I may have missed the boat on this one but since this is still an issue I feel a good old “fuck it imma do it anyway!” is in order.
For those of you who may have missed it and thus may be confused with the subject I am about to rail on about let me bring you up to speed.
In the deep, deep dark realms of Second Life in a region known to the locals as Loach there exists a shop. It’s not much of a shop. Just a simple square skybox, a cheap logo and one of those Neo Post-Modern Art Deco desks that covers the rent cube.
It is nothing more than a bog standard Vendor farm, hosting a number of affiliate vendors from various builders including ZSK, THI, Shana Carpool, AMOK and several others.
But there is a difference and a seedy one at that. One that threatens to become a new chapter in the great, dusty book entitled “stuff that we don’t like”. For you see boys and girls this shop, these vendors and the spineless good-for-nothing weasel that operates it is STEALING sales.
And how does this dastardly fiend get away with such a scam? Well friend buckle in for I the great and sexy Malcious Vuckovic shall tell you.
You see my child when one sets-up an affiliate vendor and that vendor makes a sale the owner of said vendor makes a commission on that sale which is provided via a percentage of the final cost the customer paid, normally between 10-15%.
What these “vendor farms” do instead is return a percentage of their own commission back to the customer, effectively allowing that customer to obtain a Discount.
OH MY GAWD!
Offering discounts to people. It’s like these people are just trying to be evil! But it gets worse.
You may be asking yourself, how does this steal sales?
Well you stupid shit you see each and every time one of these vendor farms entices someone into their spiders web to buy a discounted product it steals a sale from an Airport that runs it’s own vendor farm but does not offer a discount.
And those Airports rely on the income produced by those vendor sales and now may have to close due to the rise of those greedy, discount offering vendor farmers.
Oh the inhumanity, ohhh the suffering, the children why won’t anyone think of the children!
You may have noticed a slight note of sarcasm in the way I’ve been writing about this and you would be right to assume so.
Blogs such as the SL Airmenship and McKeenan Aviation have brought up this subject in the past, questioning the ethics of this system and referring to it as a “scam” a way of “poaching sales” and calling out the owners as Parasites. Builders such as Astral-Tek and ZSK, people I like, have come forward to condemn the practice and many are already reviewing their affiliate vendors some going as far as to disable them entirely.
It may have not escaped your attention that I may have something of a contradicting thought on this experience. In fact I think the whole thing is dumb as hell. Hence why my article on this subject was a little late of the gun, this is a non-issue, it’s a mountain that’s been made of a molehill and I can’t even begin to describe how fucking stupid this entire drama is.
But I will try regardless.
Let’s not beat about the bush here. This entire argument, besides the unpleasant behaviour of several of the individuals who run these vendor farms, is a simple matter of “People would rather shop at this persons store, that is unfair because I don’t make money!”.
It’s a ludicrous and stupid argument and it bares a striking resemblance to the old “player poaching” accusations Sim owners used to throw at each other back in the days of SLace.
Firstly No-one has stolen sales from you. You lost them. What these so called vendor farms are doing is simply competing. Past and existing customers are not yours. You cannot claim ownership of a person because they once bought something from you and expect them to continuously patronise your store forever.
Customers can often be Brand loyal but history has proven that this loyalty does not transfer over to vendors and customers rarely consider Ethics and morality when choosing a Vendor to buy from. If they did then this blog wouldn’t exist.
Customers frequently drift between airports such is the nature of aviators. An Airport which doesn’t have the luxury or convince of being large and having the perfect location has to consistently re-invent itself in order to appear interesting to pilots through events, dance clubs, Airshows, Acrobatics courses or even things like the Landing game.
An Airports history, it’s behaviour, reputation, traffic, and the size of it’s group nor tales of it’s dramatic struggles do not win it any “karma points” in the community and it’s stories fail to make it any more unique from any other Airport.
Expecting exclusivity from any Pilots which drift into your net in terms of vendor sales is expecting them to turn their back on any number of other Airports which may also be looking for Affiliate sales to cover gaps in finances.
It also expects the customer won’t simply buy direct from the builder, perhaps from the convenience of marketplace or perhaps ,through an act of loyalty to the builder, decide that they deserves all the money from the sale instead of passing on a 10% commission to someone who did little more than rezz a vendor.
To expect and even demand that is, in itself, as much unethical as it is unrealistic. But this is where the argument has been lacking somewhat, my fellow bloggers, as much as it pains me to admit, have forgotten the Golden Rule. Always check the other side of the argument before filling the internet with cheese.
The problem here is that many of the people who run these vendor farms, or at least the ones that have been highlighted, are rather vulgar in their manner. Highly unpleasant and prone to outbursts of profanity whenever their fragile ego is prickled. Such childish tantrums, assuming they are real, make great Tabloid sensationalism at proving just how much of an arse said person is.
But in our rush to condemn such obviously distasteful people we are missing out a massive chunk of the argument and I’m afraid it’s about Ethics and well….common sense.
Out of all the Builders rushing to deal with this new arising threat of discount Affiliate vendor farms only Tig, surprise surprise, has been sensible in her approach. By matching the farms discount, so long as you are in her group, using her vendor.
It’s amusing how no-one else seems to have thought of that.
idiots builders like Tank have reportedly decided to “troll” people who do this. Quietly changing that persons affiliate vendor to 0% commission, meaning they are now accidentally giving away money on each transaction, potentially loosing thousands of Lindens without their knowledge. All for the crime of, well, offering customers a discount.
And let’s remind ourselves, there is nothing illegal or even shady about this. The builder isn’t loosing any money, the customer hasn’t been scammed in anyway. The Vendor farmer is returning part of their own money back to the customer and choosing to take a smaller cut of the sale. Hardly the work of a greedy mind. In fact it’s just good business sense.
There is nothing “unethical” about what they are doing. The builder hasn’t lost money, the customer hasn’t been mislead. The only people who have lost out at the Owners of other Vendor farms who refuse to match the discount.
But calling them out, referring to their business as a “scam”, insulting them and enticing builders to enact punishments against them. THAT is unethical.
It is unethical to expect customers to only ever buy from vendors that you can squeeze a profit form. It is unethical to slander your competitors when you lose sales to them. It is not the Duty of anyone to ensure that any Airport on this grid remains financially stable other than one person. The Owner.
Second Point and I have to pick on McKeenan for this. Reference was made in his Blog Post to Unity Airport which is situated on the Jeogeot Gulf. McKeenan wrote about how the Airport was struggling against the personal vendetta of one particular Vendor farmer.
The argument was based on a Hypothetical situation which showed that active marketing i.e approaching customers and talking to them, was a more effective way of making sales than sticking to the motto “build it and they will come”.
Now I could base an entire article of the shady dealings of Unity Airlines and I would immediately call bullshit to the claim that neither Fey nor Unity “did anything wrong” to attract the negative attention of the Vendor they mention but Unity will have their turn to bask in the unwithering Gaze of the MalQusition another day.
Instead I pose the thought:
Unity Airport has, in the past, requested from builders an Affiliate Vendor with a larger commission share than the Standard one other people might have. Average commission from vendors being around 10-15%. A few notable builders in the region have happily informed the MalQusition that Unity have specially asked for vendors of up to 25% and more using their High Traffic numbers as justification.
And they are not alone. Almost every high Traffic airport requests or demands a higher percentage when it comes to Affiliate vendors with places like Hollywood Airport in the Blake Sea reportedly charging up to L$2,000 per week for vendor space.
Unity itself is not a high traffic airport. In fact it uses Bots and traffic camps (services which tp newbies into the region and pays them L$1 for every 5 minutes they remain there) in order to artificially inflate their traffic numbers.
This could be argued as being a kind of deception. Don’t you think? And by playing this deception as an excuse to have builders fork over more of their profits. Now who is the one running the Scam?
In order to scavenge some conclusion in this rather dry and long overdue article. This is just another ill-thought out battle in the long war of People who don’t understand Capitalism and ,for some reason, expect everyone to adhere to a list of unwritten rules which aims to neuter anyone’s ability to make more money than a designated list of specific people. Finding out that life doesn’t work like that and bitching loudly to whatever authority they can find about how wrong it all is.
Effectively, it’s about money. I mean don’t get me wrong if I were in McKeenan’s shoes I would of disabled that guys Affiliate Vendors too. But in reality this entire situation boils down to someone doing something creative to make money and someone else getting angry that their ability to make money with little to no effort may be damaged as a result.
Boo fucking hoo.