There used to be a Brit comedy series called ‘Open All Hours‘, in which Ronnie Barker played an old-time shopkeeper who seemed to have just two aims in life: Firstly, to have his wicked way with Nurse Gladys Emmanuel and, secondly, never to have a customer leave his shop without being completely ripped off.
Unlike Ronnie Barker’s character, an awful lot of shopkeepers in sl are perfectly inoffensive, helpful and friendly enough people, amongst whom you’ll find the occasional gem who gives superb customer service and goes well beyond the call of duty to help out their customer. i’ve come across one or two, and it’s people like that who make shopping in sl an absolute pleasure.
Equally, there are those storekeepers in sl who could teach old Arkwright a thing or two about how to put people off! These merchants from hell seem to take a perverse pleasure in finding ever more devious ways to drive away their customers. They build sumptuous stores that lure us in and then leave us so frustrated and frazzled that we’d happily pay just to get back out again – all without purchasing a single item! Then there are those stores whose only purpose in life seems to be to act as a gallery for the owner’s products – woe betide you if you actually try to purchase anything – you’ll live to regret your foolishness.
Recently, i got the urge – as you do – to buy a motorbike. Painting on a few fake Motörhead tattoos, topped up with a bushy handlebar moustache and extensive, straggly beard, i now looked the part – and therefore less likely to be beaten up – i took myself off to a region that seems to specialise in all things Harley Davidson.
Eventually, after much indecision, i found myself a hog that i both liked the look of and could afford… Now for the acid test: Being somewhat shorter than the average ‘normal’ person in sl – if you can call 8 feet tall normal – i’ve learned from bitter experience that it’s a rare occurrence for me to be able to find any sort of vehicle where my hands will actually reach all the way to the steering wheel or handlebars. Rather than throw my money away on something that would have me cruising the streets whilst demonstrating my own unique ‘look! No hands!’ approach, i won’t consider a vehicle any more without first trying it out for size. Jumping up onto the display model, i was summarily flung back to the showroom floor, accompanied by the angry green message: “Hey! Stop touching my stuff!”
So, thank you very much, Mr Harley tyrant salesperson – this is one customer that you definitely won’t be seeing again!
i wish i could say that particular experience was an isolated incident, but sadly it’s an all too common occurrence in sl. Bear with me a moment, whilst i take you on a little flight of fancy – my own personal sl shopping hell:
Let’s imagine that i want to buy a cowboy hat, so – heaven help me! – i type cowboy hat into search, cross my fingers and hope… An hour later, having scrolled through about 300 results for various vampire roleplay sims, girlie bars and miscellaneous breedable animal emporiums, i finally find a likely looking store – i take the plunge and TP away. On arrival, i’m immediately ‘greeted’ by some sort of obnoxious fairy/bluebottle hybrid, that buzzes persistently and irritatingly around my head, despite my every effort to swat it.
After three complete circumnavigations of the store, i’ve still completely failed to find the entrance. It’s only then that i realise that the plate glass window i’m stood in front of is actually a cunningly disguised sliding door. Even so, it evades every one of my attempts to open it by clicking, physically walking into it and trying to squeeze through the cracks… Of course, it really is a window, as i eventually discover… the real door is right next to it, cunningly disguised as a plate glass window.
Finally, i’m in!
‘Welcome, Serendipity Haven – you are visitor number 3 – would you like us to display your picture on our huge billboard and countless product endorsements throughout the whole of Second Life?’ No thank you, i most certainly don’t. Dammit! Clicked the wrong button – my face starts to appear on every available surface and i’m rewarded with a stack of popup dialogues… Umpteen LMs, notecards and stern warnings about the store’s returns policy, (you can’t, under any circumstances!).
Ooh, a big pile of freebies! Always worth a look – i start randomly clicking boxes; ‘You are buying Porkie Scratchings’ Freebie gift box – L$150′ – erm, no i’m not! i try another box: ‘How dare you click that freebie – only group members are allowed to have that – join immediately, or forever miss out!’ Once again, i decline and give up on the freebies.
If there’s one thing i like, it’s a well laid out, logical shop – this is not one of those. Eventually, after wandering around fruitlessly for 10 minutes, i decide that the products must be arranged alphabetically; why else would bras be found displayed next to bicycles and knickers with knives? It doesn’t help that it’s one of those huge warehouse affairs with 16 floors and no signage – oh, and no TP between floors either, just those lovely narrow open staircases – smashing! The interior is cavernous, not just in the area covered, but the walls cover a considerable acreage too and every one of them is crammed from floor, to the distant ceiling with items for sale – i’m going to need a sextant and compass to navigate that lot! i opt to use the ‘dead body in a forest police search’ technique, dividing each wall into quadrants, then camming up, across, down, across and back up again – waiting an infinity for each texture to rez – giving it a little prod to speed things up, like a copper with a stick who thinks he’s found a body part – before moving on to the next block.
It only takes an hour to find my cowboy hat – granted, i really didn’t want it in orange, but i’m too weary to complain – i pay my money and rez the box. Well, i try to rez it but the thoughtful store owner is having none of it – have these people never heard of auto-return?
At last – back home – i unpack my purchase and pop it on. Dammit! Too small, and no mod either… Doncha just love sl shopping?
I’m all lost in the supermarket
I can no longer shop happily
I came in here for that special offer
A guaranteed personality
The Clash – Lost In The Supermarket