Can somebody define “limited edition”?

I own several limited edition items in Second Life. In a few cases, this means the creator of the item in question promised that only a certain number of copies would be made. In most cases, it means the creator promised that the item would be available for sale only during a certain period of time. These items are usually sold for more than usual, which is only fair; you’re paying for the scarcity.

Back in the winter of 2006, Moopf Murray announced a special event. Moopf makes Skoopf skates, and if you’ve ever hung out with me, you’ve probably heard me say that the L$85 Skoopf double-pack is the single best deal in all of Second Life. I adore my Skoopfs.

As Moopf disputes my interpretation of what he said, I am going to reprint the notecard with the 2006 announcement in full, without retouching the broken apostrophes. Judge for yourself:

Make a note of Saturday 11th November 2006! Starting that day, and for another seven Saturdays after, a new pair of limited edition Skoopf Icicles will be released! Each pair will feature a new skate design, a new HUD design and each pair will have its own special new feature. Each new limited edition pair will only be available in-world through the Skoopf vending machines and theyll be priced at L$150 a pair. And, in case youre wondering, each pair will only be available for seven days!

Anybody who purchases six different limited edition pairs will also recieve an extra special extra pair – the Skoopf Icicle Vipers – which, amongst other things, will also include some new animations (the Vipers will be available on or before the 27th January 2007.)

And, as if that wasnt enough, youll also get a credit entitling you to a free pair of the exciting next generation in the Skoopf range, to be released around the 2nd quater 2007.

If you have any questions, please feel free to IM me!

Keep on skating!

Moopf Murray

Stop for a moment. Having read the above, do you think he was advertising a one-time deal?

Possibly it’s just me, but I don’t see anything in that sales pitch that allows for the possibility of selling the skates again at a later date. Each pair of skates was a limited edition that would only be available for seven days. Those are his words, not mine. If he’d said, for instance, “they’ll be available for seven days, after which you’ll have to wait until next winter,” I wouldn’t be writing an irritated blog post right now. (I also might not have bought the complete set.)

Should you want corrobration of the wording, see his comment on Second Life Insider from the time. “It’s actually 8 limited edition pairs that will be released, each one only available for 7 days starting Saturday 11th November.” I would link to his own blog, but he’s taken it down in the years since. And they certainly seemed to take it as meaning that it would be the only chance.

As you might gather, the skates are back up for sale, through the end of January.

This is actually their second encore. They showed up last winter, and while I wasn’t entirely happy about it, I didn’t think complaining would accomplish anything. I now regret that decision, and I don’t intend to make it again. I also took some slight cold comfort in the fact that he at least didn’t rerelease the Vipers. To quote his notecard about those: “You’ve been sent this notecard because you purchased 6 or more pairs of the Skoopf Icicles Limited Edition skates which means you’ve qualified for the extra special pair, the Skoopf Vipers! You’re one of only around 200 people who qualified and nobody else will ever get a pair!” (emphasis added). This year, he’s put them up for sale.

Since becoming aware of this, I’ve IMed Moopf. My feeling is that this is a breach of our agreement at the time of sale, and that he needs to stop selling the skates. (He’s quite welcome to create new skates to meet the demand, of course.) He disagreed with me on four grounds:

1. The skates were penny-ante items, only “fifty cents” the first time around, so this doesn’t matter.
I don’t agree. The principle is the same whether we’re talking about a L$2500 gown or a L$150 pair of skates. Either a designer is true to his word or not. And it’s worth keeping in mind that Moopf’s business model is built around penny-ante items… he’s made a fortune on L$1 bubble gum, and even L$150 is three times the price of his usual ice skates. I bought all eight, and I was joined by others on skating rinks across the grid. Moopf is the last person I’d expect to sell short the value of small transactions.

2. As the skates are no-trans and can’t be resold, additional sales don’t hurt me.
I don’t think most people buy limited-edition items as an investment; we buy them because we like having something rare. That is frankly half the point of limited edition items. I had the happy expectation that if I wore my steampunk Steamers to a skating party, that either I would be the only one there with them, or I’d be able to trade knowing conversation with another old-timer who’d picked them up way back when. This expectation has been dashed.

3. He never said they wouldn’t return.
This appears to be the crux of the matter. Mr. Murray’s contention is that “limited edition,” in the context of Second Life items, does not actually imply any limits. He contends that “each pair will only be available for seven days” would naturally be understood to mean that there would be a seven-day window of opportunity for that season, but that of course they’d be back at a later date. (When I asked about “nobody else will ever get a pair,” he repeated point 1 and suggested I get over it.) He claims that I am alone in having read his initial advertisement as I did. Which brings us to the final point:

4. Nobody else has complained. If others are upset about this, I should provide some sort of proof, because it’s the first he’s hearing of it.
This is where you guys come in. You’ve read the notecard. Did you understand it as meaning that the skates were being released for a few days, and might return at a later date? Tell me. Or did you take it as meaning that this was a one-time offer, buy now or never? Tell him.

This is not just a matter of a few skates. The issue here is whether designers and manufacturers ought to be bound by their word, and whether that word is what they say, rather than what they might have meant to say. Moopf believes that nobody is hurt when limited edition items are put up for sale again, that indeed the whole concept of “limited edition” doesn’t really apply in Second Life. He believes that even when he flat-out said that “nobody else will get a pair,” that can be disregarded without the slightest pang, because nobody will care. Do you own any limited edition items, and do you agree? Tell me. Tell him.

He’s asked me to prove that this is an issue, and specified that he would need to hear other people complaining. The ball’s in your court. His name is Moopf Murray for in-world IMs, and there’s an e-mail link on his site. (Mine is Tell us.


3 Responses to “Can somebody define “limited edition”?”

  1. Fogwoman Gray Says:

    Hmmm, seems pretty cut and dried to me. He lied. Period. Trying to justify the lie does not ameliorate the lie. I personally make a point not to enter into business arrangements with people who are dishonest, both for ethical and sound business reasons. And if he would cheat you for fifty cents, seems probable he would be willing to cheat you for more than that….

  2. Bamika Easterman Says:

    Couldn’t he have had the decency to at least…. retexture them or something? *doe eyes*

  3. Ruby Garnet Says:

    According to Wikipedia, a Limited Edition is defined as follows: “A limited edition is restricted in the number of copies produced, although in fact the number may be very high.” The inherent problem lies in making sure at the beginning of what the number will be; some designers will say, others will sell something indefinitely as a “Limited Edition” and just charge more. This truly hurts the concept of something being restricted; if the seller implied that the item would only be sold during a specific period of time, that implies that the item would not be sold again at the same period of time the following year. You definitely have a case, but in this situation, the cost of filing it would cost a great deal more than ordering custom skates from a reputable maker in which you could secure an agreement to not sell those ever to anyone else.

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