Every now and then I use the blog to rant about a completely unsatisfying experience - this is one of those occasions. Google Places is usually a great resource for businesses. Most of the businesses that I work with have no major issues, there is one that it all went wrong with. This case that highlights the hands off policy that Google has with most of their services.
The business was a multi-million dollar acquisition that included a name change - same location, same business type, with a new website and new name. Easy solution, change the two variables. Turns out it wouldn't be that easy. Instead there are two listings both with the same new name. One is linked to two other similar businesses (incorrectly) users are getting bad information. The other while completely accurate cannot be verified by Google the usual way (by Phone) because of the duplicate listings. Despite trying to open a dialog to merge, verify or assist us Google continues to remain hands off.
On top of that for the better part of a month there has been a disconnect between the website both profiles use and the site in search listings that constantly put the business on Page 2 of Google search listings. This put small mom and pop businesses on page two while a major employer and venue went unseen by the majority of search users (Page two is apparently a problem that can cost tens of thousands of dollars a month for a business that size). Luckily advertising exposure kept the business on the first page sidebar, although it is pretty sick business to be paying out thousands of dollars to Google when they can't even open a dialog with their customers that also use their public services.
All of those problems were for one business while dealing with Google Places. Add that onto the month-long Analytics nightmare at the beginning of 2011 and I'd almost be willing to pay a marginal monthly fee to Google - for support or at least as a justification to get litigious about public services (remember Places isn't really free, its paid for by advertisers and offered to the public. Although I don't remember seeing advertisements on my analytics pages).
No worries. Google may be slow but they usually respond sooner or later. This time the *-email@example.com didn't work because Places (a division of maps) does not accept email through firstname.lastname@example.org any longer. Call centres don't work that well either when you need a real administrator to solve a real problem.