Farewell to Kitty’s Dreamland….

In the early hours of Wednesday morning when I was fast asleep and dreaming happy dreams that I can’t remember but *may* have involved me, Eric Bana and some peanut butter; something pretty shitty happened at my home on Jasper Island.

An ‘ACS Angel’ appeared, and started returning all my things and reclaimed all of my land. Fortunately for me, my friend and neighbour Amanda Shinji was online at the time, realised that there was something awry going on and managed to persuade the angel to leave my stuff alone and wait until I was online. You see, I’ve lived on Jasper since 2007, so I wouldn’t leave without giving notice, nor stop paying my rent suddenly which Amanda is fortunately well aware of, so her quick thinking saved the day. Sort of. In his haste, the ACS ‘Angel’ had managed to return a number of items to me including FIVE precious Wildwood breedable cats (one named after a real life cat of mine, now deceased) and these aren’t showing anywhere in my inventory, nor my ‘Lost and Found’ folder. I’ve also lost various other items of furniture, nick-nacks and objects running into at least a couple of thousand Lindens, and although I realise these aren’t real, they have still cost me real money and were valuable to me.
I of course knew nothing of this until I woke up and checked my e-mails, one of which was marked urgent and was from Amanda. I logged in straight away and saw all my land reclaimed and at that point realised the losses I’d incurred. How had this happened?
Well, backtrack: Last month I had a problem at one of the tier terminals I was using and ended up over-paying. I summoned an Angel, who checked and said I was fine and would be for the following month because I’d overpaid, so I thanked her and left it at that. I had no reason to doubt her and I had no reason to check it all out; I was happy with her judgement and besides it was Christmas and that meant decorating the sim and doing festive stuff. Not suspecting any problems I’ve carried on doing my usual Second Life stuff, safe in the knowledge that if there were any issues ACS would contact me. They have my e-mail address and they’ve contacted me before, so I had no reason to think anything was wrong. UNTIL the events of yesterday morning. The Angel that Amanda challenged advised her that I had ignored IMs and e-mails but the fact is, I haven’t had any.

My IM’s do cap, as do most peoples, but I’ve not had any notecards, e-mails nor any direct communications from any angels during all this time. Of course in a panic I zoomed over to the Dreamland terminal and paid my overdue fees, and I also tried to gain assistance from an Angel but there were none online. I wanted them to check this time that everything was OK, and also ask them to come and remove the ‘For Sale’ signs that had been placed on my land. I couldn’t reach anyone; no Angels were showing online and the in-world groups wouldn’t let me join. Frustrating doesn’t even begin to describe it.

While I was waiting I composed the following e-mail and whizzed it off to the Angel that had reclaimed my land. I also sent it to Anshe Chung herself….

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Dear Dreamland,

Thank you for holding my land for me until I was able to make payment, and I must offer an apology as I was under the impression I had paid double last month; evidently that wasn’t the case. At the time I made payment I did call an Angel over to assist me, she checked and said I was fine and would be for the next month too because I had over-paid, so you can see why I haven’t been aware that there has been any problem until my kindly neighbour took the time to inform me. (Unfortunately I’m not able to tell you the name of the angel that assisted me, in future when I require assistance and summon angels I shall make a note of the name)

However, I must inform you that many of the items you began returning to me, before my neighbour intervened, have been irrecoverably lost, neither showing in my inventory or my ‘Lost & Found’ folder.

I must also advise you that at no point did I receive any IM’s from yourselves advising me of any problem. (Note, I receive a LOT of instant messages). I didn’t receive any notecards, nor did I get any comms to my in-box. I can assure you that if these had been sent to me I would have rectified the situation much sooner.

In fact I noted when I went to a Tier terminal to pay my tier today that when I clicked ‘EMail’ to check the e-mail address you had for me on record, NOTHING showed. I find this very odd, because I have been a renter with Dreamland since 2007 and I have used the facility in the past numerous times to check on balance history etc. I have subsequently re-entered my e-mail address, but I would advise you that if you have been trying to reach me via e-mail then evidently I haven’t been receiving them because for some reason my e-mail address had been wiped?

Also, considering I’ve been a renter since 2007, why didn’t anyone, if they couldn’t reach me via IM, send me a notecard or at least look to see if I was on-line and approach me directly?

Surely the fact that I have been a customer for a number of years now should stand for something??

I’ve lost an expensive kitchen, a number of small items but even more poignantly a Wildwood Cat named after a much loved cat that I lost in real life. By having her in Second Life I was able to keep her memory alive, and now she’s gone.

I note that my land holdings are set for sale still so I can’t place anything, please can this be amended asap, and my I ask that in future if there is a problem can common sense be applied and a more direct means of communication investigated before drastic action is taken; surely that’s the least I can expect after renting with Dreamland for nearly FOUR YEARS?

Regards,

Kitty Otoole

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Not one angel has been in touch with me, I’ve not had a reply to my note and the ‘For Sale’ signs are still on my land. And because of this, I’ve decided to leave.

You could accuse me of reacting in a knee-jerk way to what has happened, but actually I don’t think I am. I’m not saying I expect ‘special’ treatment. There’s been a misunderstanding, and with hindsight I should have been more thorough with checking my payments.

But what I do expect is a level of service and a recognition of the fact that I have been a customer for almost 4 years, at one point owning almost 1/3 of the sim that I live on. I’ve paid tier monthly, OK on a couple of occasions I’ve been late but have ALWAYS paid my dues; and I’ve enjoyed the flexibility that ACS have provided that has enabled me, when spare land has become available, to increase my land holdings. I’ve also been able to decrease too when times have been hard, and I’ve appreciated that equally. I’ve bought land from ACS when a small plot would cost 28k, and more recently when you’re paying practically a Linden per sq ft; either way it’s all money, and all of it funded from RL. I’ve recommended ACS many times to friends (alas prior to their introducing their friend referral scheme) and have been a very happy resident indeed.

All morning I have tried to contact ACS to get the land put back into my name. I’ve tried pinging various people, and I’ve been to the Dreamland Central HUB and repeatedly paged the ONE customer service representative who was online, and they haven’t responded to me.

Of course I realise that there is a time differential that comes into play here, BUT the person who took such drastic action on my land should have made a note to check my account dues were paid, and revisited my land and removed the ‘For Sale’ signs in my absence. Common sense, sorely lacking.

Upon reflection I think one of the problems is that ACS has completely lost it’s human touch and even in our Metaverse that is very important. Despite our living in a world of pixels and polygons, there is still a human behind the keyboard operating the avatar. My suspicion is that there have been a LOT of changes over at ACS recently, including a number of new recruits coupled with the loss of some of the most well known and able customer service representatives that they had on their books has resulted in some serious flaws.
I’m not going to name names here; but ACS had for many years an avatar in their employ who would NEVER have allowed this situation to develop. She was always the one that Amanda or myself would turn to in relation to sim issues, and she ALWAYS sorted it out pronto. She was an assett to ACS and should never have been let go. I can guarantee that had this situation arisen under her watch, she would have had the brains to look out for me when I was online and alert me to what was going on. She wouldn’t in her haste have reclaimed all my land and put for sale signs all over it; she would have sought an explanation and the situation would have been resolved in an instant.

But when it comes to the crunch it’s true that even in Second Life low prices are one thing; customer service is paramount.

Ironic isn’t it that in a virtual world those most human of attributes; politeness, fairplay and compassion seem to be so lacking. It would seem that virtual big business then is no different to those in the real world after all. Me? I’m just incredibly disappointed, hurt and saddened that my time on Jasper has come to a close.

In the years I’ve lived on Jasper, it has changed many times with different neighbours and various landscape additions and alterations. I must say I’ve had some especially wonderful neighbours, and had many happy times with them, especially during Christmas 2009 when the sim looked its loveliest. (We had a couple of designers living in the corner plots and boy did it show, the sim was just exquisite!) Jasper has been my home. It’s always felt like home, and I have never entertained living anywhere else. Of course at this point let me stress that in Second Life you don’t *need* to live anywhere, BUT one of the joys of it for me, like many others, has been playing ‘virtual dolls houses’ over the years, and I have had some amazing homes that I have thoroughly enjoyed kitting out. But boy, the memories I will take with me; drag racing on ice with Amanda and Dad, firework parties, ice skating, snowball fights and just the joys of having friends from near and far in real life assembled in your pixel home having a cup of nano-coffee and putting the real and virtual worlds to rights. I will cherish that.

Ever the optimist I’m a firm believer in the old adage that when one door closes another one opens; but I have to be frank and say the door has closed with a loud creak and it’ll take more than a few squirts of WD40 on the hinges to fix it. I’m going to finish this post now; lest I be accused of going all Prok-like over the situation, but I am gutted, and virtually homeless to boot, so if you can recommend somewhere nice for me to live I’d be very happy indeed. I’m looking for somewhere green and pleasant, possibly a Homestead, but the price has to be just right ( perhaps we can strike a deal in relation to advertising?) But most of all I want a Landlord I can trust and who will respect me as a customer in turn. Something it seems that ACS didn’t.

Farewell Kittywitch Island

**Now before I write anything further on this entry, I just want to point out that I’m well aware that Second life isn’t real. I’m not completely loopy and think SL 24/7. That said, the emotions that are expressed in world are indeed very real as are the attributes associated with them, so it’s from that angle that I’m writing this post.**

I’ve lived in Jasper Islands sim for over 2 years. It’s one of the Anshe Cheung sims and it is, quite simply, beautiful. My land ownership has changed considerably over the years and I’ve invested heavily, but recently I’ve been content with a section comprising three plots in a corner that allows me enough space and prims to indulge my Kitty fantasies to the full. For me that means a lovely green space filled with trees and seasonal blooms, stone circles, a summer house and a rather fancy dwelling. My house is stunning, and is just the kind of dwelling that I would desire in real life. Even better than the exterior with it’s gorgeous stone and wood facade,teamed with fabulous swimming pool, is the interior. Second Life’s content creators are represented in their multide here, and I have some absolutely wonderful furnishings inside rom designers such as Greene Concept, Agent Orange,Corn, Amodica, Instinct and many others. (This being Second Life of course I can change the furnishings as often as I like, but I tend to always navigate towards the best creators in world.) The best part for me though is my studio..I have a fabulous space to take the photographs that litter these pages and plenty of space for my pose stands..But sadly, I’m going to lose my little piece of Second Life forever. Basically, tier is just under £55 a month for me, and that kind of money holds more worth in real life at the moment than it does in the virtual. Put into perspective, it’s a months petrol, or a week’s shopping, or a present for Father’s Day which is looming on the horizon ( 21st June if you’d forgotten!) I’ve contacted ACS to see if I could have a reprieve on tier but alas, they weren’t enamoured with the idea. I’m not bitter about that, they’re a business after all, but I do think it’s a great shame that I’m losing something that I’ve invested a great deal of time and effort into.

I can honestly say I LOVE my little virtual home, I adore it even. It’s given me so much pleasure and happiness over the past few years. It’s a sensation similar to one that I used to enjoy as a child when one of my favourite pastimes was decorating my dolls houses, except this is virtual dolls houses and the furniture is a whole lot more fun, don’t you think? I have so many memories from my time here..One thing I’ll miss desperately is Halloween and decorating the island in keeping with the theme, particularly important  for us Witches as it’s our New Year,  so you can imagine the celebrations! Just as poignant a memory for me will be Christmas.   Last year I didn’t decorate the house in real life, but by ‘eck I went to town on it in Second Life, with tinsel, Christmas trees, ice caves, skating and  snowmen..it was such a treat! The ground was even changed to a snow texture and it really was a winter wonderland. I had a lot of fun with my beloved neighbour and friend Amanda whizzing around the frozen lake on skates and sledges, and I recall she took my Dad in RL and SL,  LeapyLee Cliffhanger,  round for a few circuits on motorbikes…daft as it sounds he still talks about that in real life!  Not forgetting I erected a sky-box for Dad to enjoy.   Enjoy he did- I put a bar and a jukebox in there for him and he would often log-in just to enjoy that..I’ve not told him the news yet and I’m sure he’s going to be disappointed:(

I could go on..but I won’t. Suffice to say that over the next couple of days I’ll lose the island for good. Kitty will be a homeless avatar. That’s not a bad thing, many avs choose to live in-world without any permanent base, but for me it really was a realisation of a dream in minature..my very own island space. That’s the thing about Second Life, you really can live your dreams through it, and on Kittywitch Island I could do just that.  I’ve posted some Flickr pictures in the sidebar, and you’re welcome to pop around and see my home before it disappears for good.

Yes, I KNOW it’s not real. Losing a home in reality is an unbearable thought and alas has been a reality for so many people out there due to the credit crisis and recession, and I’m well aware that isn’t the case here. But as I have invested so much time and money into my virtual reality I think you can allow me this indulgence, as I feel so incredibly sad that it’s coming to an end.