding stops. Notices fall short. It's virtual, this means I can't simply stake out a section of real, solid, earth and declare fealty over it. But he seemed to be taking this personally.

[03:38 PM] Emilly Orr: In Solace Beach? That rarely happens. Though I will grant, if they don't log in in a few weeks, this has happened in other places. We try to contact everyone, but sometimes, it's unavoidable.
[03:39 PM] bFlat Unplugged: when you people took over Viana paradise we had no knowledge until after the fact

I love how it's suddenly "you people". As if the people behind Viana did any better by not telling their people that these changes were happening!

[03:39 PM] Emilly Orr: And do you know why? Because Viana did not contact anyone when they made the transfer.
[03:39 PM] bFlat Unplugged: you could have shut it down for all we would have known and we'd be out of a home
[03:39 PM] Emilly Orr: That was not us; that was Viana Estates.
[03:40 PM] bFlat Unplugged: my point is, that stuff happens all the time in SL
[03:40 PM] Emilly Orr: It is a virtual world.
[03:40 PM] bFlat Unplugged: it isn;'t virtual money
[03:41 PM] Emilly Orr: True enough.
[03:42 PM] Emilly Orr: However, you will find if you look around that the alternative--both on SL and in other virtual world platforms that are similar--is to either own your own land--in which case, you're still paying with real money to the Labs, or to the company holding those parcels--or to move to a game world--which may not have user content, or personal dwellings, and may charge a subscription fee every month besides.
[03:43 PM] bFlat Unplugged: there's no sucxh thing as "owning" land here
[03:43 PM] Emilly Orr: No. When it's all broken down, Linden Labs owns everything.
[03:44 PM] Emilly Orr: However, there is a difference between renting parcels from an estate company, and renting a parcel directly from the Labs.

Admittedly, we'd wandered far from the main point by this time; but maybe he just wanted to rant, and I was a convenient target.

[03:44 PM] bFlat Unplugged: and my whole reason for IMing you was to ask that you please tone down the frequency of the tier notices
[03:44 PM] bFlat Unplugged: that's all
[03:45 PM] Emilly Orr: And my response hasn't changed: even as your estate manager, I have no control over the frequency of the notices. Not even Ayesha, the owner of the estate, does. That would be the scripter, and I really doubt he'd be willing to recode that script, and drop a new script into every terminal box.
[03:46 PM] bFlat Unplugged: maybe he'd like to get notices every 6 hours for two days every week
[03:46 PM] Emilly Orr: Well, depending on the frequency of updates in the groups he's in, he might.
[03:46 PM] bFlat Unplugged: other companies don't find it necessary to bombard people with notices that often

Actually, most estates that I've been involved with do. Some are even more aggressive than we are. And if we step that up a notch into merchant spaces rented from malls, they get downright feral when we're approaching expiration of tier. He thinks this is bad, what about mall owners who send out messages every forty-five minutes?

(Don't laugh--that's happened.)

[03:47 PM] Emilly Orr: I don't have knowledge of any estate companies beyond Caledon, Lunitarium, Steelhead and Winterfell. And in those four communities, yes, they run about that often.
[03:47 PM] Emilly Orr: Except in the case of Lunitarium, where that particular sim sends out hourly reminders.
[03:49 PM] bFlat Unplugged: so, you're saying that I, as the customer am wrong, and you are right. I'll bear that in mind for future dealings. And I will check back with you in 6 hours regarding the performer discount

Some people are just really determined to find fault.

[03:49 PM] Emilly Orr: No, I'm not.
[03:49 PM] Emilly Orr: I'm saying I have no control over the scripting.
[03:49 PM] Emilly Orr: As it does seem to bother you, and we value our tenants, I will bring this up with Ayesha, but I don't know if she will, or can, do anything to change the frequency of your reminders.
[03:50 PM] bFlat Unplugged: that should have been your 1st response, not your 5th
03:50 PM] Emilly Orr: And you are, of course, welcome to contact me again--in six hours, or whenever you have issues on your land--but I've already told you you need to contact Kalli Birman tomorrow, and get registered as a Solace Beach performer
[03:51 PM] Emilly Orr: That was far from my fifth response, but as this is something that cannot be changed, I'm frankly surprised at your level of ire.

Yeah. Okay. That was snippy. But my gods, he'd been yelling at me straight for almost half an hour. That gets old.

[03:52 PM] bFlat Unplugged: you wouldn't be if you got these annoying notices every 6 hours every week
[03:52 PM] bFlat Unplugged: and then got attitude from your estate manager when you IMd her about it
[03:52 PM] Emilly Orr: On one of my lands, when I fall due, I get reminder IMs once every day for two days, twice a day the third day, and if I push it past that, I get reminders every four hours.
[03:52 PM] Emilly Orr: I don't think I was presenting that much attitude, but I apologize if you saw it that way.

He stopped talking after that, though I'm sure he could have continued to find fault with other things if he really wanted to try. There's just no pleasing some people.

Now, for about two months a bit ago, I rented a parcel on Wikelani Cove. I called it my office parcel, dressed it, had a landmark giver and a notecard drop. Not because I thought Solace Beach needed another office, but because I wanted to know the process. Because we do gain tenants and lose tenants, a slightly larger, more expensive, section opened inland, and a month in I switched, so I could redress and set for sale the beach parcel I'd been holding.

I found out how acquiring land works, how to pay the parcel boxes, what happens when I fall behind, what happens when I pay late. And I learned a lot about how land works in Solace Beach.

The one thing I didn't learn? Was that it was apparently unbearable harassment to send out reminders of rent coming due. I valued those reminders--just as I value the ones in Caledon and Winterfell--because they let me know if my internal clock is off, that rent should now be paid, and I set about paying it. To date, though I'm not saying it will never happen, I have never fallen behind on any parcel and simply not paid the rent that's due. I either make arrangements to give it back (that's happened once, for other reasons), or sell the parcel (which is not allowed in Solace, but is allowed in Caledon and, I believe, Winterfell).

If your rent is due and you're tired of getting the dunning messages--then pay your rent. If you can't afford it, then contact your estate manager. It's that simple. Why would anyone ever choose to complicate things by saying the procedure by which we notify people is annoying beyond all reason?

Have a better system in mind? Neat, script it up. Show us it will work better than what we have now, on a seventy-sim estate. If my boss believes it, then she can buy it and institute the new system.

But I bet you it'll have a line in the basic script that sends out reminder notices. Six hours or whole days apart, I don't know of a single rental system on the grid that doesn't have that coding involved. I'm not sure it's possible to script a rental system that is free of all reminders.

And seriously--who'd ever buy one?


Sphynx Soleil said...

My first response would have been "If you can script a better one, by all means, contact Ayesha and offer it" :)

...which is why I usually avoid customer service with buttmunches. :)

Over half an hour? Yea, he was being unreasonable. WAY beyond unreasonable.

Edward Pearse said...

If the reminders only start going out within two hours of expiry and he's bitching about "repeated" IMs every 6 hours, he's well past his time limit.

I can appreciate not paying more than a week at a time but I wouldn't bitch about it if I expire.

Fogwoman Gray said...

The joy of customer service. "Yes, I know I agreed to this when I signed up. And I refuse to utilize the system the way it was designed to work. I am a special snowflake and demand that the entire system be revised and changed completely just to accommodate me. And just in case you do, I will disappear immediately afterwards in any case, as my only joy in life is being a pain in everyone's ass." KTHXBAI
My basic premise is that when you start defending your system with these morons then you justify their unreasonable demands.
This is no different than the folks that bitch at you/me/chat about some aspect of the SL platform. Seriously, what do people think will happen? I have found personally that not rising to the bait usually shuts them down. Is that "good" customer service? If it keeps me from snapping the head off the perfectly reasonable poor soul who gets me after I am done with that asshat, I think yes.