Monday, September 03, 2007

GoogleCrap: Customer Service from the World's Favourite L'il Multinational

It's a funny thing about Google. In the tendency to view the company as the corporate equivalent of Mother Theresa's Missionaries of Charity, people tend to forget that - like the beatified old Albanian herself - all is not necessarily as filled with sweetness and light as might appear on the surface.

Case in point. Google products are fine when all is working as it should. Gmail gives you enough storage space to retain as attachements all of your carefully selected collection of Playboy playmates and spoofs of the Mastercard Priceless adverts. The archive facility is simplicity itself and the threading of conversations soon becomes utterly intuitive. How the hell did I cope with Outlook you will end up asking yourself, as you compare Miss January 1974 with Miss June 2006 and ponder the improvements in female grooming products in the interim.

All well and great - but if the program stops working for whatever reason then, basically you're screwed. This week my gmail account on my home PC (but not anywhere else) started locking up over and over again. An ominous warning on the page that appeared in place of my gmail page was headed "Account Lockdown: Unusual Activity Detected", followed by a list of potential reasons, none of which applied to me.

Fortunately, there was a link to troubleshoot the problem.

Unfortunately, the link just led to a page with a couple of FAQ questions, none of which were relevant.

Fortunately though there was a 'Contact Us' link a the bottom of the page.

Unfortunately, that link didn't lead to an email form, but to another page with more generic and badly written FAQ pages, none of which were terribly relevant.

Fortunately...eh, well, if you use Google.com itself to search for this problem and are prepared to wade through the the multitude of other pages and posts bemoaning the exact same problem, you can find a URL which does point to a Google Technical Query form.

Unfortunately, when you carefully enter your problem and your details, giving as much info as possible to help Google solve the problem...

...they send you an email in reply which is just a cut and paste of the original "Account Lockdown: Unusual Activity Detected" page.

So you click on the troubleshoot link...

I still haven't had the problem addressed by Google, never mind fixed, and it seems I'm not the only one. Next time I must remember that Google is as much a faceless, corporate entity with zero concern for its customers as Microsoft, Disney or the Bush Government.

Any suggestions for a replacement webmail provider?

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5 Comments:

Blogger Scott Liddell said...

You give people something for nothing...sheesh...

6:33 pm  
Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

As you wll know, giving someone something for nothing which doesn't work is actually giving them nothing for nothing. In any case, gmail makes Google money and they should therefore make sure it works for those hardy souls like myself who are out revenue generating for them...

9:06 am  
Blogger spacedbunny said...

so, just to diversify the conversation and fully illustrate my complete tech-idiocy, how does gmail make google money? no, really, i'm curious ;-)

7:29 pm  
Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

In an indirect sense it both ties you further into the Google brand and increases valuable brand visibility.

On a more direct level, gmail is packed with very specifically targeted ads.

10:41 am  
Blogger spacedbunny said...

ah, see i never look at them. point taken about the branding though. global corporations, ya gotta love em xxx

7:11 am  

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