Google Maps Customer Service Hall of Shame – What goes on in your neighborhood?

When things go wrong with Google Maps, like all large scale systems, they go terribly wrong. Google Maps though, unlike most large companies, offers no mechanism for these problems to be fixed in any direct fashion.

While I understand Google’s desire to fix the big problems for large numbers of people first, there also needs to be a way for small people with personal problems that have been wronged to get their problem fixed. Currently the only way is to post into the Google forum, where a volunteer might bring an issue to Google’s attention and it may or may not get fixed. Is that the best that Google can do?

Here is my first example of Google Maps Customer Service Hall of Shame. This poster initially posted in the forums on August 9th. It was highlighted to Google at the time through their private Top Contributor system. This is the type of problem that is not really easily addressable by a volunteer nor should it be handled by a volunteer. It points out that forums are not the best place to get this sort of problem resolved. Here is the first posting from August 9th:

lrury2002

Level 1
8/9/09
My son looked our address up on google maps and found it said:  ADULT ENTERTAINMENT with our name, address, and phone number……THIS INFORMATION IS FALSE and I don’t know how to have it removed….We received a phone call at 3:50 am asking for “adult entertainment”  When I told them they had the wrong number they said: you really messed me up!   That scares me and I don’t know what to do to have it removed!!!!!!1
Can someone please help me!

Here is the second posting from August 18th. Both postings were highlighted for the Google Guides so that they could possibly take care of the issue:

lrury2002

Level 1
8/18/09
My son googled our address and when you zoom in a martini glass appeared.  When you click on it a listing is posted with my name, home address, and home phone number listed as ADULT ENTERTAINMENT.  This is inaccurate, unauthorized, inflammatory information and I need to have it removed.  There is also a web site associated with it as all4male.com.  This is a pornographic site which is not associated with me and I am disgusted by it…I cannot reach anyone from google and it has made me physically ill trying to find an answer!  Can anyone help????????????????

I think that this is the business listing being referred to:

Picture 4

I guess just can’t know whats going on in suburbia these days, can you?

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Maps Customer Service Hall of Shame - What goes on in your neighborhood? by

23 thoughts on “Google Maps Customer Service Hall of Shame – What goes on in your neighborhood?”

  1. Geez, Mike. Isn’t it beneath a big huge “all algo’s -all the time” company such as Google to actually reach out and assist an individual who is suffering because its market dominant search position will enable porn fans to call his home.

    You would think this guy and his family would be appreciative of the fact that his family gets to partake first hand in the masterful efforts of “all algo’s -all the time”/never speak to an individual efforts. Geez its the wave of the future.

    I’m actually surprised Google stoops to such a pedestrian method as actual customer service when it comes to making sure they make every dollar they can with PPC. Its obvious that “all algo’s -all the time” is the way to go. It satisfy’s Google as it applies to G maps and the G LBC.

    I dunno. There are more algo’s to develop, more algo’s to cluster/merge and intermix. Why stoop to such a pedestrian effort as to actually reach out and assist this person.

  2. Google’s local interface is fairly self service. There is an “edit” link right on that page that he undoubtedly saw. If he had enough time to post a rant in the Google forum, he could have taken a second to claim his own listing with correct information.

    Then he could have spent the rest of his afternoon figuring out who had a grudge big enough to get revenge by soliciting his sexual services in Google Maps.

  3. Please note that the team is working to resolve this right now. I understand that there was a less than ideal turnaround time on this issue, and assure you that we’re working to ensure that these types of situations don’t slip through the cracks in the future.

    Maps Guide Brian

  4. Mike-

    What do you think google needs to do to remedy the problem…

    I really don’t understand why there isn’t a number you can call and speak with somebody IN EMERGENY cases. But, I guess everyone who has the slight bit problem would call.

  5. @ Mike

    The quick answer: Put some people on it?

    The long answer:
    First and foremost Google needs to decide that customers should have a formal way for getting these problems fixed. What they have now is NOT customer service.

    Once they make a decision that this sort of thing can not really be handled in the forums and come to grips with the fact that the ad hoc reputation management system that they have is not up to this task, the rest really will fall into place quite easily.

    Google has plenty of experience establishing and managing adequate customer service capabilities and knows how to do it. There is no one that understands process and flow better than these folks, so once they stop attempting to extract more blood from this stone and decide that customer service in Maps is critical to their long term shareholder value the rest will be quite simple.

  6. @mattyrf

    It is self serve that is true. Both the product and the support. For a number of reasons they don’t always work. Then what?

    If you go through this blog you will find hundreds of folks that have difficulty with the user interface on Maps and can’t find the edit link (see Danny Sullivan’s video for a brief summary of working his way through the issues with the ‘“edit” link right on that page that he undoubtedly saw’) or the answer to their question. My father just turned 90 and he is pretty sharp but I have trouble envisioning him working his way through the byzantine user interface that is Maps.

    Not only the access is self serve but the support is as well and this situation could have been handled by a volunteer in the forums to educate him to that affect. Someone could have taken the time to laboriously attempt to explain via the forums how to fix this problem or even pointed him the right direction. Obviously, no volunteer wanted to do that. I did what I had time to do and brought it to Google’s “attention” on more than one occasion.

    This fellow did not ask for his private address to be hijacked and for it to appear on Maps. It isn’t his problem, it isn’t a volunteer’s problem, it is Google’s problem.

    In the end, Google will do the right thing as noted by Maps Guide Brian in his post and fix this issue. At some point, they might even fix the UI AND have a volunteer forum where many of these problems can be handled. But they haven’t yet and it is going on 3 years.

    The complexity of the Maps backend leads me to think that some of these problems like merging will never go away and that no volunteer will ever be able to fix that sort of problem. What then? Google creates a problem, tells the end user it is self serve and then provides no way for the problem to be fixed. Sounds like an endless loop to me.

  7. Its nice that Maps Guide Brian made an appearance in public and acknowledged Google is going to hand tackle this particular issue and fix it.

    It is also patently clear after years of these events that the only times Google issues like this is when it is to Google’s advantage, and frequently fixes a very embarrassing mistake. There are countless examples of when another mistake or problem arises, its deeply embarrassing, or it moves into a wide public view or potentially wide view…Google jumps into the fray and fixes the mistake.

    Otherwise they don’t fix these things. Google’s cluster algorithim’s of one sort or another mess up information, businesses have wrong numbers/competitor’s numbers/ all sorts of errors….and the problems sit for very long time.

    Google doesn’t seem to give a whit about anyone’s potential problems but its own.

    Let me tell you, in this tough economy it is a horrid problem if the prime, or one of the prime sources of all contacts from potential customers is screwed up….and the company that did the “screwing up” just blatently ignores it.

    In that Google commands a monopoly share of search viewership, and since in inserting maps into organic searches, its dominance on visibility of business contact information is magnified many fold, it seems to me that this is not only a case of monopoly impacting the public’s best interest, but a monopoly acting in an arrogant manner.

    Its quite galling I’m sure to all the unhappy businesses who register complaints in Google forums for business owners/and maps and to all the businesses that ask for help….that in fact Google only provides help…when it helps itself.

    I can’t help but think that when the US courts and the Justice Department begin to question the proposed merger of MSN and Yahoo…and Google takes a stance that it will present problems…others will counter by simply looking at the everyday goings on within Google forums and see that the striking examples and problems with monopoly issues are eminating from Google…and it is practicing these issues in an arrogant and self serving manner.

  8. Oh, how totally awful and unacceptable. I really feel badly for those people, especially considering they have children in their house. Yes, it’s no more than Google should be doing to hand tackle this problem. It deserves emergency attention. Really, when you pull up examples like this, Mike, I feel pretty unhappy about Google’s plans for indexing the world. I see zero benefit for anyone, including Google

  9. @Miriam

    Well maybe they should change their motto to “Indexing All of the World’s Information, even the smut” :)

  10. Wow. That was so cool seeing Maps Guide Brian here. They should shut down that worthless forum and time wasting spam reporting form and just outsource this stuff to Mike :-) That spam reporting form is a joke. You actually are forced to report a wrong number and wrong url before it will upload the data.

    So what if the number or url is right, but your reporting someone using a bulk upload who listed a million categories when the regular listing only allows 5?

    Is it NOT spam if you listed more than 5 categories, if you used the bulk feature? How is that fair?

    Or what if your reporting that the business keyword stuffed the title, even though it is NOT the REAL business name as virtually every law firm listing in LA, other than mine is?

    Or what about businesses who are gaming maps by not even using an address at all, but instead just type: “Los Angeles, 90071″ as their physical address?

    I see law firms ranking like this in the 1-3 and 10 packs all the time and it takes months, if at all that they actually get removed.

    I go out of my way to re brand my firm by changing the name to a maps compliant name, and all these other circus feaks get top rankings in Maps.

    Answer?

  11. Interesting post Mike. I can see this becoming a bigger problem as teenagers become more educated on internet marketing.

    Other than going directly to Google, would the best solution for this gentleman be to create a listing under his address and claiming this fraudulent listing? I would assume this would give him some control. Do you agree?

  12. Certainly the fellow could claim the record in Google Maps and put what he wants there. I am questioning whether he should have to.

    But for Google Maps to be useful, every resident in the US should not have to learn the intricacies of the Local Business Center. Should folks not be able to get map directions without worrying that Granny’s home address has been hijacked by someone in the sex industry?

  13. Yes sometimes there is good and bad. Mapping technology the way Google is trying to use it, has not been successfully done before….there are going to be road bumps. That being said, why complain here? Wouldn’t an email/phone call to Google(yes they are listed, give me a break!) been a better use of your time?

  14. @WMC

    I and the folks that frequent this blog would love to have the email and phone number that you mention for Google Maps where one might find some support.

  15. Hey Brian et.al.
    The reason that Google wants to fix this person’s problem (and countless others like it)?

    LAWSUITS!

    OK, I’m no lawyer. But if I’m in this guy’s shoes, I’m thinking:

    * Libel
    * Defammation of Character
    * Etc., Etc.,

    I wish I was so lucky as these folks. With Google’s cash, they would probably settle out of court for BIG $$$$. If not, it’s conceiveable these folks could get BIGGER $$$$ by going to trial.

    Imagine the media circus, the PR, coming up on Goood MOrning America!

    Good Luck!

  16. I’m one of the LBC users who’s had problems using the system since day one. I would consider myself a more experienced computer user. I’ve posted for help a handful of times because I can’t get anything verified – the canned response is to use mail verification, but that option isn’t listed for my account on the majority of entries. I finally got a response from a Google employee…to spend more time editing my business names to make them how Google wanted them (even though the names I put down are how they’re listed on our website, in the phone book, etc…no funny business here). Did all of that – and, then, zero help with the problems I’ve been having. So I sunk even more time into these entries – at Google’s request, no less – and still have zero help from them re: the technical issues with my account.

    If someone like WMC has an e-mail address for Google support, I’d love to have it. Luckily I don’t have people calling my house at 3 AM for “services”, but search marketing is one of my goals at my job and Google’s lack of any sort of help is impacting my performance.

  17. hi,i have problem with my businees ad in google.its says rong phone number for my businees.i dont know how to change it.plese any one can help me out ,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  18. hi ,i am here agene, well sombody made the for my businees with forng phone number i dont even know who thay are.now i m having poblem with it.i hav lots of complayn about it.can anyone help me plese plese…………. how to delate the ad or edit i

  19. this is ramu thakuri from kathmandu.i am about to report the mistake of the google team in the google maps. I found that on upon searching for the birth place of buddha in google maps the result shown is
    birthplace of buddha
    uttar pradesh,india
    This is the totally wrong and also is blunder.
    The birth place of buddha is Lumbini and the country is Nepal
    not india. I request the team of google to correct that mistake.because it has been proved that the birthplace of buddha is nepal.These type of mistakes makes negative impacts on the people of our country so this is a plea of me on behalf of my whole countrymen and fellows that correct the mistake that has been made in this site. You guys please check all the proofs for that i am sure that google team will find out the problem and will fix this out.i Will be looking forward for positive response to this comment. And lastly also i want to assure you that what i am commenting to google team is 100 % truth
    Thank you for reading out this comment cause.

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