I've been dealing with exactly this myself recently. I had an old gmail hacked and stolen. Well the idiot didnt remove my main acct as the forwading address, so I began receiving emails for everything from his uber account to his facebook account.
No matter what answers I gave google about account creation, old passwords, no matter that I provided whatever they asked, that they sent a verification code that didn't even work, NOTHING restored my access. I even still have the forwarded emails! The emails themselves show how this kid took MY email.
Yet there is no way to get ahold of google other than their product forums, posting and praying to not get a cheap canned response (which is what happened to me).
It seems these companies, in trying to remove themselves from their users by as many degrees of separation as possible are doing this to themselves. If they simply interacted with their users and gave even the most rudimentary of ways to speak with someone (livechat, helpdesk, whatever) most of their problems would be handled at the first contact, instead of becoming huge issues which can possibly affect many people (try searching for 'gmail verification code wont work' or 'cant recover hacked gmail' it will be days of fun reading).
I was infuriated over simply losing an old worthless email to their shenanigans, I can't imagine seeing the startup I created stomped underfoot by a megacorp like an ant.
I used to LOVE google back in the early gmail/android days. They were the good guys. What happened?
Look at LL Bean and their cancellation of their lifetime warranty . That linked article talks about abuse of the warranty, but I'm fairly sure people were trolling through ebay + thrift shops and buying items to return and resell as new. That's abuse and they had to make changes to it.
Or consider how widely reviled PayPal is for how they "take" their customer's money and lock it up. I had a friend who worked there that described it as "a fraud detection company that occasionally takes payments". You can't even imagine the ingenious lengths people go to commit fraud and rip PayPal and other people off. So they have by necessity become this draconian organization.
When Google/Gmail was small it was easier, they were more naive. But now? I imagine every scammer in the world is trying to corrupt and steal gmail accounts as a stepping stone to greater fraud - and some significant portion are trying to do so by claiming that someone else's account was hacked and that ney need special access.
I don't think there's any easy answers to these thorny problems but forcing it into a false good/bad dichotomy isn't helping.
1 - https://slate.com/business/2018/02/l-l-bean-has-ended-unlimi...
gave even the most rudimentary of ways to speak with someone (livechat, helpdesk, whatever)
Otherwise, we are just guessing. Some will give them the benefit of the doubt. Some will assume the worst. The truth is simply somewhere in between.
The opposite of the LL Bean anecdote is a company that gave a lifetime warranty and made a name for itself in the nautical outerwear industry. People bought in part because of the warranty. After a few years they started having to make good on the warranty- not because of fraud, but because out wear doesn't last forever.
Poor Google. Even with ~ $100 Billion in yearly revenue and over $100 BILLION in cash they cannot hire customer support people?
10,000 new employees in a third world country at, say, $25,000 year (including other expenses) costs $250,000,000 a year. https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/GOOG/key-statistics?p=GOOG
I believe the only way to get relief from Google is to know an insider, who can escalate to someone who can do something. All their public support channels are dead ends. Google sees you as a product, not a customer, and it's customer service skills are so bad that even if you're a real customer you can get the same treatment.
Stuff like this is why I switched to used Fastmail with my own domain.
> I used to LOVE google back in the early gmail/android days. They were the good guys. What happened?
I don't think anything happened. You just hit an important function that they're utterly terrible at.b Despite their success, they're clearly not omnicompetent.
We had an email problem with a major free email provider that also ran an advertising network (no, it was NOT Google or Microsoft...).
Our problem was that they kept deciding all the mail we sent to their users was spam. None of it was actually spam. The only things we were sending were:
• receipts for purchases
• installation instructions and license keys for whatever the user had just purchased
• if the user was on a subscription plan with a term longer than a month, a notice a few days before subscription billing that they were going to be billed
• responses to support tickets the user initiated
We'd complain to the louts running the email service, and they would fix it...and a month later it would happen again. Each time it took them longer and longer to fix it.
Then we realized we were spending a large amount buying ads on their ad network. Our guy in charge of ad buying called up our account rep at their advertising sales department, and asked why the heck we should keep paying them a large amount to drive customers to us, if they were going to make it so we could not communicate with those customers if those customers used their email service? It doesn't take a young Einstein to figure we shouldn't.
The account rep put our guy on hold a few minutes, then came back and had conference called in someone high up in their IT department, explained the problem. The IT department head conferenced in the person in charge of mail filtering and told him to put in a white list entry for us, and he wanted it done right away. About ten minutes later we were told it was done, and we never had another problem that I know of with email being misclassified as spam.
This disturbed me quite a bit. None of our mail was spam, so no one was harmed by that white list entry. But they had plenty of people using their ad network who were pushing sleazy products and who I greatly doubt only sent non-spam mail. Would they also be able to get white listed just be calling an ad rep and complaining?
We never had any spam classification problems with customers who used Google or Microsoft free email services, so have no idea if similar things work there, or if they keep a stronger separation between the ad network and the mail services.
In my more cynical moments I wonder if this sort of the thing might be the reason advertising companies run free email services. If they can amass a large number of email users, and they grant exceptions in the spam filters for their bigger advertisers, that provides an incentive to use their ad network over one with a smaller email service or without an email server, so you'll get more customers that you email market to at will.
My sister-in-law has a blog, email newsletter, and online store, all of which got blacklisted by Google after a number of her newsletter subscribers marked her letter as spam rather than unsubscribing. The only way she eventually fixed the problem was by finding a Googler contact who was able to get in touch with somebody who could whitelist her. A piss-poor way to run a business.
And sometimes they are a sales rep that work with Pfizer, annoyed that regular correspondence about their top products were going to spam because they contained information about the price of Viagra..
The flip side of this is that many of us know the excuses big email services make about how bad a problem spam is and how our content might be spam and we just don't understand... when the content is the kind of reasonable and necessary communications that 'tzs mentioned further up in this thread.
I'm getting awfully bored of bounce messages from apparently credible organisations whose members have signed up, telling me that the legally required and personalised information we have just sent to our customer appears to be unsolicited bulk email. There has been a small wave of these recently, which leads me to think that someone screwed up a scoring system that multiple organisations are using to vet incoming traffic.
In any case, that's not a minor mistake, that's an automatic recognition system that is hopelessly inaccurate. It could even be dangerous, for example if a customer isn't getting notifications about payments and forgets they haven't cancelled a subscription, or if some action is required of them if they don't want to accept some change in terms for a service they use.
The problem is that for every single technical, competent person trying to reach google, there are 20 technical incompetent people who "know exactly what the problem is" (and don't), and 1,000 people who have a legit support problem that can be resolved with a google search, and 1,000,000 people who are just going to waste your time completely. =/
The moment you have direct support you have to respond to all of the above. There is no way to create a support team that just handles the clueful people.
I was on the dns contact email address which should be relatively hard to find right? Yea it was spam central with free energy devices, complaints about the government, etc. Its impossible to provide human support at the level that google is playing. =/
Sure. But if my little businesses, with only a few people and a modest budget available to do literally everything, can manage to treat our customers with more attention and respect than one of the richest and most powerful businesses in the world, something is wrong.
Its impossible to provide human support at the level that google is playing. =/
Sorry, but I simply don't buy that. Google have grown huge and incomprehensibly rich thanks in part to technology but also in part to refusing to communicate with individuals when things go wrong (and, frankly, hoping they don't actually get called on it because it's not efficient for every little advertiser to sue for that $50 back when Google served their ads on obviously inappropriate sites or whatever). Like Facebook and other big organisations which have become highly influential through their scale and pseudo-monopoly status, Google now need to hire, train and support people -- lots of people -- in order to provide an acceptable level of communication if those dealing with them have problems.
If they can't do that then IMHO they should be sued, regulated or otherwise impaired until sufficient incentive/deterrent exists. The cost of letting these huge, influential organisations literally destroy businesses or wreck lives through their negligence is simply too high to allow the status quo to continue.
2.2 Billion users. 74,000 employees. That's 300,000 users per employee. Converting Google's entire current operation into customer support, and assuming 1 ticket per year per customer, would require every Google employee to solve 1.7 tickets per minute (365/8) to keep up. Assuming a 5 minute ticket resolution (and still 1 ticket per year per user) would require 500,000 trained customer support personal to support that; assuming $20K per year, that equals to ~$10B. Google's profit was ~20B last year. This is not very likely to happen; and conditional it does, it would kill very large parts of the IT sector.
Can we kindly attempt to actually get to a solution that is actually mutually acceptable by all parties for this?
If that means their profits are significantly reduced, but they finally provide an acceptable standard of communications, I have no problem with that. How much of that $20B profit came from mistakes that hurt other people, which they only got away with because they didn't communicate and it wasn't worth suing them?
The current solution isn't acceptable either.
I've wished on occasion that someone would create a certification system, kind of like what we have for software engineers and system administrators, but for end users. Users could get certified in various aspect of operating and self-installing consumer technology, and when a certified user called tech support they could be directed past the tier of support that assumes the caller is an idiot.
Also, consider the conditions:
* You are a scammer
* You pay $10 to Google to "fix getting back into your account"
* Google knows that account does not, actually belongs to you, but now are in a position, where they either: eat the $10 with a WONTFIX, and pave the way to a mass lawsuit or refund the $10, and have a free way for scammers to exploit.
How about the option of paying $20 for a person at Google to read and respond to an email query? I would love that option and many other people would too, if the response was competent and reasonable.
They need to think of a way to have a xkcd tech support(https://xkcd.com/806/) like system. With all those "think out side the box" mindsets, someone should be able to come up with a workable solution.
I've seen doctors miss cancers before and escape unscathed after frank discussions with the patient, while others that do everything technically correct are sued over a hangnail. Not saying missing cancer is "ok as long as your nice", I'm saying that people don't really sue over money, they sue over hurt feelings and seek retribution in monetary form. (There's a big exception to all this in the patients who are opportunistically seeking an opening to sue. They are simply dangerous to have as patients, but are usually quick to move on.)
Finally, the physician who has good bedside manners is also a better witness and more sympathetic to juries.
These can be hard lessons for techies who "aren't doing anything wrong".
By then they were already a very large company with lots of forces pulling them in different directions. Google were 'the good guys' right up until they became an advertising company, and it's been downhill from there.
Pointing out that there are many people doesn't imply that intentions don't exist. Even if you work at Google, the people that you see and the intentions that you infer for them, might not truly reflect the intentions of the people higher up.
Domains are a great example of this, too. I recently reached out, out of curiosity, and learned that the owner of the .net domain for my own four-letter name wants a quarter of a million dollars for it.
A shame, really. They're not doing anything with it, best I can tell. But if that's what someone would pay for it... You can bet someone would try to steal it.
That causes a problem of incentives.
What do they want, by your reckoning?
Google and Facebook want customers, ad-buying customers.
Here is the problem with a company like Google: SPAM. Want to support the regular user? You are going to get people bitching that they can't find the "save" button and they are afraid of losing documents. You will get people asking you where their Nigerian prince went. You will have people who don't own a computer but need access to gmail. etc. Controlling the ways that support enters the system controls the amount of pure bullshit support requests you have to filter.
My favorites from the people that made far enough to find a way to contact us directly:
* A 30 minute long voicemail from a person talking about how he invented a system to produce energy from.. something.. we never did figure out what the model was.
* A person asking YouTube to send over camera to record some event they were having.
* A scammer who was annoyed that their scam emails were being filtered, who spent a lot of effort trying to convince US that they really were an estate lawyer in a country that didn't exist.
* Somebody telling us that they lost access to an email that didn't exist (and had never existed) and kept slipping up what their name really was.
* Piles, and piles of people trying to sell us stuff we didn't need or want.
Dealing with credit cards is a nightmare, especially in support situations. What happens if the problem is totally on the users end? (Hi, I can't log into my gmail account, its firstname.lastname@example.org) Do you refund them since you can't fix the issue? If not they are going to be pissed. What if the problem is quite a lot complicated and requires several hours to fix? In the enterprise space we _constantly_ had to explain to mail carriers that the Cisco PIX device was mangling their SMTP EHLO line in a way that would break the SMTP protocol which is why mail was not going through. If an end user calls it can take hours to debug something like that. Will the user demand a refund when $200 later its ruled to be their shitty ISP's fault?
Perhaps they should offer a paid customer support service just so that they're finally incentivized to help the end-user.
Villains who twirl their moustaches are easy to spot. Those who clothe themselves in good deeds are well camouflaged.
I cannot rely on Google.
"For the Raffs, this remains the burning issue, which
the technicalities of auctions and algorithms all too
often obscure. They see it simply: Google, or any other
search engine, should present only impartial results
that do not benefit it financially. It sounds
idealistic, but why should it? “After all,” says
Shivaun, “this is what people want, and what they
believe Google still delivers.”
I get my water from a private company. Should they be forced to supply me with clean drinking water, counter to it's financial interests? Presumably it would be cheaper to just pump it out of the river into our homes?
And that is the problem, Google has risen to utility level dominance, and utility level importance. Millions of peoples jobs rely on search and search results, time for regulation.
If another water company wanted to come in and install pipes to your house, they would be prohibited from doing so.
Other search engines aren't prohibited from competing with Google -- in fact many countries actively encourage and fund local competitors -- so I don't see how this analogy makes sense.
Maybe monopolies should have their products strictly regulated regardless of how they came to be monopolies?
Other way to deal with monopolies is just force them to split up into few companies, but I don't think that users would benefit much from having 10 different search engines to choose from same way they don't need their browser to have 10 different homepages. They need just one, but the one that provides results that they need. Same way like they need one water provider that provides the water of quality that they need.
If you allow Google just to show results from whoever pays the most, that only shows that they are sitting on the bridge and let pass through only the ones that pay the most, no matter how much value their passing brings to everybody else. At some point nobody cares if they built this bridge or not. Their bridge stands on and occupies optimal spot for a bridge so people on both sides of the bridge should and have every right to fight for such agreement that benefits them most, not just the bridge owner/constructor.
They could just wait to clean up their act once they see competition on the horizon (or just go through the motions), which would more than likely scare that competition off. Building a water utility isn't cheap and I doubt there would be enough profit in a competitive environment to justify the cost.
ultimately google has to make money. if they purely only showed search results and no placed links then their only way of making money would be from the flow of data. i'm not sure if you could run a search engine off of that. it is also basically saying you can only run a search engine if you either are running an ad platform for third party sites that exploits the data you collect from your search engine or you are selling data to a third party ad platform.
But people use google to get to facebook, and walmart, and so many other frequent places that it's in their mind that is how the computer / internet works. Open browser, google place, click first result.
Even after explaining to doctors how adwords works and showing them ad placement, it still did not sink in that if they, their staff, or friends and family clicked on their shiny new #1 result for blah blah, it was going to cost them $10 each time.
The way google works is hidden, it's deceptive on purpose in many ways (ads are not clearly marked as such with their slightly different white background) - especially on smaller devices like 14" laptops.
People assume and trust with google, and it's misplaced - but educating them, and getting a different default on their devices is not easy, and they buy out defaults from places when it's not set that way.
Having no way to contact people via phone with this google and facebook is a real issue. The stores down the street could not get away with some of the stuff these companies do, and there is no way to hold anyone accountable or talk to someone about it.
By the time facebook changes this I don't think they will matter anymore.
Eventually people will realize that google is useful like the yellow pages, and only to be trusted as such. Pay to play gets the big placement, and don't expect to find everything you may want there.
Foundem also was set up by people with very rich friends in British society :-)
And only the rich get richer in these cases. ;)
"Today, Foundem’s website is the digital equivalent of a boarded-up house"
Their business is dead, because they were artificially demoted to 4th page in search when Google Product Search was created.
Kellys Directory for example which had its roots in a company founded in the 1700's
Even though the content itself seems non-existent now, I would have used an ecommerce/comparison site which is that fast despite lacking on the quality side.
And then of course it should be made to pay tax where the search results are shown. An ad shown in the EU should be taxed with an indirect EU tax on the ad (30 percent of what is paid for the ad plus an EU VAT). That would once for all make the large advertising companies such as Facebook and Google pay tax in Europe. Every ad should include an ID number with information on the money paid on the ad, who paid it and to whom. Then, consumers and EU tax authorities could easily check if tax had been paid on the ad and who paid what for the ad.
Is there ever a case where untraceability is a good thing?
Agreed. One question, though: I somewhat trust Google's security, but is our data still safe after such a split-up?
It's hilarious because it's now gotten to the point where the only non-noise results are the ones where I'm describing how the query in question is broken.
In fact, the top result I'm seeing here is a perfectly-paraphrased oneliner - Google is describing its own brokenness! :D
(I must admit, I'm impressed to see such a perfect summary of the situation presented in a single paragraph like that. Google picked exactly the right portion of the sentence. I take it there's really nothing out there in open-source land that does anything like that, is there? :( )
Both of my company's database engine products offer this type of functionality, as do many database engines/servers out there. It's typically referred to as full-text indexing or full-text searching:
and there are lots of ways to control how/why certain words are indexed/search (stop words, synonyms, stemming, etc.). With the right amount of customization, you can get pretty close to ideal search results.
Why can't they approach it like software security? E.g. Linux's source code is open, and this is considered a good thing regarding security.
Search rankings are relative to each other and do not have objectively correct answers. Furthermore, I think the methods people have discovered so far to produce search results users are happy with are all gameable to some degree, so the only option available at this point is a degree of security through obscurity and an ever-evolving arms race between Google and spammers.
Is this how advertisers are getting around ad blockers these days? Or just writing style...
it's not looking good thus far
Like all governments, it can be prone to corruption and doing the wrong thing.
In a world of giant multinational superpowers, a giant government is the only hope for "the small guy" to get even. It might not happen all the time, but without these structures, it would never happen at all.
They destroyed Google?
What I mean is that those 2 people going against Google and winning, must have cost so much money to achieve, that I don't believe its possible for someone with a tiny business or someone with no money to do so.
I am intrigued to learn if justice is a privilege of the few, or everyone can have justice.
In my specific case, I had my government which is within the European Union, straight out stealing land from my family. We went to the country's court, we went to a 2nd court and then a final 3rd. The justice system within my country failed us so we looked at how we could engage in a higher level e.g EU court. The fees for that were so great and the process seemed so unwelcome that we can just not afford to receive justice. So thats why am asking, I'd prefer to see an article that speak actual numbers and how much money foundem needed to provide to lawyers etc and how didn't they go bankrupt at the same time.
So I would think the biggest cost would be time and energy and that is enough to put the majority of people off. (One of the first things I heard from a lecturer as part of my law degree was: never, under any circumstances, go to court, unless you really, really have to, as it is not worth your time and energy.)
The EU anti-cartel unit regularly takes on big EU multi-nationals.
This is as silly as saying that the United States only acted against Volkswagen in the diesel scandal because they were not American.
I've seen the EU in a club in Brussels blowing all the money that they took from Google and the British couple on booze and women.
Joking aside, I'm fascinated by the narrative by HN user on the EU.
However, the article points out perfectly well how Google uses their de-facto monopoly on Web search to stifle competition in other areas (such as specialized search services).
The couple can sue Google for damages as soon as its violation of anti-monopoly regulations has been established. They just need to wait until Googles appeal against the decision is rejected (which it most certainly will).
I think it's a lame figure of speech that's only used to paint yourself as some kind of underdog hero.
The top comment (!) in the "AMP for email is a terrible idea"-thread  is a post starting with this exact phrase. Obviously your idea wasn't so controversial after all, so just let the users decide the up-/down-votes.
has your family received "compensation"?
IANAL, in fact I lost a case before the local court just trying to receive support for legal aid, but at least I could object to paying the opponent lawyer an illusory sum.
I really hope those names are more distinct in French or German something. Otherwise, they really need to work to make them less confusing.
"By now the couple had been joined by numerous other complainants, including Expedia, TripAdvisor and Microsoft"
The article's title is extreme clickbait. This couple didn't "take on" Google, or even this case. A European commission took on the case, representing the interests of many corporations.
But the real problem is -- Google has to be broken up. Criminals that get slaps just figure it in
to the cost of business. It's meaningless. Ad prices just went up a little, that's all.
Since when was Google the most valuable company in the world?
1) Google is in the process of appealing this decision and could very well end up winning (or having the fine significantly reduced) in the end.
2) At least to some degree, decisions like this are likely protectionism aimed at US companies.
"[Americans] have owned the Internet. Our companies have created it,
expanded it, perfected it in ways that [European companies] can’t
compete," Obama said in an interview with Recode in 2015. "And
oftentimes what is portrayed as high-minded positions on issues
sometimes is just designed to carve out some of their commercial
Today is a sad day for the internet.
In phone book terms, the business model of this couple was roughly equivalent to plastering stickers with their phone number over all the other entries in the phone book. Any end user wishing to get the information they wanted had to go through an unnecessary step. Any destination, had to fight to prevent their content from being overrun.
I am both a European and an American, and the fact of the matter is that the European Commission is attempting to stifle American business. This ruling does not protect users, and does not protect valid businesses, it protects spammers.
Instead of trying to legislate our way into competitiveness, I would like to see our countries focus on actually attempting to stimulate tech businesses, because attempts like these just hurt technology companies overall. Sure, it hurts American companies more than Europeans, but they're also in a better position to shoulder the burden. This makes it tougher for smaller European tech shops.