Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Save yourself a lot of trouble: use the right channels to get in touch with Linden Lab

Recently, a lot of my friends contacted me because they couldn't get Linden Lab to deliver their newly bought islands; or, in some instances, LL did deliver the islands, but they configured them wrongly (like disregarding their relative positions, or names, etc.) and there was no way to get in touch with them.

In the past, this meant getting in touch with the Concierges. Several options were available: emailing them (there were even two different addresses for that), or IMing the Concierges directly (there are about 10 Concierges for 11,000 private islands, or thereabouts), or patiently waiting a few hours at the Linden Estate Services (I did that with several friends), or using the message gateway set there (it shows who is available and on duty), or, well, trying to get hold of them on the phone.

Lately, however, doing any (or all) of the above did not have any results whatsoever. Not after a few days; not even after a few weeks. Furious, my friends complained to me, and 'demanded' a solution — in most of those cases, I was directly or indirectly the reason why they came to SL and started to invest time and money in it. I was helpless. Nobody seemed to give a good reason for not delivering/configuring the islands properly. Why the sudden lack of support? Why were they ignoring all channels of communication?

I first apologised for LL. With the huge demand in islands for CSI:NY, they might have been temporarily swamped with requests. Well, around 300 islands were "dropped" a couple of days after the episode was aired, so this couldn't be the reason. After another round of protests, growing to "I'll go to the media with this!" and "LL can only afford to treat their customers like s**t because they have no competitions" or "my boss threatens to fire me because I told him we'd have an island in a month" and similar frustrated comments, I decided to investigate. Something was simply not right.

A few IMs later on some groups, some tweets, and a long conversation with a friendly Linden, who clearly confirmed that there was not a single request on file from my friends, the mystery was finally solved.

Simply put, there is just one entry point into LL's new support system: the Support Portal and filing a ticket there. Besides that, you can try Live Chat (if you're entitled to it; only Concierge-level customers can use it, and I'm not qualified as such so I've never tried it out). And, if you're lucky, phone support. But all are tied together into the new support request tracking system. This is the only way in; the only way that Linden Lab knows about your requests. Forget emails (they're discarded and never read), don't attempt IMs (they get lost way too easily), don't drop notecards on Concierges (they get way too many stuff dropped on them), don't waste your time clicking on the Linden Estate Services request board (it often fails to send the message) or even waiting for Lindens there (they have way more to do, on at least 20 IM sessions, so they won't be looking at your request).

Instead, use exclusively the Support Portal.

Linden Lab should very likely make this even more clear on all their documentation, namely, on all pages requiring confirmation on an island purchase (both the Land Store and the Special Orders page), and probably on all emails sent to customers. Or on Lindens' profiles. Sure their home page for SL says "Extended support: Visit our support page" but it's not clear. A big image saying: "Need Technical Support? Click here!" is way more helpful, since people might think they don't want "extended" support, just regular support, using the old email addresses...

Yes, the new Support Portal is daunting. You need a double PhD in Computer Science to click all the options and figure out what you need to activate in order to send a ticket. But at least it means that the ticket gets to the right person and you'll get an answer — usually quickly — from them. (And the Support Portal is way easier to use than the JIRA Bug Tracking system, which you need to be a Physics Nobel Prize candidate to learn to operate)

Thanks to Eloise Pasteur to point it out on a Second Life Insider article too. We need the message to be widespread. Quick support is to be had from LL, if we only go to the right place for it.


  1. I've interacted with concierge (and the ops team! Go ops team!) several times in the last two months as we've been juggling islands, launching projects, etc. I echo this advice, and just wanted to add that as a concierge customer, I've found live chat to be extremely effective and responsive. File a support ticket first so you can have something to reference, record the number, then click that fabulous 'live chat' button if your request/concern requires immediate attention.

  2. So I guess we shouldn't post Philip's mobile number publicly any more? ;)

  3. I confirm the rapid response through the support portal.
    A few weeks ago I noticed that Big Easy hadn't come online the day before after a rolling update. Just 10/15 minutes after reporting it in the support portal it was being fixed by a Linden.

  4. Here comes a dreadful example on how things can utterly fail.

    1) Basic account user (remember — no support whatsoever except for changing passwords) buys new island through the Special Orders page (because they represent an university).

    2) A few days later, someone from the island delivery team sends basic account user an email reporting that the name of the island has too many characters (question: why does the form allow too many characters then??)

    3) Basic account user replies back with new name.

    4) No reply from LL. Island never gets delivered.

    5) Since this is a basic account user, and their island has not been delivered, they're not registered as a Concierge-class customer.

    6) This means: no Support Portal, no Live Chat, no Concierge Phone Line.

    7) This also means: Concierges will reply to IMs — relutanctly — pointing basic account user to the Support Portal (which they can't use).

    8) This even means that regular support will give up on the customer and tell them... to call Concierge!... which will ignore them... since they're not registered for Concierge-class support!

    Dead end? No. Like Flipper suggested, it requires escalating the issue, obviously this is getting stuck somewhere in a loop, and the customer is not happy. His Dean is even less happy. Sadly I don't have Philip's mobile number, but I have Robin's ;)

    Well, I won't bother her again (twice in 48 hours is too much!), of course, but see if I can make someone at a lower level understand the issue, so that they can at least give some hints on whom to contact and how so that things "get fixed".

    It seems to me that when things get stuck like that, LL is not flexible enough to provide a solution, unless it "comes from above". But it shouldn't be like that!

    Another friend of mine has just signed up for a new island. Uh-oh... I wonder what will happen this time with her case!

  5. That same sense I get as well, that things can't be escalated to a second line/higher up person.

    For a company that is claims to be so transparant and equal, it is odd. But might be a product of it.

  6. Seems that that since folks like gwyneth llewelyn who are refering and supporting people to buy Islands should get some kind of special status that allows them to access the concierge/support system as representatives of the folks they are referring/supporting...

  7. I find this all laughably hilarious because it is so emblematic of how the FIC thinks -- that their inside track should always work, that the special little IMs and emails and hang-outs with their Lindens should just last for ever and keep on scaling.

    Meanwhile, the rest of us long, long ago learned to use the ordinary support system by email in the past or Live Help (such as it was) or the concierge service -- or the GUEST or REGULAR (non-Concierge) portal for support.

    It works fine. It has been explained on the blog. It's under the tab SUPPORT when you go on "my account". It works fast, and it works well -- when you get to the Concierge level it works extremely well.

    I've found that UNTIL you have Concierge it works less well, but still works -- it is indeed the system. Many people have moved to it. It doesn't at all require any double PHD in Computer Science, which obviously I don't have. You go to SUPPORT like any other page in the universe, you log in with your name or as GUEST, and you click through eminently simple menus.

    Prokofy Neva

  8. Gwyneth, re: your hard-luck case there -- you go to the SUPPORT page and if you have no account at all yet for some reason, log in as GUEST; if you have an account, log in with that account. You then file the ticket as it says.

    If for some reason this is failing, you could try office hours with Cyn Linden. It helps to make the case very precisely and on a notecard to pass.