When Google Owns You

Nick Saber Nick Saber isn’t happy now. Monday afternoon, after lunch, Nick came back from lunch to find out that he couldn’t get into his Gmail account. Further, he couldn’t get into anything that Google made (beside search) where his account credentials once worked. When attempting to log in, Nick got a single line message:

Sorry, your account has been disabled. [?]

That’s it.

Nick sent a message or three to Google for support. He got back this:

Thank you for your report. We’ve completed our investigation. Because our
investigation was inconclusive, we are unable to return your account at
this time. At Google we take the privacy and security of our users very
seriously. For this reason, we’re unable to reveal any further information
about this account.

And that’s it.

Suddenly, Nick can’t access his Gmail account, can’t open Google Talk (our office IM app), can’t open Picasa where his family pictures are, can’t use his Google Docs, and oh by the way, he paid for additional storage. So, this is a paying customer with no access to the Google empire.

If he was doing something wrong/illegal/invalid, they might’ve said so (not thinking that he was). If he had been hacked, wouldn’t that be something vaguely apparent? I dunno, but it seems like that’d be the way.

So, what happens now? What does Nick do? He’s sent a bunch of emails. But now what? Locked out of ALL of Google’s apps, the apps that I praise daily, the apps where Julien Smith and I are writing a book. Should we be doing that? I didn’t see a problem until this. What if we’re the next Nick?

What’s your take? And what do you think of hands off customer service in this case?

**UPDATE: Nick got back in after quite a lot of work.
**UPDATE: Jay explains in the comments how this is supposed to work. Mind you, I’ve used Google for years as a non-paying customer, so Jay’s advice wouldn’t help. Right?

**UPDATE: Google Gets Back to Nick. We’ll be talking about some ideas based on this in the next newsletter.

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  • sgalardi

    I am locked out of my account after 5 years of using gmail and loving it. I am very worried that my emails are gone – I depend on these every day for business. I would be willing to pay to get my account going. Please advise.

    • Kuei Feng Tung

      Google is charging 0.30$ to give you your account back. But it really is supposed to be free.

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  • Guest

    My wife, who is a 6 figure Internet Marketing Trainer, got shut down Adwords- “Payment Denied” and after researching the only reason they could come up with was one page had a poor content rating. She even tried using my business debit card and they denied it. Now I cannot even use that card on my Adwords account. They somehow see them as linked. She has since dropped Adwords and is using various other means of advertising, which has been a God sent, since it has been low cost and just as effective in the end. She teaches this stuff now at http://www.topfortuneinternetbusiness.com. Watch out Google!

  • Guest

    My wife, who is a 6 figure Internet Marketing Trainer, got shut down on Adwords after getting an error “Payment Denied” on her credit card while funding her acocunt. After a long investigation she got the answer “one page had a low quality content”. Now after using my credit card from my business to try and fund the account, that card cannot even be used on my business acocunt. Somehow they linked the cards to other unrelated businesses..She has since used various other forms of marketing and dropped Adwords altogether and is doing it all at a much lower cost. She teaches how to do this at http://www.topfortuneinternetbusiness.com

  • http://www.adwordsban.net/adwords-disabled Dalin

    This ban isn't for LIFE..Just like me, anyone who has been BANNED or SUSPENDED can get their account privileges restored. Check this website out..

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  • http://www.gmail.com/ chris

    but i filled it out all the way i odnt knowbwhat to do after i filled it out all the way

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  • Garrett Moffitt

    This just happened to me. I ahve no idea why, and they have everything locked up.
    If there is an issue why not contact me first. the could send me an email and disable all outbound email except to them for crying out loud.
    This is poor customer service, and I suspect some consumer protection will need to be put into place to ensure that consumers have access to legacy information even if that can go forward with any service.
    If this isn't resolved for me very quickly, I will contact my AG, and I will institute legal action. I haven't used my yahoo account for years, yet I can still access that.

  • http://www.google.com/profiles/Strodtbeck.C Charles

    Guess I should be making some backups . . .

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  • Idahohickk

    I just got the same shaft from Google as Nick Saber. No reason just disabled. can't find anything out, no text answer. Just screw you. Google is God
    Well Godoogle is dead if and when I ever get back on my email account. I made the mistake of adding new friends to my google account and not backing it up on my outlook and hotmail…..

  • Jaderiveriver

    Same thing happened to me today and I get absolutely no service from Google. Google has joined the list of corporate colossus that suck.

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  • Jb

    They switched my entire adwords campaign off just because somebody else commited fraud on google adwords in my name. To this day I could not resolve the matter with them, they seem like robots that just dont get it. I strongly suggest to anyone out there to avoid building your business on google foundations, they are evil and they will sooner or later destroy you too. I wish the western goverments would stop google before its too late.

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  • aashish

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  • Stacey

    My account was hacked into and I was blocked out. I sent a report to Google that I can't access my account and I had the same experience as many below. They have no customer service at all. I've filled out the same stupid form at least four times, only to have them tell me that they can't verify that I own my account. I am a producer who frequently works with National Geographic. All of my work related emails are in that account – contracts, files, research, etc. Not to mention books I've written, personal correspondence, and work contacts. Google seems to take great lengths to secure your account AFTER it has been hacked, but apparently has little to offer you to prevent it from happening in the first place. Needless to say, I am outraged. They ask you security questions you set up years ago and can't possibly remember the answers to. I'm being asked for my library card number. I have 12. Which one I may or may not have used (at this point I'm wondering if whoever hacked my account has changed my security questions) I have no idea.

    Have any of you been able to contact Google to resolve the issue?

    Thanks!
    Stacey

  • Stacey

    Either I just got my previous email address correct, or it helped to fill out the form in a foreign language – they have given me access to my account. However, all of my emails that weren't in a folder are gone. Word to the wise: back-up.

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  • johannabartley

    It's almost unbelievable. I never thought Google would do such a thing or commit such a mistake. I'm happy for Nick but I think he should get some sort of compensation for his trouble.
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  • antigoogle

    I am sorry but if you use googe product you have to accept the google owns you becau googles privacy regulations are very poor. If you really care about privacy don’t use google (products) at all there are a lot of alternatives or you can block certain things from Google like the google analytics cookie.
    There are much better/safer ways to do these things!

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  • http://www.abrahamwalker.com New Orleans Real Estate Agent

    Just happened to me and all i got was a auto response email regrigitating the same information they posted when the locked me out of my account. Oh well, I guess this is the cost of free.

    Oddly enough, my emails are still being sent to my outlook box. I’m glad I started backing up all of my forms.

    Thanks Google.

  • Bolton47

    i also started a blog and added google adsense in hopes of making a few extra dollars, and my husband, who isn’t on the computer much was looking at it trying to show interest in my lastest venture, and accidently clicked on one of the ads, of course it came from my home so they canceled my accout the very first day, within the first hour, i have sent several messages to them trying to explain what happened, to please just give me another chance, but the messages all come back the same to me, they cannot and will not reinstate me, if anyone has any suggestions i would love to hear them, i would love to start over, thanks!

  • Bolton47

    i also started a blog and added google adsense in hopes of making a few extra dollars, and my husband, who isn’t on the computer much was looking at it trying to show interest in my lastest venture, and accidently clicked on one of the ads, of course it came from my home so they canceled my accout the very first day, within the first hour, i have sent several messages to them trying to explain what happened, to please just give me another chance, but the messages all come back the same to me, they cannot and will not reinstate me, if anyone has any suggestions i would love to hear them, i would love to start over, thanks!

    • Linux Experi

      That’s symptom of a poorly designed software.

    • Guest

       Why didn’t they just put a stupid lock(so the ad will not work at home) ,or fine you the money you got?
      At least it would have been easier for you,even with a fine of about the same as you (accidently)gained.
      Best idea:Make another account,(but if you hate them…)or remove Adsense from your site,replacing it with messages saying,
      “Google are stupid and dum,so these ads have forever been removed.”
      “If you hate this message on these ads,email google about (link to the comment here).”

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    Suddenly, Nick can’t access his Gmail account, can’t open Google Talk (our office IM app), can’t open Picasa where his family pictures are, can’t use his Google Docs, and oh by the way, he paid for additional storage. So, this is a paying customer with no access to the Google empire.

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  • http://twitter.com/BradAndersohn BradAndersohn

    I had the same thing happen to me. My adsense account was starting to finally produce some revenue and without any notice or reason whatsoever, I received that robot email that said my account had been disabled. I have tried to notify Google on many occasions (at least 15 times) and no response. No customer service, they just shut me off and with no reason or contact from any human being at Google.

    I have always written about and praised their products, tools and services. If you Google search “Top 50 Google Tools for Business” I’m in the number one spot on THEIR search engine.

    Chris, what do you recommend I do? I’d love to get my acct reinstated but there’s no one to talk to and they won’t respond to any of my requests or emails? It does make me concerned that one day they may just shut it all down and I have too much time and money invested in their products and services?

    Talk about feeling a bit out of control, what do you suggest?