Google is Evil….

Google has made an art form of Kafka-esque user torture.

I will not bore you with the details of my problem. I already proved that I was in control of the domain name by going through a CNAME process. Even after that, they then asked further questions, like the exact date when I had set up the Google account in questions, and the last four number of the credit card I had used then. Mind you, my account is so old that it was when Google was giving free accounts. They would not let you submit the form without the credit card info.

I nevertheless managed to advance the “get this fixed” process. They then send a faux cheerful “Help is on the way” message, which as you will see below, tells you to reply and asks for yet more information, which I provided. It also had the case ID in the subject line.

Screen shot 2016-03-02 at 8.47.48 PM

This was the reply:

This is a message from Google for Work Support.

Your email has been rejected.

The email address eSupport@google.com is used for communication on existing support cases only. Emails sent from Google for Work Support representatives contain a reference number in the subject line and in the body of the email. If you’re writing to Google for Work Support regarding an existing support case, please reply to a previous email on the case and verify that the reference number is included in the subject line of the email or in the body of the email.

Emails sent to eSupport@google.com without reference numbers in the subject line or in the body of the email are automatically rejected. If you are interested in opening a new support case with Google for Work Support, please use one of the methods listed at http://support.google.com/enterprisehelp/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=142244.

Thank you.

Google for Work Support

Mind you, they told me to reply and the reference number was in the subject line and the body of the message and a graphic too.

My web host then suggested a route for me to talk to a person, by clicking on the last link in the message, by which you can get to this:

Screen shot 2016-03-02 at 8.54.44 PM

But when you try to get a PIN by clicking on the link, all you get more is Google run-around:

Screen shot 2016-03-02 at 9.00.12 PM

I have wasted lots of my and my web host’s time. and all I have to show for it is a headache.

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107 comments

  1. ambrit

    It is somewhat comforting to learn that Google Evil is an equal opportunity exploiter.
    This used to be called “the old runaround.” Now it is “the automated runaround.” Either way you view it, Google no longer values its’ customers.
    Since Google has entered a phase indicative of terminal decline; who will replace them? This no idle question. When the dominant actor in any business sphere of endeavour begins to lose sight of the basics, the writing is on the wall, so to speak. Expect the succession wars to be intense and very disruptive.
    Sorry about the headache.

    1. Chris Williams

      NC and Yves aren’t Google’s customers. They are both the product and Google, like any retailer now optimises its revenues by selecting which products to promote. Coke at the front of the supermarket.

      That’s what corporations will do when you give them more rights than people. There is no such thing as corporate social responsibility. That requires ethics and the idea(l) that we allow corporations to exist so as to serve our communities.

      Good luck on that. Shit eh?

      1. Bob Haugen

        What Chris Williams said. Even if you are paying them for some services, you are not paying them enough money to be considered a customer. I’m not even sure why they are bothering to charge for small business services.

    2. Synoia

      Either way you view it, Google no longer values its’ customers.

      When were you a Google “customer” ever?

      If it is free what you do is the product, and you are not a customer, you are fodder.

  2. Crazy Horse

    Yves, looks like you should place your name on the list to receive Dmitry Orlov’s new book, “Shrinking the Technospere, Getting a grip on the technologies that limit our Autonomy, Self sufficiency, and Freedom” when it becomes available this fall!!

    1. jgordon

      Dmitry Orlov is an amazing writer and thinker. I too think Yves should get a copy of his new book, with the stipulation that she should also go back and get all of his previous books!

  3. Nancy Kramer

    Why would you ever trust anything “work related” to Google? You obviously have some sensitive data which Google and a lot of other people might be interested in. Be sure that Google knows what is in the data you put on their servers and will use it if that is in their self interest. Putting information on Google’s servers shows a serious lack of technical judgement.

  4. Mink

    Try the fun and excitement of getting a fancy new Android phone. Activating the phone requires logging on to a Google account – fine whatever – but the unrecognized device triggers a two-step authentication. The options to receive the code that you need to enter in order to proceed and activate your phone? Text or phone call…

  5. flora

    omg. Google is now so disorganized they’ve jumped the shark. (what, you thought the Alphabet soup was organization?) Sorry you’re caught in AI customer service hell. I have no useful suggestions. When looking at the screenshots in the post I thought, “Google thinks nothing existed before 5 years ago ( see “Hey there” greeting) and Google insists that its faulty database is an accurate reflection of the real world (see “email has been rejected”).” Google has apparently wrapped itself in its own self-created bubble and rejects real world intrusions that conflict with its own (faulty) database navel-gazing, defaulting its responses to a version of ‘you can’t get there from here’.

    1. Lambert Strether

      I really like the idea that the first AI application at scale could be the online equivalent of Voice Mail Hell. That makes so much sense, and I bet the ROI is fantastic.

        1. GlobalMisanthrope

          Excellent. NC normally evokes my first “motherf*ckers” of the day rather than my first laugh. Bravo!

        2. Synoia

          That’s bad grammar:

          l’etat c’est le ROI

          French requires the definite article. The meaning is identical.

          1. ambrit

            Thanks for that. Some days I feel as if I were the donkey in the manger. Also, I did not figure out your other pun. You have the better of me. You did come up with a royal pun.

    2. Bob Haugen

      Google has always been this way. It is not new. It has always rejected real world intrusions into its bubble.

      The only possible exception I can think of was when their robot car ran into a bus.

      1. Olivier

        Why focus on Google? Name one large IT company in the Silicon Valley that has half-decent customer service (hint: Amazon is not headquartered in CA).

  6. bob

    I had the same sort of problem this summer. I tried to get into my email from a place that was not home. I didn’t get the password wrong, they just didn’t want to let me in. Denied.

    I also set all this up years ago. They asked for the same info, the day you signed up, etc. I never gave them a phone number, so there was no way for them to help.

    How about you give me your phone number, assholes?

    I had to have someone break into my house, log on to my email, from my house, notice the email that said there was suspicious activity, say it was normal, and then change all my passwords, again….

    Secure!

    1. flora

      interesting. It may be a MAC (Machine Access Code) address issue. My pc needed a new motherboard. The new motherboard’s built-in ethernet card has a different MAC address from the original board’s ethernet card.. I just logged in to gmail and got the same ‘access denied’ message. Interesting. It’s a goofy security feature, if that’s what it is, because people get new computers and hardware all the time. Pairing a MAC address with a user account would only makes sense if users never get new hardware or use different hardware.

        1. bob

          A MAC can be changed, also.

          It didn’t affect another email account that I have with google, just the one I needed to get into.

          Again, I didn’t get the password wrong, they just decided that I wasn’t allowed to use the correct name and password, from where I was trying to use it.

          1. bob

            My best guess at the time was that they were using both the MAC of the router facing the ISP and the IP, or IP block, that the ISP issued me. Neither of which are really “secure”, they can both be faked.

            It was infuriating. I did get to a phone number at one point, called, waited on hold for about 30 mintues, then was told that I was not a customer, fuck off…click.

        2. weevish

          The MAC (which actually stands for medium/media access control) address doesn’t leave the network segment of the machine in question, so unless one is running software that reports it to a remote site via a higher level protocol, visiting (say) google.com doesn’t tell google your MAC address.

          On the other hand, if you’re a three-letter agency with enough hypothetical hooks into ISP supplied modems and routers, well that opens up new possibilities.

            1. weevish

              Sure. The upstream MAC address leaves to the other end of its corresponding network segment. So your ISP can see it, but they already know what it is.

              Google still can’t see it without employing what would normally constitute spyware.

              1. bob

                It’s very easy, and not at all illegal to see the MAC of an internet facing box. Lots of sights and services use it as a part of a authentication- ie no anon. You can’t log into an account anonymously.

                You’re name is very creepy. Is it some sort of show of solidarity with that reportedly human piece of excrement?

                1. weevish

                  It’s very easy, and not at all illegal to see the MAC of an internet facing box. Lots of sights and services use it as a part of a authentication- ie no anon. You can’t log into an account anonymously.

                  It’s very easy on a single segment. If it’s so easy beyond that, you should have no difficulty explaining how it gets past the layer 3 devices. I assume you can provide solid evidence of all these sites that use the MAC address for authentication.

                  You’re name is very creepy. Is it some sort of show of solidarity with that reportedly human piece of excrement?

                  OK, I can honestly say I don’t have the slightest idea what you’re yammering about here.

                  1. bob

                    It’s not used AS the single variable in authentication, but it is used as one variable, in a longer string, including, username, password, etc….

                    If you don’t know, you’re going to want to google weev.

                    Then change your name.

                    1. weevish

                      OK, this will be my last post on this little brouhaha because:

                      a) I doubt that Yves appreciates having her blog clogged with pointless battles unrelated to its mission, and

                      b) even though I’m convinced that you have no idea what you’re talking about, I’m reminded of an old saying regarding porcine mud wrestling.

                      Having said that, I will note that my handle was based on an old pet name and I had no idea about the “weev” thing. So for that bit of enlightenment, thank you (sincerely).

              2. weevish

                I should clarify that to say spyware on your local device. Just using a web browser to visit google.com won’t do it. They have other methods to figure out who you are.

        3. Gio Bruno

          Lambert, you’re getting warmer. The MAC address is a very specific identifier (unlike an IP address) that ID’s a specific computer or cell phone (if it has WiFi capability; most smart phones). To get a “secure” Internet connection the MAC address is an essential element. When Google says it only monitors users in “broad parameters”, don’t believe it. Google knows more about folks than it lets on.

          The Internet was NEVER intended to be anonymous.

          1. Gio Bruno

            Spying: (From Wikipedia)

            According to Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency has a system that tracks the movements of everyone in a city by monitoring the MAC addresses of their electronic devices.[13] As a result of users being trackable by their devices’ MAC addresses, Apple Inc. has started using random MAC addresses in their iOS line of devices while scanning for networks.[14] If random MAC addresses are not used, researchers have confirmed that it is possible to link a real identity to a particular wireless MAC address.[15]

            1. bob

              You can’t really use truely random MAC addresses. More BS from the snowden DUMP.

              2 of the same MACs would kill a network. I assume that apple uses a random list of MACs, no two being issued at the same time.

              ie- not random.

              Also, is that for Wifi? what about bluetooth and the sim? pretty easy to track using the SIM instead of the MAC.

              More apple marketing, brought to you by snowden.

      1. hunkerdown

        You sure it was Google complaining and not your ISP? Many broadband ISPs and plenty of security-conscious businesses use the Media Access Controller address of one’s network interface as an input to their access control policy, but MAC addresses don’t cross network segments without very particular setups.

        How (and why) to change your MAC address on Linux, Windows and Macintosh (HowToGeek) If you reset the new machine’s MAC address to that of the old machine, that should fix it,

      2. HotFlash

        They do this so they can verify your current phone number. Happened years ago when I tried to close my gmail account. I wouldn’t give them the phone number so they still have the account, which I never check (b/c they want my phone number for that, too). All that spam.

        Google’s *real* customers really really want our phone numbers, and really really want to make sure we can get texts.

        1. cassandra

          Gee, I wonder what would happen if you gave a bogus phone number, like the one for Google sales or somesuch? Do you suppose it might fry some virtual fuses? (I should be careful what I suggest; it might never let you enter your correct number should you wish to do so at some point). ;-)

      3. Synoia

        Ah, you need a properly used English MAC not and American MAC. An English MAC conceals (except when the English MAC is used as flasher’s MAC), an America MAC reveals.

  7. Elizabeth Burton

    Ah, this brings back nightmares.

    I, too, had a free Apps account. One day early last year, someone hijacked the email address on it I had used for several sensitive websites, like Amazon and PayPal, and proceeded to do the usual larceny. They did this by somehow managing to have the entire account mail queue forward to their own email—every email on the account. I could send, but nothing ever thereafter came in, even after I reset passwords.

    I attempted to notify Google of this slight problem, encountered the same situation you’ve illustrated, said “Life is too short,” and moved everything to my hosting service. Which now, ironically, apparently runs on Google Apps.

  8. sd

    Minor Google story…
    Last week, I was trying to do a simple search. Google kept autocorrecting my search query AND my search results to the point where I finally just gave up trying.

  9. cripes

    Google is where the internet’s best search becomes a feeding tube inserted in your nose in search of advertising revenue.

    Free market, indeed.

  10. Dan

    You know who I’ve had the best luck with service from lately, of the big fellas (Google, FB, Apple, MS)? Microsoft! It seems we’ve come full circle…. though the service was still pretty crappy, I did get my issue resolved in about an hour. It was a random problem with Office 365.

  11. Matthew G. Saroff

    Google has the worst customer service that I have ever seen.

    I use it for my blog, it’s free, but when it hits the fan in a business scenario, you cannot talk to a human being.

    Worst customer service ever.

  12. Daniel

    Sorry to hear about this problem, but it is not surprising. Google doesn’t have to provide good customer service for the low revenue services. We have to remember that Google makes the vast majority of their revenue on search. These business services don’t mean much to them. If you are using them for certificate provision you might consider moving.

    Re: Google being in “terminal decline” isn’t really accurate. They are still the dominant search engine, and that means they are one of the biggest advertising agencies. This is their principal revenue source, and it is huge. They aren’t going away anytime soon. They haven’t lost sight of the basics – the basics are search and providing advertising next to those search results (and into peoples’ gmail).

    1. ambrit

      I can’t argue with your ad revenue comment, but, their search engine shows signs of accelerating deterioration. To sell those ads, Google needs semi satisfied customers, which customers Google is treating like red headed step children now.
      The ladies headache is just the tip of the iceberg.

      1. polecat

        I quit using google search shortly after the snowden expose’……..Fuck google…they SUCK !!!

        they can harvest revenue from someone else

  13. different clue

    I am not a thing-doer on Google. I am a mere personal individual search-consumer. I wonder . . . . does Google do this because it knows it is such a powerful monopoly that it knows that it can?

    Is there a single thing that millions of mere personal computer end-users could do as even a gesture of dissatisfaction? Like using other Search Engines? Or at least sharing news about other Search Engines which are actually better for certain searches that mere personal users make? Would that at least help keep other Search Engines alive in the desert until Google finally jumps the shark which breaks the camel’s back?

    1. hunkerdown

      Google’s money maker is advertising. Not consuming Google advertising cuts their air supply.

      1. different clue

        Meaning don’t click on any Google-carried ad which can possibly left un-clicked?

  14. cripes

    There’s duckduckgo and ixquick. Better than they were but not great.

    Search Google for better search engines. That should do it!

      1. sd

        Googles basic search function is deteriorating. I wish I could remember the exact search terms, It just kept autocorrecting the query – even in quotes – so I gave up. So if Google is bungling search, there’s not much hope for the rest of their products.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Yes, it was good till about 2011 or 2012 and it’s been all downhill since then. They’ve optimized it for shopping.

          I made heavy use of Google in 2009 when I was writing ECONNED and I was able to locate very specific information very quickly. Now there is a ton more information on the Internet, but when I search, I get garbage results. tons of completely irrelevant stuff on the first few pages and responsive material scarce even when I know it is out there.

          I never could have done ECONNED on the insanely tight time schedule I had with the current Google.

          1. wbgonne

            Totally agree. Google is failing and the internet seems to be collapsing into itself. Getting straight answers is harder and harder.

            1. polecat

              maybe an internet implosion isn’t such a bad thing……..creative destruction and all that…..

      2. cripes

        Yves:

        Yes but I was replying to different clue’s suggestion on using other search platforms.

        Anyway, it’s Google’s dominance as a search engine that catapulted them into the position to grab up internet real estate and not care about their putative “customers.”

        Who are the product.

        1. rps

          I took a library research course a couple years ago. What I learned- finding the best descriptors (word/phrase) is usually a hit or miss for most users. Word and boolean combo search strategies in the advance- subject/field line can be frustrating because google search engine descriptors are based on the general public’s popular user combinations. Google doesn’t choose the descriptor search combinations, rather they are actively determined by popular user combinations in accordance with google’s algorithm methodologies.

          Google is a mediocre basic search engine of general information, and not necessarily source(s) reliable. The 1st page or so of results is driven by the number of ‘hits’ the site(s) receives by ads and user popularity- not by factual information, content or source accuracy.

          Now, Google Scholar is a step above the basic user search engine providing limited academic peer reviewed articles, journals, newspapers etc. Most of these websites supply a short synopsis with the option to pay to read the full article.

          Imo, the best online search engines for most research are the academic institutions offering scholarly and professional premier databases such as EBSCOhost, JSTOR and many more (public libraries largely offer the public’s general subjects interests). Access to the online databases- journals, articles and newspapers are paid for by the libraries rather than you shelling out $$$ to read the full article. If you’re a student/teacher/alumnae/alumni of an academic institution (grade-school, high school, university) its usually free to access their online library databases from your device(s) or onsite. Sometimes a nominal yearly fee.

          I don’t know why people think collegiate online library databases are scary or nerdy when the fact is, the scholarly/professional articles, content and information are peer reviewed and vetted for factual accuracy. Even better, library database results verifiability vs Google user/ads ‘hits’ popularity is a no-brainer.

          1. Jim Haygood

            JSTOR has a “register and read” program, so that even non-academics can obtain three journal articles at a time:

            http://about.jstor.org/rr

            Noblesse oblige! Now if I could just grok all them equations …

          2. Gio Bruno

            I’m here to echo rps‘ comments.

            I use the local college library extensively for research and it’s far superior in results than Google would produce.

      3. different clue

        My assumption is that Google will never ever improve the other services they provide and that the only way to get any improvement would be to degrade, attrit and shrink Google to create a space for other Search Engine companies to emerge in hopes those other companies will also provide the other services and do it better than Google. Since “Search” is their big main bussiness, shrinking their “Search” could shrink their money and power and allow other better “other services they provide” companies to emerge.

        The only real final answer to Google is the Stalin Answer. “If Google is giving you problems, kill Google and it will stop giving you problems. No Google, no problem.”

  15. Pespi

    This sort of problem and the fake error message that exists to make you take the easiest solution to a problem for them, rather than you, are strikingly common. What’s the use of a service that can’t be fixed when it breaks. That doesn’t even make sense. It’s a service.

  16. none

    Is this about WordPress hosting? http://www.cloudways.com is supposed to be good, according to friends of mine in the (mostly unmanaged) hosting biz. They supply managed hosting on VPS that they deal with. Not super cheap but should still be affordable for a site like this. I wouldn’t go near Google.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      No, this has nothing to do with WordPress. If you are on WordPress, by definition you are not on Google. Google’s blogging service is Blogger.

  17. participant-observer-observed

    The no store front, no customer service model is too pervasive; Verizon is similar (store fronts will allow you to buy a phone, but no face to face line or billing services, although they do have a dedicated phone line for calling customer service with no assistance whatsoever.)

    With slightly smaller companies, I have had great success finding CEO and executive contacts via LinkedIn and going straight to the top dogs….my problems were completely solved within 24 hours!!!!

    1. Dave

      Let’s talk about AT&T.

      I waited almost two weeks to switch from a different long distance provider BACK to AT&T that is my local landline service provider. (No, I will not use “who”– Corporations are not people).

      6 phone calls to pleasant helpful humans in San Diego at AT&T’s phone desk, who could not figure what was going on with the third party vendor that AT&T uses to switch any long distance provider, to or from AT&T.
      “Why do you use a third party vendor to switch back to yourself?” I asked. “So we can’t cheat you”. “Oh”.

      Order numbers checked out, calls made to the third party provider by AT&T’s own people, answers given that were false. No switchover ever occurred.

      Bottom line: I am convinced that AT&T is deliberately frustrating and sabotaging their own land line customers to get them to abandon the service in favor of cell service.

      Talked to people in other states who were trying to run a business using AT&T’s internet service. Massive overbilling–200 GB a month for a small business? Even when AT&T techs came out to the business to measure what was going on as far as bandwidth, they too were lied to by AT&T techs at the internal level. “We’ll fix it”, “We’ll call you back”, “It’s fixed”, all bullshit and lies.

      Perhaps, like dinosaurs, some corporations are too big to survive.

      “AT&T, America’s biggest job destroyer”.

  18. Clive

    I’ve written on several occasions about Google (“Alphabet”) subsidiary Nest and how it is shockingly bad at misrepresentation in its marketing. Nest recently launched its “3rd generation” thermostat in Europe and promised a feature which users had asked for since the product’s introduction — compatibility with a protocol known as “Opentherm”.

    Opentherm is widely used in Europe (I won’t bore users with the technicalities) and on the basis of Nest’s marketing some buyers switched out their existing thermostat for a new Nest model specifically for Opentherm compatibility.

    It turned out the Nest made blatantly false claims in their advertising http://techn4all.com/users-nest-v3-complain-about-modulation-problems/

    It wasn’t just a little bit misleading, Nest told a flat out lie in the advertising used at the product’s launch.

    Users complained and got their money back. Fine, except that they then had to reinstall their original thermostat — assuming, that is, they hand kept it. And it took a long while for Nest to admit they were wrong so that was a load of hassles for users to sort out.

    Nest belatedly amended their advertising copy. But this whole episode shows them for the load of shysters they really are.

    1. Synoia

      Anyone using a Internet of Things device (IOT), needs to review the missing letters in IOT (IdiOt).

        1. Clive

          Yes, that’s what I feel like. And I’m pretty smart. But Google / Nest took me for a ride and while I’m older, sadder and wiser — I’m also £200 the poorer. At least I could take the flippin’ thing off the wall — unlike Yves who ended up reliant on a service and only found out about Google’s Special Circle of Hell (TM) “support” the hard way.

  19. KYC

    I think the problem with all large companies these days is the reliance on so-called “machine learning”. This appears to be especially true at Google where they constantly refer to developing algorithms to do everything. The trade-off with all such “big data” approaches is that you get a good understanding of 80% (for arguments’ sake) the market with <20% of the work (compared to traditional analysis). That's good enough for them to scale up and realize a massive return on investment.

    However, if you're in the remaining 20% of the market, you will end up being mis-classified and have to go through automated hell with likely no way to resolve. The cost of fixing these issues for even part of the 20% does not provide an acceptable ROI for a company that needs to grow at 40% to justify its valuation.

    Compare this situation to financial institutions' use of automated credit modeling. Ben Bernanke famously joked that even he couldn't qualify for a mortgage. That's because he is such an exception that he doesn't fall into the population that's well-modeled. Fortunately for him, I'm sure there would be some high level executive who would intervene on his behalf. But others less well-known or unable to offer sufficient compensation to the relevant people would be out of luck.

  20. bob k

    You get the pitchforks, I’ll get the torches, we’ll use Google Maps to get to the top of the evil mountain…err,wait…

  21. MedicalQuack

    Well you have not lived until you have been told by Google that your real last name is not “machine compliant”. This was actually about 3-4 years ago and made the rounds at MIT and other places on the web. It’s funny because my last name is Duck and the Google algorithm had not learned enough and made the decision that “duck” is a fowl, and thus so cannot have an account and suspended me. It was pretty interesting day as I actually had not even logged in to Google in a couple of months with their Plus service either. It got better too as I had to verify myself on the web, well blog on Google Blogger for over 8 years right under their nose as well, didn’t even look:)

    http://ducknetweb.blogspot.com/2013/01/im-sorry-your-google-plus-name-does-not.html

  22. Helmholtz Watson

    Yves, can I give you some advice? GET GOOGLE OUT OF YOUR LIFE!

    It easy, painless and feels great. I did it two years ago and it still brings a smile to my face.

    1) Search on Duck Duck Go. They don’t track and log your searches, and the results are excellent. It’s easy to set as the default search engine on virtually all browsers. This one step alone is a big deal in terms of going dark with Google.

    2) install browser extensions that strip out all tracking cookies. It’s easy and free. All commercial websites such as the NY Times send along approximately 10 to 20 “uninvited guests” whenever you request a webpage. These undisclosed guests are tracking cookies that monitor virtually everything you do on the web. This is done in order to serve users with customized ads in what amounts to an increasingly sophisticated psychological assault on user’s minds. Google is behind many of these tracking cookies as the word’s largest ad server, (doubleclick, adsense, adwords, etc.) Disconnectme is a good source for these browser extensions.

    3) Cancel all g-mails accounts. People think it’s free; it’s not free, you pay by giving up your privacy! Under Google’s terms of service they are allowed to read all e-mails which they do via algorithms that are designed to pick up information that will assist their ad serving businesses. I pay about $20 per years to Runbox, a Norway based e-mail provider with strict privacy protections. I don’t know about anyone else but I couldn’t be happier to pay $20 to get Google out of my life.

    4) be happy to pay for content when the content provider agrees to protect you privacy, the alternative is more sinister than the public realizes.

    Those three things will allow a user to go almost totally dark from the Google panopticon.

    Read Assange’s “When Google Met Wikileaks”. Irrespective of what one thinks of Assange one thing stands out and that is that Eric Schmidt is a real scumbag and a card carrying member the deep state.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I can’t get Google out of my life. Ad services require that I use Google Analytics. That means I have to have a Google account.

    2. Gio Bruno

      Very good advice, HW. I use NoScripts and Ghostery to keep the cookies at bay. And Google gets its tentacles into folks early. My local community college makes it mandatory that students use GMail. No shit!

      Even when student/professor communications are privileged, out-sourcing email to Google by the IT Department is unconscionable.

      1. Ulysses

        “My local community college makes it mandatory that students use GMail.”

        This sort of thing is all too common. I myself have been forced to participate in “google groups” to work together with other people opposing fracking, of all things! The word “Kafkaesque” really isn’t strong enough to convey the sense of alienation, and horror, experienced by a person who experiences hours of completely automated, non-human abuse. An indifferent machine is capable of an icy cruelty that even the most malevolent of humans couldn’t achieve!

  23. JoeK

    Ah, Kafkaesque, know it too well (hence the handle).

    Too many horrible CS (corporate service) experiences to list and why bring up deeply repressed traumatic memories ;-)?

    But the creepiest experience ever was with paypal: seeing as I spend too much time for their own good in “sketchy” countries (ok some are!) my account gets blocked periodically. The last time, the verification Qs were an obvious attempt to find out just which (insert rather generic Germano-Anglo name) I was, so were a series of Qs about people I have known and places I’ve lived over the last decade-plus. After playing along for a couple, I caught on and refused to answer more, insisted on a super, made it clear I was on to their game, and finally was able to confirm my identity without further data mining.

    BTW an airline agent years ago (wait, have to re-repress that particularly horrible experience…..okay) told me to just say “agent” over and over to the Machine until a human(oid) gets on the line. It works most of the time; when it doesn’t, you get an idea just how badly the company you’re dealing with wants to avoid facing the muzak.

      1. Ulysses

        I must confess that I have tried this technique– sadly, even the most colorful profanity doesn’t always provoke actual human intervention!

  24. Crazy Horse

    Sigh– It used to be so simple. Just walk out to your car, take the tire wrench out of your trunk, and use it to smash the television set. Now that we have hand sized computers a more sporting approach is in order. Vaporizing your smart phone in mid-flight with a 12 gauge shotgun can be the most satisfying experience of your day—-.

  25. Deloss Brown

    Hanlon’s Razor aka Heinlein’s Razor: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” In my limited experience these things result from having managers and programmers in control, and never having the system tested by a user, a technical writer, or QC.

    1. Synoia

      “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity Management.”

  26. Hierophant

    The same thing is happening over on YouTube, another Google ‘company’. Just go there and look up #wtfu. People getting their channels shut down, or losing monetization and their only recourse is ‘talking’ with an algorithm…

    1. ambrit

      Amen! YouTube now runs a banner ad above the video screen declaring that they will soon stop supporting the iteration of IE that I use. A ‘handy’ upgrade now link is included. Sorry, but I’m not going to upgrade to a better Panopticon service.
      Access to information is the new ‘control’ measure.

  27. KFritz

    Does anyone else use GooglePhone for land line long distance? It’s a real money saver. I’ve used it for years and dread the day it disappears.

    1. Gio Bruno

      Well, disappear it may.

      Google dropped specific functional capabilities of Google Earth Pro on short notice. Business folks who relied on those functions pleaded with Google not to drop them. To no avail. GEPro had a $400 annual subscription. It is now “free” to download.

  28. Bas

    A cautionary tale: I have a hotmail account I opened 15 or so years ago with admittedly false information like birth date, etc. and a couple of years ago they started “re-authenticating” the accounts. I tried to sign in to start forwarding to a different account, and got routed to a place where I had to enter all that info I had made up and totally forgotten. I then asked for an I.D. number to sign in and it took six months for them to get it to me, so I was locked out the whole time. My brother, who lives abroad, used that hotmail account to email me pictures of my new niece, and when I did not respond, tried to call me but I had changed my number to a new unlisted number, whereupon he called my state police to check on me, and a nice officer showed up one Winter night and scared the bejesus out of me (I live in the woods and seldom have anyone coming in at night). I know he meant well…

  29. Adrienne

    Yves, so sorry to hear of your trouble. A few years back I debated signing up for a Google Business account but I heard too many horror stories about it.

    If you’re in any way in doing business online you need to use at least a few Google services. I MUST use Analytics and Webmaster tools to be a responsible manager of my client’s sites. I use Gmail (free) because it’s convenient and it plays well with Apple devices. However, I have so far avoided getting too deeply dependent on GOOG’s services for other things. I would check out Dan’s suggestion to look at MSFT for other business-y stuff. Compartmentalize your GOOG dependencies as much as possible—get different GOOG accounts if (for example) you need YouTube. Register your domains with an independent service (I like Namecheap).

    Good luck and I hope you get your problems resolved.

    1. flora

      “Compartmentalize your GOOG dependencies as much as possible”

      Without vouching for any particular company or its services, I concur with the general idea of compartmentalizing services where possible in order to make porting services to another vendor or vendors possible (and thus escape a particular vendor’s data possible copyright claim, data extortion or digital failure).
      The days of trusting any vendor to be or remain user-centric are over, and I hate that.
      The digital big dogs want it both ways: that computing is a new world so failures are to be expected so they can extract rents without commensurate promise to perform (legal dodge), and, that computing companies are established entities that can be trusted to perform their promised services and all your data belongs to them (PR). Digital companies are doing a legal arbitrage with user data and services, in my opinion. Anyway, agree that compartmentalization where possible is an excellent idea. Difficult to get out of an old digital setup. Sorry I don’t have any advice for the current predicament. The world has changed with no real legal protections for older digital relationships.

      1. flora

        adding: imaging the Congress saying Freedom of the Press only applies to anything printed on a Washington Hand Press, that newpapers printed on electric printing drums or lazer printers aren’t covered by the First Amendment. That’s nonsense. Yet the Congress seems content to assume computers and the digital world are wholly exempt from general laws and the Constitution’s guarantees. I’m afraid that’s where we are at the moment.

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