Verification Pin or Pain? Does Phone Verification Work for You?

Recently David Mihm had a very insightful piece on problems with Google Maps, quality, security, complexity and the LBC. One of his criticisms revolved around the phone verification process. He noted:

As if the verification process weren’t cumbersome enough, the exact “flow” of Google’s automated phone message leaves many business owners thinking “What do I do next?”  I haven’t helped a client claim a listing since Google changed PIN entry from touchtone to web last week, but prior to that shift, it was a very poorly constructed message which ended without any confirmation that it had actually worked.  

Another issue–what about phone numbers that ring to an automated central answering center, as in “Thank you for calling Joe’s Plumbing.  Press 1 for Joe, 2 for Sally, 3 for Irene,” etc.?   There’s no reason for that business to have to fight through the postcard verification process.

I would love to hear your experiences and frustrations with the PIN system both old and new. Here is a report back from Joan Van Hilten an operations manager working with Map listings with her details of trying to get pin approval under the new method.

Hi – Well so far I’m batting 500 ( I think that’s the right terminology)  I’ve tried unsuccessfully 4 times to use the new and improved PIN verification process. ….

Each time the number has been deemed invalid. Another time (as in just 20 minutes ago)  it failed again.

Me:  Okay Ms Client. Google will be calling you with a PIN number.  Take note of it and let me know what it is.  I’ll enter it into the Business Centre and your listing will be verified. 

Ms Client: When will Google be calling?  

Me: Right now. 

Ms Client :  Okay the PIN is 18*** 

Me:  Thank you – you PIN is invalid. Shall we try again? 

Ms Client : Yes certainly. 

Me: Google is calling you now. 

Ms Client: The PIN is 57*** 

Me: Oh dear the Business Centre isn’t allowing me the option to enter that PIN code in. It’s only allowing me to send a Post Card. 

Google may be experiencing a few hiccups right now as they are upgrading with the reporting view (yippee) however; it’s really putting a cramp in my professionalism when it kacks out on me like that. It’s so embarassing. 
Where do you look? What do you say?  

When I tried on Friday – the same thing – the PIN was invalid and when I tried to enter it – then when I initated another call – it spawned a second call and then shut me down – only allowed a Post Card. 

I hope whatever bugs there are it works a bit better.  

I hate to keep having to make apologies on Google’s behalf. 


Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Verification Pin or Pain? Does Phone Verification Work for You? by

50 thoughts on “Verification Pin or Pain? Does Phone Verification Work for You?”

  1. Along the lines of problems with the automated central answering center is call centers such as hotels, where there are multiple people answering the phone at one time. This leaves the instigator of the verification having to prompt all personnel to be on alert for a call from Google.

    I have also run into problems with some call centers that have phones which do not have touch tones, hence they are unable to enter the PIN number. The obstacle was overcome by having the lucky person who received the Google verification call forward the call to another phone that had a touch tone phone.

  2. The best one is being told to enter the pin number followed by a key on the telephone that doesn’t exist.

  3. I work at a search engine marketing company and managing local business listings is a service that we sometimes provide as part of our work for clients.

    Google’s LBC has caused all sorts of problems – one of them is that it just isn’t well suited to when a business has someone else manage their listing. To verify that I can update their listing, I have to either warn the client that Google will call them, and coach them through it, or warn them that they will get a postcard within the next 2 weeks and follow up with them until they do get that postcard. Of course, if I get my hands on that postcard, the PIN still may not work.

    1. @Art
      Could you elaborate?
      Yes, the LBC has been designed with a single user in mind, a smart one, but a one none the less. The product just does not scale well. They (Google) has been talking for a very long time about an agency capability but as of yet, despite some rumours, there is nothing that makes the process functional for an agency.

  4. NO IT DOES NOT! Here is the message I get when I try and claim my unverified listings>>>>>

    “Google is now calling your business phone to give you a PIN.
    Please enter the pin against your listing in the dashboard to verify your listing.”

    How dumb is that? Since when does G call you to give you a PIN? A: They dont.

  5. Ouch! I feel Joan’s pain in that scenario and have been right there myself, apologizing for Google, with little flames of embarrassment and frustration on my cheeks. Haven’t had to do this since the changes, and the comments above are making me dread my next shot at this.

  6. I had the same situation as Joan – Google called business with the pin, the business owner gave me the pin number, I entered it and it said the number was invalid. I tried again (the whole process) and entered in the new pin, and again it said it was invalid.

    Then it got funny – even though it kept giving me the option to have Google call the business (which I did 2 more times), there was no place to type in a pin number. So I clicked on the option to send the postcard, was greeted by the message that the postcard was sent, but guess what? Still no place to enter the pin number in the LBC! So, I’m not exactly sure what I’ll even do when/if the postcard arrives.

    I think at this point my best option is to delete the listing from the LBC account (not from Google Maps) and start over. What do you think Mike?

  7. I’ve had to use this several times lately, as many of my clients’ listings became magically unclaimed (thanks for helping me figure that one out, Mike), and I had to reclaim them. The new verification system has been working fine for me – in fact, I ran into more problems with the old phone verification system than I have with this one.

  8. @Jim

    I would be curious to see if deleting from the account and reclaiming it works. I don’t see why it wouldn’t. The other choice would be to claim in another LBC account.

    If I cam controlling the record I have just decided to generally go with the postcard, be patient and hope for the best. Prior to my helping with the record it wasn’t doing that stellar, another couple of weeks isn’t going to matter in the greater scheme of things.

    If the client is controlling the record, I access their desktop via teamviewer and drive them through the process in real time on their computer.

    Either way, I have found that avoiding the phone call is the least aggravating.

  9. @Mike:

    How can you claim an unverified listing by phone when you get the message I am getting above?

    Keep in mind that since the floor number and zip are wrong in the unverified listing one never will actually get it in the mail at the address in the unverified listing.

  10. I’ve seen it happen as well that Pin verification was closed down after numerous of unsuccessful attempts. only allowing a postcard to be sent.
    Luckily the postcard was there within a week instead of the ‘old’ 4 weeks.

  11. Google employee Joel had this to say about closing down the phone system in a recent post in the help forums:

    “For example, you’ll notice posts where people can’t phone verify anymore. It’s usually because they’ve verified the same location multiple times with different business names (spamming!). That’s when it really surprises me. In those cases, we simply say phone verification isn’t available – a very clear message, but has no why behind it. I’m not sure people get the message their doing something wrong.”

  12. I’m up here in Ontario and having no problems with the system at all.
    In fact, I’d say it seems a little slicker to me right now (based on a whopping sample of listing 5 clients in the last two weeks). I know that’s a ridiculously small sample statistically speaking but it really does seem to be going well compared to a year ago.
    One client even commented on what a wonderful system it was, and that’s never happened before.

  13. @ Mike

    For some reason I always got the impression that it was hitting guys mostly out west. Guys I chat to on a semi-regular basis in Toronto and Montreal seemed to find it more of an on-again off-again thing but never as much of a circus as the reports I heard from Vancouver etc.

  14. I am getting a “We tried calling, but the call was not successful” message, even though I know the phone number is correct.
    Perhaps they think I am spamming since I have claimed several duplicate listings in google maps. I found several of our stores were listed more than once, and in many cases, with incorrect information. I tried to read online about merging these locations only to find that the way to do this was to claim and then slowly delete them (which is lame in itself). Are they not calling me because they think I am spamming? I’m only trying to fix a problem that was already there. Maybe if I wait till tomorrow it will magically work?

    1. Mario

      There are still some phones where the verification process does not work and after X tries or too many uses the system forces you into the postcard mode as a security measure. If you can’t get it to work just request the postcard.

  15. Mike,
    Thanks for the feedback. It’s just sucks that all these incorrect entries were in there to begin with. The worst of which is an entry that displays our store name and phone number, but a competitor’s address. I tried to claim the listing to fix this, but when I requested a post card it told me it was going to be sent to the wrong address (which not only means that I will never see it, but also that my competitor will think I’m doing something very shady)!
    I am very grateful for the service Google is providing to us with the LBC, but perhaps a bit more support could go a LONG way.

  16. @mike: as a human yes, but as a user no way. I am no different thann any other user. But that was a funny quip none the less. Google has pulled data from other sources about my business and made them unverified. The live listing is not benefitting from the data. The unverified listing although edited will not merge. I would be willing to bet I am not the only user with this issue.

  17. Thanks Mike. I didn’t understand what community edits were before. I went ahead and made the changes. I will cross my fingers and hope that the changes will take.

  18. So new problem with Google verification – A few years ago we utilized the bulk upload feature for a few hundred facilities we manage. In the last few months these listings (the bulk uploaded ones) started to become ‘frozen’; no edits were allowed and no stats showed….this isn’t really new news, but nonetheless not fun.

    Today I removed 36 of these listings and then set up a new account and started the re-claiming game. I have control over a forwarding system to replace the clients telephone number with mine and therefore have Google call my desk instead of theirs. This has worked pretty well in the past with ~40% success rate, but now with the new GLBC the recorded voice is too fast and I usually end up with the last 2-3-4 digits of the 5 digit pin verification #. I can have Google call again and again, but same results “345 Goodbye”. All Google needs to do is have an option to press * to hear the message again and the problem is fixed.

    Another interesting find – When I cannot enter a valid pin (lets say I fail to get the full 5 digits) I chose verify via postcard. It sends like normal and seems ok. Then when I go to claim another facility for this client, google gives the option for phone verification, but automatically states “We tried calling, but the call was not successful”. On some of these facilities I can then chose postcard, but a few only list “Validate by phone”. These are then stuck until I remove and re-claim. Interesting to note, if I wait a full day I am then able to phone verify again until I repeat this scenario. I am leaning to believe this is a spam feature gone wrong. What do you think?

  19. It is an absolute BLOODY NIGHTMARE! Google have some serious catch up to get with here. I will be the first to thank them for the business that they generate for both myself and my clients but I will be last in the line when it comes to handing out xmas gifts when it comes to the hoops you have to jump through to verify clients listings!

  20. All these comments ring so true – bad pun intended.

    I’m almost done with doing phone verification for 35 retail locations for a client.

    For each one, I call them in advance, tell them Google will call and to write the PIN down, then I call back and get the PIN.

    The problem is that after I do 4 or 5 locations in a row, the Google Local system almost always gives me a error of “We tried calling that number but were unsuccessful” (even though I just called the number). And trying another location after that produces the same results.

    Only way I’ve found to workaround the problem is wait until the next day and then everything works again.

    Makes getting this project done really time-consuming! Google needs to get an agency solution in place for Google Local, especially because it is becoming so important for local search marketing.

  21. I am trying to have LBC verify my location by calling my GoogleVoice account and all I hear is a single digit. I have tried over and over and now I am left with the postcard only option. LBC to Google Voice, is this not an option?

  22. Hi all,

    So what happens when it only gives you the choice to verify by phone, but a call router answers. I have instances where the only choice is to verify by phone and doesn’t give the choice of postcard at all. How would you be able to validate?


  23. Mike, sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I have not tested if I slow down the rate of verifying new locations in the Google LBC if that results in fewer problems.

    Maricar – did you try to do the validation again the next day? Sometimes after a day passes the Google Local system will let you verify by mail again. Or, you could try to delete that entry and re-enter it.

  24. Just found this thread, hoping someone may be able to advise me!

    I’m trying to update a claimed listing for a third party business, and after many attempts to request a PIN, only one code has been sent to the business phone. When I submitted the PIN in LBC, it was ‘invalid’.

    Verification to the main business number is the only option given; no mail/postcard option available for this listing. SMS occasionally appears but only to the business phone number, even if I edit the listing to temporarily include a mobile number.

    Can anyone help me? Like one of the earlier posters I’m fed up of carrying the can for Google!

  25. @Mike Blumenthal Hi Mike. A new one for you. Yesterday a client realized Google Local “unverified” them back on about 12/9/09. They had been getting about 400 impressions per day from their Google Local listing and went down to about 90 per day. We went in and quickly did a verification by phone for their one location and they within minutes started showing high in the Google Local listings again. Ever hear of Google removing verification status for a company?

  26. So, pbx systems cannot use Google pin verification. The postcard comes after a couple of weeks and the code on the postcard won’t work in the verification box.

    Multiple locations for multiple clients – so I call Google trying to get help. I’m told by the helpful and very polite operator that she is not authorized to connect me with any Google employee and to use the support forums. Thousands of postings about the exact same thing and no answers.

    Works great if you have a single phone line – sucks if you don’t and no way to fix it so I have many unverified listings now.

    1. @Sandra

      If you have more than 10 locations the “verified bulk upload” (aka bulk whitelist) is your best alternative. If that doesn’t work then you have no alternative to requesting the postcard pin a second time and trying again.

  27. @Sandra

    If you requested verification again while waiting for the postcard it will invalidate the postcard PIN. That could have been the issue.

    Indeed it is near impossible to talk to someone at google on the phone unless you are spending a lot per month on pay per click ads with them.

  28. Thank you for the insights, I will try again. Some of my sites are verified so I don’t want to try to bulk upload but I might have tried another phone verification, I was attempting to use a mobile phone but then realized that it would become the main line and that would have been a mess.

    Postcard verification seem…so…UnGoogle like.

    Thanks again.

  29. So, how does one verify a site if the main phone number is a automated pbx system and there is no other option to verify a listing? I can’t seem to get an option for a postcard. Creating a duplicate listing seems like a less than perfect solution.

  30. Don’t feel bad, a new site I listed yesterday gave me no phone option, heh.

    I don’t think they have solutions right now, I do see Google employees posting and fixing listings on the Google support forums now so you might want to try there. Just google Google Map Verification Support Forum and you’ll get there.

  31. I think the lack of postcard is a fraud prevention method on Google’s part…not accidental. For whatever reason they don’t trust something that you have provided.

  32. Google has bug even in the postcard verification. I received the code in postcard and when inserted the code, it said phone verification code is wrong.

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