Four years on the grid and I can count failed "customer support" from in-world creators on one hand. And in those cases, it always was a case of "AWOL" where no response to my inquiry was ever received. Of course, I've dealt with my share of rude, crude creators, but as a rule of thumb, I've always received excellent support from practically any creator when I needed it.

I am willing to share my simple recipe for success in the scenario of needing creator support. When I say creator support, I am referring to those times when you need to contact the creator of something you have purchased in-world. These scenarios include, but obviously are not limited to:

  • Failed deliveries on purchases
  • Wrong permissions from those advertised
  • Missing portions of a "package"
  • Something does not operate as expected
  • Something becomes broken
  • Something becomes lost

Before I go into the "best practices" for obtaining creator support, I'd like to pass a quick message to the creators themselves:

When someone is asking you for support, remember it is a 99.5% chance they are not trying to rip-you off. Whatever it is you sell in Second Life, except for the initial work in creation, it costs you nothing to throw it around for free. So why not just replace it?

Secondly, there really are very few reasons to sell your items as no-modify, no-copy. You aren't preventing theft in any way, shape or form. What you are doing is irritating the hell out of your honest, money-spending customers. It is no secret that no matter what permissions you put on your stuff, with the able illegitimate viewer I can copy it with full permissions, no matter what you do. So stop it, please!

Now, back to "how to ask for support" and actually get it recipe:

First, prepare your case before you make contact with the creator. When you make a purchase, if something doesn't seem right and the vendor is spewing out weird statements in open chat: copy that chat and put it into a notecard! First, you are doing the creator a favor. They may not even be aware their vendor is on the blink and needs a hard reset.

Check that the money was actually deducted from your account. Note: this could take up to a few minutes if there are grid issues: You buy, money is taken... nothing delivered... money returned after three minutes. Though this is pretty rare.

Go straight to your account page on the Second Life web site and copy the entire line of the transaction history! Paste that into the notecard.

Rename the notecard and be absolutely sure to include your full SL name in the notecard name with a summary of the problem. For example: "Failed delivery-Ari Blackthorne"

I cannot count how many times I have received a notecard asking for support, and there is no name in the notecard whatsoever - inside or out. Or just a first name. I know, you might argue "but the system says who gave it to you". True, but if I have a butt-load of messages when I come in-world, I refuse to sift through all those messages in chat history to discover who sent what. If you want me to be in a good mood when I try to support you, make it easy as possible to contact you. Don't make me jump through hoops.

And, as mentioned: include your full SL name inside the notecard. I repeat: rename the notecard with a summary and your SL name. If I receive a notecard called "new note" I instantly decline it. I refuse to accept notecards where the person sending it is way too damned lazy to at least rename it.

Open the creator's profile and before you do anything, read it. If the main profile does not say anything of substance pertaining to their business or your product, then go straight to the PICKS tab and look for a tab called "Support" or something along those lines. Do not just start sending IMs and dropping notecards willy-nilly. It's rude and could piss-off that creator to where they just ignore you.

Besides this, if IMs become capped, they won't get your IM or your notecard. When IMs become capped, anything dropped to that person while offline goes into a black-hole. It is not delivered - it disappears. So it is best to read the profile to discover if there are any particular instructions of how to get the fastest service needed.

And be patient.

Depending on any particular "support" instructions, always IM the creator first, before dropping anything to them. And in the case of a "broken" item, never, ever drop that to them (for the reasons I just mentioned above about capped IMs among many, many other reasons).

In your IM, be polite. Be nice. Try to indicate that you are not taking things too seriously and that you understand the problem is more likely a simple SL glitch than anything else. In your IM, paste a copy of your transaction history. Do not drop the notecard to them (unless instruction in their profile specify to do so) - the notecard is simply a back-up record for yourself. As often as creators ask you to drop notecards, just as many (myself included) hate notecards.

In most cases, a creator will immediately take care of you if you:

  • are polite
  • say what the problem is in detail (what is happening, not what is "not happening")
  • include your transaction report, the creator will likely ask for it anyway
  • if you broke it, or accidentally declined delivery - be honest and say so.
  • also polite
  • be nice
  • be courteous
  • be polite again

In the case where someone accidentally screws up (breaks something, declines delivery, etc.) and they admit it outright, I will replace their item without question when they show me their transaction report. I appreciate honesty. And in that case, because they are honest in what for some could be an embarrassment, I often go the extra mile to assure them that mistakes happen and I understand that.

The main points are this: send an IM - don't just start dropping items (object or notecards) into their profile (it is incredibly rude to those who don't explicitly ask you to do so in their profiles), read their profile in full and understand it before anything else, be polite as you can and always give them what they might ask for anyway: your transaction report and a complete description of your problem.

And finally, in the case of a product that appears broken, wrong permissions, or otherwise isn't "right"... RTFM (Read The F*c*ing Manual) - read every notecard you have received with the product. look for your answers there first.

If you IM a creator with a perceived problem where the answers to your difficulty are in the documentation that came with it, all you will do is irritate the creator. When looking for support, that's the last thing you want to do.

The customer is not king. The customer is simply a business associate. The creator does not deserve to be abused or spoken down to. And if you are "pissed" because of some difficulty you are having: shut up and keep it to yourself. Expressing that to the creator, no matter how polite you might be just causes them to put their own guards up.

And besides, if you are "pissed" then you are taking things in SL way too damned seriously for your own good. Lighten up and give yourself a reality check.