While I know complaints about Google Places complete lack of support to cut through its mess of duplicate listings, spam, misinformation etc falls on deaf ears at the Googleplex, it doesn’t mean that there is NO way to get in touch with someone about this critical component of local search.
In a blog post from yesterday Google Places Community Manager Vanessa Schneider responded to a request for a meeting with a Google rep in the latest market to get the Places treatment, San Diego. Her response read
Hey Sandi —
You can call our hotline to request a visit: (619) 928-9401
Vanessa, Places community manager
Have you ever been so hungry that you literally would try anything to satisfy the pain? Well, if you have any experience with Place Pages and the myriad issues they can cause even the most seasoned local marketer to pull out their hair, seeing the existence of an actual Places hotline number is truly a case of something is better than nothing.
Sure, this number is designed for this San Diego marketing push but why not give it a shot? Desperate times call for desperate measures is what I say. If you have any questions about Google Places try it and see what happens. That Google Hotline number again is 619-928-9401.I called it after hours and the promise was that “Google Voice will try to reach a member of the Google local business outreach team in San Diego”. You could even leave a message for them. With Google that’s almost like getting an audience with Page, Brin or Schmidt.
Maybe you are wondering why I even bother to do this? It’s a direct result of the answer that was given to me by the same community manager to a comment I put on the Places blog two days ago for a post about a Google Places product manager, Mat Balez. My comment read
Mat – What is the best way to talk to a person (not in a help forum and using an actual voice rather than something digital) about Google Places issues and concerns?
And what response did I get? Here’s community manager Vanessa again with
Hey Frank —
We don’t provide phone support for our free services — the Help Center and forum is your best bet:
Vanessa, Places community manager
Hmmmm. Isn’t that the exact answer I asked NOT to receive? Google just doesn’t get it.
Oh and free service? Sure, it’s free to claim and optimize your Place Page in Google but it’s connected to potential revenue and lots of it. Now that Google has retired the Tags offering that required a verified Place Page in order to even take part it’s obvious that their next big local push will be with the Boost product. Why? Because rather than being a simple flat rate product with limited income like Tags, Boost allows for variable spending with no cap thus much more revenue potential for Google. Mike Blumenthal unpacks this idea quite well in a post from the other day.
Also, Google essentially is saying that they will only provide real support if they deem your city worthy. If you’re not on their radar then you are S.O.L. when it comes to any hope of support for Google Places outside of folks trying to figure stuff out on their own in the “Help” forums. Help is in quotes because oftentimes those forums turn into a lot of “Have you seen? questions and the “I’m not sure this works for everyone….” advice.
I continue to marvel at Google’s complete cluelessness that there is a very large portion of the market that needs help getting through the Places maze. If they get that help they actually want to do something else. They want to spend money with Google. Free service? Sure but it’s a true freemium because there is plenty of revenue waiting on the other side that pesky ‘free service’.
So Google, let’s try this again. Many, many people want to spend more money with you but you don’t seem to want it? Maybe Bing does. Hey Stefan Weitz and Andy Chu of Bing are you reading this? What do you think your opportunity is? Isn’t servant leadership in these days? Wouldn’t it be cool if you were the anti-Google and did the opposite of what they do. You know, provide actual support and service for the SMB’s of the world? I bet people would listen and be interested.