First: It's time for Square-Enix to get rid of Gardening -- for the same reason I felt they should've ridded themselves of Salvage almost six months ago.
Reports have been filtering in that, because of what we all suspected (a massive RMT gardening ring), that the Special Task Force has been eliminating even some legitimate gardeners from the game because of their ties to the RMT tree (the RMT PWNER 1.337, anyone??).
I think people at Square-Enix are missing the point: Not unlike Salvage, the cheating of a massive number of characters in this game has rendered the entire game mechanic of Gardening obsolete and, effectively, seizing control of the mechanic for it's own ends.
At that point, at minimum, the mechanic needs to be taken down and "fixed" ("nerfed", if you like). It probably needs to be removed.
Why? Because of the hundreds of thousands of Dispose-a-Characters which have destroyed the game mechanic -- and, apparently, taken a few legitimate players with them.
The fact is simple: You have to, as a player, keep an eye on what they might be looking for and understand that, after a certain level of work, if you continue to work to that level, you might be flagged for review or banning.
And the thing is, they never need an actual reason to ban you. They could toss me tomorrow for no reason -- yes, I'd ask why, but they have no real need to actually have a reason to do it.
Second, Square-Enix, FFXIV, and their customer service
My continued contention is that they want an entirely new audience for FFXIV.
I can come up with two main reasons for this:
1) They don't trust us any further than they could throw a train full of us.
2) They need a much larger audience to actively compete with the likes of World of Warcraft.
Our Dynamis leader and I had a talk last night after our run -- and he noted that many of the players who have played aren't doing so anymore. I think it is clear that not only does Square-Enix consider FFXI dead, they consider the FFXI player-base dead, as well, as far as customer service goes.
And that's why you are seeing an increasing number of players finally just throwing in the towel and leaving. Frankly, I don't think Square-Enix cares that much -- because if it finally gets to the point that FFXI is no longer supportable, they can just drop it and do what I truly believe they have wanted to do for a while now -- devote all their energies to FFXIV, with an entirely new player-base.
Hence, you're hearing a lot of complaints about their customer service. The experiences I and my roommate have had with UPS would bear this out too -- to have good customer service implies you want that person as a customer. This, however, works both ways.
What if Square-Enix does not want the current player-base (especially the North American players)? Has anyone considered this possibility, other than me?
I mean, I think they know the score that the greater number of players cheat their asses off.
And I don't think they like it.
Why would, if I were a company, I want a customer base which only exists to continually undercut my ass??
Think that over a bit.