Customer service has been a severe challenge to both businesses and consumers over the years – and no company – no matter how large they are, is immune from it. It would seem it is Google’s turn with subpar customer service. Years ago, a digital marketing agency above a specific size was assigned an agency representative who would act as a clearinghouse for all things Google.

They’d give suggestions for account improvements and offer relevant research. In the unlikely event that a particular account ran afoul of Google’s policy, they would actively work to help get the account back into compliance. The more prominent clients did receive dedicated Google reps, but even the smaller agency clients could get assistance from the agency reps.

Unfortunately, Google moved away from this model. Agency reps are seemingly non-existent – only the most significant accounts get a dedicated Google representative, which is generally helpful. Still, suppose the client that needs help isn’t enterprise-level – what options do they have? Even a sizeable agency is forced to either call/email/chat with support or attempt to deal with the lower level “car-warranty” style account reps who only exist to meet their sales quotas and not help their assigned clients.

With that said, even the worst customer service experiences usually give some clear path to resolution. However, if the Customer Service Funnel is not only unclear but hallucinates (perhaps due to an imperfect AI), then not only is Google delivering a horrible customer experience that will cause advertisers to look elsewhere (as of now, good alternatives don’t exist, but they might at some point) but can materially harm new or existing business initiatives from companies that are entirely innocent of any misconduct.

I recently onboarded a new client who added their company credit card to the Google Ads account. The account was suspended immediately for suspicious payment activity, which was strange as this was a new advertiser.

I’ve seen old, abandoned accounts with outstanding balances cause problems for advertisers who want to get back into Google Ads and need to be made aware of the unpaid balance. I asked the client if this might have been happening. He didn’t think so, but his whole team was new, so something could have been set up before everyone joined the company.

If your account is suspended, you can’t call Google…you can only appeal. Both myself and the client filed appeals that were rejected – Google told us that this client owed them money in one of the rejected appeals.

Now, if the client were separate from our MCC, it’s likely that the story would end here, with the client not being able to advertise because we could never get past the appeal process. However, I called Google using our MCC account number and was able to talk to someone. The Google Rep said that the client did owe money, but all they could do was email the people who were listed as admins on the old account as a vehicle for restoring access to the old account. He told me those people had email addresses corresponding to my client’s web domain. He would not allow me to pay the bill, which I was perfectly willing to do (and I’ve never had another customer service incident in my life where I was not allowed to settle the total bill on demand).

Emails were sent to the admin email addresses listed on the file but everything stayed the same.

One day later, the suspension was lifted with no explanation, without getting access to the legacy account, and with no money paid to Google.

I am still trying to figure out how we got flagged or what caused the issue to be resolved. I have had customer service incidents where I appeared not to get anywhere with the rep, and after I hung up, the problem was magically solved. That might have happened here. However, in our suspension appeals, we clearly outlined the situation and offered to pay any outstanding balance…and got nowhere. If our client didn’t work with an agency that knew how to work through the system, they would have been excluded from being able to purchase ads on the largest, most necessary ad network on the planet with a 90+% search market share.

In 2024, Google will practically function as a utility, not unlike electricity/gas/garbage pickup. It’s perfectly OK to deny service if the customer doesn’t pay or abuses the system. However, if I were to move into a new residence (as an example), I would be able to access essential services from the outset.

Suppose Google wants to argue that their massive market share isn’t evidence of a monopoly. In that case, they need to promote fundamental fairness for all who wish to market their products, including fair access and a more transparent way of cleaning up these issues.

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