I have been using a premium account in Second Life for years. Though I must admit, I didn’t make an intensive use of it last times.

Last month, I got a notice for the quarterly payment, but I was at a thousand miles of my home, and a thousand miles of this matter. Once back home, I had a look and – oh surprise – the account was on hold. Sounds quite normal, at first sight. But listen…

Sanction for not paying my quarterly fee is…
disabling access to payment interface. Huh?

As it’s on hold, every aspect of my account is locked. Including the “free” part of it (remember? there is no need to pay to be on SecondLife, premium account is a “plus”). And, worst, including the billing system. So it is just not possible to pay the tier without submitting a support ticket.

I ask “why don’t you just downgrade a non-paid premium account to basic account?”. They answer, you can downgrade once you have paid your tier, and then you’ll get a refund. Well, I could nearly have accepted that unneeded double money exchange. In the meantime they re-enabled my access to the web account interface only. But…

Pay or we keep your money on hold.
It sounds like racket to me.

It’s not finished. I can’t use my L$ balance to pay my tier until the tier is paid (!). So, I have in-game money which I can normally convert to US$, and use these US$ to pay my tier (that’s what I use to do). But I can’t not use it, I have to make a payment with paypal or credit card for the full tier, pay it, and then only I can get my money back from my L$ balance.

OK. So I was bored of all this stuff and said “ok, just delete my account, I barely use it, anyway”. Too simple. To delete my account, I have to pay my tier, and then I can downgrade to basic account, get the refund and then delete my account.

I have a long-time account. So I get a stipend of L$500 every week with my premium account. Which makes more than enough to pay the tier, usually (understand: when I am not in holidays). I just made real payment a couple of times, during all these years. All the rest was paid only with L$ > US$ conversion for the in-game balance.

It’s not like I owe them money. My current L$ balance is  enough to pay the usable part of the tier (I mean the 7 days before they locked my account). Should I follow their instructions, they would have to reimburse me more than what I would pay.

So, I say “Delete my account, and I don’t care for the remaining money, just keep it”. Not yet done, still in discussions.

In my humble opinion

  • It is just not normal that a user can’t use his current balance to pay the tier. It’s just like if my bank said “you have money  on your current account, but you can’t use it to pay the processing costs of your account”.
  • It is just not normal that an account is totally blocked when the tier is not paid. It should be downgraded to basic account (removing every premium advantage) or, at least, the choice should be offered
  • Blocked or not, it is just stupid to block access to the payment system, disallowing the user to fix the payment
  • Second Life is a successful business, but there are a lot of other emerging companies offering similar products, and they should take care of that

For all these reasons, I say “SL, you made a good job in the past. Now, you’re doing it the wrong way. Just delete my account and let’s meet in open grids.”