This is a long story. This is a story that will take two parts to tell in full, and in order to understand my anger toward Google, you must read every word of this. The casual, headline-and-first-paragraph-reading audience need not apply.
My Dad owns a business in San Antonio. It’s an upstanding and honest business, and that’s all you need to know for the purpose of this article. I won’t give any names, business or otherwise, in order to avoid spoiling anyone’s good name or contributing to anyone’s bad … that is except for Google. The purpose of this article is to criticize, lambaste, and (insert expletive of your choice) berate Google for a terrible, terrible mistake they made that could damage my Dad’s upstanding and honest business.
You see, the almighty, all-knowing Google said that my Dad’s business was actually another business, one that is dishonest, shady and even unlawful. When I say that “Google said” my Dad’s business was a different business, I literally mean they confused my Dad’s business with a completely different business, one that happens to reside next door to my Dad’s.
How Google could make such an erroneous mistake is perplexing to begin with, but what motivated me to write the blog is what happened after I requested that Google change the misleading, false information.
Here’s my story:
Over six months ago while I was spending a Saturday working at my Dad’s business, I received a telephone call from a lady asking to speak to a man named Mike. My name is not Mike, my Dad’s name is not Mike, my Dad’s business does not employ a man named Mike, and of the Mike’s I’ve met I couldn’t imagine her wanting to speak to any of them. Turns out she had the wrong number and was actually trying to call the business next door. I asked her how she got our number and she said she Google’d the name of the business next door, which shall remain unnamed, and our number showed up. Perplexed and stressed, I did a little research and found out she was right. Our telephone number was showing up on Google under a different business name. This is a big mistake to begin with, but what compounds this error is the fact that the business next door is not what I would call an “upstanding” business; thus the phone number is accompanied with terrible reviews on Google. Amazingly, this is not my source of frustration with Google.
The way Google works is simple, which is why we love them. Businesses have a page on Google+, which links to Google Maps giving all the information about a business: location, phone number, website, etc., and people are allowed to leave reviews as well. These reviews culminate in a Google score, which essentially determines the fate of a business in Google search results. In other words, businesses with high Google scores, those receiving good reviews, appear first on Google search results. Naturally, this means that if a business receives poor reviews they are relegated to the bowels of the Google world.
Businesses can create these Google pages to appear on Google maps, so long as they can confirm they are the owner of the business. This is normally proven through a postcard sent to the business owner. Such a system should prevent, or certainly limit any falsities that exist on Google. However, mistakes do happen and my Dad’s business happened to be on the wrong end of one of these mistakes. No big deal, so long as it’s fixed. Right?
Well, I suppose requesting Google to mend incorrect information might have been a little too much to ask.
In case you haven’t heard of it, Google is an information site. It gathers all the information available on the web (which at the time of this article is nearly everything) into one place where anybody from anywhere can access it with ease. It’s the Library of Congress for the internet. It’s the Library of Congress for the Library of Congress. Google receives 2 billion hits worldwide per day, this puts a lot of pressure on this quirky company that hires people who wear red pants. But it’s not as if they shy away from pressure, I’m sure they revel in this control of information granted to people via the most common tool used today, the internet.
Information for the masses is Google’s calling card and “Don’t be evil” is its slogan, but if Google gives false information, I don’t think this quirky company is living up to its slogan.