Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Mitzi's Dilemma

Sorry but this post turned out longer than I had wished, but I hope you will consider reading it and responding anyhow.
A moral dilemma is a situation where: 
1) You are presented with two or more actions, all of which you have the ability to perform.
2) There are moral reasons for you to choose each of the actions.
3) You cannot perform all of the actions and have to choose which action (or actions when there are three or more choices) to perform.
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The background
SecondLife is an immersive 3D virtual reality world that is owned and operated by Linden Lab. In this world people can create one - or more accounts. Once the accounts have been created they can be logged in-world as residents.

The residents can interact with each other in almost every conceivable way and through more than two but less than three of their five senses (the full exceptions being smelling and tasting, whereas "touching" can sort-of be achieved). 

However, apart from breaches of the Terms of Service (ToS) for SecondLife (which all residents have to accept on login) Linden Lab is not a party to and cannot resolve disputes between residents. There are no laws and no judicial system to solve disputes between residents, other than their own personal ethics and morals. 

Introduction of the participants
Mitzi and Barbie have both been residents in SecondLife for eight years. They are acquainted with each other, but have never really had much to do with one another except some friendly interaction at social events.

Mitzi has chosen a life on the sidelines which is mainly concerned with her lover, her family and her friends. Alongside that Mitzi has a passion for gardening and landscaping and is a member of an in-world garden society, "The SecondGarden". Mitzi has a blog where she gives an account of her life and experiences.

Barbie, on the other hand, is a high profiled business woman and entrepreneur and has been involved in a land owning company and many major events and business ventures. She is a well known and respected woman. Barbie also has a blog where she promotes her events and ventures and recounts her life and experiences,

The deal
SecondGarden annually hosts a huge inworld event for it's membership and everyone else who may be interested in participating. Due to the size of the event the society needs more than it's regular sim to organize the event.

At a late date Mitzi learns that the society is having problems acquiring support from it's previous supporters for the use of an additional sim and offers to step in. She starts looking into the problem, but as it all is a strange and new territory for her and time is short. Mitzi therefor comes to think of Barbie, whom she believes must be familiar with similar issues through her previous business and large scale events. 

Mitzi and Barbie have an amicable chat and Barbie agrees to help in renting a sim for the soon upcoming event. They agree on the following:
1. The sim is to be rented for six (6) weeks at L$19,000 per week (4 weeks before the event, 1 week for the event and 1 week for cleanup)
2. The cost of moving the sim prior to and after the event, L$37,500 (both ways).
3. The sim to be delivered as soon as possible. (Barbie assures Mitzi that this should only take a few days.)
Mitzi pays Barbie the full costs of the arrangement, L$151,500, and thanks her profusely for her kind assistance in the matter.

Ensuing events
The sim is not delivered to SecondGarden until some 10-12 days later. This doesn't bother Mitzi too much as she believes that it could be due to some mess up in communications and actions for which Barbie is not solely responsible.

On the last day of the event Mitzi wakes up to find a barrage of emails informing her that the sim she has rented through Barbies kind assistance has been closed and no one can get in. Mitzi tries to get in contact with Barbie to have the issue solved, both on social media and inworld without success. 

When nothing is heard from Barbie during several hours, Mitzi instead contacts the land owning company directly and asks for information about how she can solve the problem.

The company informs her that the rent for the last six days have not been paid (nor for the clean up week). When Mitzi asks if she can solve the issue by paying the arrears (the back rent) and for the coming week on behalf of Barbie, the company kindly acquiesced to let her do so. The sim was opened again immediately afterwards and the closing ceremonies could continue as planned.

When paying the arrears and for the coming week Mitzi sees that the cost is not L$19,000 a week, but L$17,777. This in itself doesn't bother Mitzi as she assumes that Barbie has gotten a better deal than the going rate due to her previous dealings with the company. 

However, Mitzi doesn't feel that it is fair that she should pay for the two weeks twice and asks Barbie to reimburse her for the additional costs of L$35,554.

No reimbursement has been made and Barbie no longer responds to messages from Mitzi on social media or inworld.

The dilemma
Mitzi feels she has two choices in the current situation.
1. To forget all about it and go on with her happy life and avoiding all future contact or dealings with Barbie, after all the amount is really not that substantial and it is mostly her own fault for not having protected her interests better.
2. To write about the incident on her blog and name Barbies name, show the proofs she has collected for her case (transaction records, chat logs etc.) and warn everyone from future business with Barbie, after all the amount is not insignificant and Barbies actions show poor business ethics. 

What do you think Mitzi should do and why?
Please leave your thoughts in the comments. 

12 comments :

  1. A very interesting tale for sure and one that sounds a little familiar. You have done a very good job of just touching on the facts but the fact is that someone is in the wrong and needs to acknowledge that. It's always easy to blame people without all the facts but in truth Mitzi tried to get the information needed from Barbie but to no avail. If we were talking about something simple, like purchasing a piece of furniture that would be one thing but we are not, we are talking about a great deal of money. I would want to warn others to be careful when dealing with "Barbie". Make sure you cover all your bases. You can still deal with people you don't totally trust, you just need to with your eyes wide open with precautions and rules put in place. My advice to you, and I don't give advice out to often, put it out there but keep it simple and factual.

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  2. As a 9 year resident of Second Life, who watched one husband die early on from a congenital disease and burying a man I called my brother away 5 years ago, All I can say is fight if you believe you're right.

    After all this time these kind of fights are ridiculous.

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  3. Oh and sue Barbie for every fucking penny she ever had.

    I hope I'm getting the names right...

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  4. Hello, my dear friend. Mimi's dilemma struck a chord with me as I have also been the very same position within such a transaction.

    While both options 1 and 2 you presented have their merits, Mimi first and foremost needs to concentrate on the BIG picture - she stepped up to the plate and got involved. Something to be proud of and hopefully something that a business deal like this one will not turn her off from doing so again. She should be reflecting on the part she played in helping to provide so much to so many others within her organization.

    While there may be some degree of satisfaction in a total launch of option 2, Mimi needs to consider that perhaps firing the first volley in what might become a BlogWar may have some negative (and lingering) results.

    As they say, 'word of mouth means everything' in the business world (SL & RL). Mimi should perhaps formally inform the governing board of her organization of facts involved, including names, so that should they again need to lease another region they can avoid Bambi and her questionable business tactics. Mimi might also want to share that information with friends and other contacts within SL who might be in a position to lease a region in the future as well.

    Since there is no way in SL to file a grievance or a claims court to settle such a situation, Mimi should consider patting herself on the back for doing charity work; concentrate on the positives such as the success(?) of the overall event; if she is to be involved in a repeat event for this organization - choosing another way in which to assist or truly making sure she totally understands who it is with which she has business dealings and/or what type of transaction it truly is.

    For me...I took my similar situation in as a 'lesson learned.' and moved on, as the financial aspect involved, like Mimi's, was not an undue hardship on me.

    I continue to believe there truly are more good, honest and caring people (business people included) in SL than not. I hope that Mimi will also feel the same way as she moves through her though processes. XO ~GR

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    Replies
    1. Oops....make that 'Mitzi' in the above. lol

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  5. An interesting dilemma. It's curious that in response #1 you suggest that the amount is not substantial and in #2 that it's not insignificant. I make it approximately US$144, so ... yeah, I think both are right.
    My first response was "Sue Barbie's skanky ass into the next century" but for $144? Nah. At the same time, although I think the best advice would be to embrace the Zen-like philosophy of #1, that doesn't really feel good either. I want revenge for my $144. Possibly that makes me an imperfect person; I'd look upon it as an opportunity to entertain myself (at Barbie's expense), having paid $144 for the privilege.
    My suggestion would be #2(a); Organize "SecondGarden" to have a fund-raising event or events that would repay Mitzi the money and make it clear, naming names, that the money is required because Barbie has defaulted upon her promises. And bar Barbie from the SecondGarden sims. I have found, oddly enough, that while SecondGarden may have waned in support over the years, people love a good spite fight and I bet Mitizi would have that US$144 in no time.
    And sign me up for L$1000.

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    Replies
    1. if this was over 144 USD I'd say skip it and learn the lesson but it's over 700 USD and that my friend is what makes the difference

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    2. I was going with this figure: "However, Mitzi doesn't feel that it is fair that she should pay for the two weeks twice and asks Barbie to reimburse her for the additional costs of L$35,554." But I might have misunderstood the full depth of what was required to regain equity.

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    3. You are absolutely correct, Rusty, the amount in question is nothing other than L$35,554.

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  6. It's a lot of money... and it's lost. Gone.

    Unfortunately, I wouldn't touch this situation with a ten foot pole.

    Just accept this as an expensive lesson. NEVER TRUST ANYONE in SL with more money that you are willing to throw to the wind.

    Handle all important transactions yourself.

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  7. When I was a noob I was swindled into buying land for a certain club and not told of full circumstances and things like tier etc. Sort of like this dilemma but worse in your case i think. Kick ass and name names and protect others from the trash that seems to over run the real world and crosses over into Second life.

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  8. Warning others seems to be the moral way to go. If it's an expensive lesson, at least let it be a lesson to many. Don't deal with those that can't be trusted. Stick to the cold hard facts, but get the word out there.

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