Back when I was doing my week-long Shave a Redhead for Israel fundraiser, Google’s search index was taking an unusually long time to index the fundraiser page. This was a problem because I was publicizing the fundraiser and telling people they could find it easily by searching for “Shave a Redhead for Israel”, but they actually couldn’t.
The fundraiser was only a week long, and four days in, Google still hadn’t indexed it. Luckily, Google had recently sent me an offer for $100 in free AdWords advertising to get me to try AdWords. I decided to take advantage of that $100 offer and set up an AdWords campaign to match searches for “Shave a Redhead for Israel”.
I called Google’s AdWords department and worked with the sales representative there to set up the campaign. I told him, several times and in several different ways, that my only goal was to direct people who Googled for “Shave a Redhead for Israel” to my campaign page. I told him I didn’t wants ads to be placed on other pages — I just wanted sponsored links on Google’s search page — and I told him specifically that I just wanted that one phrase, “Shave a Redhead for Israel”.
Despite my repeated instructions, he set up a campaign which matched all sorts of keywords and ran ads all over the Internet, not just sponsored links. By the time I discovered this the next morning and fixed the campaign, it had racked up almost $60 in charges for ads I didn’t want and didn’t need.
But that’s not the worst of it. In addition to screwing up the campaign, he failed to apply the $100 promotional credit to my account. As a result, a few weeks later Google charged my credit card for almost $60 in advertising that was supposed to be free, and, to be clear, was for a non-profit fundraiser from which I didn’t make a cent of profit.
Since the charged appeared on my credit card, I have spent two months unsuccessfully trying to get Google to acknowledge their error and fix it by issuing a refund:
- I’ve contacted their “customer service” (read, “cheap offshore labor that doesn’t have a clue”) department three times explaining the situation and asking for it to be resolved. Each time, I was told that someone from the appropriate department would get in touch with me to work it out. No one ever did.
- Eventually, I disputed the charge with my credit card, enclosing with my dispute a copy of the email from Google in which they promised me the $100 in free advertising. They responded to my dispute with a form letter that completely ignored their free advertising offer and merely stated that I received the services for which I was charged (I never said I didn’t, you idiots!).
- After I disputed the charge, Google emailed me twice asking me to justify the dispute. Both times, I responded to their email as requested explaining the situation in detail. I received only automated acknowledgments; I have no evidence that any human being actually read my emails.
- I emailed three contacts who worked at Google and asked if any of them could put me in touch of someone there who could resolve the situation. None of the three contacts responded; I don’t know if any of them passed on my message to someone else at Google.
I understand that AdWords is an extremely high volume business. I understand that Google obviously has to handle without human intervention as many inquiries. But they really need to do something about the fact that their procedures are apparently completely incapable of handling inquiries that require human intervention.