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And people wonder why I don't want to use Google products... The fact that you might be locked of all your accounts for a random bullshit reason (with no support either) is completely insane. People reading this here on HN, please don't use Google products for any important matter or it might bite you back one day (basically only what you can afford to lose).

Exact same thing happened to our previous startup cohort. To top it off the dev already had a banned account before he joined the startup and had a "poisoned" banned play account. He logged in via google multi-login account to the startup and in a few days google banned the entire startup. The whole seed funding, adsense, docs everything gone up in smoke. Funny thing; only adwords was not banned and they kept siphoning off funds for non existential apps. The Founders found everything banned and didn't bother to check if adwords was also banned; and it wasn't. Sneaky google. Sneaky

Sounds like a nice way to sink a competitor.

How did you resolve it? Did anything happen to the employee?

The startup was dissolved. One more startup with $60 million funding is winding down : https://www.smartcompany.com.au/startupsmart/news-analysis/a...

If all he did was multi-login without otherwise doing anything inappropriate, and the company generally allows signing in to personal accounts, I hope nothing happened to him. That's no reason to discipline or fire someone, even if that was what triggered Google's algorithms.

This is exactly right. Amazon or Microsoft would never do this to you if you were using one of their services. And if, for some reason they had to, you could talk to them about it.

I really hope someone for Google is listening ... I WANT you guys to be successful so that we have more competition in the market. But honestly, you just keep shooting yourselves in the feet.

If you treat Consumers like crap, then you must expect Enterprise customers to be concerned that you are going to do the same thing to them.

It's not like this is an isolated story either ... Google dropping the ban hammer on someone is a recurring theme and it makes me question whether I should be looking at alternatives.

Just a reminder that a guy was locked out of his Amazon services, plus $140,000 of cash and inventory from his shipping business, because he changed the name of the profile on his Kindle Fire to "baba". He was stuck in autoreply hell and wasn't able to get resolution until he made a huge stink on social media as is happening here.


This makes me wonder if there should be laws enshrining corporate responsibility and perhaps a mandatory appeals process.

"But companies are people too, and they should be able to decide whom to do business with at a whim!"

Freedom of speech is meaningless, when you have no voice.

> Amazon or Microsoft would never do this to you if you were using one of their services. And if, for some reason they had to, you could talk to them about it.

Do you seriously believe this?

You understand people get locked out of the cloud accounts with Amazon and Microsoft all the time. And with Amazon and Microsoft they lose much more than access to their (free!) email account, they lose access to Kindle Books and Software Licenses that they've paid for with real money. That's a much bigger deal.

The moral of this story is that US citizens and businesses have zero recourse when they run afoul of web-based services. They have no real legal rights to their digital property. If the US had some kind of GDPR-like law that allowed customers an irrevocable right to their own data then this wouldn't be such a big deal. Indeed it might even spur some competition. But today you've got absolutely nothing. Today the onus is completely on each person to protect their own digital assets.

> Do you seriously believe this?

I know that even on a pretty small spend AWS had assigned us an account rep who would have moved heaven and earth if this had happened to us. I know Amazon retail has real humans in Ireland who will take my calls and take me seriously when I have problems.

I got an email recently from Google saying they were required to inform me they’d hired another gigantic Indian outsourcing company to do ... some kind of customer support work.

> I know Amazon retail has real humans in Ireland who will take my calls and take me seriously when I have problems.

Curious how you know that?

I've seen it happen as well to friends who have had previously stellar AWS reps that fall off the face of the earth when the ban hammer falls.

His was for "too many returns" when there was a huge scammer ring buying the type of items he was selling and returning bricks in the boxes. Took many weeks to get resolved, and the ban of course shut down everything including his personal accounts, AWS accounts, etc.

Amazon, Google, etc. seem to have decent "happy path" support - but if you fall into either an outlier or stuck into a "bad actor" group you may as well effectively not exist if you can't get traction on social media from the few cases of this I've seen.

Google and Amazon use mostly the exact same outsourcing companies for their 1st and 2nd level support.

If this is true AWS either demands more or pays them more because AWS high tier support vs GCloud "platinum" support is a joke.

I can usually get even a very hairy ticket resolved on AWS in a manner of hours, every gcloud ticket we open takes days. Sure the respond in 24 hours but it's usually just a response that says "We'll get back to you eventually". If google actually wants to compete in cloud services they need to step up their game.

There's a regional Amazon support hub (for South America) a few floors down from where I'm sitting. Microsoft has stellar support in this region (I even interviewed once). As far as I know, Google has no equivalent.

If I had to rate them, I'd say Microsoft has by far the best support, followed by Amazon, and Google's is (almost?) non-existent.

Greetings google user. Were sorry that you're having problems at this time. Please check into the forums and go get support from other sorry sods who also need help. Maybe if you can run enough brain cells together, you might be able to solve an issue.

-your favorite google tech support (NONE!)

AWS support is not outsourced but knowledgable US people who can and do page anyone including the engineers for help. There is a reason the top level of support costs an extra 3-10% of spending.

>who would have moved heaven and earth if this had happened to us

Baseless assumption.

>hired another gigantic Indian outsourcing company

How is this confidence inspiring?

I am guessing the giantic Indian outsourcing company is filled with AIs, they probably couldn't afford "real humans"

I absolutely do believe this, I have people from Microsoft reaching out to me constantly regarding our Azure account here. If there was abuse on it or something of that sort, I would not only get an email, I would get a phone call. We don't even spend that much. We don't pay for their upper tier support plans either. At my last job, Microsoft worked very actively to help the corporation (much larger than my current job) move over thousands of emails over to Office 365.

> Microsoft worked very actively to help the corporation (much larger than my current job) move over thousands of emails over to Office 365.

Of course they did. All smart businesses would. Do you think they would also help you to move your mails out of Office 365, to a competitor maybe? That'd be noteworthy.

I'm curious - how are time-sensitive and potentially irreplaceable emails and documents upon which your company's existence or your job may depend, less important than a collection of software licenses that, while expensive, are re-purchasable and not going away anytime soon?

I should have been more specific - I was mainly thinking about AWS or Azure.

I believe for all of Microsoft's business services, you can submit a real ticket to real support people. Completely possible with my organization. It better be too, given that we pay them maybe $15,000/year for Office 365 licenses.

My experience is that this is true for my company's corporate Azure/Office365 type services and ALSO for my personal Office365 Home subscription.

I had an issue sending an email from my personal microsoft account and I submitted a case via the support tool and I had a response from a helpful representative within 12 hours.

Microsoft offers free phone support on free services. I had an issue with parental settings in Microsoft Accounts and Xbox Live. I was able to chat with a person online, receive call backs from 2 different people, spent hours on the phone, and a received a up email many months later from Microsoft notifying me that the issue had been resolved.

It wasn't a pleasant experience but I did get to talk to real people and they did eventually resolve the issue.

The same Amazon who have had publicity for shutting down your entire account, along with associated services, if you have the "wrong" profile of returns?

Sure I know some will abuse returns policies, just as some buy an outfit in the high street, go out, and return it after the weekend. With the amount of defective by design, counterfeit and plain iffy product in Amazon's co-mingled marketplace inventory I expect there's been false positives just by being unlucky in product choices.

Reliance on google is dangerous for sure. A couple months ago my startup’s popular Chrome extension was unceremoniously yanked from the Chrome store. It took weeks to get the situation resolved, and even then it was only because I live in Silicon Valley and know people at Google who could ping the Chrome team until it was fixed. In the meantime, our most popular product was sidelined.

We have since ported to Firefox Quantum to be less reliant on Google.


> Reliance on google is dangerous for sure.

It is also unnecessary. While I understand the convenience, there are plenty of better solutions to use over Google, especially for a software company.

I’m curious to know how a company like mine [1] might offer the same value to users while avoiding google.

When we first launched (on HN, I should note), we checked the browsers that people used to come to our site. It was roughly 90/10 Chrome/Firefox. That’s why we built our first extension for Chrome (and later built for Firefox also). Don’t we have to meet our users where they are?

Would love to hear your ideas!

1: http://www.BeeLineReader.com/individual

> http://www.BeeLineReader.com/individual

Completely off topic but do you receive feedback from some users that your color gradients actually make it harder to read? I was struggling to read your landing page, my eyes kept were involuntarily flitting all over the page. My eyes kept jumping around scanning like they would at a traffic intersection or a pool (I was a lifeguard) for activity. It was kind of weird and stressful.

We do occasionally hear that. Did you try the more subtle color schemes, or just the default (which is the brightest)?

I didn't, I'll go back and give it a try. It seems like a really interesting idea.

> and know people at Google

That seems to be how a lot of these stories (and stories like these aren't really uncommon on reddit or HN) of getting locked out of Google stuff are resolved.

If you don't know someone, you're hosed. How many times have people without inside contacts or reddit/HN accounts gone through this? We'll never know.

One thing that makes me always wonder is that Google can get away without proper Customer Service. Usually if that kind of thing happens and an employee refuses to disclose the details, you talk to their manager and so on, and if the company still refuses to restore the service, you get it to the court for illegal termination of the contract. I mean, you can't terminate the contract with another company without explaining why (and no, "you violated the terms but we can't tell you exactly what" is not an explanation.)

"We have the right to disable your account at anytime, for any reason and without notice" is pretty standard for anything cloud based. IME the business leaders in charge of decisions to move to cloud infrastructure are even less likely to read the terms of service than a general user is.

Except this story doesn't add up, because Google's customer service for even small companies on Google Apps is pretty good.

I'm guessing that the company isn't using G-Suite, but rather a bunch of gmail accounts set up as 'work' accounts. If they were on G-suite, they'd have a support line to call.

Having been a G Suite customer at a school district...their customer service is not great. It's fixable but I wouldn't rely on them. Please understand G Suite for schools is free. You get what you pay for.

I've been in the same boat (gsuite for education, for free) and have had top notch customer support on the couple of occasions something has gone wrong.

Suspect what is happening. G-Suite support is actually pretty good for a tech company.

The story is it's Google Payments that triggered the shutdown. The friend of the writer would have been the Google Apps user.

Google Payments is ridiculous. They escheated my merchant money to Delaware government, but their supports referse to provide the merchantment ID to me so that I can't find back the merchantment from Delaware goverment. It is like threw my money into the ocean. They said Delaware government didn't give them the ID. Who know.

I used them previously and I would say their support was OK .. I would never call it good.

We have platinum support for gcloud, it's terrible.

I still love GMail, the interface works better for me than for others. Just use your own domain (with a third party registrar) and you can just swap the front-end if Google decides to ban you.

Same with a small company, as long as you have control of your domains and regular backups of the emails, having a fail-over isn't that hard. In this case the real damage is personal accounts, the business accounts could probably be up within a few hours at another provider (plus some more hours until backups are restored).

That's a good advice, always have a backup plan for that (and custom domains + email backups are working great as a backup plan).

My personal recommendation is that your domain registrar, web host, and email service should all be different parties. Segregate your risk of losing control of all of these at once, it makes recovery drastically easier.

Bear in mind, if someone's all in with Google, they might have their domain controlled by Google Domains.

Also a rookie mistake to avoid: the contact email address that you provide your email hosting shouldn’t be the domain hosted on that service. If there is a technical problem with a loss of access to emails and you need to contact them,... ask me how I found out!

Ok. How did you find out? :P

Not GP, but I'm guessing something happened with either email delivery or login, which broke either receiving support emails or being able to login to see any email.

This I agree with. I even run my nameservers different to my registrar, meaning that if my registrar has technical issues I can still control the domain routing. If the nameserver company has issues, I can still change nameservers.

I strongly agree with this, but I'd go slightly further and say your domain registrar should be entirely independent of any other services.

At one point I had my domain registered through my ISP, which was run rather eccentrically by a gentleman I eventually had a dispute with. He then (probably illegally) disabled all my DNS records, leaving me without my main email account for a week at a particularly vulnerable point in my life. It was horrific.

Agree entirely.

This should apply to all cloud services. If you use them for anything critical, total migration and DR should be part of your exit strategy for if anything like this happens. Everything you have in the cloud should be backed up in neutral formats off line on your property.

I’ve had a couple of run ins with google and personal accounts a few years back. Once my sign in was broken for two weeks. I couldn’t sign in with it showing a non descript error. I couldn’t find or get anyone to help. If this was anything business critical then it would have been pack up and go home.

Google apps support is notoriously crap as well. Been there, done that, left quickly.

Not that everyone can afford such things but a few companies I have worked for in the past have mirrored their entire cloud infrastructure across more than one provider (aws, google, azure, etc).

One was co-located at one data center that had connectivity issues and they had all traffic automatically rerouted to their development stack in the office which operated as production while their colo sorted out issues.

As a Google Apps/For work admin I also have experienced really hostile policies and support in the past. Its really shortsighted of Google because now they want companies to use their GCP platform which I find insane.

This reminds me to download and remove all my emails from Google’s GMail servers. Does anyone know of a good automated solution to do this on a regular basis?

That was the standard de facto way of accessing mail before web interfaces ruined it all: a lot faster than using a browser and you get full access to all your mail for complex searches etc.

Any offline client will do; I use Claws Mail since ages where I migrated all my email also from past clients such as Eudora under Windows XP. http://www.claws-mail.org/

It's multiplatform, very fast and stable and can keep, index and search huge datasets of emails (mine is over 60K messages since mid 90s) in seconds. Backing up/exporting the email database needs only saving the Mail directory in the user's home; I've successfully moved mail directories between Linux and Windows installations of Claws Mail without a hitch. It made Outlook users drop their jaws when they realized how fast it is and they no longer needed to delete years of mails because the client became slow as molasses.

All you have to do is configure it to access Google servers like any other client then check the option to delete the mail on the server once it has been downloaded. IIRC this option is checked by default.

Gmail (still) supports IMAP, so tools like offlineimap should work just fine.


There's a fairly direct way to dump all of your Google data here: https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/3024190?hl=en

I used it for a grepping through years of emails.

Maybe not what you want, but you could do this using a regular pop3 client and set it to delete copies from the server.

I therefore created a icloud and outlook account. Google allows you to forward all emails to anywhere. That way all three companies have to block you... Hope not

POP3? You can use the gmail pop3 server via your mail retriever program, and set it to not keep mail on the server (which is generally the default). All mail suite software (Thunderbird, Outlook, Evolution, etc.) and individual mail retrieval programs (e.g. mpop, fetchmail, getmail, etc) support it.

Google Takeout can probably be scripted somehow.

If you're on G Suite you can use GAM (https://github.com/jay0lee/GAM) to automate mailbox exports directly to mbox files.

It was a story like this years ago that prompted me to switch to FastMail. Have never looked back.

Suggested alternatives? Anyone ever had a similar / bad experience with Microsoft?

I always recommend fastmail. I’ve used them for decades with no issues. On the rare occasion they have an issue, they go all out to fix it quickly and keep the user community informed. I once asked them to trace a delivery problem through their server logs, which they did in less than an hour - they politely showed me where I screwed up! I can be logged in and making changes from multiple platforms simultaneously and everything works flawlessly. In addition, I think they are honest when they claim they don’t scan or sell my data.

Their web app is very good. (Previously, I was using Gnus.) I also use iOS Mail to access fastmail via IMAP, because the VIP “folder” feature is great for cherrypicking.

I've had nothing but horrible experiences with Microsoft. Frequent down times, high latency, surprise licensing fee increases, vendor lock-in, software that gets worse every year. I wouldn't wish Outlook or Skype on my worse enemy.

Also if you don't pay up, they might raid your office and take your computers.


What's a good gmail alternative?

Your own email account on a VPS or other web hosting? I've been doing this for my work email for years, moved my personal email over at the start of the year and so far it's worked perfectly. Thunderbird's support for long email threads isn't as good as Gmail's but that's about the only downside I've seen (and that's a downside of Thunderbird, not of the approach to email).


No, really. even though free accounts ending. Actually not even sure if you can sign up at the moment. Has basically 'just worked' for years though, hopefully they stay in business. :/

Doesn't look like there's anymore active signup :/

Zoho is excellent and fills almost all the gaps of GSuite.

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