Google Customer Service?

My customer service experience with Google rivals my experience with Verizon Wireless for winner of the “worst customer support possible” award. Verizon Wireless would not let me pay them more money for a service with more minutes without forcing me into a contract. After many phone calls I finally got the privilege of spending more money with them. I was able to wrangle some choice quotes from the Verizon Wireless customer service representative such as “marketing doesn’t talk to customers.” Apparently at Google, customer service doesn’t talk to customers.

Let me start at the beginning (since that’s usually a good place to start). We decided to use Google Checkout and Google Checkout Shopping cart for one of our client’s projects. The reason was that they needed it done quickly, they were only selling a handful of products, and a full shopping cart seemed like overkill. One of the products they were offering was a donation on behalf of a non-profit.

Three days ago our client got an email from Google Checkout support indicating that soliciting donations is against their policies unless you are a non-profit. Google indicated that they had removed the Checkout badges from our client’s AdWords ads but did not say anything about suspending their account. We immediately removed the donation item so as to reinstate the Checkout badges and not risk having the client’s account suspended. At this time we verified that the the Google Checkout account was still working and had not been suspended.

Yesterday I sent an email to Google Checkout support asking if there was any way our client could collect these donations on behalf of a non-profit. I clearly indicated that we had already removed the offending item from the website. This morning I received a response that did not answer my questions, but instead said “We were unable to verify your organization’s tax exempt status. As a result, your Google Checkout account has been suspended.”

Our client never claimed to be a non-profit. We immediately removed the donation item in order to comply with Google Checkout policies once this issue was brought to our attention. Only after we had removed the donation item was our client’s account suspended.

I immediately emailed back to support explaining everything above and asking them to reinstate the account. This is a micro-site for a nationally known brand and is part of a larger campaign. Not being able to accept orders is a big problem. In the last eight hours I have sent seventeen emails to support and have yet to receive a response. I have also posted a message to the Google Group with no official response yet. If the lack of response is because the support department is closed, then why did they suspend the account of a nationally known brand while support was closed without first double-checking that that policy violation was still in place?

We went so far as to try and call the corporate number. The absurdity of that phone call was beyond imaginable. We explained the problem and the Google representative said we needed to know the first and last name of the person we wanted to talk to. Of course, the email we had received from support about the account suspension only had a first name. They would not forward us to a department either. When we asked for the Google representative’s name we were told, “I’m not authorized to give you that information.” When we asked to speak to their supervisor we were told, “I’m not authorized to transfer you to a supervisor. You need to have their first name and last name.” This was after we had said, “Don’t you know your supervisor’s name?” We were told to wait for an email reply. I’m still waiting.

Google Checkout is a service that Google offers to businesses. This is not a consumer-oriented service. It is completely ridiculous to expect businesses to use your service if this is the type of support that is offered. Google, fix your customer service – it is completely broken!

One last message for Google: I didn’t take “no” for an answer from Verizon Wireless, in my opinion one of the most evil companies around. I called them again and again until they bent the rules on their asinine policy. Do you think I’m going to stop hounding the company that claims, “Don’t be evil?” Wake up call: your lack of customer service for business customers is downright evil. I have been a Google evangelist for many years and this experience has been a huge slap in the face from a company that I thought was different.