Best and Worst Customer Service of 2019

So it is that time again for me to praise the companies that provided great customer service over the last year and to name & shame those should be embarrassed at the abysmal excuse for customer service they have provided.

In the list this year we have.

  • Guru Cloud Hosting
  • Anker
  • People Per Hour
  • Zen Internet
  • Gradwell
  • Bitdefender
  • Europe Registry
  • Google
  • Trustpilot

THE GOOD


These are the companies who have impressed me the most and provided exceptional customer service, above and beyond what I would expect. I really wish there were more like this.

I transferred my web hosting to Guru in Feb 2019 after spending about 10 months (too long) with Siteground and finally getting fed up with their terrible customer service/support.

IT has now been almost 1 year with GURU and I still do not have a single complaint to make about them, which coming from me is quite a testament to how good they are. Unlike many hosting providers, they do not pass the buck at every opportunity (GoDaddy and SiteGround should learn this), they actually make every effort to help you and solve problems for you.

Also unlike most other hosts I have used, the support team are not jobsworths and do not give out incorrect or incompetent advice, at least not to date. Every support person I have dealt with actually has the requisite technical skills and knowledge and knows what they are doing.

Oh and the response times are very good as well, I have not yet had reason to complain that it took too long to get a reply to a support ticket. Sometimes it is annoying when they refuse to help via live chat and insist on opening a ticket. I know they do this for security reasons, but this could be avoided by simply asking for the security question/answer on the account, but that is literally my only qualm.

You can read my full review here

I have purchased a few Anker products over the last few years and so far I have been very happy with both the quality and customer service.

Back in 2018 I purchased an Anker ergonomic mouse due to developing RSI, but while it is a perfectly good product, sadly my RSI was so bad that it didn’t help. When I commented on this in my Amazon review, they contacted me directly and offered to send me an alternative mouse to see if that would help my RSI, completely free of charge.

I will note that I have since had physiotherapy for my RSI, and using this mouse is significantly better than a regular mouse, which causes me pain within minutes.

Best and Worst Customer Service of 2019 1
Anker Ergonomic mouse

Fast forward to 2019, I started having some random problems with the mouse, it would just randomly freeze and stop moving and one of the thumb buttons stopped working. I contacted Anker support, not really expecting much since I expected it was out of warranty anyway.

Once again Anker offered to send me a replacement mouse, for free, no questions asked. So to date, I have now had 3 ergonomic mice from them and only paid for one of them.

This is well above and beyond the level of customer service you get from most companies, in fact I cannot think of a single other company that gone quite this far, except in a “we just want you to go away” type situation.

I do somewhat suspect that this may be in an effort to ensure they maintain positive reviews on Amazon, but they never asked me to adjust my original review, I chose to do that off my own back, so I am still happy none the less.

The Bad


These are the companies which while not a complete failure, have been disappointing, let me down on multiple occasions and could certainly do better.

Peopleperhour is a popular freelancer website which I have been using for the last year or so to do various freelance work such as IT support, PCI compliance testing, website design etc.

There are a number of issues with PPH, such as the extortionate 20% commission they take from the freelancers and then charge us 20% VAT on the money we are earning rather than charging it to the buyer, which I think is a complete rip-off, but that is another matter for another post.

When it comes to customer service, how good or bad it depends on your issue. For general enquiries and questions, the customer service is not too bad, the issue is when you have a problem with not getting paid, then you suddenly discover that PPH are completely biased toward the buyer.

I have had several instances where I have done work for someone on PPH, and they have decided to rip me off and not to pay me, which unfortunately is very easy as all the buyer needs to do is reject your invoice and it’s game over.

There is an escrow type deposit system, which PPH claims protects the freelancer, where you request a deposit amount, which the buyer must pay in advance when accepting a proposal. But in reality, it is useless and makes no difference whatsoever, as regardless of the deposit, the buyer can still just refuse to pay the invoice and request a refund of the deposit.

If you find yourself in such a situation, even if it is 100% clear that you have done the work, PPH customer service will do nothing to help and will side with the buyer every single time, even though it is the freelancer who pays their salary at the end of the day. We earn all the money, do the work and pay their commissions, but get nothing in return.

You will literally beat your head against a brick wall trying to get PPH support to see common sense or logic, they simply don’t care. Which is very backwards when you think about it logically, as pissing off a freelancer is going to lose them a lot more than pissing off a buyer.

The only response you can get from PPH is to “ask for a higher deposit”, which as mentioned above is completely pointless and only benefits PPH, as they can refuse to refund the deposit to the buyer as well, thus keeping the money for themselves.

PPH need to stop being so greedy, give more rights to the freelancers and treat us with more respect, as without us they would have no business.

I have been a customer of Zen Internet for about 15 years now. At my former company, we used Zen at the office, all staff had a Zen connection at home and I have also had Zen business at home for the last 10 years or so. During this time I have also referred many friends, colleagues and clients to them.

I chose Zen originally due to their massively positive customer feedback and reviews, and I stayed with them due to those reviews being true, i.e. the superior customer service and support and the reliability of the connection.

When Zen started offering mobile services as well, I transferred all our mobile contracts over to them too, expecting the same level of service. But alas this is where everything started to go downhill. it is the common issue where the bigger a company gets, the worse their customer service gets.

I had not needed to contact Zen customer service very often in the past, as we rarely ever had any issues with the broadband at the office or at home, but this changed with the mobile service and I found myself needing to contact them on a regular basis.

The customer service & support from the mobile team was absolutely terrible. Since they were basically just reselling EE, they couldn’t do anything directly, and just act as a man in the middle between you and EE, needing to contact EE customer service about every issue. So as a business service it is pretty pointless.

To cut a long story short, when I originally signed up I told the salesman I intended to use the service for business and personal use and it would be used by my wife and kids too and as such I asked about parental controls and the ability to block content etc. I was advised this was fine and that yes the parental controls Indeed existed and were available.

This advice I later learnt was completely wrong and when I had issues with the lack of security/parental controls I was quite rudely and arrogantly lambasted for giving phones to my kids, even though it was them who said their service was suitable for this. Needless to say that I transferred my mobile services away from Zen after this and I am now with EE directly, which so far has been a lot better service.

SO I certainly cannot recommend Zen Internet mobile for either business or personal use.

Sadly this was only the start of customer services going downhill, it does seem to have been getting gradually worse over the last few years, support has become less helpful, responses have become slower, often requiring emails to be chased for a response.

During a recent support issue, I was quite shocked when they sent me a loan router with absolutely no packaging or protection whatsoever. Turns out this is not a one-off either, as I discovered this is also how they post out brand new routers as well.

This is highly likely to result in damaged routers, which means any issues will automatically be blamed on your line, meaning you will be charged for an engineer call out since he will, of course, find no problem with the line.

Everyone knows how couriers treat parcels these days (especially Hermes) and everyone who posts packages on a regular basis knows that you have to use adequate protection in order to avoid items getting damaged in transit.

This is how ZEN post the routers, ZERO packaging or protecting, just 2mm of cardboard,

A recent issue with their sales dept essentially resulted in me cancelling a new order within 1 week, Zen then tried to blackmail me into a 24 month contract, which has left me very disappointed indeed considering how long I have been a customer, sadly proving once again that customer loyalty means nothing to some companies.

I no longer feel there is any benefit at all in paying more for their business service over a basic residential service and do not believe the customer service/support is any better as a result, but sadly they will not let me downgrade my service without being forced into a 24 month contract.

It is not yet bad enough to make me want to cancel my broadband services as the broadband service itself is still good and reliable and I rarely ever have issues, and I know many other providers have much worse customer service. But it is a real shame they have lost their great customer service USP.

just like Zen above, Gradwell is another provider who used to have really great customer services and was a pleasure to deal with, but this has gone downhill as the company has grown.

Once again I have been a customer of Gradwell for many years through multiple companies. I currently use them for both my business and my wife’s business and a personal VOIP number.

The once stellar customer service team have now become slow and unresponsive, regularly taking days or weeks to reply to tickets and often needing to be chased multiple times to get any response at all and getting through on the phone is equally as difficult.

When you do get a response they are often obtuse and disingenuous and require multiple back and forth (sometimes over several weeks) to get a more helpful response or a solution to the problem.

I used to be happy to recommend Gradwell to people, but I now find myself looking at alternative VOIP providers.

Bitdefender is one of if not the best anti-malware, cybersecurity product on the market. It does a lot more than most other AV products, has better protection and gets better detection scores. The other top spot contender is Kaspersky.

While I do concur that it is a very good product and I would recommend it as a cybersecurity solution for both personal and business use (not the parental controls though, this sucks), the customer service leaves a lot to be desired.

We all know that most level 1 tech support people working for large corporations are just monkey’s giving answers from a knowledge base and very rarely have any actual technical skills or know what they are talking about.

When you are dealing with a security product you somehow expect their support to be better than everyone else right? But no, the tech support/customer service really is quite useless for the most part. Often not understanding how their own product works and giving out completely wrong and bad advice.

Once you have gone through the hopeless level1 support, who will most likely get you to needlessly uninstall and reinstall the software, and eventually get escalated to level2 via a support ticket, expect to wait many weeks for any response.

When you do finally get a response from level2, they will usually just ask you for the same information that you already provided to the level1 tech in the first place, which you will then have to point out they already have, which they can see by simply scrolling down and reading the ticket history.

Don’t expect a speedy response from level, every time you reply, you will be waiting for weeks for a response, often needing to chase them when it seems they forgot about you.

If you are a very self-sufficient technical person, then you probably won’t need to contact support anyway, but if you are the average user, who is not good with IT and tends to contact tech support a lot, I would probably look for an alternative product from a smaller company with better support.

Almost all of the issues which I have needed to contact them about are related to their parental control features, which are completely useless, and I do not recommend using them.

You can read my full review of Bitdefender parental controls here.

And The Ugly


These are the companies I have with who have the absolute worst customer services imaginable, in fact not even worthy to be called customer service.

I have worked with many different domain registrars over the last 20 years, from good to bad, but Europe Registry aka Instra Corporation Pty Ltd) is one of the worst, they are a complete nightmare.

To say their customer service and billing depts are incompetent would be a massive understatement. Dealing with them will leave you tearing hair out and screaming in frustration as they are unable to understand the most simple questions or perform the most simple tasks, requiring everything to be explained 10 different ways and repeated multiple times to multiple people.

I had a ticket open with this company requesting a very simple price update on a number of domains as we were being overcharged. All I wanted was for the price we were being charged to be updated to match the price on their website, simple right?

But this super simple request has dragged on for over 1 year and is still not resolved. IT took dozens upon dozens of emails and the involvement of multiple people, just to get them to understand this simple issue with the price. It then required sending them screenshots of their own website just to show them what their own prices were and demonstrate how they did not match our invoices. Honestly, it would have been easier to explain it to a 5-year-old child.

Another 10 months passed with no further responses or updates, and those very simple changes were still were not made. I chased them up recently and below is the final response I had from them, blankly refusing to update the prices (no discount was ever requested btw) and would thus continue overcharging.

Even if you have to pay more, I would recommend staying far away from Europe Registry and using another registrar for your own sanity.

I have been a Google g suite partner/reseller for many years, and for the most part Google technical support is pretty good, especially when you consider the mammoth size of the company. It is certainly a lot better than Microsoft support.

The issue is with partner support (PPS) and I use the word support here very loosely, as there really isn’t any, the dept seems to be run by fraggles. I cannot think of a single time I have contacted partner support about any issue where it has not been a complete nightmare.

It is completely impossible to reach partner support by phone. They do not have a phone number you can call them on and they absolutely refuse to call you. Even other Google depts, such as tech support cannot contact PPS by phone.

The only way to communicate with PPS is an email support ticket, which usually takes several weeks for them to respond to every email. There have been several occasions where I have had to chase them for months for a response and on some occasions had to resort to contacting an EMEA concierge because PPS simply wouldn’t reply.

When you do get a response, it is very unlikely that the person who responds will have any idea how to deal with your issue, and it will usually need to be escalated to multiple other people until they finally find someone who actually has any idea how anything at Google actually works, which takes weeks at best.

Believe it or not, it actually took me about 6 months just to get some reseller pricing for some specific g suite related addons. Not one single person in PPS knew what their own pricing was. I lost count the number of different people that got involved in the ticket and the number of times I had to re-explain what I wanted.

So if you have an urgent issue that only PPS can deal with, then you are literally screwed as the only thing you can do is open a ticket and hope that someone responds quickly, if at all.

Thankfully as a g suite end user / direct customer, you will never have to deal with partner support.

Everyone knows who Trustpilot are, and many know what a complete scam the site is, but not everyone has had the pleasure of dealing with their customer service team (aka compliance team).

If you are not aware of the nefarious and unethical way that Trustpilot runs their business and treats their users, then please read my Trustpilot – Can they be trusted article.

Since I regularly post reviews (good and bad), I sadly also have to regularly deal with Trustpilot compliance team whenever a legitimate review gets flagged for removal. Which is always a complete waste of time and an exercise in hair pullng, as the compliance team are dumber than a bag of marbles and always side with the paying advertiser no matter what evidence you provide to back up your review.

The only reason I even bothered to post reviews on Trustpilot at all is simply that it is so widely used and blindly trusted and some companies do not bother to monitor it or just don’t care because they get so many bad reviews it is too much effort, so your review stays intact.

I also post reviews on sitejabber.com which so far seems far more legit and to date, none of my reviews have been deleted, so I would recommend Sitejabber over Trustpilot any day. Of course I don’t know how they deal with malicious/fake reviews yet either.

On several occasions when I have posted a negative review about a company, the owner or representative of said company has retaliated by then posting false and malicious lies about me. Of course, getting these removed by the compliance team sheeple is nigh on impossible unless I am willing to sell my morals and sign up to Trustpilot as a paying business customer.

Trustpilot is likely going to re-appear on this list every single year as I cannot see their unethical practices changing any time soon. If you currently use Trustpilot, I suggest also posting your review son Sitejabber too.

It is probably no surprise to see Microsoft on this list, being one of the largest companies in the worst, they also have some of the worst customer services as well.

Every so often I will get a Windows issue that I cannot fix or has taken up too much of my time trying to fix and I will resort to contacting Microsoft support, as on the rare occasion you do find someone who actually knows what they are doing. Plus I used to have a support contract, so I could get escalated to level 2 after dealing with the level 1 muppets.

The most frequent issues I have had is with their family safety, which stops working on a regular basis on all of my kids machines and has been doing so since it was first introduced over 10 years ago. Their usual answer is always to delete all my kids accounts and start again.

In almost all cases the Microsoft level 1 support team have no idea what they are doing and will simply Google (or Bing) whatever issue you have contacted them about and just regurgitate that information or simply send you the link. 99.9% of the time I already tried everything they tell me to do since I already Googled it myself, or they tell me to do something which is complete nonsense and unrelated to my problem or even doesn’t apply to Windows 10.

If you are a non-technical person and thus will blindly follow the advice of MS tech support, they are very likely to make your problem worse or create new problems for you or make your entire system insecure.

They will also blatantly lie to you or give you ridiculous advice, especially the ones in India.

  • They will tell you they have escalated an issue to level 2, when they have done nothing of the sort and next time you contact them there will be no record of that conversation.
  • They will tell you that they are opening a case you and that someone will be in touch. You will receive an automated email with your ticket/case information, but nobody will ever contact you or respond to your emails if you reply to the ticket.
  • They will promise to call you back, but will never do so.
  • Live chat support will tell you to reboot your router or your PC, knowing full well it will end the live chat. Which is probably just a tactic to get rid of you because they do not know what else to do.
  • They will give you advice or take actions that leave your system in an insecure or unstable state.

For example, on one occasion when I allowed a tech to remote desktop into my machine, he enabled the default administrator account (with any password), disabled all my Microsoft services, including my firewall and my anti-virus, and told me the problem was solved, and left my machine in this state, telling me everything would be fine.

I can only imagine how many unsuspecting customers this so call Microsoft tech has “helped” by turning off all security and putting their entire system at risk, scary stuff.

I have been using QuickBooks for my billing & accounting for the last year or so, and the advice given by Quickbooks support is far too often completely wrong to the point of being incompetent and potentially damaging to your business, which is why I am listing them here.

My wife is a bookkeeper and manages numerous Quickbooks accounts for her clients and also has regular issues with the incompetent advice given by Quickbooks support and says her bookkeeping forums are full of similar complaints.

The primary issue is that the live chat support team often do not know how their own software works, which is the result of the bad advice. So you you need to be competent enough yourself with how such systems work to know when you are being given wrong/bad advice, otherwise, you have no choice but to accept what they are telling you.

Here is just one recent example.

I have all my recurring invoices setup to be paid by direct debit via Go Cardless. So the invoices are automatically generated by QuickBooks each month, and the request for payment is sent off to Cardless. When the direct debit is collected, GoCardless sends a notification back to QuickBooks, and the invoice is marked as paid.

I recently noticed that none of my invoices had been paid for an entire month, and upon further investigation, found that the GoCardless connection had been paused for some reason. I did not receive any notifications to tell me there was a problem.

When I contacted QuickBooks support they told me that none of this had anything to do with them. They advised me that invoices are generated by GoCardless and not QuickBooks, that GoCardless controls the connection and the integration and that they must have paused it and that any notifications should come from them.

They even advised me that they will simply mark all invoices as paid even if no payment is received, which left me rather horrified.

I knew none of this was true of course, but I contacted GoCardless anyway for confirmation. As expected GoCardless confirmed that their system does not and cannot generate invoices since it is just a payment gateway and not a billing system, which is exactly what I had told Quickbooks support.

They also confirmed that they do not control the integration and that is also handled by Quickbooks, nor do they have any way to pause a connection, even if they wanted to.

I then contacted QuickBooks support once again, armed with my responses from GoCardless to backup what I had already told them. This time however I spoke to someone on the phone, who was more competent on how their systems worked, and she confirmed that everything I had been told previously was completely wrong and misleading.

The only part that was confirmed to be true, is the fact that they will mark the invoices as paid, even if no payment is received, which is very worrying indeed. I have yet to see this happen, as all my invoices were simply showing as overdue, but this could certainly screw up your accounting as well as cost you a lot of money if you think your invoices have been paid, when they haven’t.

I have recently been using a new CRM system called Perfex CRM, and will likely be moving all my billing into this system and away from Quickbooks.

Google alienates kids & parents + How to recover files from a suspended G Suite account

I was one of the early adopters of what is now known as Google G Suite and have been using since it was launched back in 2006 when it was originally called Google Apps.

Like most early adopters, I started with the free Google Apps account, which was open to anyone and was originally intended for personal use. Like most people, I got it just so I could use my own domain name with Gmail. A few years later I upgraded to the paid plan, which then became Google Apps for Business and then G Suite basic.

Over the years many things have changed, including the name, rules and policies and new features have been added, not all of them positive and many of them infuriating.

One of the big changes is that G Suite is now intrinsically linked with your Google account, which you use for many other apps and services, including Single Sign On.

G Suite is now for business use only, not personal use, and as such they have intentionally crippled it so that it only works with the core G Suite services and you are not allowed or able to use any of the other useful services that regular Google users enjoy, such as Google families.

I have even discovered that I am no longer able to leave reviews for apps on the play store via my G Suite account, which has been a long-running complaint on the forums as this is the only way to contact the developers or get support for many apps.

Basically Google are treating their G Suite customers like second class citizens and seem to be punishing us at every opportunity simply for being a paying customer and having a G Suite account. Many customers, myself included, are feeling very alienated by this as it seems we would be better off using a free gmail account instead.

The other big change/annoyance is that Google now has an age limit. You are required to be 13+ years old in order to even have a Google account and use any Google services at all, even a free gmail account.

If Google finds out that a user is under 13 years old, they will permanently suspend that users account and will never ever reactivate or give that user or you (the parent) access to that account ever again, no matter the reason.

All these changes are a major problem for parents like myself, who used the original Google Apps for personal use. Like many, I used my Google Apps domain for my entire family and gave all my kids an account so that I could centrally manage their Android devices and permissions.

Image result for google apps history

Under Google’s new rules, this is no longer allowed, so if your kids are under 13 and have a Google account of any type, they are at risk of having their Google account suspended and deleted, which has now happened to me twice.

In both cases the cause of the suspension was Google+. Everything was fine until they tried to use something which prompted them to setup a Google+ account. As soon as you enter your DOB on Google+, it suspends your account immediately if you are under 13.

This was a surprise to me since AFAIK Google+ was actually shut down last April. what I had not realised that they had only shut down the public (free) version but it will still active for G Suite customers.

The other ridiculous thing is that the age limit rule also means that your kids cannot use any Android device since this requires a Google account, which they are not allowed to have.

The only way around this is to use Google’s Family link, which again cannot be used with a G Suite account ( I tried), which is a real shame as it seems like it would be a really great app if I could actually use it.

Image result for google family link

You might think, ok, so I will just create another Google/gmail account and have that on my device alongside my g suite account and use that to manage family link. Nope, this is not possible either as Family link does not allow you to have 2 Google accounts on the same device, not even on the parent device.

So the only way you can use Family link is by having a 2nd phone just for this purpose. If you have an old Android phone lying about, then this may be a viable solution, but it needs to be Android 7 to work properly and use all the features. This wouldn’t, however, be viable if you want to use any of the other family services, which you would obviously want on your primary device.

As if this is not bad enough, when I realised that I could not use family link I had to delete my child’s Google account from their phone in an attempt to put it back to normal, this then completely bricked the device.

I was completely locked out of the device by family link due to it not liking me removing the child account, so a factory reset was the only option. But after a factory reset it wants me to login as the previous user, which fails every time. I have now bricked 2 old phones by attempting to use the family link so far.

Now I understand that Google has implemented these age limits in order to be compliant with COPPA, but they seem to gone completely OTT and heavy-handed with their approach and have further alienated a lot of their customers in the process.

I have become so frustrated and disappointed with Google over the last couple of years that am seriously considering cancelling my g suite account and moving my domain over to office365 or Zoho.

Recovering Data From a Suspended G Suite account

Your Google account has been suspended

As I mentioned above, I have been on the receiving end of Googles “no compromise” account suspension of my daughter’s account.

I pleaded with Google support just to unsuspend it for an hour so I could backup all her files from Google drive, but I was told by the agent that there was nothing he could do and the account could not be reactivated under any circumstances.

I asked if he could backup the files and send them to me, but the answer was also no, and I was told categorically that there was no workaround and no way I was ever going to get access to this account or the files.

So off the top of my head, I came up with a couple of workarounds, which surprisingly the support agent had never thought of, because it was not in his list of KB canned responses. Creative thinking doesn;t appear to be one of the skills of a Google support agent.

  1. Rename the Account
    Despite what I was told, there is in fact 1 way to get an account reactivated, which is if the suspension was a mistake because you accidentally provided the wrong DOB and the user is in fact over 13. In which case you need to provide ID to prove your age and if accepted, the account will be re-activated.
    https://support.google.com/a/answer/1110339?hl=en

    You will note in the above link it says there is supposed to be an option for the admin to change the users DOB, but this was not available to me, in fact I could not do anything with the account except delete it.

    So I thought, what if I rename the account to be in my wife’s name, and then send them my wife’s ID as proof of age, thus getting the account reactivated.
  2. Transfer files to another User
    When you delete a user from G Suite, it gives you the option to transfer all the files to another user. So I thought I could just create a new user for my daughter, delete the old user and transfer the files to the new user.

Option 2 was obviously the quickest and easiest solution, so that is what I decided to do, and it worked perfectly. Unfortunately, you cannot save the emails using this method, only the files, but this was not a problem for me.

I also then decided to re-create the original user, expecting this to not work because Google would know it was a previously suspended user.
Surprisingly this also worked, the account was no longer suspended and worked fine. so I repeated the process, and deleted the NEW user, and transferred the files back to the original username.

Now let’s just hope that Google do not read this and decide to further screw us over by stopping us from performing either of the above workarounds.

Google Find My Device not working

Ever since Google updated its “find my device” page for Android a couple of years ago, it has not been working for us.

We would still get the old version of the page with a message saying “This page cannot load Google maps correctly”.

Google find my device page

Clicking on the “try the new and updated find my device” link, would just redirect back to this same page.

The issue only affected my g suite account but not my regular, free, gmail account.

I tried contacting Google support back when I first noticed the issue but did not get anywhere since this is not a supported service.

Today I thought I would give it another try, and this time I got through to an agent more willing to help, and finally, we solved the mystery.

In your Google g suite admin you need to enable the “user device wipe on android” option.

This can be found under Device Management -> Android Settings -> General settings.

Check this box and click save, and you should now be able to access the new “find my device” page.

This is obviously a rather cryptic setting, and there is no logical reason why not enabling this option should just keep redirecting you to the old and broken find my device page. However the Google support agent did say it was “intended behaviour”.

Google discriminates against small businesses

Does google live up to it’s own motto “Don’t be Evil”

Part of getting your business seen online is SEO, and an important part of this is getting your business registered with Google my business and Google maps.

Not only have I had to do this for my own business and my wife’s business but it is a service I provide to clients. When it works, this is a simple process, which involves Google sending a postcard to the business address with a code on it, which you then use to verify the business address.

However, sometimes the postcard doesn’t turn up, or some miscreant might report your listing and claim it is fraudulent or misleading and gets it suspended for review, at which point you have to contact Google my business support and request manual verification, which is where things get ridiculous.

You would be quite right to think, why on earth would Google discriminate against small businesses, this makes no sense and completely contradicts the whole purpose of Google my business.

Yet I have had this issue myself a few times now, and most recently when I changed my own listing to add my virtual office address.

According to Harisha at Google my business support, in order to pass the manual verification, every business must provide photos of their premises, must have their own dedicated entrance which is not shared with other businesses and must show signage with the company name in front of the building, WTF?

These requirements are clearly unfair, unethical and discriminate against every small to medium businesses in the world that uses shared/managed office spaces, people who work from home (including disabled people) or have virtual offices.

There are 125 million formal micro, small and midsize businesses in the world, including 89 million in emerging markets. How many of those do Google think have their own building, with their own entrance and signage?

What makes this even more illogical is how disparate this is from the automated postcard method. As long as you can receive that postcard with the verification code on it, then no other evidence is required, your office could literally be in your garden shed.

This means that most of the businesses already listed on Google (using the postcard method) do not meet these supposed requirements either, which I couldn’t actually find any mention of on the Google my business eligibility guidelines by the way.

Quite ironically, as I pointed out to Harisha, this also includes all the other business that reside at the same managed offices as myself.

So what’s the solution?

In the case of the postcard not turning up, I suggest trying a few more times before giving up. In my most recent attempt, I had to request the card 5 times before it finally arrived (thankfully bypassing this issue).

If you just cannot get that card or have your listing suspended for some other reason, and really have no other choice other than to comply with Google’s unfair demands, then Photoshop is your friend (nudge nudge, wink wink).

If you do not have the skills to manipulate images yourself, just pop along to fiverr.com and you will find someone willing to do some image manipulation for $20 or less 🙂