Google's Places Helpline: Better than a bot?

Google's Places Helpline may not be all that helpful, afterall.

Just earlier this year, Google rolled out the newest help center that actually allows business owners and Places listing managers to ask general questions and communicate with something/someone other than a bot. The initial response to this new addition was mostly positive, as it seemed next to impossible that Google would allow us to communicate directly with the almighty Google team.

At 51 Blocks, and probably all over the world, Google is viewed as the source -- the controller of all that is the web. So, it's no surprise that our first thoughts were: "Holy crap, we actually have a phone line to connect us to the Google." It seemed much like having access to Willy Wonka's Oompa Loompa hotline, or Santa's workshop.

Only,  now we feel a little let down. One, because, well, the Oompa Loompa analogy is far from accurate, and, two, we're starting to question the expertise that really is Google.

Just this week, a 51 Blocks team member called into Google about help with removing a duplicate listing. After about 42 minutes of listening to smooth groove elevator music, our team member was then transferred to a Google specialist who went about the business of removing a duplicate. All seemed well in the Google world, even after the conversation ended. Then, the very next day, our team noticed a bit of an issue: Google deleted the wrong listing.

The wrong listing!

The issues didn't stop there. Last week, we had another team member call in with a similar problem. The Google experts immediate response was, "Why would you want to remove a duplicate listing?" At which, we began reading them their terms and conditions, because it seems that, maybe, they weren't aware that it was violation of their policy. What's worse? After explaining that we needed to have the duplicate removed, the Google rep asked where he would be able to locate the listing, to which we told him: "Google the phone number and click on Maps." (The oldest trick in the book). His reply? "Why would I want to click on Maps to find a local listing?"

We're still shaking our heads for that one and wondering if anyone with the ability of speaking through a phone has a chance of getting hired at Google's helpline. It seems perfectly plausible.

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