Google: in Apple’s Steps we Snob.

Why I am starting to occasionally hate Google due to poor policies/customer service for Google Apps.

I have a love-hate relationship with Google.  On one hand, I love the services they offer, and I think it’s awesome that they figured out how to do things for free.  Had the pleasure of hanging out at their Mountain View office, drank the Naked juice (which was EVERYWHERE) and otherwise enjoyed their hospitality a while back.  So if you get Naked juice out the wazoo, this should not lead to hipster-meets-Kafka style snobbery, should it?  Well, I am hesitant to identify causality here, but…

I trust Google.  I am running my company on Google Apps.  Yes, I am running the standard edition, but that’s only because they require all-or-nothing for premium editions and most of our users do not need premium services…  otherwise I would absolutely transition to premium for about 10 of our accounts.   But, nevermind that.  They still make money from me and my users on ads and I pay for a personal premium Google Apps account (or at least used to).

So what happened?

  • Lori made a spreadsheet that was shared with Aaron (administrative privileges)
  • Lori left the company
  • Eventually, Lori’s account was deleted as she was no longer with the company
  • The shared document disappeared from Aaron’s (manager) folder.

Mind you, Aaron had no idea Lori’s account was being removed.  The administrator (me) had no way of knowing that Lori’s document was critical.  Aaron had no way of making the document his own without Lori’s permission, unless, of course, administrator resets Lori’s password, but, again, the admin is clueless.  Moreover, everybody except the Admin was under the impression that having administrative access to a doc means you are one of the owners.  So, in the end, it looks simply like this is a standard workflow that wasn’t properly addressed by Google.

So, now the document is lost.  So I think “No big deal, I’ll get in touch with Google, they’ll understand.”  Boy was I wrong.  I did get a reply.  Several of them, all from Jim Lam, effectively saying the same thing: sorry, nothing we can do.  And, when I, a paying customer, asked to speak to a manager, what reply did I get?  Why, I don’t get a reply at all.  Nothing.  Zero.

So, document lost, there is no understanding, no interest to understand by the support specialist, and, the worst thing is that there is no recourse to speak to the manager.  What happened to “do no evil”?  People depend on you and you, as a beacon of goodness you should have good  friendly customer service.  Not what looks like hipster I-am-too-good-to-help-you attitude that makes one feel like being in some Kafkaesque process.

This sounds very much like a standard complaint about service in “big” companies.  Apple’s relationship with developers comes to mind.  And the recourse should be fairly simple – no individual in a large company should have ownership of a customer.  If a customer is unhappy, they should be bumped up along to managers, who can then smooth out the issue.  Perhaps the document can’t be recovered – I would have still been unhappy, but, if I got a response from someone, which said “We understand, very sorry about that, I’ll pass this on to the development team and we’ll see what we can do to make sure this never happens again”, perhaps I would simply be unhappy rather than angry.

So meh…  I don’t like Google right now.  I love them for providing a brilliant products, but bad customer service can be, as an old Russian proverb says, a spoonfull of tar to ruin a barrel full of honey.


Filed under Tech

3 responses to “Google: in Apple’s Steps we Snob.

  1. What about backups? Whenever I am asked whether one could/should use “free” services such as Google’s I tell people to think about backups. It’s for instance, to the best of my knowledge, very difficult to have a backup of one’s Google Mail.
    But if I was to pay for the service, the availability of reliable and accessible backups would be an ultimate criteria. In fact, if I was the offering company I wouldn’t dare to offer a product without proper backups. *shudder*

    • Yeah, it’s totally my fault that we are running with scissors. We sort-of do backups and Aaron actually did a backup up of the doc, and we were able to recover. Moreover, the paid version of Google offers some backup services. We were also able to do some other stuff that I won’t mention in this post, but, long story short, we are ok, got back on track. But that’s not what I find upsetting – it’s the idea that customers do not deserve basic respect.

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