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Google – Cavia Emptor – Bad Customer Service

03 October 2008

Google Services – Cavia Emptor

It never seizes to amaze me how true customer service is Non-Existent in today’s society. You see it in every department store, food service establishment and forgive me, but I haven’t found a government office that knows or cares what servicing their customer’s means.

It is partially all of our faults in that North Americans are so involved in themselves and their lives that we demand everything now. We have no patience and if the answer isn’t YES or OK to exactly what we expect all the time, we don’t discuss it rationally; we get angry and throw fits. We yell, rant and rave and the person receiving our tantrum is only doing what they were told to do by someone in management that has been so far removed from servicing their customers that they’ve forgotten what it is. So, yes, we have more to do with why customer service has become dirty words.

I understand this and while I’ve never proscribed to the theory that “The Customer is Always Right”, I have a strict since of right and wrong and when customer service is bad, it infuriates me. Phone support and customer service becomes even harsher because people can’t read body language and most behave better when faced with the person as apposed to a faceless persona non-grotta.

What I just experienced with Google is the antithesis of good customer service. You would think that such a prominent company would strive for exceptional client service, but what I experienced is so bad that I had to write about it and warm the blogging community not to fall into the same trap I ran into. My blogs have been growing and I have a friend working on a new web site, but because of the increasing numbers, I decided to use Google Adwords to place advertisements on my current sites. The focus was to generate some funds that might mitigate the cost for the new site. I’ve always had a Gmail account, so I logged in and quickly discovered that my years in the IT industry meant nothing because I didn’t know you needed a degree in advertising to setup Google Adwords. I went through the configuration or so I thought and immediately received numerous error messages. I worked on it for several hours, but the error messages meant nothing to me, but in typical geek fashion, they were specific to advertising. The average person like me had no clue what they messages meant or how to correct them. The technical issues also made little sense either given that I gave all of the appropriate information, but Google didn’t like my information. The messages couldn’t explain why they didn’t like my information and because they refused to give a support phone number, I couldn’t explain why my answers were what they were and why I didn’t want to do what they demanded in their menu screens.

I was frustrated and tired so I started looking for a phone number to call for support, but (and I should have known from this point that things would never work out for the positive and I should have given up right then and there), but Google doesn’t publish any support phone numbers. Much later I was told by numerous people at Google that they cannot support people via phone because of the number of people calling in would be too high. Now I know my answer is common since, but make your product and services good enough to warrant not needing support and therefore it cuts down on the number of people who require it. The other aspect is to treat your customers with respect to meet their needs the way they need them met – - but that would be called CUSTOMER SUPPORT! I know that flies above the heads of the Google Executives who are making decisions to not have phone support, to not allow their support people to call clients (as I was denied calls too many times to count). The only way for you to gain support is to email them. Google also doesn’t want you to have a copy of your email, which is why companies place the fill in the blank form as email. If you fill in the blanks, you can’t keep a copy of the message that shows their incompetence in responding to their customers. My first email for support didn’t get a response for over two weeks and even though I requested a phone call and that they email my home email account instead of the Gmail account that I never check, but after waiting two weeks for a reply, they refused to call and sent the reply to the Gmail account I never look at.

It was like they were purposely doing everything to screw up the support issue and in the mean time; they charged my credit card $5.95 as an initiation charge when all of this was being done in June/July. Now, I never corrected the errors, but three months after the support nightmare, I see another charge on my credit card from Google Adwords for $5.10. I’ve been told by two different support people that the charges are for clicks on Ads and the initial non-refundable charges. When I was first told it was for clicks through Ads, I question vehemently how I could receive charges from a site that had errors and did not work. I never saw ads on my blog sites and I’m on the sites every day as both Administrator and Reader so that I know what the site looks like from the perspective of the reader. I never received answers to my questions (via email because Google Support refuses phone support), but the next message I received then said the $5.10 was for a setup fee. I thought that was what the $5.95 was for back in July, but they tell me they have no record that my credit card was ever charged $5.95 back in July. They keep asking for dates, times and reference numbers for all charges, even after I’ve been told that the charges will remain and are non refundable. In other words, charge me, charge me again three months later and claim no record of the initial charges. I found out in researching this problem with the credit card company that there were two different account numbers. I never went back into Adwords after I found out what the error messages actually meant because of the difficulty in receiving support. The account number was changed at some point over the three months, so that explained to me how they can justify charging me for two different initiation fees.

Nothing about this support issue is good. Google claims they can’t provide phone support because the numbers are too high. That speaks volumes in how Google management views their customer base. We want you using our products and services, but we don’t care about supporting your needs. Even when I found a support phone number for Google (866-246-6453 or 650-253-0000), but the young lady who answered the call only wanted off the phone as quickly as possible. The longer I was on the phone, the angrier I became because it was obvious that while she kept saying I want to help you, she refused twelve requests for a Supervisor, she refused to say anything about my claims, she refused to get me anyone else saying she would have someone call me back. But at that point and time, how could I expect anyone to call me back when Google Support takes two weeks to respond to emails. I will say that I received one return call and the briefest message I’ve ever heard telling me she was sending an email and to read it. The email originally went to my Gmail account also even though everything I’ve sent them requested that all emails go to my personal email account, but that I prefer speaking with a live person and my phone number. The lady who called me back (Marti) refused to give me a Supervisor or anyone in management and after multiple emails telling them I expect a refund, all she kept saying was that the charges are non refundable and that it says so in the Agreement that I accepted.

Everything Google is doing is borderline FRAUD. By not delivering anything while they charged me for services that were never received. They hide all of the charges as non refundable and because you give them your credit card (the only way you can receive services from Google is to give the credit card up front), you’ve authorize them to charge you for services you never receive. While the Attorney General’s office says their actions are highly questionable and they’ve received many complaints from others about Google and their charges for services, when you click on the Agreement of Service, they hide their ability to screw you over within those statements you must answer YES too. They hide behind it Agreements and bad Customer Service and for every person like me, they bank millions and never deliver a service. There is nothing legally that can be done even though I never received the services or support I purchased.

Wow, what a great way to rape and steal from people. Promise to deliver services, but never deliver them. Don’t allow support and hide it all within the Agreement you must click YES to move forward. We are use to these agreements and I don’t know anyone that ever reads them, but now you have a reason too! Google once held a place of great respect with me, but after this horrendous ordeal, I will use anything but Google for everything on the web. A company that thinks so little of its customers like Google does, they don’t deserve my support. In fact, they have earned this SLAM and I hope others will learn from my mistakes before they find themselves in the BLACKHOLE called GOOGLE!

Your humble servant – Todd M Dobson

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