Op/Ed: Time to Outsource SL Support to India and Botswana?

by Alphaville Herald on 20/03/11 at 6:18 pm

How Linden Lab can benefit by offshoring labor — and why they should.

by Kelvin R. Throop, concerned resident

A while back, I tried to teleport to my office in Second Life. However, for some reason, I couldn’t teleport there, and I landed in the sim next door. My office sim hadn’t crashed, and I could see buildings and trees across the sim border. But I couldn’t get to my office. So I sent my landlord an IM.

I told her that I couldn’t teleport or fly to my office and asked if she could file a support ticket with Linden Lab. She agreed, but also said had a lot of tickets filed without response. I really needed to get to my office so filed a ticket too – if two people file a ticket, it might get an answer. After submitting my ticket, the problem was fixed about two hours later.

I was lucky – but what about everyone else?

Too many SL landowners file support tickets but get no response for months. Not just a few tickets, but lots of tickets, like my landlady. This problem is not getting better. LL keeps laying off employees and is not hiring enough support workers to replace those that have been laid off.

What should LL do?

The average Linden Lab employee makes at least $50,000 a year. For what it would cost to hire one employee in the U.S. or U.K., the Lab can hire 5 to 10 employees in India or Botswana. This tells me that if LL were to lay off 20 of its employees in the U.S., it could hire 100 employees in India, or 200 in Botswana. Maybe the workers in India can work as concierge and programmers and those in Botswana could take on the support so there would be plenty of customer support workers.

How much of LL work force should be offshored to India, or elsewhere? I would say just about all concierge employees and at least 60% of the programmers. For each one that is laid off, ten or more can be hired elsewhere.

Second Life residents that own or rent land would have more workers to look into support tickets. Think of the abuse reports that can finally be investigated! But because LL has cut back on it’s work force there are fewer workers to look into each abuse report and griefers can keep on causing trouble in SL.

If Linden Lab can have more workers without the added cost, why not hire workers in other countries? Countries with lower wages, fewer regulations, and longer working hours. If LL were to hire workers under the age of 18 or even children, they could pay these workers still lower wages. Which means the Lab could hire many more workers.

Linden Lab needs to start acting like a business, and not like a bunch of leftist hippies. You don’t do that by keeping your HQ, and most of your employees in California. No, you do that by moving your HQ to Texas, and sending at least half your work force to third world countries. If Linden Lab would outsource more agressively, they could have more workers and save money at the same time.

34 Responses to “Op/Ed: Time to Outsource SL Support to India and Botswana?”

  1. Trinity Dejavu

    Mar 20th, 2011

    *cough* Viewer 2 *cough*

  2. Urizenus Sklar

    Mar 20th, 2011

    or they could outsource to Wuhan China and put Anshe in charge of everything.

  3. At0m0 Beerbaum

    Mar 20th, 2011

    You are the type of mentality that is why this country is going to shit.

    Please through yourself off a cliff, hopefully one in your beloved India or Botswana.

    “But american labor is sooo expensive!”

    It’s our high cost of living, brought to you by the same corporations who are now outsourcing because “americans are too expensive” Their ultimate hope is that the american economy crashes and people start working under the table or agreeing to much much lower wages so they can be outsourced once India or whatever other 3rd world low wage hellhole they boost up.

    Outsourcing will not fix SL’s problems. In fact they just will make the already pissed off userbase even more pissed when they talk to someone they cant even understand, or someone who likely will follow the same BS the guys in San Francisco do over the phone.

    aka, not fix shit at all.

    The platform is dying. Nothing will fix that, all games will lose their charm and die. SL peaked in 2006 and the bubble burst in 2007, it’s been on a death spiral since, with a few attempts at recovery.

    Given how much SL is about interaction, I think people will be turned off by people trying to pass off as westerners over the phone with very thick accents, who will likely not give two shits about your problem even moreso than the guys in San Fran, and will likely break things.

    No this isnt stereotyping, my experience with outsourced labor has been absolutely horrid. Put a quarter in them and they will just hit the problem with a hammer. The support is often rude and they treat you like shit if you know more than them.

    (try getting verizon techs in india to help you set a modem in bridge mode, yes you need their help because verizon has set bullshit policies up that prevent you from successfully doing so without tech support fixing something on their side, every time you change a damn device too, most I spent was 4 hours with several agents trying to tell me to go away and deal with it)

    Outsourcing would just amplify the hatred many customers already have for the company, unlike the big companies that do it, where many customers have no choice but to do business with those as they are monopolies, LL isnt really a monopoly of anything, and people will get tired of it and declare it pointless. Hell if you want to just make stuff and interact with people, opensim can give you at least that.

    LL needs to cycle down what they arent using on the grid, need to hire more customer support people, get rid of the lindens who go around with overly done AV’s and dick around for hours at a time. Most employees shouldnt have to log onto the grid except for special events.

  4. Clint Weastood

    Mar 20th, 2011

    Just all join Avination and support this hard working little company to grow their grid. You can earn money there too and the sims are much cheaper. Linden Lab does not deserve support after all the damage they have done to so many people. Many businesses and residents already moved to Avination.

  5. Henry Darkthief

    Mar 20th, 2011

    I thought LL’s support was already outsourced.

    As for checking out other grids, I recommend InWorldz over Avination any day. Way more welcoming and helpful there.

  6. hobo kelly

    Mar 20th, 2011

    Outsourcing seriousbusiness to 3rd world shitholes is the kind of wooleyheaded thinking that has hurt our economy. Just quit filing so many AR’s to the stupid GAME gods over totally dumb GAME stuff and then expecting instant total gratification. That would go a long way towards solving the problem. This place sounds like Romper Room some times I swear.


  7. Pappy Enoch

    Mar 20th, 2011

    Outsource all that-there support to Enoch Holler, VA. My third cousin, Hammurabi Earl Enoch, gots him a customer-support center in the back o’ the Feed Store down in Soggy Bottom.

    Hammurabi am a first-rate coder, I comes to understand.

    He pays them tech-support an’ qualerty assurance folks in liquor, Johnny cake, fatback, an’ gives ‘em a cot to sleep on.

    LL cain’t git it no cheaper’n that, less’n they abducts them some Gor slave-gals who ain’t good fo’ nuffin’ nohow but clingin’ to a feller’s leg an’ sayin’ “oh Mighty Master, does you want to shag now?”

    Say now…

  8. At0m0 Beerbaum

    Mar 20th, 2011

    I actually agree with with the sockpuppet yokels for once.

    People need to realize that they can control their experience by ignoring stupid shit.

  9. Axel Oakleaf

    Mar 20th, 2011

    Just no. Other companies outsource and it’s hard to understand them. I once got on the phone with tech support and they kept saying the same thing about my modem all the time. Keep jobs in America,stop having foreigners take our jobs.

  10. April Cordeaux

    Mar 20th, 2011

    Yeah, let’s put more people in California out of work when the unemployment rate is already close to 10%.

  11. Little Lost Linden

    Mar 21st, 2011

    This is the worst Herald story I have ever read.

    Shame on you Alphaville Herald…Shame on you…….Hitler.

  12. Yep

    Mar 21st, 2011

    This has to be a troll story. When I have to deal with the “Abib” operator, I pretend I cannot understand them and make comments about the downfall of outsourcing American jobs until I get switched to an American operator. It works every time. I mean it, do this until there is such a demand that our American workers are more in demand. Shame on you who ever wrote this article. Stupid prick.

    Go getem Tiger :P

  13. Edna

    Mar 21st, 2011

    Linden Lab needn’t bother outsourcing tech support jobs to other countries. The governors of Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana are flying around to other states on their private jets at taxpayers’ expense to convince other governors to follow their lead and their koolaide is potent. If Linden Lab just waits a year, they’ll have people fighting over jobs that pay $1.25 an hour right there in San Fransisco.

  14. Senban Babii

    Mar 21st, 2011

    I once spent an hour on the phone to Dell tech support in India and ended up telling Dell tech support in India how to fix Dell laptops.

    Whoever wrote this article is an idiot.


  15. Darien Caldwell

    Mar 21st, 2011

    LL already laid off 1/3 of it’s workforce. Time for the poster to get up with the times.

    The support is bad *because* of the layoff, and will continue to be bad, no matter the location it’s coming from.

    If you think the ‘expensive’ laborers give bad service, imagine how much of a damn someone making 5 cents an hour will have about your SL problems.

    I would say this article is a troll, if it wasn’t for the fact I run into people with this mentality in my RL job all the time.

  16. Skye D.

    Mar 21st, 2011

    I was out of work for a while, and one of the jobs I came across was for customer support jobs for Second Life. Trust me, they were NOT offering a $50,000 dollar a year salary. More along the lines of $20,000.

    Had it been in the higher range, I would have happily taken the job.

  17. ruserious

    Mar 21st, 2011

    So you’re saying we should lay off more americans, increase unemployment and outsource for cheap labor– all because you want a faster response to small inconveniences on a computer game.

  18. Obvious Schism

    Mar 21st, 2011

    This article has served its purpose by flushing out the racists

  19. IntLibber

    Mar 22nd, 2011

    It’s not racist for an unemployed person to resent their job getting sent to some shithole country where they pay someone 10 rice kernels a day, or for that company’s customers to resent being incapable of understanding the poor english skills of the replacement.

  20. Skye D.

    Mar 22nd, 2011

    What’s racist? Saying that companies that outsource their help desks overseas take jobs away from Americans? They do! And that they are often filled with people who are incompetent at their jobs? Some are!

    I worked for a company that did just that, and many of the folks I worked with were laid off because of it. Some *after* being sent overseas to train to replacements. Nice, huh?

    And the complaints from the customers started coming fast and furious as the quality of customer service took a nosedive. After a couple of years this “experiment” was abandoned, and moved from India and Kuala Lumpur back to North America, just not the U.S. Instead they moved it to Costa Rica. But the techs in Costa Rica at least know what they’re doing.

    I provided support for another company that moved part of our team over to agents in Kuala Lumpur. The full contract was back in the U.S. team’s hands within six months.

    Those are facts. Not racism.

  21. K.B.

    Mar 22nd, 2011

    Tech Support running for 5 years. Starting salary averaged 40k. Now through raises it’s 45k. 30 employees. Not even mentioning Medicare, dental, 401k matching, etc. 1,350,000 / yr.

    Now you pack up shop after hiring 30 in Mumbai, India. Your average salary comes in at 18k (estimate). 540,000 /yr. Run in India for a year, save yourself 800,000. Tell India there’s too much public backlash and pack up shop. Move back to the US and hire some out of college grads, averaging 32k. Save 8k/yr * 30. Rinse and repeat every couple years.

    Outsourcing gives a great excuse to remove overpaid employees. Complain about the economy and leave. Come back and show your patriotism. And really…

    Is there anything more American about making as much money as you can?

  22. Skye D.

    Mar 22nd, 2011


    Yup, that’s it in a nutshell.

  23. Lordy

    Mar 22nd, 2011

    Skye is correct about LL outsourcing customer support jobs to an agency that hires contract/work at home workers. They were charged with hiring people to work customer support out of their homes all over the US with the exceptions of a few states. Rate of pay offered was around $10 an hour. I referred a friend who has been unemployed for some time and she informed me the McDonald’s in her area was paying more than that to start.

  24. Skye D.

    Mar 22nd, 2011

    @Lordy – Yup, I applied for the job more out of curiousity…and some hope that there’d be more of a supervisory or 2nd level support position available that paid better. There wasn’t.

  25. Orca Flotta

    Mar 23rd, 2011

    You get what you pay for. Simple as that.

    Some facts: neither India nor Botswana are developing countries. Still, if some employee there earns 10% of what you get paid in USA, they can afford a decent lifestyle of that, incl house, maid, gardener, pool service, 2 cars.

    Off course companies who outsource jobs are assholes. But ppl who are complaining about “foreigners taking our jobs” are wrong as well. Let’s get some things straight:

    First, Indians are no foreigners in India.

    Secondly, they are not taking away your jobs. They are offered jobs in customer support and would be idiots not to grab them.

    Another thing is that, particularly in India, many employees are not only highly educated, but also highly motivated. Can’t say that about the bitches in LL customer support. 90% of them should be fired on the spot.

    So, mind your dialectic, use proper arguments and ultimately sound a lot less like a bunch bumbling nationalist idiots.

  26. Emperor Norton hears a who?

    Mar 23rd, 2011

    This is 2011, not 2001 kids. The days you could get a PhD in Mumbai for $5.00 USD an hour are long over. As Skye was pointing out Linden Lab in sourced to a low cost areas in the US.

  27. Tarheel McCoy

    Mar 23rd, 2011

    Norton’s mostly right.

    Ten years ago there was a great surge to outsource to India because the dollar was strong against the rupee. Tons of Indian companies took out this huge bank loans on the basis of letters of intent from American companies to sign enormous contracts.

    Then two things happened: the American economy tanked, and the rupee strengthened too. Now all of the sudden, there was no possible way for the Indian companies to pay back their loans, and no way for them to break even providing the services they’d agreed to provide. American jobs went to India where they were being done for far less money than they were worth even in India terms.

    Outsourcing has been a colossal failure, and big business in America traded a functional future for a fast profit – basically a grab-the-money-and-run operation. They’re all paying for it now, with businesses failing and having to drop the Indian outsourcing completely because they can’t make it cost effective. And of course the Indian companies are dropping like flies, and the Indian economy is now on the verge of collapse.

  28. Yep

    Mar 23rd, 2011

    I wonder if white people own convience stores in india?

  29. had enough

    Mar 23rd, 2011

    Give American jobs to the toe heads? Fucking idiot.

  30. Kure Zeveer

    Mar 24th, 2011

    hireing a bunch of idians and other is as bad as when hitler hired jews for his army.

  31. bugger bognor

    Mar 25th, 2011

    A CAUTIONARY TALE: All events recorded here are entirely true :

    A guy I know decided to sack his IT team because they were expensive compared to having one IT manager that outsourced the IT work to some friends in india. This is the action he chose and in December 2009 he ended the contracts of his IT staff. In January the new IT team came in and rewired the ethernet cables that ran from the desks to the routers and servers. They configured a new servers costing over $8000. And everything ran smoothly and then the IT manager outsourced the day to day running of the IT and the help desk to India. In July 2010 the indian team phoned the boss of thecompany to say his servers were being attacked from within the building that he was in, one of his staff was hacking the data. They assured him they would find the culprit. Meanwhile in July a fire broke out in the server room from the rewiring that was done by the new IT guys who were a part of the indian company. the damage was over $4000 and the insurance paid for the servers but the loss of business was around $100,000 . In August the IT team was no nearer finding the hackers and the director of the company outsourcing all this was made aware by an honest competitor that he had been approached with offers of a database for sale which appeared to have been stolen the previous week. September came and the IT manager went to india for a month to visit relatives. Then 5 weeks later did not return and 6 weeks later was not answering his phone. In november the director of the company noticed $80,000 was missing from his accounts and the IT support had suddenly stopped.
    That was when he realised he had been setup and that it had all been a scam
    the moral of the story is: I personally would never trust outsourcing to anywhere that the law of your own country cannot reach. The bribery is so rife in the more funky countries that the police often only investigate a crime so they can blackmail the perps into coughing up some money to put bread on the table.
    DONT DO IT LL it would be a bad bad move

  32. Raul Rehnquist

    Mar 28th, 2011

    How about if all US businesses just outsourced all of their positions out to third world countries. Where are the people that live in the USA suppose to work ? If people are not working they don’t have money to keep up the US economy, let alone the SL economy. A lot of US businesses have done this already in the manufacturing sectors. It is one of the reasons why unemployment is so high now in the USA. People are having a hard time finding work that was once plentiful and easily obtained in the USA because of outsourcing. Not to mention the obvious language and cultural differences that makes outsourcing a undesirable solution. That just leaves you with extra bodies manning phones and support tickets. It doesn’t necessarily mean any more resolutions are being accomplished in a proficient manner. It’s a bad idea period.

  33. Harold Nutes

    Jun 12th, 2011

    A very large telecommunications company has been outsourcing for years. The workers supplied when the company was testing the waters were decent. Now that the company has invested in infrastructure (The first building was bought from a high-level mgmt employee of the telecom company in India for $250 million. The employee had purchased the building himself for 1/100th of the cost), the quality of new contractors is terrible. English is no longer required, and many are completely untrained. Blatant examples of falsified resumes are the norm. It’s also common for one individual to “fill in” for an unqualified worked during telephone interviews. Tens of thousands of jobs have gone overseas, and now upper management has pretty much been taken over by non-US citizens. Each year more U.S. jobs are cut. Unfortunately a recent change in upper management has lead to even more egregious examples of corporate greed. In order to avoid the expense of providing severance pay, the company has been trying to force U.S workers to quit by making the work environment increasingly unpleasant. Thousands of individuals who were working from home successfully were told they must drive in to work if they lived 50 miles or less from a major datacenter. Not enough Americans quit, so the policy was changed so that anyone with an assigned office space needed to work from that office. Think about the ecological impact, with thousands more workers driving hundreds of miles each week (ironically, the company has regularly released commercials showing how it’s a “green” company”). Think of the economic impact to those workers. A one-car, two-job family would have to rely on public transportation if it is available, or buy another car. Raises have been very minimal for many years, so the average worker is now about 23% behind the inflation curve. Aside from the initial cost of vehicles, as well as wear and tear, what about the cost of gas? Child care? It all equates to a sudden pay cut of as much as $1500 a month. The additional commuters will also impact the infrastructure. The worst is yet to come. Since the remaining workers are clinging desperately to their jobs, and the company can’t fire them for poor performance (most slackers were weeded out years ago), the company is now planning on making ALL workers, even those who are not within 100 miles of a datacenter, report to work in an office. The choice will be to uproot and move up to 1000 or 2000 miles, or be fired for “job abandonment” even though the workers can, and have been, doing their jobs over the network. This is an yet another case of corporate greed. The company in question is sitting on 13 billion in reserve, yet during a terrible recession is trying to fire well-trained Americans and not provide any separation pay. Unfortunately the new management is also discriminating against older workers, using the excuse of the need for “new blood” to justify terminating them. The consumer is not even benefiting from outsourcing. The cost-savings are used for bonuses and salaries for upper management (salaries and benefits for upper mgmt are approximately 2500 times that of the average worker). Trying to contact customer support is a nightmare of automation menus, followed by hours of miscommunication. Why are the American politicians allowing large companies to send billions of dollars overseas while the companies in question still take advantage of massive tax loopholes? Outsourcing is the most damaging thing to ever happen to this country, and will lead to the downfall of capitalism.

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