Friday 17 May 2013

Google: is there anybody in there?

The day the hapless Google head of northern Europe was battered by Margaret Hodge for their "devious and unethical" approach to paying tax in the UK - or not doing so, in this case - my Google blog (which you are now reading) ran into trouble.

Thousands of hits are being recorded by their counting machine from the Far East, routed via a porn site called 'topblogstories'.  The same thing is happening via a slimming website in the USA.  Much as I would like it to, my blog has never generated hits in the thousands per day bracket before, and - since these hits are not showing up under any of the posts - something has gone wrong.  It doesn't really affect the blog, but it is disturbing.

But how do you ask Google's advice, still less ask them to do something about it?

Needless to say, this particular problem does not appear on their rather short list of online problems.  No UK telephone number is shown.  There is no email address for customer service.  There is a website with a phone number in the USA, but there are voluminous messages of disgust from people underneath because the calls are never answered.

There is a UK office number, but if you don't have an extension number, there is nobody to speak to.  I tried dialling 0 and was just held on the line ringing out hopelessly and pointlessly for half an hour before I gave up.

There is a feedback button which allows you to send a message about problems, but the response says they don't guarantee to reply to everyone.  That's an understatement - I've sent ten messages so far and no response.

Now, I'm a good Google customer.  I use their email system and their blog system and I even earn a tiny amount of money from adverts on the site.  But Google apparently has such contempt for me that they fear any kind of contact.

I'm forced to ask the question - is there anybody there?  At the heart of this global beast, is there anything at all - any human being, any heartbeat, any interest at all in their customers?  Or is it just an empty echoing, soulless shell of conceit and arrogance?

The great Anita Roddick used to say that global corporations were like dinosaurs, unable to feel any emotion except greed and fear.  Is this Google now?

No doubt they would say that this is just the future of business, as their de-humanised machines strip us all of our information and sell it back to us.  This is the new virtual world.  Not a bit of it.  This is the result of monopoly.  It is because they have no competition, and the competition authorities on both sides of the Atlantic have been asleep on the job.

When the three American giants were first castigated over here for their tax avoidance schemes, the two monopolies ignored the fuss completely.  It was only Starbucks, which has competitors, which reacted.  The truth is that when competition authorities snooze and allow companies like Google to build up a monopoly position, then the customers are more than taken for granted - they are completely ignored.

So once I sort this out, I'm finding a better way of organising my blog and my emails.  It may take a bit of time - certainly longer than it would if there was a proper UK competitor for Google, even a small one - but I will do it.

And of course, I'm writing this diatribe on a blog hosted by Google, the great absentees.  Will they censor it?  Of course they won't - because there is nobody there to read it.


David Boyle said...

Brief update: I went on their bulletin boards and asked about it. It is apparently called 'referrer spam' and, although they could block these websites, they usually don't. So everyone has this problem apparently. Still not very impressed.

Anonymous said...

I am afraid your error is that you consider yourself one of Google's "Customers". You sir, are one of Google's users, a consumer, a data point to be exploited to serve up information to Google's real customers; multinational advertising agencies and their ilk. So as they can figure out what we are looking for and figure out how to sell it to us quicker.

Gordon said...

Try ixquick for searches. I have been using them for a few weeks and so far have no complaints though I don't know if they pay their taxes either.