The Sound of Trouble Knocking – A Call from Google Places India

When Google wants to verify information about a business and when unable to verify it in a fully automated way, they have someone call that business. The calls can result in suspensions and removals from the index (“We do not support this location”).

The call may be precipitated by a change you made to the listing that could not be automatically verified, it could be precipitated by someone marking you as closed, Google could just be looking for service area businesses that has not properly hidden their address or businesses using fake locations and call forwarding.

Regardless the someone making the call for Google is from India and the calls are always very weird. The Indians don’t always understand what is said and for sure, don’t understand the pace of our lives. The calls are somewhat jarring and out of context, the caller only identifies themselves as from Google if asked directly and they are inevitably viewed with suspicion by the local business.

In this particular case, Precision Door Memphis, is a totally legit business with a long time track record at a location where they accept client visits. Google called from 650-253-2000 and shows up as GOOGLE INC in the caller id but the receptionist did not have that information available to her at the time of the call.

Unfortunately for the business, Google sounded much too much like the daily spam local SEO marketing calls and the receptionist hung up on the first caller. The listing disappeared that night and showed the now infamous “We do not support this location” message. To Google’s credit they called back again to be sure and again, sounding like spammers, the receptionist hung up on them.

Here are the actual recordings of the calls.

The first call:

And four days later another call:

Your thoughts? Have you gotten these calls? How did your organization respond? What should Google do differently when human verifying the calls?

A note of caution. On each recording the initial sound (shown as two, wide vertical segments) of the ringing is very loud and the subsequent conversations are quite soft. So block your ears for the beginning and crank it up after that section to hear the details

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
The Sound of Trouble Knocking - A Call from Google Places India by

77 thoughts on “The Sound of Trouble Knocking – A Call from Google Places India”

  1. Found your post when I went searching for “google plus solicitation call,” which is what I just received. The call came from “Tillamook, OR” and was a recorded voice wanting me to to “Press 1 to complete your Google Plus listing.”
    Unfortunately, another call came in just then, so I dropped the call and didn’t get to explore whether it was legitimately from Google or not.
    I tried calling the number, to see and got a recording stating “A (unintelligible; sounded like “Nictel”) wireless network was shut down in June 30, 2013, and this telephone number was not transferred to another network prior to the (unintelligible, same as above) shutdown.” Then it disconnected. All very curious.

    Regarding your original post: a) lot of commenters got it right: Google needs to clearly identify themselves and the nature of the call right up front. That’s just standard politeness. b) commenters who thought the receptionist was too curt obviously haven’t had to field these calls on a daily basis.

    1. @Matt
      That was not Google.
      1)Google never uses a recorded voice
      2)The call always comes from their headquarter number (650) 253-0000
      3)They will definitely say that they are with Google if asked and often will introduce themselves as such.

    1. @Charles

      All “google calls” that are actually from Google come from the same number as their HQ phone number: 653-253-0000.

      If it comes from a different number it isn’t from Google but from some company that is attempting to deceive you.

      1. I started editing my google maps listing last night for our catering website, and just today I got a call …it said ‘google inc’ on the caller id and they had a thick accent…thought it was just another fake spam setup as I get alot of them claiming to be from google. The editing I did last night made the timing stand out so I googled the number and wound up here…though the number I got it from was 653-253-2000 not 0000

  2. My business has been hijacked, and this is suspicious to me when I get a call from Google maps AND THE CALLER ID IS FROM MY OWN BUSINESS, AND THEY HAVE MY VOICE AND A KEY PROMPT ON A RECORDING> Since my business and phone have been hijacked I can’t believe this is legit. Does anyon e know how to contact google maps directly?

  3. For Google being a technology company, you would think it obvious to require electronic login to confirm your details, not some phone call. Something people opt-in for.

    In the telephone carrier world, there’s a critical challenge to the customer. The -real- caller info absolutely must exist on the line in order for the call to route. Caller ID info is separate info. When calling Comcast, AT&T, etc. they often claim an inability to trace a call based on the real routing info. They -have- the ability to do so. Challenge this with them and with your political representatives or the problems will NEVER die out.

  4. I keep getting calls that google listing needs to be verified. Is it from google, not from google? They keep calling from different caller ids. This should be stopped. I have my iphone set on blocking calls for over 40 numbers now.

  5. Our business is getting these calls at least once a day from 650-253-2000. They do introduce themselves as Google this or that and ask to verify our business address. Our address is published on our website so I am not telling them anything that isn’t already publicly available. Despite my correcting them, they continue to call back asking to verify the original address (which is missing the “North” in our street name). I recently went on Google Maps under my private gmail to suggest edits to markers for our business. Could be connected, but why do they keep making the same call? After finding this webpage, I will now hang up on them.

  6. Here is a piece of our experience. We’ve been working hard to stay present in the legal field of Las Vegas, Google-wise. I didn’t see any correlation in position vs. volume of “verification” calls. We’ve been getting calls and even packages with some seemingly shady Google devices (it was something they claimed would establish the precise location of the premises). We never cared to install them. What I noticed is that certain accounts (including ours) changed its title immediately when someone reported “wrong name” via Places interface. It may have something to do with a verification call that went wrong and deducated some “trust points” from the listing. On the other hand, we always cared to change the spammy titles of the competitors and although some of them seized their tactics immediately it took others hundreds of name change back and forth to attract Google’s attention and eradicate the listing altogether.

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