Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Is it a duck?

There's an old expression that says, "If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it's probably a duck"

This is a story about Google and me.  I don't know if it's discrimination, a violation of fair trade practice or simply an error but I'll tell you what happened and let you decide.

I invented a marine product some years back and for the past 18 years have sold it exclusively on the internet. Being retired I was very wary of investing our retirement money in this venture so I have been trying to minimize expenses as much as possible and I run the business on a shoestring.  I'll never get rich from it but I enjoy doing it because my buyers really like the product.

About a year ago I tried a marketing strategy called Google AdWords.  For a fee, Google will display a website link when people enter relevant search words; the more you pay, the closer to the top your ad appears.

It didn't seem to make much of a difference so I closed the campaign, paid what I owed and that was the end of the story.

Recently I thought I'd try the campaign again so I re-activated my account. The campaign appeared for a day and then I got a notice that it was being suspended because of a violation to their policy.

I tried to find out just what that violation might be but couldn't.  I restarted the campaign and it was suspended again after a few hours, again with no explanation.

This happened three times, once even after I received a voucher inviting me to sign up for AdWords!

The person who answered the help line could not understand what was happening either and did some 'research' with me on the line.  He came back and said he had no further information and could not give me any more than I already knew.

Then, believe it or not, I got an email asking if I would fill out a satisfaction survey. I did.

Perhaps my name is linked to some terrorist group, maybe they don't like retired dentists, maybe they don't like boaters, maybe they think I'm really Rep. Henry Waxman (my name is Harvey Waxman). Who knows? They probably legally can refuse to accept a customer for any reason but aren't people entitled to at least know the reason?

In any case I smell something fishy and I can't get to the source of the smell. It seems only right that a company as huge as Google, which essentially is a monopoly on search engine technology and usage, should provide at least the courtesy of an explanation to the people whom they refuse to serve, even though they function nearly as a 'public utility' in their business practices. If they were the phone company I suppose I'd be using smoke signals.

In any case I wanted to share this with everyone about Google.