Marketplace: it’s not only the tempo, Rod, it’s time for practical steps

The SL Marketplace has appeared in these pages a few times these past couple of weeks, and not in a good way. First was my coverage of the latest errors relating to listing enhancements, to be followed by the news that LL’s Commerce Team had apparently seen the error and taken steps to correct it and refund people. Only as it turned out, they’d only fixed half the problem, which resulted in people again being incorrectly billed.

Marketplace: a dispiriting place?

Some Good News

On the 8th October the Commerce Team issued the following update:

Merchants,

There has been quite a bit of discussion on Product Listing Enhancements and stuck orders over the past few days on this Forum. Here is an update on these issues.

Product Listing Enhancements:
Last week, we deployed a fix for Product Listing Enhancements to allow them to start billing again. We refunded all PLEs for the prior two months.

After we refunded merchants, billing for Product Listing Enhancements started again. Not all of the billed enhancements correctly updated their renewal date, so we stopped billing. We have updated the PLEs that had an incorrect date and will be releasing a fix this week before we start billing again.

We are aware that there are some Merchants who have Product Listing Enhancements stuck in the “Charging, cannot edit” state. We are continuing to look into this and investigate what we can do to get those PLEs unstuck.

Stuck Orders:
Late Friday night through early Saturday morning, many orders got stuck in the being_delivered state. This morning we were able to force those orders to a completed state (allowing payments to Merchants to complete) and are working to prevent this from happening again.

If you are seeing anything different than [sic] the behavior described above (or have an additional problem), please contact support or file a JIRA. Please include order numbers or listing information as needed.

The Commerce Team

On the whole, this is welcome news, regardless as to how the problems originated.

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7 thoughts on “Marketplace: it’s not only the tempo, Rod, it’s time for practical steps

  1. Very good post with some excellent suggestions. I suspect, however, the members of the commerce team are not especially good communicators and forcing them out to meetings might do more harm than good. A better idea might be an “ambassador”, reporting directly to Rod. Someone who is good at communication and knowledgeable of the issues involved. Such a person could act as a go-between who would not be bullied by either side and could explain things clearly on both ends. If the commerce team was being uncooperative or the merchants unreasonable that information would go directly to the top instead of being lost in misunderstanding and supposition.

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    1. I’ve been mulling over this idea, and still can’t sort out my own thoughts on it.

      If by “go between”, you mean someone placed before merchants instead of the Commerce Team, then I’m not convinced it would work. For one thing, it could result in some merhcnats simply seeing the “ambassador” as a confuit to Rod Humble, rather than a mechanism for change within the Marketplace. For another, it opens the door within LL for similar politics to be played-out.

      If you mean someone working alongside the Commerce Team, who has the understanding and authority to also set priorities on matters relating to the Marketplace while still following whatever roadmap for the system which may be in place, then the idea does have merit.

      Perhaps the biggest issue with the Commerce Team is that it lacks credibility, and appears to be incapable of handling even what should be the simplest of updates to the Marketplace without having something go wrong. An example of this is came withlast month’s change to the e-mail address used with sales notifications. Not only was this updated with no real warning to merchants (with many of them only discovering the update as a result of rooting through their junk e-mail folders after notifications seemed to suddenly cease appearing in their mail), it was then rolled-back some 48 hours later, again without any real notification to merchants.

      The other problem is that we simply don’t know what is going on internally at the Lab, vis-a-vis the Marketplace, or what internal constraints the Commerce Team is working under, and that dropping a go-between into the equation might be perceived as a possible obfuscation on LL’s part (again, depending upon how it is handled).

      Both of these aspects together mean that the Commerce Team is in a hole. If it is going to get out of that hole, then it needs to be seen to be proacrive in the process of restoring credibility in its ability to manage the Marketplace, handle user concerns and establish a less confrontational relationship with merchants. Whether this requires an “ambassador” or perhaps an interim manager who can both fulfil the role you describe and nuture the Commerce Team into a more mature, communicative and responsible team in the eyes of users, I’ve no idea.

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  2. I think there’s also the question of whether or not the Commerce team is allowed to communicate with users. When I read Rod’s reply on the forum, this imaginary conversation took place in my head:

    “Hey, boss? There’s this stuff on the forums, and…”

    “Yeah, yeah… I’ve seen it. I’ll take care of it. We can’t have anything you say off-the-cuff taken by users as an official statement.”

    In light of their past communication record, it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that upper management decided to muzzle them some time ago. But that’s just idle speculation, of course.

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    1. How communications are handled and who can see what and when is tightly controlled. The press and bloggers are sometimes reminded that there are only three “official” channels for outward communications from the Lab (one of whom is Rod Humble, obviously).

      However, the company does continue to run in-world user groups and allows other teams to routinely make forum posts, responsd to user, etc., and all of them – while their views might be regarded as “unoifficial” – have built a strong rapport with interested users. The sim / server teams being a strong case in point. As such, I don’t actually think it is a case of the Commerce Team not being allowed to communicate, but rather have grown increasingly afraid of communicating, because all they ever seem to have is … more bad news.

      Of course, this could also itself have lead to pressure from above for the team to keep their heads down, shut-up and “just get on with crunching the numbers”.

      Either way, it is expressly why I comment to Rod Humble (assuming he still reads the blog) that promising to “up the tempo” in communications isn’t enough. Not only have we heard this (or similar before) only for it to be hollow words, the Marketplace situation is such that it requires much more action on LL’s part if any degree of trust is to be restored.

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  3. Appreciate you keeping us informed, Inara. However, I have to say that personally I see no evidence that much about enhancements was fixed. Some people may have gotten some things fixed, but I got charged for the same ads on the 4th, 7th, 11th, and TWICE on the 12th. (I think I was refunded once, but hard to confirm because when I tried to access my account more than two pages back I got an error.) That is almost $20 for EACH category ad for one week.

    I had already canceled all but a handful of enhancements, but seeing that each ad is being billed at the rate of $80 a month, I decided to set the rest to Not Renew.

    However, I still have 19 enhancements that I cannot cancel because instead of the Edit button there is the warning Charging, Can Not Edit.

    This, mind you, is since the heralding of the enhancement billing fixes in that thread that has now been abandoned.

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    1. I do agree on the matter of WEB-2974. I find it unconscionable that the CT should place the matter “On hold while we work on the other items on this list” (of outstanding JIRA) when it appears that merchants are still being charged against enhancements they no longer need and / or want, but have no opportunity to cancel them.

      Thanks for updating on the continued enhancement billing errors you are getting. I’ll continue to try and highlight whatever I can (for whatever that is worth).

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