Saturday, March 24, 2012

I’m in Google Hell: A Cautionary Tale

Originally posted Feb. 29, 2012 on Social Media Today because I did not have access to my Blogger account because by Gmail account had been hacked and the password changed.

UPDATE: My Gmail account was returned to me after four attempts by me to do all that Google asked and 20 days of waiting. A follow up blog post will be here soon.

Now to the original post …

You’re breaking my heart Google.

You don’t write.

You don’t call.

Honestly it’s starting to feel like we may have parted ways for good. And truthfully this makes me sad.

At one time I was one of your biggest fans. In media interviews, in classroom lectures and at conferences I would joke that one day the Earth might be called Planet Google.

But, now two weeks have passed since my Gmail account was hacked. I know the exact time too. I was accessing my Gmail from my smartphone at 11:11 a.m. EST on Feb. 15 when I suddenly could not send a reply to an email.

Since that time I’ve done everything you’ve asked: I’ve filled out the Account Recovery form and patiently waited the 3-5 days you said it would take. But it took six days for you to get back to me and that was only a request for more information. I obliged in less than 30 minutes.

Again you told me it might be 3-5 business days. And yet …. A week later here I sit: without my email and without any indication that you even care.

And lest you think I’m some kind of passive-aggressive type who is just meekly sitting around waiting … I did try calling your general customer service number – (650) 623-4000 (press "0" to speak to a live human being who will helpfully tell you there is nothing they can do and be sure to fill out the online Account Recovery form).

So, on the eve of your (Google’s) rollout of its new privacy policy, here in a nutshell is why most of us should reconsider using so many of your (Google services) … or as I call it …

Five Degrees of Google Hell

1. Google’s online customer service is not helpful and it is exceedingly frustrating to navigate. If there were any justice in the world Google’s founders would be sentenced to spend a day trying to figure out how to recover their Gmail accounts.

2. Once your Gmail account is hacked you’ve essentially lost access to all the other connected Google services. Goodbye Google+. So long Google Docs. No Blogger access for you. Etc. etc.

3. Once the hackers have your address they start sending out pleas for money with some bizarre story about you being trapped overseas and in need of money. This sparks a huge round (in my case hundreds) of messages on social media and via the phone to make sure I’m aware my account has been hacked. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the concern, but for two days I was buried while responding to people.

4. Then there are other uses you have inadvertently tied your email to. For example: Want to do your taxes but can’t remember the password for the online service? Oh well can’t request a reminder because, you guessed it, that email will go to the account you cannot access.

5. If you also have a secondary business where the email is forwarded to your Gmail (for convenience) you’re also sunk. Those emails are merrily going to an unavailable account. Why not reset the forwarding? Well you can’t if you don’t have access to both accounts that are tied to, you guessed it, Google.

Basically Google, you have your hooks in too much of my life – something I realized too late.

I once trusted you and believed in you.

Now … On the day before Google rolls out a big shake up in its privacy policies this might be a good time to rethink your dependence on Google and learn from my mistake and avoid Google Hell!


  1. Thanks for connecting the dots to all the possible trouble that can be encountered when one relies to heavily on a Google or any one email account. Was considering leaning more heavily on my Gmail acct. but I won't now.

  2. So scary. Strangely, I have also been thinking that soon Plant Earth will turn into Planet Google - considering how they're taking over practically everything - read - making users depend on them for everything. Yikes. I've experienced their "customer service" too - but it was nothing very serious - and so I let it go because the time spent on it was far more than the actual problem.

    I am looking forward to reading your follow-up post.

  3. This should teach you not to use the password 123123.