But some analogies are pretty awful. Which is the case here. I used to use a Nexus5 phone from Google. It was pretty good. I won’t claim it was perfect. It had about half the battery life I wish it did, and it always felt slightly too large in my hand. But, nobody makes small phones anymore for some reason, and it certainly got the job done. Or at least it got the job done until I had dinner at a particular sushi restaurant with a very hard floor, and shattered the screen. ::Sigh:: Oh well, I guess it was time to contact Google support to see if they would repair it, and if it was going to cost something, how much…
A Quick Google search got me to this page with a “contact us” link on it:
The only way to get support for my phone was… Yes, really… To get a phone call. Of course my phone was broken. I haven’t had a land line since my very first apartment, and even that was only because I had DSL instead of cable Internet. It’s not something I’ve ever had intentionally. I suppose I could have emailed a friend, made some sort of arrangement to rendezvous with them for lunch, and use their phone to fill out the support form at a restaurant and get a call back there. I wouldn’t even have been able to fill out the form in advance from the convenience of my desktop computer’s actual keyboard and schedule a callback. It would happen within two minutes. Seriously, who the fuck came up with this idioctic idea? In practice, the only way to get support for a busted phone would have been to… Buy another phone! Which rather solidly ended my need for support on the original one. I was so annoyed about the impossibility of conducting a support request in text (What do deaf people do?) that I just bought a Windows phone, which was less than the price a local shop quoted for repairing my old phone. I did try filling out the form and asking to be emailed an answer, but I never got a response. Presumably somebody tried toc all my broken phone, and closed the case without emailing, or possibly without being allowed to email. Because some manager decided that email was “too impersonal” or something.
My cheap Windows phone certainly isn’t great. But somehow knowing I won’t have to deal with such stupid support if it breaks seems worth dealing with a hellscape devoid of applications and sane design choices.
If it were just one part of Google that was bad at support, or Google was bad at support in consistent ways, that probably wouldn’t even merit a ranty blog post. But what actually pissed me off enough to write about it was that Google has such a diversity of failure modes for support. Specifically, I wanted to look into using Google Adsense on a website that I’ll be launching soonish. The problem is that apparently I looked into the same thing most of a decade ago in 2008, and filled out a bad application to see how it worked. I honestly don’t even remember doing it, it was so long ago and it certainly wasn’t something I put much thought into at the time. Anyhow, when I now log in, I get this:
So, for my phone getting to email somebody would be too impersonal, so I have to actually talk to a live human being in real time. If, on the other hand, I have a working phone, then email is the absolute upper limit of how personal my support could be, and I can’t do even that when I am trying to get my account set up properly since I am not already generating revenue. Of course, if I am already generating $25 per week in revenue then I am obviously not having such a big problem getting set up that I would need to contact support. It’s like each department has independently decided to narrowly craft their support options in arcane and inconsistent way to specifically be available only to those people who don’t actually need it.
So, since the ability to just file a trouble ticket simply doesn’t exist anywhere at Google, I tried following the troubleshooter.
Which helpfully has phrasing that DOESN’T EVEN MATCH the actual error message that I get on the website. I am apparently “unapproved” which the troubleshooter thinks isn’t a possible state. The closest is “disapproved.” I’d file a ticket about the troubleshooter so they could update it to match reality, but of course that would be unthinkably impossible.
The only advice I have gotten from the Google web page so far is “If you’re ready to resubmit your application for AdSense, you can do so by visiting www.google.com/adsense.” But going to that address of course just gives me the error message that set me on the useless quest for support, with no buttons of anything that appear to be related to resubmitting an application. As far as AdSense, that puts me back at square one as a user, after having wasted a bunch of my time trying to get minimal support, and had similar problems before with the same company, which I only ever rectified by giving up on the company and buying from their competitor. So… Uh, I am sure that Google keeps their support costs low by using this sort of strategy. But the time I waste that they save seems like it must be a net cost in the long run. Hint to any up and coming businesses who want to court my business: Don’t be like google. Don’t do this to me. Don’t fail so badly at support that my only option is to throw up my hands and complain publicly and start going out of my way to avoid putting myself in the same situation in the future.