Feb 25, 2009

Linden Lab Gets "F" From Better Business Bureau

A tweet from Tizzers alerted me to a report from the San Francisco Better Business Bureau that gives Linden Lab an "F" rating. According to the report, LL has received 43 complaints in the past three years; 25 of them were closed in the past 12 months, ten were administratively closed by the BBB, and 2 went unaddressed.

However, what I really liked was the following quote from Angela Gunn of Betanews:

"It should in fairness be noted that Linden, which turns ten this year, is a corporate entity responsible for managing the underpinning economic system and technology for a virtual space utilized by people who desperately want to believe that they are 'living' in a 'land' of crypto-anarcho-democracy where people can turn into bunnies. In other words, they've got a lot of people who like to complain about how Second Life works, and experienced observers suspect the stats reflect that to some extent."

Here is how the complaints broke down:

1 regarding Issue Not Defined

1 regarding Advertising Issues
BBB Definition: Advertising Issues - Claims alleging print or electronic media advertised claims or practices misrepresent the service or product offer.
  • Advertisement misrepresented a service (1)
13 regarding Billing or Collection Issues
BBB Definition: Billing or Collection Issues - Claim alleging billing errors, unauthorized charges, or questionable collection practices.
  • Failure to correct billing errors (3)
  • Improper collection practices (2)
  • None of the Above - Credit, Billing or Collection Complaint Issue (2)
  • Unauthorized bank debits (1)
  • Unauthorized credit card charges (5)
4 regarding Contract Issues
BBB Definition: Contract Issues - Claim of alleged failure to honor contract or agreement, work performed without authorization, or invalid contract.
  • Failure to honor a contract or agreement (2)
  • None of the Above - Contract Complaint Issue (2)
12 regarding Customer Service Issues
BBB Definition: Service Issues - Claims of alleged delay in completing service, failure to provide promised service, inferior quality of provided service, or damaged merchandise as a result of delivery service.

BBB Definition: Customer Service Issues - Claims alleging unsatisfactory customer service, including personnel's failure to provide assistance in a timely manner, failure to address or respond to customer dissatisfaction, unavailability for customer support, and/or inappropriate behavior or attitude exhibited by company staff.
  • Failure to provide promised assistance or support for products or services (2)
  • Failure to respond to phone calls or written requests for assistance or support (3)
  • Inappropriate behavior by customer service personnel (4)
  • None of the Above - Customer Service Complaint Issue (3)
1 regarding Delivery Issues
BBB Definition: Delivery Issues - Claims alleging delayed delivery of ordered merchandise.
  • Non-delivery of products (1)
1 regarding Product Issues
BBB Definition: Product Issues - Claim alleging a product does not meet the expectations of the complainant, including defective merchandise.
  • Product Quality Complaint Issue (1)
3 regarding Refund or Exchange Issues
BBB Definition: Refund or Exchange Issues - Claim of alleged failure to honor company policy or verbal commitment to provide refunds, exchanges, or credit for products or services.
  • Failure to honor refund, exchange or credit policies (2)
  • Refund or Exchange Complaint Issue (1)
4 regarding Sales Practice Issues
BBB Definition: Sales Practice Issues - Claims of alleged sales presentations made in person or by telephone that contain misrepresentations of the product or service, high pressure sales practices, failure to disclose key conditions of the offer, and verbal representations not consistent with written contractual terms or agreements.
  • Sales Complaint Issue (1)
  • Sales presentation not consistent with the written agreement (1)
  • Sales presentation used dishonest sales practices (2)
3 regarding Service Issues
BBB Definition: Service Issues - Claims of alleged delay in completing service, failure to provide promised service, inferior quality of provided service, or damaged merchandise as a result of delivery service.
  • Failure to honor service estimate or agreement (1)
  • Improper of inferior service (2)
Clearly Billing/Collection and Customer Service issues account for the largest proportion of problems. Specific examples are not shown but 25 such complaints in total over a three-year period is not as terrible as it looks.

Complaints to the Better Business Bureau are not vetted and the BBB does not adjudicate on the truth or validity of a complaint. All the BBB do is to forward the complaint to the company and ask for a response to the customer along with a copy to them. They do not judge the "correctness" of a response - only that a response is made. It may well be that the response is "there is no evidence to show that this actually happened to the person making the complain" and no action is taken. However, if there is a failure to post such a response, then the BBB will mark that as a failure.

If the BBB forwarded ten complaints about a company, all of which were false, and the company - knowing they were false - simply chose to drop them in the trash, the BBB would issue an "F" against them. The rating simply reflects response to the complaints but says nothing about the substance of them.

Oh, and a business that never receives complaints is either lying or in receivership.


Leigh Eel said...

I don't know. Some people just like to complain, and I've noticed that when people are integrally anonymous as they are in SL, they seem to feel they can complain more often and openly. LL gets a lot of unwarrented blame, such as if the account holder doesn't have the proper equipment, and may experience more lags than others, for example. Not saying SL is perfect, but I think it is a remarkable thing that some people seem to take for granted.

Siggy said...

I agree totally with your observation that folks in SL seem to complain more. I think it's broader than that insofar as anonymity breeds incivility. It's as if virtual space acts like physical space and with distance comes lack of caring.

For example, I know that children are starving to death in Ethiopia, but it is so far away that I don't "care" in the sense that I have any personal involvement. The distance acts as a cushion.

Folks can be brutal when using social networks such as AOL IM, MySpace, or Facebook - and that's without anonymity. When you then look at virtual worlds, the distance PLUS the anonymity seems to affect some folks so as to make them to behave incredibly insensitively.

Just a thought of two ;)

Anonymous said...

I have personally waited 4 weeks for a billing ticket for a lindex tier review for increase in my trading limits when there own knowledge base claims it will be answered within 4-5 business days. and I have waited over 15 days for them to complete a USD withdraw to paypal. Ever since LL has outsourced billing to the Ontyme company there billing support is non existent!

Yes, you all do have valid points about the nature of second life. People do complain a lot without reason, But for a company that does deal with USD transactions, I would rate there Billing Support with a strong D+ (the + because after filling an official complaint on the Ontyme's both times a Linden intervened.