The Glass Balcony

Never trust what you read.

Hey internet giants, you’re no longer startups, get some customer service

It’s easy to make big money when you get to keep all the profits. That’s how most american IT behemoths work, but it’s time to put an end to it. It’s a well known fact that companies like Google or Paypal, among the world’s most important companies for online vendors don’t offer regular support. “It would cost too much” is the adage we ‘ve been hearing since 2000. The internet is accustomed to it and, in a sheepish way business owners bow down to their overlord’s caprices.

Relying on automated support systems is no longer adequate. As the amount of online fraud grows over the years, automated systems are becoming less efficient. There is no accurate measure for that, however it’s anecdotally known that it’s more common nowadays for google to shut down perfectly well-standing and long-standing adsense accounts for invalid activity without providing the actual reasons for shutdown. Ditto for paypal withholding the funds of customers. Indirect evidence can be found in google trends that shows that, while paypal has a more or less steady account block rate, google adsense has steadily risen its account blocking rate in the past years. These searches most probably are generated by legitimate users and not actual scammers, as it is unlikely that a scammer would actually look for ways to fix the situation.

The anecdotal feeling is nowadays that, while paypal doesn’t offer good user support, it is still better than google at handling user support requests and you can actually reach them if you try hard enough. Google doesn’t offer that option, not even for big customers. As more and more businesses rely on google’s commercial services, with google wallet being integrated in Gmail and a number of marketplaces that Google is launching, there should be pressure to google to expand its  user support division. Unfortunately, even if there is a sea of merchants who need that, they are not coordinated enough to lobby big companies for that. One possible opportunity is to get the legal system and governments involved in this so as to require an adequate level of merchant support. In the past, the European Commission has created a number of regulations  that actually enabled competition and/or forced companies to change their policies, generally to the benefit of users. As more and more merchants rely on internet monopolies to conduct business, the EU should step in to make a positive change there too. 

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