Can Google Get Past The Big Faceless White Monolith Stage?

from the up-the-customer-service dept

I've discussed in the past that one key area, which I think has been Google's Achilles heel, is its customer service. To most outsiders, Google comes off as something of a big, white monolith. When things go wrong, it's often nearly impossible to reach someone there, or to get any sort of actual contact with a human being, who is trying to help. We've argued in the past that if Google doesn't fix that, it's a huge opportunity for a competitor. I've been told that people inside Google recognize that this is an issue, and that they're really trying to fix that. In fact, one of the things that has really impressed me about Google's latest social networking play, Google+, is that it's actually afforded Google an opportunity to show this in action. A bunch of folks at Google have used Google+ as a way to make the company seem much more human, accessible and responsive. I was pretty amazed that the few times I've mentioned bugs or problems with something in Google+ that often within minutes Google employees responsible for the project would respond and be quite helpful.

However, it looks like Google is definitely still sorting through some problems with this -- and being responsive on Google+ alone won't satisfy those who aren't on Google+... especially if Google has completely locked you out. A guy named Dylan wrote up quite a complaint letter to Google detailing how the company completely shut down his account -- which he used for just about everything -- and then all he could do was face the big, white monolith with every attempt to figure out what happened and get his life back.
On July 15 2011 you turned off my entire Google account. You had absolutely no reason to do this, despite your automated message telling me your system “perceived a violation.” I did not violate any Terms of Service, either Google’s or account specific ToS, and your refusal to provide me with any proof otherwise makes me absolutely certain of this. And I would like to bring to your attention how much damage your carelessness has done.

My Google account was tied to nearly every product Google has developed, meaning that I lost everything in those accounts as well. I was also in the process of consolidating everything into my one Google account. I had actually thought through this a few months ago and determined Google to be a trustworthy, dependable company. So I had imported all of my other email accounts, hotmail, yahoo, etc., into that one gmail account. I had spent roughly four months slowly consolidating my entire online presence, email accounts, banking info, student records, etc., into that one Google account, having determined it to be reliable. That means in terms of information, approximately 7 years of correspondence, over 4,800 photographs and videos, my Google Voice messages, over 500 articles saved to my Google Reader account for scholarship purposes (a side-note: when I closed my original Reader account to consolidate everything in my one reliable account bearing my name I re-saved several hundred of the articles myself, by hand, one by one to this new account. The one you have closed and from which I have now lost all of the articles.) I have lost all of my bookmarks, having used Google bookmarks. I had migrated my bookmarks from computer to computer, a couple hundred of them, for maybe six years and I finally uploaded them all to Google bookmarks, happy to have found a solution to migrating them and happy to be safeguarded from their loss. I have also lost over 200 contacts. Many of which I do not have backups of. I have also lost access to my Docs account with shared documents and backups of inventory files. I have also lost my Calendar access. With this I have lost not only my own personal calendar of doctor’s appointments, meetings, and various other dates, but I have also lost collaborative calendars, of which I was the creator and of which several man hours were put into creating, community calendars that are now lost. None of the calendars were backed up either. I have also lost my saved maps and travel history. I have also lost in my correspondence medical records and a variety of very important notes that were attached to my account. My website, a blogger account for which I purchased the domain through Google and designed myself, has also been disabled and lost. Do you really think I would knowingly do anything to jeopardize that much of my personal and professional information? And I am sure as the days continue I will realize other things that Google has destroyed in their unwarranted disabling of my account. I am only too angry right now to think straight and realize them all. Why anyone would entrust anything to “The Cloud” after what I have gone through is completely beyond my ability to comprehend.
His description of the "help" he got from Google's preferred customer support system, it's forums, seems all too representative of how the company has dealt with customer service in the past:
I’m not upset that Google would put my account on hold if they think it was compromised, but I am absolutely furious that they would disable my account without notice, without giving me a reason, and without giving me any way to re-enable it, and then ignore all of my attempts to speak with someone. No other online service provider behaves this way. I understand that Google can’t offer support for every little thing, but when a company like Google has monopolized sectors of the internet they need to demonstrate some responsibility to their customers when things like this happen. I have exhausted the help forums. And that has only made me much angrier. I will not bother to quote the nonsensical exchanges I have had, there are too many and they will only aggravate me further. The breaking point came when a “Top Contributor” moved my thread from the original help forum in which I posted it, into another forum without my permission. Then a few days, and 34 responses, later, another “Top Contributor” posted that my thread was in the wrong forum and closed the conversation, thus preventing me or anyone else from posting to it or making any more progress. The user forums are not the informative places that Google may think they are. And the only time a Google employee posted in my thread was to say that my question was in the wrong forum, and to tell me that I should have posted in the forum that it was originally posted in. This came after being asked over, and over, and over again the same questions. Here’s an example:

ME: Please help me my account has been disabled and I don’t know why.
USER1: Just log into your dashboard and do [something.]
ME: I can’t, my account has been disabled.
USER2: Hi I just saw your post. Can you log into your account and tell me what [something] says?
ME: NO, I CAN’T LOG INTO MY ACCOUNT.
USER1: OK calm down, can you do [something which required me to log in]?
ME: NO! I CANNOT LOG INTO MY ACCOUNT!!!!

After four days of this I nearly gave up, until another “Top Contributor” stopped by to mention that my thread was in the wrong forum and I should have posted it in another forum, the original forum that I had posted it in. Then the conversation was closed by someone and I gave up, after five days.
Dylan appears to have spent much of the day alerting people to this story on Twitter. And hopefully it's working. I saw that Google VP Vic Gundotra has replied to Dylan saying:
You bet on Google. We owe you better. I'm investigating.
Other Google employees have also said that they're trying to figure out what happened as well. I imagine things will get fixed before long, but it's unfortunate that Dylan had to go through this at all.

But, of course, fixing Dylan's situation and making sure it doesn't happen again are two different things. I am hopeful that Dylan's experience will make more people at Google realize what an issue this is for many people, who rely on the company.

Now, obviously, some will point out that (a) there are ways to back up many of these things (though, perhaps not all) and Dylan did not do so and that (b) many of these services are free (though Dylan has paid for extra storage and some other things via Google). In some ways, just as you were always told to "backup your hard drive" in case it crashed, today you'll have to "back up" your cloud data in case Google or someone else randomly shuts you off.

But I still don't think that's a reasonable excuse. Google has created a ton of excellent and useful products (some of which are world changing), and I'm impressed with how much more responsive and human the company seems to have become via Google+. But it still needs to figure out how to be human when it comes to customer service. I recognize that Google's culture is about being as algorithm-driven as possible (just see this story about its venture investing process), but some things really do need a human touch. I know that plenty of people inside Google realize this, but until that becomes evident in how it handles customer service issues, it still seems like a key weakness for the company.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Marcus Carab (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 8:07pm

    In some ways, just as you were always told to "backup your hard drive" in case it crashed, today you'll have to "back up" your cloud data in case Google or someone else randomly shuts you off.

    I suppose that's the smart thing to do - and this story freaks me out enough to do it. But it's still a damn shame, because really that should be one of the advantages of the cloud: that there is already a well-managed distributed backup system handling your data so you don't have to worry about it.

     

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    Jay (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 8:10pm

    Engineers aren't known for customer service

    Okay, I understand some of the frustration here. I have to say that the situation here shows the problem that Google has always had in the monolith problem.

    They're engineers. They use a lot of logic to come to conclusions that make the most efficient sense. Mathematical programs, learning about aesthetics, statics, dynamics... Those are what Google is good at. Give them a math problem, most of the engineers can solve it.

    The human element is just not their forte. Hell, how many companies actually allow engineers to socialize rather than focus on their careers? If anything, it should show that "social engineering" needs a newer focus. We should change the meaning to figure out how better to communicate what a company offers rather than discussing a Nigerian scam.

     

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    Really?, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 8:13pm

    Someone works at google? ...I just kinda thought it was like skynet.

     

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    SUNWARD (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 8:20pm

    advice

    never, never trust or depend on any other company with your data. Backup everything. And for something this big, he should have had his own web to store data.

    In fact he states:
    "Why anyone would entrust anything to “The Cloud” after what I have gone through is completely beyond my ability to comprehend"

    yes why would anyone?

    Second, for google adwords, there is a 1-800 number. I was on the line yesterday. Standard response stuff.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 8:23pm

    I always thought the lack of customer service was a benefit.

    It encourages them to solve their problems by never letting problems arise, and they don't waste tons of money on what would likely be bad customer service, (since their services are ever expanding and ever changing), or TONS AND TONS of money on passable/good customer service that only a fraction of people would ever see anyways.

    Seriously, I think some companies could completely cut their customer service reps and make more profit that way. . . or spend more money fixing the problems in the first place, which is usually a more permanent solution in the first place.

     

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    Peter, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 8:25pm

    One of these would have helped

    LaCie 2TB External Hard Drive (or any similar solution)
    http://goo.gl/aJN50
    (and I realize the irony of using a Google link shortener...)

    I do sympathize, that's a hard way to learn to always keep a backup. The first thing I stress to my non-techie friends is "ALWAYS keep a backup!", and I often help them set it up.
    I despair over whether they actually use it afterwards though.
    Usually the horse has already bolted when people realize its importance.
    Support forums abound with 'helpful' advice to those who have lost their data e.g. "That's ok, just reinstall your OS, then restore from your backup. You do have a backup, right...?"

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 8:27pm

    I'm experiencing this first hand. My Adsense account was terminated last month for a "copyright violation".

    When I emailed google to inquire about it and explained that it was a false positive the reply I received from a human might as well been from a bot, "since your account was used for copyright enfringement your domain is no longer eligable".

    They didn't address anything in my response, or explain how or why they came to this conclusion.

    This is after 5 years and hundreds of thousands of dollars earned. It has made myself and partners reconsider using Adsense on our future site launches because of these inexplicable situations. We will almost certainly be going with competitors, who before shutting off accounts earning 6 figures a year will actually investigate the issue and provide real life customer service. It's truly jaw dropping what they've put us through.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 8:36pm

    Re:

    If you would like to discuss this issue with our automated system, please press one now.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 8:39pm

    Re: It'll be tough being seen as nice when they're doing these:

    I don't really see how dodging taxes is indicative of how they might treat (or mistreat) their end users. The rest of that stuff has made it hard to see them as 'doing no evil' though.

     

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    Atkray (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 9:32pm

    Re:

    My son (fresh out of high school) started playing with his video camera and made a pretty cool video. He put it on YouTube so his friends could see it. Google contacted him about advertising/Adsense and he said ok. So 2 weeks later they terminated his account for irregular activity and deny his appeal. This is where I was informed of the whole situation. My attempts to get any kind of response have failed.

    I am now very cautious about relying on Google for anything.

     

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    Nicedoggy, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 9:36pm

    This is not only a Google problem this is a problem inherent to anything that gets big, no big company in the world have the resources to assist every person that has a problem.

    With that said, could they do better? yes they could. They need to find a way to distribute the load, crowdsouring it and redesign some features there to be more informative and descriptive of what happened there.
    Will they do it? I don't think they can.

    And this will keep happening if for no other reason just because babies keep being born every day, millions of them every day that means millions of people who had no experience with other things and will have to learn the same lessons others learned a long time ago.

    There is also a cultural problem with the IT crowd. IT people tend to put the blame on the users, like using weak passwords and not in the system, if something is not being used to do the thing it is suppose to do, that is a design flaw that encourages bad behavior is not the users that need to be "educated" is the system that needs to be re-imagined to encourage people to take the right decisions.

    For example Google knows not many people do a backup, so why is there no option for people just to retrieve data from the servers in case of cancellation of an account? your account would still be inoperable but you at least should have the option to import all your data back to your computer so you don't loose everything.

    Many people don't mind loosing an account, they mind about the data inside that account.

    There are problems though that can't be solved with a backup, there is no way to backup adsense earnings is there?
    Or if you loose all the traffic from that Youtube channel that was giving you some money you would be helpless. For those instances Google should have a way for identifying those people who if they have problems will need human interaction to do it, maybe grading those accounts like they do with search.

     

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    deb, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 9:42pm

    Similiar

    I had a similar problem. Several. My account was hacked and it took me weeks to get it back. Meantime the hacker, got into all my private docs, blogger, emails, everything and Google did nothing. There was NO one to call. No customer service.

    Now, with all the changes, I'm back to major issues with no help. They merged Blogger with their app product, and the entire thing was so complex and, due to this, I lost PAID domains. One is still "Parked."

    What really makes me mad, is after years and years of being with Google, they aren't even giving me an invite to join Goggle+

    If any company takes money, which Google does in their check out, they should have live CS support.

     

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    Casey Bouch (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 9:43pm

    "No other online service provider behaves this way"

    Facebook behaves this way, but instead of possibly providing support they tell you:

    1) Your account has been disabled for a ToS violation
    2) They will not tell you how you violated the ToS
    3) There is no appeal process

     

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    Manabi (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 9:49pm

    Re: It'll be tough being seen as nice when they're doing these:

    Pretty much all of those links are trumping things to up to sound worse than they are. The Register article in particular, you can still create a Gmail account with a pseudonym, and use that with YouTube, but if your account's disabled you'll have difficulty getting it re-enabled if you used a pseudonym. And it's hard to see how Google could deal with that much better, after all, how do you prove you're really the pseudonym so that Google knows they're re-enabling the account and handing it back to the correct owner or not? If they screwed up and gave it to the wrong person, people would be screaming about how Google was evil for doing that. It's kinda a no-win situation. But trying to claim that Google's killing off pseudonym usage for all its products is untrue, it's only Google+ that they're currently enforcing a real name policy. As Google+ gets bigger that'll have to stop, when you have millions and millions of accounts it's no longer possible to tell who's real and who isn't. Facebook already has tons of accounts based on pseudonyms despite their real name only policy. And I'm pretty sure the problem with getting pseudonym based Google accounts re-enabled has always existed, due to the inability to really prove your're the owner. It's one of the risks you take for anonymity.

    As for the others, the ad in question they banned for being too violent. Doesn't really matter what the ad's for if it violated Google's TOS, any ad network would do the same thing. I haven't seen the ad, but given the nature of the book, it's quite likely it had some horrific imagery on it. If so, I can't say as I blame Google for removing it, and I'm betting it came to their attention because people complained about it.

    Then you have yet another article about the (really old at this point) accidental gathering of Wi-Fi data by Google's street view cars. Something that was an accident that the company owned up to and fixed. That's not evil, that's being human, people make mistakes. Evil would be not owning up to the problem, trying to hide it, and continuing to do it.

    And finally, evading taxes legally is pretty much required by any public trading corporation, they're likely to get sued by shareholders if they don't because it would lower profits. While unpleasant, it's not particularly evil so you're going to have to try harder there.

    Google may or may not be evil, but the stuff you're linking to doesn't prove evilness and is mostly sensationalist articles.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 9:55pm

    and I am to feel sorry for this guy?? he consolidates everything, to something he doesn't control??, and admits he doesn't back up, keep copies, why do you not have copies/back ups/etc...????, its your information, maintain control, of at least copies

    his own fault

     

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    Manabi (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 9:56pm

    Re:

    Facebook also has a tendency to not react even when widespread public outrage and attention is drawn to a particular issue. Or they'll wait till it completely explodes and even congress is starting to investigate them (see privacy issues). Google still has ethics, Facebook never did.

     

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    JM, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 9:58pm

    And I was about to go all in...

    I've been on the fence for the last couple of months about doing exactly this, going all Google. But after hearing about this issue, I think I'll just have to keep multiple accounts, even if it can be tedious at times. I certainly hope someone at Google is reading this! And making SERIOUS efforts to fix this type of problem. I see it making a lot of people think twice about trusting Google. I know I will not be advocating for "going Google" as much as I have been.

     

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    ervserver (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 10:07pm

    customer service

    I think in the end it will come down to customer service as to show the clear winner in social networking is. For now Google, twitter, Facebook all have crappy customer service, at least in my world.

     

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    DigitalMaestro (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 10:18pm

    Re: One of these would have helped

    I've been thinking about how to backup my Google Account for a while now. Do you know of a simple way to do this without manually copying and pasting each individual item?

    -DM

     

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    Peter, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 10:41pm

    Re: Re: One of these would have helped

    Sorry, I'm not sure. Do you mean things like photo albums etc. as well as email?
    I use Google POP email service. Even though they have IMAP, I like to download all my email to my PC, and POP is adequate for that. I'm sure you can also download IMAP email data and store it locally. You can do that with your existing accounts with whatever mail client you use and it should grab everything from Gmail. It may take a while if you have several years' worth of email to download.
    Once it's on my PC, it gets backed up to an external drive at regular intervals - I just use Windows Backup.
    Any photo albums etc. are already on my PC so that is moot.
    If you have a blog, at least save local copies of new entries if it's that important.
    As for business-related stuff, I suppose you are at their mercy if they cancel your account. But a backup would still be helpful if you got it back or had to recreate it elsewhere online.
    HTH

     

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    Peter, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 10:45pm

    Re: Re: One of these would have helped

    p.s. Or you could google it :)

     

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    Keith, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 10:49pm

    very informative.

    I, like Dylan, am relying on Googleprodjcts. I am impressed with their services nd products, and had no idea that a shut down of my account could even happen. This is a nit alarming to me. Although a rare case, it certainly sheds light on a real problem with Google.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 11:00pm

    Backup Disasters

    This story fits in the category System Administration > Backup Disasters. Never rely on any equipment not owned by you to keep your backup data. You have to assume that nobody else is trustworthy. With the government interfering more and more in the internet, anything to do with the internet can be taken from you at any time with no notice, no explanation, and no recourse.

    First, power is exercised. Much later, after many abuses, responsibility is taken. Much, much later than that, is due process put in place.

     

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    dcee (profile), Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 2:07am

    Re:

    "I always thought the lack of customer service was a benefit."

    That just doesn't make sense...

     

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    Lawrence D’Oliveiro, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 3:38am

    Re: If you would like to discuss this issue with our automated system, please press one now.

    I’m pressing as hard as I can on your automated system, but it’s still not responding. Should I press harder?

    In fact, I think it’s stopped breathing.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 4:10am

    And this is why trusting "the cloud" is insanely stupid

    NEVER trust your data to anyone else. Keep it on your personal hardware, encrypted, backup up, replicated, stored on-site/off-site.

    It's not hard or expensive. I have more data than any of you, and a slowly-acquired stack of USB drives, plus TrueCrypt, plus open-source software, suffices. It DOES require diligence and a little bit of work -- but I will never lose data (or have it disclosed) because a third party failed me. If it does happen, it'll be MY fault.

     

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    Nick Taylor, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 4:23am

    The Cloud = Mainframe

    With all the attendant flaws of the mainframe-model

    The whole point of the internet is to get away from single points of failure.

    It's weird - a system of deliberately distributed nodes has these massive silos of centralisation evolve... and people get all fucked up and aggrieved when things go wrong.

     

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    techflaws.org (profile), Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 4:45am

    My God—it's full of stars!

    Oops, scratch that. That was the black monolith.

     

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    reboog711 (profile), Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 4:52am

    Re: And this is why trusting "the cloud" is insanely stupid

    You're trusting your backups to USB Drives? I hope you mean Hard Drives, and not those sticks..

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 5:31am

    Re: Re: And this is why trusting "the cloud" is insanely stupid

    Yes, *drives*, not *sticks*.

     

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    ASTROBOI, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 5:51am

    They are all alike.

    The current complaining about Google sounds like a replay of the situation with ebay, the auction site, several years ago. Everybody liked it and made money or found cheap stuff to buy. Then they went public and the emphasis went from making a profit to inflating the value of the stock. Their new CEO decided that the way to do that was to completely junk the old business model and copy Amazon. In the process many formerly loyal and happy members found themselves kicked off with no explanation, no one to answer why this happened and no appeal. But we know why; their new business model said it was better to lose some perfectly good customers than to continue as they had in the past. The company would make more money even though a lot of people would no longer trust them. All the big internet companies share similar characteristics. Once they install human negotiators costs go out of control. Its cheaper to please only the easy customers and admit that there will be unfair decisions. Does it work? Well, ebay isn't doing so hot right now. Of course, nobody is. But they were assumed to be the one outfit that would do well in a business downturn. My guess is that treating a large group of vocal customers like shite is not a good strategy. Maybe thats because I was one of those who was treated in that way. As an individual, I'd never trust a company that can't be held responsible and can't be contacted. But today, thats just about any big company. You can bet Google isn't closing any accounts for Fortune 500 companies. Neither is ebay.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 5:54am

    Re: And this is why trusting "the cloud" is insanely stupid

    "If it does happen, it'll be MY fault."

    I think this is one of the main reasons why "the cloud" is taking off. Suddenly, you don't have to be responsible for your data or make backups. "Someone else" is. When stuff goes 'Kaput', you can blame "someone" (not you!) and "someone" is going to have to fix it.

    But the thing is, the cloud providers don't give a damn about your data. You are just an account. If the servers go down or your data is lost, they'll just give you the standard "it won't happen again" answer and pocket your money. If they do lose you, good for them, they free up some disk space, and there will always be another sucker to fill it up, until the "cloud bubble" pops.

    Long story short: if you want data to be secure, do it yourself and, for the love of all that is holy, MAKE BACKUPS.

     

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    chug, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 6:03am

    Google also screws merchants who use G Checkout

    We no longer accept Google Checkout in our online store because they locked our account and made it impossible to reach anyone for assistance. Keep in mind, this is not a free account, they charge for it.

    We are re-examining our use of all Google products, including AdSense and Apps (we are a paying customer).

    It is impossible to get any kind of real response from Google. Google may not be "evil" but they are a terrible vendor with the worst customer service of any company we have dealt with in 12-plus years.

    Google just doesn't "get it".

    Sell your GOOG stock now.

     

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    Rekrul, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 6:38am

    I was pretty amazed that the few times I've mentioned bugs or problems with something in Google+ that often within minutes Google employees responsible for the project would respond and be quite helpful.

    That's only because it's new and they need people to start using it. Give it a couple years and they'll be just as unresponsive to problems there as they are with every other service they provide.

    "My Google account was tied to nearly every product Google has developed, meaning that I lost everything in those accounts as well."

    Gee, who would have ever thought that entrusting your data to a giant corporation could turn out so badly? Especially as "the cloud" is touted as being better than using local storage and backup.

    "I’m not upset that Google would put my account on hold if they think it was compromised, but I am absolutely furious that they would disable my account without notice, without giving me a reason, and without giving me any way to re-enable it, and then ignore all of my attempts to speak with someone. No other online service provider behaves this way."

    This is exactly how the IMDb behaves. Instant account banning, no explanation, no proof, no appeal and although you can contact a live person, they will refuse point-blank to tell you anything. They won't even respond to the Seattle Attorney General's office when you file a consumer complaint against them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    ASTROBOI, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 7:56am

    Re: Google also screws merchants who use G Checkout

    You use Google checkout until they stiff you and then you stop using it. Then you use Paypal until they stiff you and then you stop that as well. Eventually you are faced with the obvious; credit cards, for all their problems, are our best method of doing business. They are better than money orders, checks and cash. Thats why they have been around so long despite the banks paying so many dirty tricks on the users. The online systems work because they are unregulated, cheap, high profit operations. They will cheerfully sacrifice customers to stay profitable. And they are fragile. Which is why bitcoin is about dead and why ebay tells its customers that they will use Paypal or they won't be allowed to play.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 8:13am

    Re: Re: If you would like to discuss this issue with our automated system, please press one now.

    Press zero to speak with an automated bot.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 8:19am

    Re: Re: If you would like to discuss this issue with our automated system, please press one now.

    All of our automated bots are currently serving other customers. Your call is very important to us, please stay on the line, and we will respond to your call in the order it was received.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    S, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 8:35am

    Ha ha ha

    The writing was on the wall in 2004: SEVEN YEARS AGO, it was obvious that Google was indeed doing to 'do evil'.

    But you stupid children chose to stick your fingers in your ears, going 'la la la', instead of paying attention; you chose to remember the "good old days" of Google being some Stanford student experiment instead of seeing the casual way they were beginning to steamroll the average user, when convenient.

    When there began to be a Google Everything(tm), this should have worried you; you should have remembered this and wondered when, not if, Google would become the next IBM, err, Microsoft, err, Apple, I mean . . . wait.

    You idiots always fall for this. How pathetic.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 9:16am

    Re: Re: Re: If you would like to discuss this issue with our automated system, please press one now.

    (or an automated representative).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    btr1701, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 11:04am

    Re: Re: It'll be tough being seen as nice when they're doing these:

    > And finally, evading taxes legally is pretty
    > much required by any public trading corporation

    Indeed, it's not even tax evasion when it's legal. That's called tax avoidance and there's nothing wrong with it. If the law says you only have to pay $X if you meet Y criteria, and the company meets those criteria, they're hardly guilty of tax evasion for taking advantage of the breaks the law allows.

    It's no different than an individual claiming a credit for mortgage interest. If you do that are a tax evader? No, of course not. You're doing what the law allows you to do.

    If the law is so screwed up that a company like GE ends up paying no taxes at all in a given year, that's not GE's fault. That's the fault of Congress, which wrote the law in the first place.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    icon
    Grae (profile), Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 11:35am

    Re:

    and I am to feel sorry for this guy?? [....]

    Nope.

    Feeling sympathy for the guy is not the point. Learning/thinking about/discussing/etc that Google provides no way to contact a human being when there's an issue with your Google account is.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    icon
    DigitalMaestro (profile), Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 11:49am

    Re: Re: One of these would have helped

    If you have Google Plus, the Data Liberation tool lets you export most of the items concerned. I believe Docs has a sync feature that I'll be looking into as well.
    -DM

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    icon
    Grae (profile), Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 12:01pm

    Re: And this is why trusting "the cloud" is insanely stupid

    [....]

    It's not hard or expensive. I have more data than any of you, [....]

    To your first point: excuse me if I balk at that statement. What's "not hard" to you (computer literate) is going to be the ninth circle of hell to an average computer user. Stamping your foot and saying "I can do it! What's your problem? It's not that hard!" is basically refusing to acknowledge reality or just showing a general disrespect for the the fact that not every intelligent human being has a solid knowledge of computing.

    Saying it's not expensive is also really dubious without context. What's your income? Do you have others who live with you and share costs? Do you have members of your household you have to support such as children or disabled family members? What's your general cost of living? These things all factor pretty heavily into the question of whether or not something is "expensive". Personally I would agree with the statement that data storage hardware is pretty cheap these days. If I had several kids and made less money than I do now I would not agree with that statement.

    As far as "I have more data than any of you" - really? You really got the cojones to make that statement out on the Internet? At least back it up with a number. This only adds your image as an elitist technophile who disregards the value or opinions of anyone with less computer knowledge than themselves.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    icon
    Gene Cavanaugh (profile), Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 1:59pm

    Google customer care

    RIGHT ON! I am a former customer of Gizmo, which was integrated into Google. I also had a Google Voice number, which I had connected to my cell phone.
    Gizmo disappeared, and with it, my Gizmo number, but then Google allowed us to migrate our Google Voice number to a SIP phone (which I was using for Gizmo).
    Worked fine for a few days, but now calling my GV number puts into my GV account; NOT what I want, and not what it did originally; and I have no one to talk to!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 4:32pm

    That's why I never keep any of my data on a machine that I do not have full personal control of.

    Welcome to 1984.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Ex-Plus, Jul 23rd, 2011 @ 1:37am

    #plusgate, #googlegate

    If you want to know just how much commotion is going on about this on Twitter, search those hashtags.

    Many people have been being "suspended" or locked out of Google+ because "their name is suspicious." People like William Shatner, Alyssa Milano (who filled in all their "real life" data) and at least three dozen other well-known celebs, as well as hundreds of people with "unusual" names - names straight out of the phonebook, with pictures, supporting data and everything else Google says "they need." Google has maintained that "you can use the name you are known best by in real life" and yet many high-profile blog writers with well-known pseudonyms have been suspended.

    In many cases, those people were paying customers of Google's AdSense and other business programs... which means Google already had confirming data on them; after all, Google was taking money from them, in some cases for years...

    No warning is made; accounts are simply :suspended." Often the first indication of a problem is being locked out of your account and every service of Google's. "There has been a violation of our TOS" yet nothing is said to indicate what violation occurred.

    This issue is exploding as people get locked out of accounts, email, calendar, You Tube, blogs... in some cases, even faxing a copy of a state document (driver's license, ID) or a live "callback" number ala Craigslist is "not acceptable" to Google and leaves the user in a situation where they are plain out of luck.

    Google is also being confusing in its statements regarding this tornado - a Google statement reads, in part, "it's ok to use a pseudonym" and then is quickly followed by another Googlite advising, "you can use a pseudo but try to make it look like a 'normal' name(ie, lie about it and trust Google will be ok with that?)" This in the face of suspending perfectly ordinary real, normal, legal names; names which people are attempting to back up with official govt. documents, only to be told "it looks like a fake name."

    Large groups of particularly techno-savvy people have been abandoning Google + in the last week over this issue and teaching others how to back up and export their data from Google's apps, how to use tools that are local and not cloud-based for these functions and educating them on why we all prayed to get out from under the thumb of client/server models in the first place.

    The early, invite-only people are, for the most part, among the early adopters & evangelists for the mainstream people; we advise what's cool, what's good, what to go for... and Google has made a monstrous mistake with this behaviour.

    You can Google "plusgate", "Googlegate" or a dozen other terms if you want to watch this crapstorm in action. You can also find hundreds of people who have abandoned Google+ after about a week of this nonsense... including me.

    And of course, as a tech for many years, most nontech users ask me my opinion about this "cool new service" and I let them know exactly what my opinion is of this "antisocial media" experiment.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    identicon
    TDR, Jul 23rd, 2011 @ 11:41am

    And this is why companies should not be allowed to grow into Google and Microsoft-size behemoths. First, they should be stripped of the rights of personhood (and a person should be explicitly redefined in the law as a being of flesh and blood only).

    Second, an upper limit should be put in place to restrain how large companies can be, perhaps no larger than the regional or state level. Once that size is exceeded, the company should automatically be split into multiple non-profit sharing companies, and any companies already larger than the limit should also be split.

    Third, the concept of limited liability should be abolished and top level executives held personally responsible for any company mismanagement and offenses associated with the company.

    Fourth, lobbying should be outlawed for the bribery it is and corporate campaign donations forbidden. Business and state must be separated, forcibly if need be, if our society is to survive.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2011 @ 9:08am

    Google takes these criticisms in stride.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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