Google Support Forums: What To Expect
Gmail and Adwords and Maps...Oh My!
I designate things of which I have no answer, into three categories: Those which I don't understand, those which I will never understand, and those which I don't want to understand. I am a member of what I like to call "the crossover generation." I'm old enough to remember what life was like before the internet, and still young enough to embrace and learn about this miracle of technology.
Since Google represents 80% of the search engine market, it's no coincidence that most of my problems with the internet, involve Google practices. But nobody will ever convince me that Google should be cut some slack because they are so large. If anything, Google should hold themselves to a higher standard than the rest of the field, since they basically control the lion's share of the market. I use Yahoo and Microsoft as often as the average person, and when I see a problem with their support system, I write about it just as quickly. I've written multiple articles on what I dislike about Yelp, and Yelp is smaller than both Yahoo and Bing.
I have not written about Google for more than eighteen months, reason being that the numerous technological errors coupled with a totally incompetent support forum, was just too much for me to bear. Subsequently, I had extricated myself from all Google products and services...except for gmail. I thought that if I kept gmail, there would never be a time when I would have to deal with any Google support forum. Well, I was wrong.
As many people have done on occasion, I forgot my Google password. In my case, this password only allows me access to my gmail, but for others, all of their Google products are tied to one Google password. I had also neglected to set up security questions for this account, and could not give the information that Google required in order to reset my password; they wanted me to give them the date when I opened the account, contacts from my address book, and recent recipients' email addresses. I hadn't used this account for a long time, and I have many other email providers (Yahoo, AOL, Live, etc.), so I could remember that information, as well. I wasn't that upset. After all, how could I be angry with a system that is intended to protect my privacy.
However, there must have been an alternate way of proving that I was indeed the owner of this account. I remembered permutations of my password, so if I could just talk to someone at Google, give them those and anything else that they wanted, then they would probably allow me to reset my password. It was a plausible idea, except that Google provides no telephone support for gmail.
I thought, "Okay, I surely can't be the only person with this problem, so I'll just use the Google forum for gmail issues." I had used the forums on countless occasions, and had never had a pleasant experience, but it had been eighteen months, so I figured that maybe they had gotten their act together. I was wrong again. I read at least 50 threads from users that had the exact same problem as I, and every single Google Forum Top Contributor gave the same answer. I'll paraphrase because it's just too painful to write the whole thing: 'There is no way to reset your password other than going through Google's reset system' (the one which I described above.) A Google Top Contributor (TC) is an ordinary user who is supposed to be extremely well-versed in everyday Google operations. These TC's constantly allege that they are not employed by Google, and are merely using what extra time they have, to help other less knowledgeable Google users with whatever problems they might have.
I read threads with my particular problem, dating from 2007 through present day, and I could not understand how such a renowned company as Google, did not offer an alternative solution to a problem which has plagued so many users for so many years. So, I sat back and thought about various ways for which this problem could be solved. After a few minutes, I remembered that my android phone had access to this gmail account, so if I could find a way to extract my password from my android, then my problem would be solved.
Unfortunately, I am a novice when it comes to working with computers and androids. If I had indeed found a possible solution, I would never attempt to use it, for fear that I might do something which would cause my android to explode in my face. I decided to look through the forums again, to possibly find a thread which included people who were trying to reset their passwords and whose gmail could presently be accessed from their androids. I found more than twenty threads, all of which described the exact same scenario. Do you care to guess how the Google Forum TC's responded? 'There is no way to reset your password other than going through Google's reset system.'
Oh well...I had to consider that gmail address as gone, because there was no solution, and no phone support. But, since I had nothing to lose, I tried to reset the password through my android. I logged-out and re-entered my gmail address and clicked on "forgot my password". I got the same menu as that of my desktop, but this time, when I check-marked "forgot password", my android said "would you like to reset your password? Click 'yes' or 'no'." I clicked "yes", and then my android said, "we have confirmed that your email account is linked with this android device", and it gave me the windows to reset my password. I reset it, ran to my desktop, and tried logging-in with my new password. It worked!
I was pleased that I found a solution to my problem, but I was exceedingly upset that at least fifty forum TC's had been supplying bogus information to so many people for so many years. I went to one of the threads which described the same problem as I (which I had just solved), and wrote my solution.
Two days later, I got a reply from a TC, saying (I'm paraphrasing again) 'In order for Google to use your solution, you must supply us with a detailed explanation of what you did to reset your password, including screen-shots from every step during the process. Then we can offer it to Google for their approval.' It was as if I should feel honored to give Google my solution to their problem.
The whole thing stunk to high Heaven. The concept of Top Contributors not being compensated by Google in some way, shape or form, didn't hold water, for me anyway. These TC's are constantly being harassed by users whose problems they cannot solve. I know this, because I have personally badgered them relentlessly on a number of occasions. I've really ripped into them, not so much because they didn't have an answer to my problem, but rather because of their smug attitudes. They always support Google's position on system errors no matter how screwed-up they are, and they never admit that they are wrong in any capacity. They answer every question in a tone which screams, 'You users are stupid. You know nothing about Google products and/or services. You are inferior to me.' And, whenever they get pushed into a corner, they always fall back on, "Remember...Google doesn't pay us. We're just here to help."
Now, I'm as noble as the next guy. If I have extra pocket change, I give it to a homeless person. If someone needs quick financial or legal advice, I give it to them, without charging a dime. But would I make I make it a point to try to help hundreds of users, and subject myself to constant harassment...for nothing? Would I spend all of my free time trying to find solutions to Google's system, and then when I finally find one, supply Google with the answer and all of my research...for free? I wouldn't. Would you?
The mere fact that Google tags these people as "Top Contributors", seals their fate of being looked upon as the most trusted source to solve your Google problems, and will surely be berated if they cannot. I wouldn't take that job for any amount of money. There are more than 400 million Google users. That's a lot of problems to burden a couple hundred TC's. Even if this constant pressure is partly responsible for their bad attitudes, then why are they doing it in the first place...for free?
This falls into the category of "things that I will never understand."