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Understanding Google My Business & Local Search

Google Gets a Barely Passing Grade with the BBB – For the Want of a Nail…

Like many other SMBs, I have no love lost on the Better Business Bureau. Paying them to vouch for what I always considered my basic responsibility of being honest seemed inappropriate. They strike me in the same vein as our current political system: you have to pay to play.

But they do sit in the middle of the swirl of complaints about companies and can provide the consumer with some sense of whether a particular company has an unusual number complaints or perhaps has settled with the government . Thus while I refuse to pay them, they are not completely without merit. The BBB can spot trends and provide some relative idea about the quality of customer service that a company offers (how many complaints) and how the company handles them when they do get them (resolved or not). Google has also “blessed” them as a citation source for local (although an expensive one).

So when a reader sent me the link to Google’s BBB rating I approached it with my typical objectivity towards Google ( 🙂 )  and the aforementioned caveats. I decided to compare Google to a range of tech companies (Apple, Hewlett Packard & Microsoft) and several companies in mobile (Verizon, ATT) to see how they faired and so you can put Google’s customer service level in perspective.

Drum roll please… Here are the results in order of the BBB grade:

BBB Listing Company Rating at the BBB
AT&T Mobility
Hewlett Packard
Apple Computer
Verizon Wireless
Google, Inc.

Here is what the Better Business Bureau had to say about Google:

Our complaint history for this company shows that the company responded to and gave proper consideration to most complaints. However, more than one complaint is unresolved meaning the company failed to properly address the complaint allegations or their response was inadequate.

The bulk of the issue apparently is the fact that Google has not responded at all to 47 complaints. They were not judged on whether they satisfied the complaint, not whether they complied with their agreements… to a large degree, just whether they have responded. To put Google’s score of a C- in perspective, it is lower than Merchant Circle’s was (C+)  until their recent campaign to upgrade their image.

Google has made a science out of making it difficult to get a problem looked at let alone solved. They have saved millions of dollars by not providing support. Most of the unhappy folks either do what I do (stamp my feet etc etc ) or they go away. But obviously, a very small percentage file a high profile complaint with the Better Business Bureau. There were 637 over the past 36 months and all Google has to do is respond to every complaint. How friggin’ hard is that? The bar has been set very low here, and yet they can’t get over it. It is hard to find too many companies, rated in the BBB, that rank at this level with Google.

The situation reminded me of a quote from my favorite philanderer Ben Franklin:

“For the want of a nail, the shoe was lost; for the want of a shoe the horse was lost; and for the want of a horse the rider was lost, being overtaken and slain by the enemy, all for the want of care about a horseshoe nail.”

If Google represents the best of the “new economy” God save us and them.

Update: for a view of the reporting on Google’s previous and even worse scores see Barry’s article here.