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[flagged] Google Developer Account Wrongly Terminated NO MEANS OF DISCOURSE
75 points by mattshoe81 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 44 comments
Here's the long and short of it:

My brother in law requested I write an app for him, and in return I only asked him to pay the $25 registration fee to open a developer account with google. I was happy to develop the app for him. I am a student and it was great practice.

The problem arrives when he has fraud issues on his card, and so mistakenly issues a chargeback for the google registration fees amidst the confusion and immediately closed his account completely, so there is no possibility of reversing the chargeback.

Well this one little mistake has REALLY made my life difficult, and may in fact result in a lifetime ban from developing android apps, which would be devastating because I am studying Computer Science and Engineering at The Ohio State University and I LOVE to develop apps and code.

Google terminated my developer account, suspended my google payments account (which prevented the purchase of a class textbook I needed), and even deactivated my email account for this. It took me a week to successfully get my payments account and email account back up.

I have filed an appeal for the termination 3 times in the last 3 weeks, all with NO RESPONSE WHATSOEVER. I've attempted to contact Google, with no success. It is impossible to get a hold of anyone who actually deals with developer account reinstatement, and I cannot find ANY resources to determine a way to provide documentation that proves the termination was made in error.

I have done absolutely nothing wrong and yet it is looking like I may be banned from doing something I love for the rest of my life (not to mention having no apps to add to my portfolio).

Somebody please help me resolve this issue, this little mistake (not even my own) has been a complete nightmare, and Google seems to be completely indifferent and utterly unhelpful.

If anybody knows any way to help, please do so! I would be eternally grateful!

> I may be banned from doing something I love for the rest of my life (not to mention having no apps to add to my portfolio)

1. You can continue writing Android apps. You can (very likely) start distributing apps through the Play Store again just by creating a new account with a new credit card. Create an account as a company instead of an individual, for example.

2. Unless you're very old, distributing apps through the Play Store isn't something you'll be doing "for the rest of your life" regardless. Technologies come and go. Native apps will be replaced by web apps on mobile, just like they were on desktop.

3. You don't need to have apps in the Play Store to have apps in your portfolio.

> "Native apps will be replaced by web apps on mobile, just like they were on desktop."

Provocative. I might agree with you.

Google and Apple appears to be trying to avoid it but I hope that they fail.

Google is pushing PWAs pretty hard and WebKit recently started working on service workers so it's closer than we probably realize

The cross-platform support that the web lets us have is too luxury.

I'm seeing this already, no one wants to install apps anymore

I can see that. I've been burned by shitty apps that drain my battery and spam the notification panel more than once.

>Native apps will be replaced by web apps on mobile, just like they were on desktop.

Google and apple make a fortune from their app stores. They have a huge incentive to stop this from happening, and the means to do it by restricting the mobile browser. Can you really sell a mobile app today anywhere near as effectively as a native app?

The only reason this works on desktop at all is because IE eventually lost it's monopoly. And only because Google ran what would have been one of the most expensive advertising campaigns in history to get chrome out there. And Microsoft never even had a successful app store to defend.

> Google and apple make a fortune from their app stores

Google has a web app store already, and makes vastly more money from web ads (including search, where most people would find non-store web apps) than it's app stores, anyway.

I suspect that busting Apple's app store in favor of web apps would be a bigger win for Google than losing Play Store would be a loss.

I've actually been looking into creating an LLC for this same purpose. But I am still a student, so time is precious (and money, which I assume it would require). But thank you for your response! You are right, of course, that I won't be doing it for the rest of my life. Nevertheless it is frustrating!

Starting a LLC should cost ~$200. Maybe the person who got you into this situation might pay that?

I think registering an LLC in Utah cost me ~$45.

If you succeed in getting your account back you will only deepen your dependence on this silent, unaccountable leviathan. Do yourself the favor of learning from this experience. Walk away from Google services and count your loss as cheap tuition. Bend your path toward free and open systems instead. Where you can't find them, develop them.

You can't put an app on the Play Store without a Google Developer account. It's a big market to walk away from.

You can always create a new account to publish apps, you can't get years of mail history back and you can't reset your password to other places once you've lost your email account.

While I generally agree with your statement, we all rely on each other's software to some degree, as it isn't possible for everyone to custom build everything that isnt yet open source.

There should be some impetus for the largest and most profitable corporations to not be /egregiously/ evil.

Google makes its money on search+adwords. Everything else they do is a hobby, and it shows. Not necessarily evil, but sloppy produces the same bad result.

Google makes single-digit billions in revenue from the Android App Store. While not explicitly broken out, the info is in their annual report [0], where "other revenues" are a bit over 10B USD (>10% of total revenue):

"Google other revenues consist primarily of revenues and sales from:

• Apps, in-app purchases, and digital content in the Google Play store;

• Hardware;

• Licensing-related revenue; and

• Service fees received for our Google Cloud offerings."

As an aside, the risks section is surprisingly interesting and honest. A recommended read.

[0] https://abc.xyz/investor/pdf/2016_google_annual_report.pdf

They are not being evil they are just using automation to cut costs that ai in reality is not 100% ready yet. Now for google AI works 99.99% is okay but for the developer or user that falls in the 0.01% it destroys them. People are facing similar problems with Amazon, credit card companies and banks etc where automation helps bring down cost for the corporations but causing problems for 0.01% which is sadly an accpetable cost to corporations.

You're absolutely right. This is a great experience for him, as he now should clearly see what the problem is. Our digital identities are not ours. The OP can make more, a lot more money developing and servicing decentralized identity/related-services than writing 'apps' for 'google play'. Google will be bankrupt within 3 years.

From this, you have learned many things already. Make sure you have learned a key lesson: handle your own finances. It was fine to have him pay the fee. It was not fine to tangle up his credit card in your life. YOU pay the fee, he hands you $25, you remain in control of your finances.

I don't think this is gonna help.

It won't now, but it will next time. $25 is a small amount of money that has caused a large amount of trouble. It would have been better to risk never getting the $25 back from the brother in law than be in this position.

Good luck, Google has a terrible customer service which is why I do not use their cloud offering nor do I recommend it to my clients. They terminated my adword account a few years ago for alleged click fraud (I never clicked on a single ad) while they were owing me money, I have never been able to get a hold of a real person to plead my case. They don't do customer relations, unless you are a big player then you get assigned a google rep, but for the rest of us? NADA. I had plenty of issues with other services, including Microsoft and I always managed to get a real person answer me, with Google? zip.

So don't depend on them for anything, you don't need a google account to distribute your android app.

Cloud has great support (just check any HN discussion around GCP's offering and their customer support). Adwords can also have some really good support depending on your spend (even low-level spend has decent support).

The case you are mentioning seems to be AdSense? While you are showing ads from AdWords, it is a bit of a different product and has its own support (email-only it seems).

In your appeals, have you stated that the chargebacks were done in error and that you would like to repay them?

As well to be clear, your brother in law closed the credit card entirely and is unable to issue a reverse chargeback? Has he tried calling the issuing back to see if they can issue a reverse chargeback in some way?

I have indeed mentioned that the chargeback were made in error, and stated my intention to repay it.

And yes, entirely closed and unable to issue a reverse chargeback. As far as I know, he's done all he can with his card account. I'm still trying to get him to contact his bank again, but I think it's a long shot

Reverse Chargeback is the best thing to fix these kinds of situations. Chargebacks are bad for companies, outside just the fees and lost revenue that happens with them. Card networks have limits on how many chargebacks a company can have before there starts being issues for them. Reverse-chargeback takes that mark off of them, so it makes the company happy.

In most states, setting up a sole proprietorship is simple and costs a one time fee of $100. You get to name it (it's called a DBA - doing business as).

Get one under a company name and open a bank account with a debit card.

I realize it's not ideal but it's a simple workaround that is relatively painless and quick.

Absentee Ownership.

It used to refer to a business that was owned by someone who wasn't involved in the day to day operations.

But the same class of problems apply to an enormous monopolistic enterprise like Google, where the owner can't pay attention to it's operation in the same way as a traditional business could.

So instead of knowing it's customers, Google does it's best, and accepts a certain 'defect rate.' Those defects end up costing Google money in the long run. Of course, they cost people like us our means of earning a livelihood, and possibly our mortgage etc. But it's not really reasonable to expect a person at google to understand & fix everything Google does.

> But it's not really reasonable to expect a person at google to understand & fix everything Google does.

Google is the only business I have ever worked with which has virtually no customer service or no way to resolve a conflict when they decide to boot you out. Even a behemoth like Microsoft does customer service better. Google doesn't do that, it doesn't even understand what it is for apparently. It's exactly for unusual cases like these. They have the money to hire people, they have billions, they're just don't see the point. Well when it turns out people using their cloud services can't get a hold of a real person in when there is a problem and decide to migrate somewhere else they shouldn't be surprised they failed.

Lesson learned: submit the app under the client's account.

Using his own credit card could have been good, too.

Find someone that works on the gmail team using linkedin and get on twitter and spread the word about your issue.

From what I've seen, the only real way these things tend to get reversed is if a Android fan blog that Googlers actively follow posts it publicly. If it's costing them press, and it's on a medium they consume, it'll make it to the right desk. Most of these sorts of stories that Android Police writes about seem to get resolved pretty quick.

I suspect that is why they posted this here to be honest... currious if it works

Get a new identity maybe or use a friends or a older man who does not use the internet. Start all over.

The lack of customer service contact points around developer accounts is really appalling. I had a similar issue, and it was immensely frustrating.

I'm glad someone agrees! I thought I just didn't know how to navigate or I was missing something. It really is unbelievably frustrating

This totally makes sense for Google. You charge back a purchase, and you've set a precedent about your relationship with them. Regardless of the circumstance, something about your account was shaky enough to lead to a chargeback. In your purported case, it was a brother in law accidentally disputing it.

You know how many people make apps/IAPs and charge back? A lot of people, so they can't go through every single case, ban one person but not another, and have inconsistent policies. Otherwise, the people who get banned see posts from people who CBed and didn't get banned, and they wave the exceptions in the face of Google. You're basically asking for a workaround to a fraud-related shutdown.

Once you issue a chargeback on a merchant, it's like pissing in their bed or cheating with a girlfriend: you can apologize and never do it again, but it breaks the trust, sometimes irrevocably. They don't owe you shit, as they already paid the bank $25 and Visa/MC about $8 per chargeback.

Even if you paid them back, they have no idea if you'll continue to pay back the CB fees with stolen cards until you either give up, or make enough IAP money to run off.


I think you mean recourse.

Considering that they're not responding to him, "discourse" fits as well!

I think you're right, I'll correct it. Thanks for pointing that out!

Get a new identity maybe or use a friends or a older man who does not use the internet. Start all ovet

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