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Banned from Google Ads for Using Apple Card (smartprivacy.io)
447 points by zxlk21e 21 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 216 comments



Google's classic canned response of "We've confirmed we're right, we will not tell you why and this is the last reply you'll receive" is one of the most infuriating things I can imagine. I make my income primarily through AdSense and live in fear of that email one day.

In this scenario it seems pretty obvious that their automated fraud AI messed up, but the customer service person is probably also automated. They have so many people working on insane moonshots, but don't spend money for customer service for their core products (in this case people literally trying to give you money!). Just bizarre.


This whole practice reeks of being downright fraudulent. Especially with a new technology like Apple Card, which folks will understandably not have a strong familiarity with. I get that Google needs to combat fraud and all that, but they should at least inform the customer of why such a drastic action (a permanent ban! !!) was taken with almost no warning.

Really, any respectable company in this situation would simply flag the account for a billing problem, deny the card, and let the customer try again. At which point, any legitimate customer will go, "Oh, guess they don't take Apple Card" and use something else. It's the same effect (account can't be used, "fraud" with the Apple Card if it exists is dodged) but is not nearly so user hostile as this... mess.

Google's opacity here seems like it could only really have one benefit to the company: They can shut down any account they don't like, and since they're always vague with the reasoning, they don't necessarily have to have a valid reason. Their whole "you know what you did" approach is just uncertain enough to cause the victim to doubt themselves and be unlikely to mount a defense. I don't know what their actual motivations are (I know it's popular to hate on Google, but I have a hard time believing they're pulling stunts like this on purpose) but it looks bad no matter how you slice it.


I think an application of Hanlon's Razor (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanlon%27s_razor) is applicable here. Google is in an oligopolistic position (along with Facebook) in the online ads space. Therefore, they face zero consequence for having extraordinarily poor customer service. As a result, they optimize their customer "service" to minimize work for themselves.

I ran into a very similar situation with my gas company. I'd fat-fingered my bank account number in their online form, so they weren't able to debit my account. Instead of notifying me of this problem, they simply locked my account and threatened to cut me off for non-payment. Even after I'd called the company and appealed, they still prevented me from paying with my bank account for 12 months and forced me to pay with a credit card (which incurred an additional $3.75 "convenience fee").


I don't think Hanlon's Razor applies to large companies. Individual humans tend to have reasonably powerful moral compass's, but make a lot of mistakes due to lack of information, focus, and error checking. For humans, it makes sense to assume "stupidity" rather than malice. On the other hand, companies like Google have tons of the smartest people in the world making decisions, but they tend to put profit over morality whenever possible. In a sense, they have to, or else they'll be out-competed by someone who does.

For large companies, I would almost go so far as to propose that one should "never attribute to stupidity what can adequately be explained by malice."

I have no opinion about this particular instance. I just find that HN tends to bring up Hanlon's Razor a lot in defense of corporations.


Agreed, but I don't think this sentence is true: "In a sense, they have to, or else they'll be out-competed by someone who does."

No they don't. It would be fine for everyone if instead one of being one of the richest companies in existence they would only make the top 10.


“Google is in an oligopolistic position (along with Facebook)”

The real issue is that too many people are depending on advertising to support their business plan instead of the tried and true - making a product that people are willing to give you money for.


I’m not sure if this is an attempt to troll the thread or your legitimate point of view. If the latter, ads play a major role in the success of man (most?) great products you are currently using because without exposure most people wouldn’t know of their existence.

Sadly, that power clustered towards Google with no oversight whatsoever.

Google will continue to be opaque unless they have oversight/regulations. Something I imagine they spend quite a bit* to prevent in any way possible.


I don’t have any moral issue with using advertising to get your product in front of people. There are many different ways to market besides depending on Google ads.

I have a problem with a business plan that bases your entire revenue stream on Google ads.


Basically you sum up why having 1 major, huge company that supplies a vast array of website coverage, is a bad idea, aka google adsense/doubleclick which powers so many ad networks. Yes there is facebook/twitter and a few others but google is the one with the crazy huge coverage. Also yes there are other formats but we live in a very digital age where it has potentially better returns for less cost when you use google adsense rather than traditional media. When you are a small company these cost differences are a huge deal.


I wonder why more people don't take Google to court over this. Yes, you'd need extraordinary funds to fight them properly, but on the other hand them sending anyone to court will also cost them extraordinary amount of money - so I imagine before they accept any such legal challenge they would ask the CS department to actually have a look at the case first. Having a lawyer send them a letter saying that you are going to take them to court is comparatively cheap compared to having your entire AdSense account shut down.


Sure, if you have an actual colorable claim of a violation of a legal right, wave the threat of court action. But also recognize that that escalation can work two ways...

> but on the other hand them sending anyone to court will also cost them extraordinary amount of money

Alphabet has $117 billion cash on hand, they can handle the cost. In fact, they can handle the cost of a scorched earth defense more easily than the cost of getting a reputation for rolling over everytime someone waves the threat of a small claims action.

> so I imagine before they accept any such legal challenge they would ask the CS department to actually have a look at the case first.

More likely, once they get that kind of letter, the legal department will probe the CS records of related to the issue to determine the legal position. They might then suggest just giving you want you want, or they might then send you a nice letter from their attorney about how they are prepared to make a claim for (e.g.) civil fraud for the deceptive action that they were previously willing to leave with an account termination, and that if they do so it will far exceed the small claims limit and they will use that counterclaim to move to transfer your case out of small claims.


Bank accounts and credit cards work very differently in making payments. Getting an ACH transaction disputed is far more time consuming and difficult. Fat fingering a bank account number number and not triple checking it for an ACH payment isn't something I would just shrug off.


> Really, any respectable company...

Here's the issue. From my perspective, Google used to be a respectable company, but through automation of customer handling and service they've elected to accept negative consequences and impact for customers - which isn't a very respectable position to take in my book.


You say "elected to accept" but I'd like to correct you - they designed their company that way by choice and they continue knowing at worst, one day, one of their lawyers will attend court and be told what new things are required to be compliant. Then, at worst, their lawyers will haggle over the details. Then they will change things within that one jurisdiction.


When has Google as an ad company not had these problems and been “respectable”?


What exactly makes the Apple Card "new technology"?


It looks incompetent, not fraudulent. They’re using credit card numbers as a primary anti-fraud mechanism, and virtual cards bypass that.


> new technology like Apple Card

what?


> Google's classic canned response of "We've confirmed we're right, we will not tell you why and this is the last reply you'll receive" is one of the most infuriating things I can imagine.

For non-negligible damages, heading immediately to small claims court (given you live in a sensible jurisdiction) seems to be the easiest thing in that case. Even if Google's ultimately in the right, they typically can't just ignore that entirely.

From a decade ago:

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/why-i-sued-google-and-won_b_1...

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/why-google-bothered-to-ap_b_2...


What damages can you prove?

Google presumably hasn't signed a long-term contract with you to provide any services or continue a business relationship.

Is "We don't want to do business with you any more because our algorithm isn't smart enough to differentiate what you're doing for fraud" actionable?


> What damages can you prove?

Well, that really depends on the case and jurisdiction, I can't answer that for you. Really, the key part is to force Google to actually provide reasoning for their actions, as they eventually did in the case I edited in links for.


Going to court twice to get Google to pay $0 in damages and not reinstate your account doesn't sound like "the easiest thing" to me. It's at best a Pyrrhic victory.

I get the desire to impose costs on Google for their bad actions, but this doesn't seem like a very productive plan.


Well yes, giving up is almost always the easiest option in any situation. I mean easier than attempting to navigate Google support channels or having the right internal connections.


Really, sometimes people forget (and I'm guilty as charged) they live in a society with laws and legal recourses.

It's not as simple as "Google can cut you off no questions asked whenever they feel like it"


> It's not as simple as "Google can cut you off no questions asked whenever they feel like it"

Are you sure about that? Often such terms are built into the user agreements.


Well, that's certainly what they want you to think ;)

I suppose there are a couple of issues that haven't been tested in court.

But besides that, anything you paid and wasn't rendered as services needs to be refunded. It doesn't look like they refund it most times, no?


The problem is that regardless of whether they are or not, getting to a point where a judge looks it over is a process most can’t go through with an opponent like Google.


Again, depends on the jurisdiction, but in the UK filling for a small claims court case would be like £125? And if they don't show up the case will almost certainly be ruled in your favour and Google ordered to pay back whatever they owe you - plus any court costs you incurred. It's really not that difficult. Even paying a lawyer £100 to write and send them a letter "you have 7 days to fix this or we're going to court" would most likely achieve better result than trying to contact their useless customer service.


>in this case people literally trying to give you money!

Gmail for Android has 2 core functions: to send and to receive mail. It fails at one of them. (Emails get stuck in its outbox indefinitely - you can force it to send by going into the "outbox" and dragging down to refresh, which is an action that has no button to show it is possible. There is no notification that your mail wasn't sent.)

Here is a thread about it:

https://support.google.com/mail/thread/3130686?hl=en

How is it possible for an app that has 2 functions, to fail to do one of them?

This is like a salt and pepper set where the pepper side has no holes - the pepper is stuck inside. (You can unscrew the top and manually shake some out though.) Sure salt is more common. But it's literally a salt and pepper set that only functions as a salt shaker.

Gmail for android is literally a mail sending and receiving app that can't send mail.

How can this happen? I mean literally, how is the support thread I linked possible?

If I were the CEO and I saw a thread like that, the issue would be fixed within 7 minutes, as every person within earshot of me rushed to make themselves look good to me.

How is Google's CEO different?


Easy. Google’s CEO runs an advertising company.

You assumption is that the app has two functions functions: sending and receiving email.

It actually only has one function, put eyes in front of ads.


To be honest this doesn't make sense. If the salt and pepper set only had "one function" which is to display advertising in your home (the analogy works pretty well, as I could imagine the set plastered with ads) it still has to work as a salt and pepper set, or people wouldn't use it.


In the example thread above, people are reacting by complaining about the problem. If they reacted by switching email providers, they wouldn’t be in that thread. I highly doubt Gmail’s active user count is affected by any more than a minuscule amount as a result.


to me, your explanation doesn't really explain how an active development team can ignore that issue. If it were just a handful of users talking about an esoteric corner case I could maybe understand.


Those users aren't paying customers.

Besides, it does appear to be a corner case. It has ~200 upvotes. Gmail has 1.5 billion users.

That's 1 in 7,500,000.

If every single one of them quits using Gmail, and they tell all of their friends, and all of their friends quit using Gmail, Google will still be able to tell their paying customers that those ads reach 1.5 billion users.


There are other threads about it. Plus, it happened to me - so the most likely explanation from my end is that it happens in 100% of cases ;).

http://www.google.com/search?q=mail+stuck+in+outbox+gmail

A single quora answer alone has 20k views. Do you think that's a normal number of views on a quora answer? How many views do you think that quora answer should have for you to think it's a problem? 200k? 2m? 20m? 200m? 2b?

(A single quora answer does not represent everyone who has a problem. Maybe 0.01% of people with a specific problem will end up reading a specific quora answer. So I think that 20k represents 200 million users, or more than 10% of Gmail's userbase. While we're just throwing around made up numbers. Maybe it's 100% of installed gmail for android apps with that problem. (Since not every gmail user uses android, uses the android app, and uses it to send mail.)

Anyway I think up to 100% of the android app users could be affected.

Still, you answered the question: perhaps the development team doesn't feel that 20,000 reports is a priority. Maybe the salt and pepper manufacturer doesn't care that every one of their pepper shakers doesn't let peppers out. 20,000 complaints just don't matter.

Important people use iPhone anyway.


Maybe they are all focused on the visual design and adding new feature bloat. This does seem like a problem with software economics, where people will put up with non functional software as long as it looks nice and always has new features advertised to them.


> Google's classic canned response of "We've confirmed we're right, we will not tell you why and this is the last reply you'll receive" is one of the most infuriating things I can imagine.

There isn't a week that goes by without that exact same story repeating itself.

> I make my income primarily through AdSense and live in fear of that email one day.

Maybe you could prepare for this by writing an angry blogpost ahead of time, to get it out of your system?


It's absolutely fucking mind-boggling how these large, impenetrable silicon valley companies (mainly google here) like to hide behind their "algorithms".

"Oh, sorry your main method of making money was terminated, we won't tell you why or how we came to that conclusion - must have been the algorithm, sorry!"

What's that old saying - "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity"? I'm starting to think that these massive companies aren't stupid and that they're actually designing their algorithms behind this and using it as a scapegoat to push their own agenda.


I’ve never once had a problem reaching a live human that could solve my problem on the business side working with AWS. As a consumer I’ve never had any issues with Amazon retail.


It's pretty difficult to reach a human if you don't pay a ridiculous extra amount each month for support--and even then, they're rarely able to assist with actual bugs. They just assume everything that's wrong is your mistake, and when they finally come to the conclusion that it's a bug on their end, they give up.


If you call $100 a month minimum or a percentage of your service plan (https://aws.amazon.com/premiumsupport/pricing/) “ridiculous”. You can immediately reach a live person via chat or phone.

I use the live business support plan all of the time as an “easy button”. Some of the issues they have helped us out with in the past.

- a cross account CodePipeline using CodeBuild and CloudFormation (you cant do it through the UI)

- configuration issues with lambda, API Gateway, and binary transfers.

- Python/Boto3/DynamoDB and DAX coding issues

- various weird CloudFormation issues.

- Parameter Store/CloudFormation throttling issues (ie use DependsOn to force CF to create Parameter Store resources serially)


From the original comment: "these large, impenetrable silicon valley companies".

Amazon isn't a silicon valley company, perhaps that's why its support isn't as horrible.


I don't disagree with anything you have said. But, if your main method of making money is dependent on some particular entity continuing to do whatever they are currently doing, you have a problem.


I hear that argument a lot from people trying to shift the blame to the victim. But we all depend on some particular entity in one form or another, we all depend on the government upholding the value of money, we depend on the transportation systems not to cease to operate, we do that not because we're sloppy but because there is no other way to do things. Try to run ads on the Internet without dealing with Google.


... the Federal reserve, for instance.


> In this scenario it seems pretty obvious that their automated fraud AI messed up

Ah, but is it really obvious? One of the benefits of virtual card numbers, in particular the Apple Card implementation, is that it's easy to switch them out, which makes tracking harder.

Could it be that a company that makes its living off tracking users would not be overly fond of virtual card numbers? As long as users' reaction is "if you're planning on using the Apple Card for anything important, think again", it looks like the AI did exactly what it was meant to do.


I usually pay with Amex and sometimes a business will say "Oh sorry, we don't take Amex". Never once have they ushered me out the door and issued a trespass notice. Instead I just pay another way and we are both happy. That seems pretty optimal.


If that's the case, they should simply reject charges from virtual cards, rather than charging them and then banning the account.


But as I've argued above, maybe the deterrent effect is a feature, as long as it's the use of virtual cards that is deterred and not the use of Google products.


Wouldn't you say that banning you from using Google products forever is a pretty darn effective way of deterring you from using those products?


That would be one way of looking at it. But the OP took the opposite conclusion, that one should avoid using Apple Card. So we have one user who is using neither Apple Card nor Google products, and a number of his readers, who are deterred from using Apple Card.


Add this to the list for Elizabeth Warren to bust big tech's balls for...

Others within last 30 days:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20632119

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20814135


This is exactly what I said few hours back https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20838089.

Premium support in Google only exists to make sure your have paid them. They will ban your account after you have paid them. They usually want till your payment is cleared and then ban you.

My colleague's play account was banned because he used PayPal not Google wallet, when it was launched


We thought the sci-fi style evil AI would become the overlord making nonsensical decisions that can't be appealed.

But really, humans are happy to do it to each other.

It makes sense I guess as those sci-fi AIs are often to some extent or another trying to save us from, other humans, or at least that was their origin.


It's a classic "Go fuck yourself" response.


That would actually be a more honest response.


Modern life is so Kafkaesque.


I had this exact issue with FB a while ago. Got that exact response.

Fortunately I’d worked with FB before for major brands, so I knew the email to send to to get a real person. There is almost always a monitored email address for accounts receivable, and if you email them pretending like you are having trouble making a large payment, someone will respond. When they think it’s a fat check, suddenly “this decision is final” is just a mistake.


> I make my income primarily through AdSense and live in fear of that email one day.

Perhaps you should change this? If you're aware your entire livelihood is a game of Russian roulette, you should maybe work on making it something else.


Yes everyone who has an unsteady job should just get a better one or not worry about losing the one they have. Quite stoic.


I second this, recognising my Google account as a giant SPOF made me invest heavily into redundancy. I've gotten closer and closer to the point where I can realistically consider Google services as ephemeral.


I took similar approach a while ago. I don't run google ads and I am not doing any business with them but I have lots of important data on my Google Drive (personal backup) that I really wouldn't want to lose. One day I read a story of a guy who had his account shut down for posting a video (innocent in his own claims) to youtube. As a result he lost access to his gmail and Drive too. This was a wake up call for me as I realised that I could be denied access to my data for whatever reason. I have several additional copies now, both on local hard drives and different cloud providers.


I feel like people are slowly learning that one shouldn't use google for anything important unless there is no other option. Hardware equivalent is Intel for anything but PC and laptop microprocessors. Intel acts the same way google does. And people in the hardware business avoid Intel products when alternatives exist.


It is kind of hard to just “change” one’s principal passive income source. It’s not like taking another job if you don’t like the current one. Such things can take years.


there's nothing "passive" about this. he's relying upon a "platform" (there should be a more nefarious word for this, perhaps monopolyform or something) whose behavior in the past has indicated that it is arbitrary at best and malicious at worst. thus, there's an absolutely nontrivial existential risk of losing all of that one morning, at the whim of the platform overlord.

when you associate to any extent with a monopolyform, you must understand that at any point, the owner can absolutely annihilate you. that's the game, and those complaining post facto about how it's not fair should consider that those were always the rules, and complaining after getting bumped off is certainly understandable but that outcome should have always been a part of one's expected risks and possible outcomes.


At one time I felt like I was going to be one of those people but very glad I decided to keep working as additional income because a few years later it slowly declined when google decided big brand were more important search results.

I feel like if you get your traffic from a source and also sell on that platform at some point the company sees you are successful and cuts you out. We see it with google search result taking content and presenting it at the top. Or Amazon scanning for profitable niches on the platform and pushing their own product.


I make my income primarily through AdSense and live in fear of that email one day.

Me too.

My favorite so far is Google threatening to take away my primary source of income because my site has content related to pirated software.

Google is correct! My site is a dictionary, and it has the temerity to define the term “warez”.


Unfortunately they practice these sorts of policy on the app store as well.

We've been saying Google does this, Google does that. The thing is, a company is composed of its people.

I am just curious, how does something like this, something most people with reasonable sense of "fairness" would flag as concerning and potentially very wrong, comes to be implemented? Even more so for a large company like Google? (smaller companies can have a "bad dictator boss" which can push this through without issue)

Policies like these, which appear to have consistencies across their products, how far up does the chain of responsibility go? How does stuff like these occur?

Does it start with some MBA grad who comes in, gets assigned a KPI to "cut costs" and then their natural bias is that customer service is the first to go, proposes it to their managers and it bubbles up for approval and implementation? All the while everyone at each level is oblivious to the potentially damaging collateral the policy would cause, but only think that "oh this is a great move, we would save a bunch!" and then finally gets implemented?

Or would this more be a top-down thing where executives discuss and push this and then the employees, being good people at heart have no choice but to implement it?

I just find it so difficult to imagine something like this being OK-ed by all the people involved within the company. Like, is everyone "in on it"? Or do they not know? Or they know but can't/unwilling to say anything?


It starts with someone coming up with a way of cutting costs. It continues because it can. Then it becomes part of their brand which would only matter if you had similiar choices for similiar services.


I think Google employees view their services as a gift to users who should be grateful and understanding of any deficiencies.


My theory is that Google is now being run by robots. They maintain a few token humans to propagate the facade.

Before you disagree, ask yourself, would you know if they were(n't)?


The humans are too distracted by non-work activities maybe? This article paints a bizarre picture: https://thefederalist.com/2018/01/10/19-insane-tidbits-james...


Google's classic canned response of "We've confirmed we're right, we will not tell you why and this is the last reply you'll receive" is one of the most infuriating things I can imagine.

Its also almost certainly completely fake as they're done nothing of the sort. I'd be shocked if it wasn't as automatic as an away message.


Yet there still are all kinds of scams advertised and millions of people download trojaned apps from Google Play.


Google ignoring their customers is a recurring theme,, and I'd like to think that I have a pretty good list of tech news that I follow.

Since this is HN, which (at least used to) primarily cater to the startup crowd, I hope it goes without saying that Google does not fix this issue because they don't have a financial incentive to do so. This is basic capitalism at play, and what you as a developer/advertiser/user need to do is use and pay for competing products if you're not happy about the status quo.


Exactly, it's all about power.

On one hand, in the online ads biz, Google is king and is happy to outsource its customer support for its most premium customers both large network of agencies and advertisers. I know it quite well, I was one of those guys for Doubleclick many moons ago. That is if you are big enough to be worthy of being a Google (DC) customer in the first place, which means, you have to be a large spender.

But on the other hand, if you sign up for their Google Cloud thing despite being a nobody (me again), you'll have their sales folks hounding you for an upsell, mostly because GCloud is ridiculously behind both AWS and Azure.

Funny how it goes.


FWIW Facebook will also ban you without telling you which ad policy you violated. Most infuriating they can pull access to accounts or your ability to turn off ads while they're still running and connected to a credit card. To me, that seems like a lawsuit waiting to happen.


Coinbase does the same thing. Perma-banned for reasons. Won't ever know why.


> Just bizarre.

It would be except you and other are still using their services.


And why do you think this isn't intentional? Spending money on people solving company's screwups costs a lot of money. For the company the size of Google or Facebook one client (or hundred) like this are peanuts, drop in the bucket. The cost of losing them is minimal over the costs of paying a support person to deal with problems.

Big client won't get banned - and if they do, they have also a non-public phone number to an account manager to make things right again too.

Sadly this is a common trend - e.g. with ISPs it is almost impossible to find a contact to an actual person, only some online chats or automated hotline that will waste your time with canned responses not solving your problem.


> ...with ISPs it is almost impossible to find a contact to an actual person...

What ISP are you talking about? I've never had trouble getting a real person with Verizon, CenturyLink, or ATT. You might have to wait on hold for a few dozen minutes, but that's a separate issue.


It is intentional, I'm just saying it's ridiculous. the Google way is to treat everything like a programming problem. That works decently well for bits, but really breaks down when working with humans.


The thing is that it doesn't break down except in the extreme cases, and even then it's often less bad than the edge cases with traditional human-mediated customer service. Consider the Wells Fargo accounts snafu, or the Comcast customer nickname issue. Or PayPal just in general. Is Google actually worse, or are they the kind of better that makes their rarer screwups seem worse. Consider in your evaluation just how many people they deal with using their automated systems.


Extreme cases like using a popular new credit card to pay? Please. Google uses an algorithm to ban people for life without recourse, it's insane. Not everything can be reduced to an algo, sometimes you need to make exceptions. It can even make your algo better (thousands of people are going to try using their new Apple cards in the coming weeks).


As others have mentioned, we only currently have one data point on this. However...

Google is well known for terrible customer support. And if you think of it, it makes sense. After all, if you can server 100M users via an automated support systems and only 0.01% have issues a year, it's probably far, far cheaper to just drop those "problem" users, than hire thousands of customer support persons.

Note: just threw the above numbers out, but you get the gist.

EDIT:

Speaking of algorithms, I wonder if the OP was below some adsense fiscal threshold of 'it's worth it to intercede here with a level 4 manager' or some blather.


You don’t have the data to conclude that it doesn’t work well. We could very well be commenting on an exception out of millions of perfectly executed automated fraud detections.


One person is an extreme case. Was everyone on Apple Card banned?


Which ISPs? I’ve always gotten in touch with an actual person. Even if it takes time. Complete contrast to FB or Google.


> Google's classic canned response of "We've confirmed we're right, we will not tell you why and this is the last reply you'll receive" is one of the most infuriating things I can imagine.

Apple does that too [1]. I assume it's to prevent a DoS from fraudsters. (Obviously, it's a problem for legitimate users)

[1] https://qz.com/1683460/what-happens-to-your-itunes-account-w...


In your example, the user was easily able to contact a real human being who informed them that their account had been terminated for using a fraudulent gift card.

That human being even went to bat for the user and tried to convince corporate that buying the fraudulent gift card had been an honest mistake in trusting the wrong seller and not intentional fraud.

This seems like quite a different experience from "you are banned for life and we won't even talk to you or tell you why".


Read on for the salient part.

> This Senior Agent #2 was not as supportive as the first, and gave me information that contradicted Senior Agent #1: “Your account has been permanently disabled,” he said. “There is nothing else you can do, there is no escalation path.”

> When I asked for an explanation as to why, all he would say is, “See the terms and conditions.”

Ultimately, the author was able to get out of that dead-end, but it sounded awfully close.


The salient fact is that the user was easily able to contact customer support, find out exactly what the issue was, provide documentation showing what had happened, and appeal an adverse decision all the way to the top.

This is significantly different than "we won't tell you what the issue is and we won't even accept communications from you".


All this stuff reminds me of an article I read 35 years ago about the dispossessed in the Soviet Union. People whose records had been lost by the system. And so officially to the state they didn't exist. What out that they couldn't get jobs or housing. Their only hope was to appeal to a bureaucrat with enough power to re-instate them.


Beyond the fact that I don't understand why a virtual card should be a problem, I think that this era of "we can deny you a service and tell you nothing" should stop. It's one of the biggest issues of the modern internet.

I understand that laws are different around the world. In Italy, whatever is defined as a "public exercise" - anything offering its services to the anybody, be it a shop, a store, a cafè, a restaurant, MUST offer those services to anybody who a) can pay and b) satisfies any global and well-expressed condition (e.g. more than 18 years old, properly dressed, etc). You cannot just deny service to a random customer without a VERY GOOD reason. If you want to serve members only, you can build your private club. Then you're able to do almost whatever you like, but you cannot advertise or promote your activities to non-members.

I suppose US law is different, although I think to remember that there're some rules against discrimination. Either the service is available to anyone, or to noone. If some infringement happens, it must be explicit and there must be the chance to appeal to a judge. Otherwise, how can this be non-discriminatory?


There's rules about discrimination for specific reasons: you can't discriminate based on age, race, gender, etc. "Which credit card" you use isn't one of those categories, so it's legal to discriminate based on it. (And is often done, though not to this extent; many places, for example, will accept Visa and Mastercard but not Discover.)


>so it's legal to discriminate based on it. (And is often done, though not to this extent; many places, for example, will accept Visa and Mastercard but not Discover.)

Sure, but one thing is:

"Sorry, I cannot accept Discover, do you happen to have another means of payment?"

and another one is:

"Sorry, I cannot accept Discover, and since you presented one of those cards to me once, then you are prevented for the rest of your life to enter these premises again".


The relief for that would be for the customer to talk to everyone and tell them how bad the vendor is, and go to another vendor who offers the same service.

In this case, Google is effectively a monopoly/2Big2Fail in advertising. So that remedy is not available or is impractical.

So the issue is not necessarily the behaviors (while reprehensible) but the size of the company.


Yeah the real issue is the choice. If there were 5 or 10 reasonable alternatives, this kind of thing wouldn't bother me at all. But if the options are "obey Google or fail", suddenly it's a big problem.


From Google's point of view it's more like:

"Sorry, I cannot accept this bill, and since you presented counterfeit money to me once, then you are prevented for the rest of your life to enter these premises again".

I'm not saying this is right, but I think it's the more apt analogy.


Except it's in no sense of the word "counterfeit", right? So the analogy falls apart pretty hard for me. It's more like that old Taco Bell $2 bill story.


Or like paying with a $20 and being banned, because even though your $20 is completely real, it’s a popular bill for counterfeiters to use.


It may not be counterfeit but if Google has a wealth of data indicating that this usage pattern results in fraud then it might as well be the digital form of counterfeit.


Not really. They might refuse to accept it for policy reasons but that doesn't mean that attempting to pay with it is a bad-faith act akin to paying with a counterfeit bill.


You'd never know. They'd never tell you. They'd just be giving you the silent treatment whenever you came in the building with no explanation.


At least there's a reason AND a felony. If a customer steals at my restaurant, that's a good reason to deny him service forever. But I'll probably contact police about it as well.


Well, but then, even in our not-so-perfect world, there are still some nuances based on the actual (criminal) act.

The customer would be arrested by the police, then he/she would be subject to a trial and IF actually found guilty would be sentenced to - say - six months of jail.

If he/she had actually killed someone, then he/she would probably get thirty years or a life sentence.

But here we are still talking about someone who (BTW presumably in good faith) presented the "wrong" piece of paper (a fake bill that he maybe got as change from another restaurant) at the counter of your restaurant to pay the bill, and that was (again presumably) ready to give you another "good" banknote to pay for the service.

I don't think (actually hope) the restaurant owner would call the police for this.


Unfortunately both your scenarios are perfectly legal. Credit cards are not a protected class.


Imagine if that very thing happened at a grocery store. You're in a small town, no alternative, and you've got no driving licence. Would you like to starve because of no reason?

Btw, I'm not saying it's illegal. I'm saying it SHOULD be illegal.


It should be illegal as soon as the District Attorney decides to prosecute every instance of criminal fraud.


I'm so glad it isn't my job to fight fraud. I worked at a place that would blacklist entire countries from signing up for their service, as a disproportionate number if fraudulent sign ups came from those countries. Every now and then I'd be contacted by an apparently regular customer who just wanted to try the service, and there was nothing I could do to help them, even when I really wanted to. I hated every part of feeling dealing with that stupid fraud system.


Your situation isn't even as bad as what google did. It is one thing to proactively prevent sign-ups from potentially "fraudulent" users and another to permaban existing users on their first "offense" with no explanation and/or opportunity to appeal that decision. The latter should always be an option for permabans, no matter what.


How many dollars should Google be required to spend handling these appeals? Do you think fraudsters won't appeal as well? Some don't, but actually many of the most indignant/irate "customers" are the ones who have been caught in a scam, particularly if they are caught before they've actually closed the lid on it. They probably won't blog about it, but they'll definitely try to force the company to spend as much as possible dealing with them.


Such is life when dealing with the public. Some people will need individual attention. They may well cost you more than you make from them. You make it up with the averages. If you don’t like it, don’t sell to the public.

Your local grocery store has far better customer service than this despite razor-thin margins. Payment problems? They’ll work with you. Product is bad? Refund. Sale not ringing through properly? They’ll fix it. Surely Google can afford to have some actual people to help you when you have problems.


Nothing to add, just commenting here so that I can find this distilled wisdom again when I need it.


I thought your comment to remember a comment was interesting. I hadn't tried the "favorite" link before, so I just tried it on your comment. It looks like that would also serve your purpose. Basically click favorite, and then you can see previously flagged favorites via your user profile. However, your method would be more visible if you're browsing via the threads link above.


Thanks for this, I never noticed the link and just lazily assumed it wasn't available on mobile. For anyone else in the same position: It's there at the permalink (date on comment -> favourite).


eBay? ;)


But most places won't shun you if you merely try to use the wrong card. Imaging bringing out your Amex and being escorted off the premises and permanently banned.


> many places, for example, will accept Visa and Mastercard but not Discover.

But that's explicit and the same for everybody. If you accepted Discover from somebody and not from somebody else, THAT would be discrimination.

Discriminating the credit card somebody is using without telling anybody... well, could still be discrimination. Younger people could be more prone to use an Apple card, couldn't them? Can you demonstrate the "feature" you're discriminating about can't be tied to age, race, gender, etc?


> > many places, for example, will accept Visa and Mastercard but not Discover.

> But that's explicit and the same for everybody. If you accepted Discover from somebody and not from somebody else, THAT would be discrimination.

> Discriminating the credit card somebody is using without telling anybody... well, could still be discrimination. Younger people could be more prone to use an Apple card, couldn't them? Can you demonstrate the "feature" you're discriminating about can't be tied to age, race, gender, etc?

FYI discriminating against people on the basis of age is not illegal when applied to youth, at least in the United States. This is obviously the case as we use age as a gate for many privileges.


Right. I got a terrible example.


I kinda get the virtual card thing - it's pretty hard to get a credit card.

Assuming you can create infinite virtual numbers you could, theoretically (and I appreciate it's probably not the case here as the poster has account history), switch/cloak/whatever a whole bunch of high converting against policy stuff until the account is banned, at which point you set up a new ad account, new virtual number and start again. Rinse and repeat.

Seems a simpler method to tackle that by just banning virtual cards with the assumption "if you have nothing to hide you'll use a fixed number".


>I kinda get the virtual card thing - it's pretty hard to get a credit card.

I'm not sure you do? Because virtual cards are credit cards, afaik they're exclusively credit card linked, or at least bank account linked through a debit card type system. You need to have a standard card/account to get one (and at least in America getting a credit card is utterly trivial though it may not be a good one granted) and have identity.

>Assuming you can create infinite virtual numbers you could, theoretically (and I appreciate it's probably not the case here as the poster has account history), switch/cloak/whatever a whole bunch of high converting against policy stuff until the account is banned, at which point you set up a new ad account, new virtual number and start again. Rinse and repeat.

Virtual credit cards are still linked to you. Your name and mailing address and whatever else is required for normal credit card validation is still required. They're not a tool for anonymity, they're exclusively for dealing with issues on the seller side (ie., they get hacked, or are fraudsters).

>"if you have nothing to hide you'll use a fixed number".

But literally everyone does have something to hide: their fixed credit card number/crc/date, since that is an irritation to deal with if it gets stolen. It's not a public key unfortunately. Virtual CCs are a hack essentially to help bring some of the benefits of a more modern system that was fully tokenized (like Apple Pay and co) or used proper asymmetric crypto to legacy systems, at the cost of forcing more manual effort by the user. It's in the same bucket as password managers, ideally password auth would have long since ceased to exist, but in the mean time password managers help a bit with the garbage fire of the current authentication world.


> I'm not sure you do?

As in, I get why Google might want to not allow them, I'm not arguing the concept of them in general. As for the pain side - it's comparatively hard to get an actual, physical credit card with a new number if you're burning through one every week by getting your ad account blocked.

> Virtual credit cards are still linked to you.

No, not necessarily. Google "anonymous virtual credit card" - takes about 10 seconds to find one offering "Any name, any address, NO ID Virtual credit card". I'm not arguing there's zero trail - but if you wanted to run a bunch of shady ads, this would be a pretty good starting point.

> But literally everyone does have something to hide

Definitely not arguing this, I completely agree. I'm not saying Google are right, I'm not saying the system isn't stupid. And as someone who's had their card cloned multiple times, I understand how much it sucks and how nice it would have been to have had a virtual number.

The point in my original post was simply that I'd guess a whole bunch of the ad fraud / spam ads / cloaked ads come from virtual credit card numbers. Again, I have absolutely no idea, but I imagine thats a big and painful problem for Google. Prior to the Apple Card, I think it's safe to say the bulk of credit card users weren't using virtual numbers. I'm guessing someone in an office at Google said "if we ban accounts using virtual CCs we'll cut fraud by X%" and the small amount of false positives probably make that worth it - how many of their large spenders use virtual card? And if they do they probably have their own rep. Hence the problem in the original article.


Sure, but it seems reasonable to offer at least one "decline bc it's a virtual card, do you have something different?" response.


It turns out that businesses all over the world have to protect themselves from fraud to stay in business. It’s also unfortunately the case that telling fraudsters how you identified them as such just helps them avoid detection in the future - and they tend to share information with each other. This doesn’t excuse Google’s chronic lack of human customer service but it does mean their problem is harder than you give them credit for. In Italy how much information are businesses required to give criminals about their detection capability?


> Beyond the fact that I don't understand why a virtual card should be a problem,

Two reasons I can imagine:

- Each transaction uses a different card number, this is suspicious for multiple transactions on an account

- Approval requires user confirmation on their phone, thus takes longer than usual


> It's one of the biggest issues of the modern internet.

It's one of the biggest issues of the modern Internet that affect us: relatively rich, privileged people engaged in business primarily on the Internet. It's one of the smaller issues for most of the users of the Internet, who have much more significant problems, like governments spying on their Internet use, governments blocking big sections of the Internet, corporate monopolies making only certain parts of the Internet free and others prohibitively expensive, fraud, and all sorts of other problems.


> If you want to serve members only, you can build your private club

Isn't Google Ads kind of that already? You need to get approval to create your campaigns, and you have to provide all of your information in order to post ads?


Mmh, I get ads about adwords almost weekly.


I couldn't get my virtual card to do anything online. It's not just Google, but tons of companies refuse virtual cards. I gave up on it.


> If you're planning on using the Apple Card for anything important, think again.

That was the final line in the article, but from reading the rest of the article, it seems like the overarching problem was not the Apple Card, or the idea of virtual CC numbers... but more that time and time again, Google will shut down your [YouTube|Gmail|Ads|Cloud|anything] account with little or no notice, and arbitrary, non-contestable rulings, and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it after the fact.

I was nervous about staking anything financially important in the Google ecosystem, but after seeing this kind of post every week, there's no way I would tie any important business venture into Google's ecosystem.


If you’re planning on using Google for anything important, think again.

They are at fault here, not Apple.


Companies producing Android apps have no choice.


F-Droid is one alternative to the Play Store.


Or even just distribute it via their website like Fortnite.


Pivot


The stories like this can be heard every now and then and I think we all agree that Google's customer support could be vastly improved. But taking a step back, I am finding this particular story slightly suspicious as the site seems a little bit weird to me. The domain is only 4-months old and the entire site is almost empty, it consists of just a couple "reviews" of mostly VPNs and password managers and the author himself admits to participating in referral schemes. And despite advocating privacy he uses google analytics and one more tracking system on his site. The story he published is the only post that is not a review. If I had so much experience as he claims I would have better places to post my rant rather than at a newly created website. I can imagine a scheme where one posts a sensational story just to drive the traffic to their affiliate links-based business.

Now, having said all of this - I do NOT accuse author of anything, their story may be true, it actually sounds plausible. I'd just like to remind you of another google ban story [1] that made headlines some time ago and was later debunked by Google.

[1] https://www.reddit.com/r/tifu/comments/8kvias/tifu_by_gettin...


Let me also add that "the author wishes to remain anonymous" is a usual BS for 100% affiliate-scheme funded 'we care about your privacy and here are the best tools' sites, while also claiming total independence and honest editorial process. Sure. How they don't lose all credibility instantly when it's not clear who runs it is hard for me to gauge - I can only go back to "if it's on the top SERP on Google/DuckDuckGo or main page of HN it must be valid".


When these things happen, the pattern is always 1) shit happens, 2) company is unhelpful in resolving 3) victim writes it up and it ends up getting some publicity (e.g. front page of HN) 4) company says they're sorry and fixes the problem.

As I read OP, I wondered what I'd do. I guess I'd have to write it up on my mostly empty, pretty much dead blog. It would look weird and out of place on my mostly empty blog.

Then I look to the comments and see you calling them out for doing what I was just thinking I'd have to do.


That's not the pattern 'always'. There are lots of such cases where the writer's account turns out to be inaccurate in key details. Sometimes inadvertently, sometimes less so. And companies don't always swoop in to apologize and resolve the issue.


What was the debunking?


It's linked in the top comment. https://www.reddit.com/r/google/comments/8l231x/google_banne... Not so much a debunking as an absolute denial that the circumstances described transpired. It's difficult to prove a negative.


> Not so much a debunking

Yup, 'debunk' is probably not the best word here. English is not my native tongue, I apologize. What I meant is that a different opinion was presented by Google. But you're right - it's still one word vs another, it's impossible to determine who is telling the truth.


I don't think it was a particularly bad choice of words. The circumstances described were pretty outlandish. I was just trying to add some clarity. You're doing pretty good for a non-native speaker. Your English is much better than my nonexistent Polish.


Wait, so Google once again proves how much they suck at customer service, and the conclusion is to be wary of Apple Card? That seems like a stretch.


Seriously, the problem is not with Apple and virtual card numbers (which is awesome) but Google and their piss-poor customer service and lack of support for even paying users. Can't wait until the justice department drops the hammer on Google.


Looks like my prediction coming true https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20920731.

Another day, another horror story and with that a further confirmation of how profoundly broken Google's support is. I shall think twice before buying into any Google products and so should you. Imagine having you entire company cloud account suspended with no one to talk to... Or getting blocked from your domain/Gmail and unable to communicate... Or getting kicked out of the Play store when this is your only means of earning a living. These are not hypothetical, these are stories from HN front page just this year. Frightening and infuriating at the same time.


The author offers it as a warning against using Apple Card.

I read it as confirmation that Google would do well to focus on customer service for once.


What's easier? Not getting an Apple card or changing Google.


Avoiding Apple card is no guarantee that you won't run into the same problem somewhere else.

What's easier? Changing Google, or spending all of your time constantly worrying that your entire business could be disrupted or destroyed at random?

You can't look at it as one isolated event with one isolated solution; the takeaway is, "even innocuous, good-faith 'mistakes' might be enough for Google to randomly shut me down with no explanation and no recourse." There's no way to guard against that except to stop using Google.


I'm honestly not sure, I'd say getting off Google is the "better" choice with that kind of arbitrary risk of a ban.


I'm taking a middle path, making changes at my own pace on things that lessen my interactions with Google, Facebook, etc. I'm enjoying Protonmail, for example.


Why would not getting an Apple card keep Google from banning you?


It would only keep them from banning you for the use of a virtual card...unless you used a virtual card of some other kind.


Do you work for Google? How do you know that using an Apple card would result in you getting banned for the use of a virtual card?

E: Yes, I read the article.


Google's actual policies state that it accepts virtual cards.https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/2375433?hl=en


Relevant section:

In addition to regular credit cards, you can also use a one-time use credit card (also known as virtual credit card). It's commonly used as an alternative to physical credit cards when making online payments. Google Ads accepts these credit cards as long as they have a Visa or MasterCard logo. If you don't have a physical credit card, contact your bank to see if they offer them.

Steps to use a one-time use credit card:

Sign in to your Google Ads account at https://ads.google.com. Click the tool icon and choose Billing & payments. Go there now Click the Make a payment button. Click the "Pay with" drop-down and choose Add new payment method, then enter your one-time use credit card information. Enter the amount you'd like to make a payment for, then click the Make a payment button to review and finish your payment. Be sure to include $1 more than your payment amount for card verification.


> Be sure to include $1 more than your payment amount for card verification.

That seems like something that could be easily missed


which makes me think this person was banned for some other violation


Could be! The problem is we'll never know because Google's awful support makes it impossible to know what you did wrong, only that you did something and you're being punished and too bad if you want to know why.


Could this be grounds for them to sue?


Why the war on virtual cards?

My bank lets me create infinite "throwaway" credit cards that work for a single payment or up to a certain expiry date. They're great for never having to expose your real card number and keeping track of maximum spend. Are these classified as virtual cards? I use them all the time for Facebook ads and was planning to set up a AdWords campaign too, but now I'm worried


The issue is that this is bypassing one of the things some companies use your credit card as - collateral.

For example, if you rent something, the credit card is used as a guarantee that you will return the item. If you don't, they can charge the card for the full price.

If you use virtual cards, they can't do that.


What is preventing them from placing a hold for the full price, then charging the card if the item is not returned? They get the same verification that they can be reimbursed if the item is not returned, but cannot make an arbitrary charge later on.


I would guess that for a large set of combinations of loaned items and customers’ typical credit card limits this would probably lead your customer to quickly hit his card limit and thus to a lot of frustration.

(Also, in many cases the potential ex-post charges are unknown and theoretically unlimited at the time of purchase, think e.g. of a car rental company wanting to charge you for your speeding tickets.)


Which bank if I may ask?


Bank of America allows me to do this for my credit card with them.


Capital One definitely does this (I used to work there and when we rolled it out it was considered quite innovative).


Intesa (Italy). Deutsche Bank offers them too iirc


Citi


> Since this decision is final, the account will not be reinstated.

> I offered [to] set my primary payment method back to the previous card.

This is, to me, the most infuriating part: account is blackholed at the first misstep, that you cannot even guess, with no possible redemption, and with damages far beyond the initial misstep scope: if you use the same account, payment issue on google ads, your photos are inaccessible. How does that even make sense?


It doesn't. In my opinion this is no longer a frustrating experience, it's a consumer protection problem.


> How does that even make sense?

They view losing this customer and all potential related profits, forever, as significantly cheaper than accountability and reasonability at their scale.


This has nothing to do with the Apple Card. Google loves suspending Ads accounts for doing any changes to their profiles. I've had to go through this BS at least 5 times.

Odds are this guy would've been banned no matter which card he switched to.

Given that smartprivacy pushes VPN stuff I wouldn't be surprised if this guy had been using a VPN to log into his Ads account, which would be a sure way to get your account fucked.


>Companies like Google have waged war on virtual cards

First, this seems a bit histrionic. That's a wide claim to make with a sample size of one.

Second, the entire idea that the author was banned for using a virtual card comes from a friend who spoke to another friend who allegedly works as an "account manager" (presumably at Google?), who themselves admit they can't even see into the process.


Agreed - especially as another post pointed out that Google's official policy states they _do_ accept virtual cards: https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/2375433?hl=en


That doesn't mean it doesn't increase the fraud score assigned to you/your transaction. e.g. the same behavior could trigger a ban with a virtual credit card but not with a physical one.


I use and love privacy.com - and the fastest way for me to not sign up for your service is when you tell me I can't use one of the card numbers. It happens occasionally, but no way in hell am I giving out my real CC


You should contact Apple. I'm sure they 1) have the power to get through 2) they are motivated to make the Apple Card work and instill trust in people.


Yet another example of how Google "support" seems modeled on the senseless, frustrating, and destructive systems warned of in Kafka. Opaque rules and literally inhuman inflexibility. The problems is Google can suffer any number of these small scale gaffs without consequence, while any truly large account would probably be given the courtesy of outreach before a blind suspension, and real live support afterwards if it went that far. So for now they can do this with impunity. However with the Spectre of Amazon ads on the horizon true competition may arise, and Amazon has decent support. As things stand now, anyone starting out would be well advised to steer clear of relying on any part of Google services for critical needs.


I learned the hard way to always have at least two ways people can buy things from you. Never bet your business on another business that uses algorithms to arbitrarily disconnect yours and algorithms to respond to customer service inquiries.


Paypal says hi :)


You cut yourself from a lot of opportunities that way.


Don't say you weren't warned :-)


This is how modern life works: almost everybody's life circumstances are dependent on large institutions, which can screw you any given moment, except if you chose to live in jungles. Doing business is taking risks, and one has to be ready to lose.


Has nothing to do with the payment platform you chose is my best guess. Has to do with what you were paying to send ad traffic to, and possible misrepresentation of facts on that page. Were you testing landing pages for concepts where you didn't include terms of use, privacy policies or misrepresented the state of your product?

That would be my best guess.


> And if you're planning on using Apple Card^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H Google services for anything important, think again.

Fixed that for you.


> I'm not some huckster with a spam website.

Ironically, you could make the case that Google itself fits this description.


This is what I find so interesting about Amazon going into the ads business.

(Bias note: I am employed by Amazon, but not involved in ads.)

Google make a lot of their money from online advertising. But they have a reputation of not giving a shit about their customers, giving canned responses, etc. Amazon, criticize it as you will, has a reputation for good customer service (I literally give "Customer Obsession" training to new hires). What happens if enough Google ads customers get fed up and try out the competitor?

20 years ago, Google found a hose that money pours out of called "online advertising". All they do now is improve that hose and desperately search for another one. If someone comes along and siphons out a fraction, it could actually hit them hard.

"If", of course. We'll see.


I'm writing this to warn anyone else that intended to use the card online that you may experience... difficulties. And if you're planning on using the Apple Card for anything important, think again.

Isn’t the better conclusion after almost a decade of people dealing with Google’s customer “service” and reading about how non responsive they are is not to base your livelihood on anything Google related?

If your business plan is at all depending on Google, it’s probably a bad one.


Tangentially related... in one of my last convos with an American Express business rep, they noted I set my cashback preference to advertising purchases. I was informed by them that Google Adwords has a history of 'blackflagging' accounts. He said they could generate up to 100 cards with unique numbers for free to my account and that it was fairly common for agencies to have big split-ring binders full of cards tied to each client.


Bad PR and popularity backlash is what corporations fear the most. We should wait for such things to happen (and then be quickly fixed because of the name) to some really popular figure who will make it public, then grab popcorn and watch Google, or any other corporation that screws "normal" customers, produce spectacular stunts to escape the unavoidable negative press.


The thing is a popular figure, especially if they do semi-large numbers with Google, probably wouldn't get banned before outreach and if they did would be able to get decent support.


That would be the point. I want to read some day "Hi, I'm (insert popular name here). How come that I get immediate answers plus support while other users with the same problem either have to wait or are being banned?". That would hardly happen, but hope is free.


Reminds me of when I was permanently suspended from PayPal “for reasons” after 20+ years of constant patronage and good standing. Same black box mentality, no human being made the decision and no human being would look at the situation and fix it.

There really should be a catchy term for this sort of algorithmically generated deplatforming.

Google ganking?


> All I can say is that it's likely that he was either using a virtual card or his identity was tied to a previously suspended account.

> After doing a bit of research, I discovered that the number that is generated in the wallet app (the only way you can get your card number for the Apple Card) is, infact, a virtual card.

This seems like the likely cause.


But as stated elsewhere on this post, Google's official policy states that virtual cards are accepted.

https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/2375433

Credit cards and debit cards -> Make a payment with a one-time use credit card

>In addition to regular credit cards, you can also use a one-time use credit card (also known as virtual credit card). It's commonly used as an alternative to physical credit cards when making online payments.


Why does Google hate virtual cards though? It's an anti-fraud mechanism. Google's declaring that using an anti-fraud mechanism is in fact an indication of fraud?


Probably because you can hide the same underlying account number, so you can burn virtual cards on new fraud accounts without the additional cost of setting up new underlying accounts.


Can Google even really know if a presented card number is a "virtual" credit card or not? Could this be a case of a generated virtual card number matching a card number that was previously used with an account that was shut down for fraud and that's why Google immediately banned this unrelated account?


The thing with monopolies is that they tend to abuse the privilege of being one.

You are a consumer, buying their wares, and they could care less because you really only have one option. They made sure of it by buying most of the significant competition years ago.

Welcome to the modern era of internet monopolies.


> After doing a bit of research, I discovered that the number that is generated in the wallet app (the only way you can get your card number for the Apple Card) is, infact, a virtual card.

> And if you're planning on using the Apple Card for anything important, think again.

Using virtual cards is a perfectly legitimate activity. I'm a client of a top-tier bank in Europe and they always recommend to use a virtual card (they would ask if you'd like them to issue) for everything online. This doesn't seem like an Apple's fault (although it would be nice of Apple to clearly inform you the card is virtual). Google should be sued for this.


"Don't be evil."


If indeed they're banning accounts for using virtual cards, I see a parallel with the early days of Gmail. You couldn't use a Gmail account to sign up for a lot of sites because short-sighted admins categorically prohibited all free webmail accounts. In their minds, the only "real" email addresses were at AOL, Earthlink, employers, universities, etc. Never mind that Gmail was invite-only and probably a much stronger indicator of a legitimate person at the time. The victim grows up to become the bully.


Everyone reading this that ever has a problem like this with Google support should write it up and submit it to HN. Then we as a community should come together and upvote the hell out of it. The more these things get publicized in the industry the harder it will become for Google to do this without repurcussions.


Can there not be a law that states that Google can't just say "Your account is suspended, and the decision is final, and we won't tell you why." This sounds like the type of monopolistic action that we need to break by petitioning our politicians.

Google, Facebook, etc need to be regulated.


HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! You fell for the classic google trap:

They only pick up the phone if you are a paying customer. If your payment isn't working you can go fuck yourself.

I know, a common mistake.

Seriously though, this is also the case with using their phone service, or any other account. If your payment ever bounces, you lose EVERYTHING.


I have no idea whether this is relevant.

I noticed that the site has reviews of anti-tracking products like Ghostery and Privacy Badger. (The reviews are a bit thin in my opinion.) Google may view those as existential threats and work to remove that material from the web.


Google must be stopped from muscling its way into 'real' goods and services. Can you imagine getting locked out of your [insert] with an automated response and without recourse?


and yet you're still lining up to use Google? I dropped out of the Google ad system many tears ago when I realized the game was rigged (in their favor) and the only way to "win' was not to play. So when I read stories like yours which pop up frequently for Google - I cant help but think you're probably an intelligent person so "what's your point?"


Google bans app xyz, Google bans AdSense account. Everyday a new Google horror story here. Does nobody from Google reads HN??


The Google employees who are paying attention likely don't have the power to address the problem, and the Google employees who have the power to address the problem either aren't paying attention or actively decided not to address the problem.


traditional credit card companies waged contractual war with merchants for decades to ban cash discounts

new payment tech will have a similar uphill battle to get people to treat them equally


SmartPrivacy.io uses Google ads?




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