Well today I learned a few lessons in Second Life.

About three weeks ago, I rented my first land in Second Life with the idea of experimenting to see how TPN could use it to spend more time with our community. I rented the land from an avatar called Rich Bulloch (who also apparently goes by the avatar Dog Fargis). We paid six months in advance and it wasn’t a lot of money – about L$20,000 for six months (about US$80). After about a week on our first block of land, Rich sez he has a bigger block, a whole island, we could rent for a bit more L$. I asked Rich if there were any “gotchas” on the new island and he said it was “low prim” (1874). Being a complete n00b, I asked him what the practical implications were of that and he told me it limited what we could build. It was twice the prims we had on the previous block however, so we upgraded.

The first thing I learned pretty fast is the real implication of “low prim”. We ran out of building room pretty fast. Everything you want to build on your real estate in SL requires “prims” or “primitives”, like building blocks. And when you use up all of your prims, you can’t build anything else – buildings, chairs, etc. So we figured out pretty quickly that we were going to have to move again.

Little did I realize how soon….

This morning I found out that Rich Bulloch, who was renting the land himself from a Gigs Taggart, is behind in HIS rent and as a result, I’m getting evicted from my island. Gigs claims he hasn’t heard from Rich is over a week and Rich is way behind on his rent. So Gigs is evicting us! We can rent the land ourselves from Rich but he wants US$114 a MONTH. Remember I’ve already paid Rich about US$150 for SIX MONTHS. That’s a pretty big rental rise and way more than I had budgeted for.

I tried contacting Rich myself but his profile said he hadn’t been online for a week. So I IM’d the R & A Realty Group, Rich’s group of tenants, and asked them if Rich is a scammer. That started a slanging match between a few members of the group until I finally got a private message from one of Rich’s friends, telling me it was all a very big mess, that Rich wasn’t a scammer, that it was all her fault, involved “mafia stuff”, and that Rich would refund my money by Wednesday. I told her that even if it wasn’t Rich’s fault, he should get in contact with his tenants and explain why they were getting evicted. I paid him money in good faith, not I’m getting kicked off my land. I gave her my email address and asked her to pass it onto Rich.

A few minutes later I got an email from Rich saying:

well i tell ya what i will get you in the next few days all the proof that it was paid that is how i paid threw paypal but i did cancle that account afterwords but i have spoke with paypal and they are gathering the info where i did pay him i will make sure you get copies of that also they will be faxing it to me within 48 hours and i will make sure you get copies of it to post with your blog if you would like gigs is saying something deffernt and i will not fight with him in world i am letting sl take care of that issue for me and paypal for charge back

Okay, so… I may see my money back (not that it was a lot of money) and there are some lessons learned.

1. Second Life needs a good way of reference checking who you are dealing with. Ebay has a pretty good (though not infallible) rating system. These things may already exist. If they do, I’m not aware of them and it would be good to have them built into an avatar’s profile for handy reference. Rich’s profile in SL was only a month old when we rented from him. Probably should look for someone with a longer track record?

2. I deliberately jumped into my first land rental without ANY research, knowing I might get hurt, but wanting to learn. And I’m a big believer in LEARNING BY DOING, as long as while you are DOING you minimize your downside. This time I’m going to do some more research before we get new TPN land. I’m talking to people like Duncan Riley and Jeremy Chase (from the Second Life mafia, as heard on G’Day World #105). Duncan sez we should buy our own land, not rent. Sounds like a good plan, if I can afford it.

I want TPN HQ to be a place where our audience can experience and experiment with Second Life, learn the rules, find their Slegs, in a safe and encouraging environment. So I’d rather I learn these lessons and be able to pass them on. I’m fairly resilient. 🙂

Bye Bye for now TPN HQ. 🙁