Why I dumped Google Checkout

Google Wallet [what Google Checkout turned into] completely dropped the ball.”
— Gordon Kelly in Microsoft Is The New Google, Google Is The Old Microsoft

Customers who order from me can no longer pay by Google Checkout. Why did I dump them? Gee whiz, where do I begin?

Google suffers from the “We're #1, so we don't have to try” syndrome. They value their time, but not their users' time, which they have zero respect for. When I was still dumb enough to do business with a company too big to care, every time I received an e-mail from Google notifying me of an order, they sent the message as soon as the order was initiated, not completed! That makes no sense; no online merchant needs to know when an order is initiated; we need to know that the order was completed with a valid credit card. Google never sent a message to inform me that an order was completed, so if the customer's card wasn't valid, or the order wasn't yet confirmed by the customer, I'd need to log in to Google (often repeatedly) to see if the order was completed or not.

Logging into Google Checkout was needlessly byzantine. I'd log in, click on a Google Checkout link, then click a couple more links before I could see my orders. Shortly before they began integrating Checkout with Google Wallet, I'd always need to enter my password again, seconds after I'd already logged in. For several days, I and many others couldn't find our orders; in transitioning to Wallet, Google was acting as if their services were used only to pay money, not receive it.

Google also wasted many hours of my time by not offering any automated way for customers to access downloadable books as soon as they pay (something many other online payment services do, but not PayPal, the other too-big-to-care payment service). Hence, I'd need to check my e-mail multiple times per day and send individual messages to customers to give them book download links.

Whenever Google changes its user agreement, it forces us to read the entire lengthy document, searching for what's changed. If Google had even a bit of concern for user time, it would point out the changes, which might be one new sentence or paragraph in a sea of small print.

Google has another very unpleasant surprise for merchants who do business with them: at the end of each year, the merchant must manually add up each sale to determine his or her total yearly income, with another total for in-state sales to calculate sales tax due! This is a ridiculous waste of time that manifests Google's arrogance; they think so much of themselves, and so little of its users. The data for those calculations is already in their database; they just need to have a programmer give users a page on which they could access their yearly sales reports.

I hope that Google's programmers know much more than I do, and can program faster than me, but even I could write that code in less than a day. Think about it: one programmer working less than one day, or potentially millions of users adding up billions of individual sales EACH AND EVERY YEAR! This is precisely the type of number crunching that databases can easily handle and should handle. In the 21st century, manually adding up such numbers, à la Miss Hathaway in The Beverly Hillbillies, is just plain nuts.

Not only is manually adding up numbers a great way to waste hours, days, or weeks, but it also invites human errors. Cognizant of the potential for error, I add up the numbers two or three times to verify that I added correctly, then—for good measure—I cross my fingers and hope I didn't make a mistake.

One of the many users complaining about this inexcusable omission wrote:

“Well this stinks. I have never heard of a payment processing service which does not provide any sort of report or even summary information. The 30 day "report" you can download is garbage! Come on Google, are you kidding me? I'm supposed to sum up all these micropayments made to me over an entire YEAR myself? What is going on here?”

What is going on is that Google is too big to care. Google prefers that users waste many millions of hours per year every year adding up numbers that a database could calculate in a tiny fraction of a second after one programmer spent a few hours once writing code for that, which is Database 101 stuff.

I've written to Google and PayPal several times over the years, imploring them to do what anyone with common sense would do from Day One: give users year-end total and in-state sales. That's child's play for a database and programmers, but a nightmare for users.

Global Companies Beware: Rude Customer Treatment Depends On Culture

Firms Should Encourage ‘Mr Angry’ Customers, Says Professor
Excerpt: “Robert East, Professor of Consumer Behaviour at Kingston Business School, said it made financial sense for firms to encourage complaints because it helped them to improve their goods and services and could even lead to increased sales.”
Comment: I've said that for years after reading about a wise businessman who genuinely appreciated criticism of his products because that gave him a chance to improve. He viewed them as his best customers; the worst were the ones too apathetic to complain.

One of the Japanese computer manufacturers is so arrogant that it has the gall to tell disgruntled customers to “go pound sand.” In other words, “get lost,” “go fly a kite,” or “buzz off little peon, we're too big and powerful to listen to you.” Essentially, they are telling justifiably upset customers to f--k off. That's not a wise strategy for dealing with discontentment, yet it is the foremost customer service rule for many big companies: the ones that usually fizzle out.

General Motors once was the most valuable corporation in the world, but it would have gone bankrupt without the massive transfusion of cash from taxpayers. Customers got tired of their products (as an ER doc, I know some of their vehicles are built by people stoned on drugs or have a blood alcohol level about three times the legal limit), and customers also tired of their “go pound sand” customer service.

Microsoft has even worse products and customer service. Predictably, they are slipping and will eventually be a pathetic has-been, like MySpace, once King of the Social Networking Hill, and now about as popular as herpes. Want to buy MySpace at a fire-sale price? Its current owner is looking for a buyer, but they haven't yet found anyone dumb enough to pay for a site seemingly destined for bankruptcy.

Similarly, people will eventually tire of the endless Facebook privacy nightmares, bugs, and hassles that stem from what is likely a manifestation of Zuckerberg's psychopathology and contempt for his users that prompted him to call them “dumb fucks” for trusting him. Facebook's customer service is about as friendly and responsive as the SS in Nazi Germany. Have a problem with Facebook? Zuckerberg doesn't care. To him, you're just a “dumb fuck.” If you tolerate the myriad Facebook annoyances, Zuckerberg might like you more, but respect you even less; to him, such suckers are just the sort of “dumb fucks” he needs.

Then there's Google, with a seemingly endless number of products, and an endless way of annoying, disappointing, frustrating, or screwing its users. But the good news? Google won't tell you to go pound sand. Instead, they probably won't even bother replying to you. They're too busy having a great time with all of the money being thrown at them.

Despite its supposed brilliance, Google ad strategy is fundamentally flawed with an obvious error their “geniuses” haven't considered. The fix would be child's play.

I gave Google chance after chance to get its act together and stop behaving like immature teenagers ignoring their homework, but my patience was exhausted. Google will continue to ride high until it is displaced by an equally or more brilliant company that isn't dumb enough to overlook the small but important details, like year-end sales summaries and caring about people. Ultimately, all businesses are about people, but tech companies frequently forget who made them successful, which often leads to ephemeral success by CEOs who know how to make customers burning mad: treat 'em like dirt.

I'm not going to waste any more of my time with Google because they don't respect my time—or yours.


  1. Got Chrome? Google Just Silently Downloaded This Onto Your Computer
  2. The Google backlash is growing
    Excerpt: “ … Google threatened web sites with removal from its search engine if they didn't let Google use their content …”
  3. This Company Alleges A Huge Portion Of Online Advertising Is Based On Fraud
  4. Is social media and digital advertising drowning in a sea of fakery?
    Comment: Yes.
  5. The Three Reasons Ad Fraud Seems So Overwhelmingly Large Now
  6. A Rat is Smarter Than Google
  7. While there is a lot to like about Google, there is a fundamental reason to loathe them: their vaunted search engine is woefully susceptible to distortion. Users obviously want search results to depict reality, but the Google eggheads are evidently so bereft of common sense they are oblivious to this problem that I will later document in a book, proving it beyond a reasonable doubt. In fairness to Google, I will give them an opportunity to remedy it before I ridicule their ineptitude.

    However, my experience in dealing with large and even medium-sized corporations is that they are too hidebound and close-minded to listen to suggestions for improvement. Had Microsoft done that, it would be much more successful than it has been. If Microsoft employs even one person with common sense, that person evidently can't get through to the big shots who obviously don't see the primary error they are making that is restricting their growth and profitability. Microsoft seems hell-bent on becoming a pathetic has-been, and I predict they will succeed.
  8. Why Google Is the New Evil Empire
    Excerpt: “ … how many lines does Google have to cross before its executives realize – before we realize – that they’re doing evil?”
  9. Google Is Establishing A Clear Pattern Of Arrogance, Entitlement, And Dishonesty
  10. Google snoop cars collected unencrypted data sent by computers' local wireless networks, including entire e-mails.
    Excerpt: “FCC staff members argued strongly that Google should be charged with a violation of the Communications Act, and the agency and Google spent weeks debating whether Google had violated the Wiretap Act or the Communications Act. … [A] Google engineer … invoked his Fifth Amendment right.”
    UPDATE 7-27-2012: Google admits it did not delete Street View data
    UPDATE 3-13-2013: Google to Pay $7 Million Fine for Street View Privacy Breach
  11. FCC fines Google $25,000 for unauthorized data collection and impeding investigation
    Comment: Wow, that's like me getting a penny fine. Bet that'll scare Google from ever doing that again!
  12. Google’s Wi-Fi Sniffing Might Break Wiretap Law, Appeals Court Rules
    Comment: Ya think?
  13. Google Accused of Wiretapping in Gmail Scans
  14. FTC Report Finds Google Engaging In Anticompetitive Tactics: WSJ
  15. Google: The Halliburton of the Obama Administration
  16. How Much Influence Does Google Have in Washington?
  17. One of the many examples of Microsoft's ineptitude: To save time in replying to customers, I should be able to save a draft of the message I send for each book, with the subject line and body prefilled and the latter formatted. I can indeed save such a draft, a capability Microsoft has offered for many years, and send it after pasting in the recipient's e-mail address. I can do that, but there's a not-so-little problem: THE LINKS IN THE MESSAGE DON'T WORK! Many others have reported the same problem in Windows Mail and Outlook. I wasted more of my life searching for an explanation for this error and a solution to it, but the fix was so problematic that I chose to bypass it by drafting every e-mail from scratch so their links work OK. For me to need to do this is evidence that the so-called geniuses at Microsoft can't get even basic things right. I could cite thousands of other examples of how their programmers seemed to have undergone common sense lobotomies. In another article, I explained that even Bill Hates is incensed by the junk they sell.
  18. If PayPal and Google had an ounce of common sense, they could easily think of a way to eliminate the problem of order notification e-mails not getting through.
  19. UK Court of Appeal issues game changing judgment in Google Safari case
  20. GCreep: Google Engineer Stalked Teens, Spied on Chats (Updated)
    Excerpt: “ … Barksdale seemed to get a kick out of flaunting his position at Google, which was the case when, with a friend's consent, he pulled up the person's email account, contact list, chat transcripts, Google Voice call logs—even a list of other Gmail addresses that the friend had registered but didn't think were linked to their main account—within seconds.”
  21. Google Jet Fleet Loses a Pentagon Fuel Perk: Questions Raised about Founders Use for Non-Government Flights
    Excerpt: “Sen. Grassley … said he is seeking an audit of the arrangement by the Pentagon's inspector general. "Are some executives getting a special deal on fuel that isn't available to other businesses?" he asked, saying the setup raises concerns about the government's role as a "fair broker with businesses and responsible steward of tax dollars."”
  22. When cookies go away: Google, ad exchanges, and ISPs fighting to control the future of the Internet
  23. Why Google Wants New Hires Who Are Humble And Argue
  24. How A Single Guest Post May Have Gotten An Entire Site Penalized By Google
  25. Is Google Skewing Search Results?
  26. What Company is at the White House Almost Every Week? (Google)
  27. REVEALED: Google staffers have had at least 427 meetings at the White House over course of Obama presidency - averaging more than one a week
  28. EU expected to file antitrust suit against Google
  29. Google's Other Big Research Project: Curbing Its Own Prejudice: Even for a company that's trying to produce driverless cars and "solve" mortality, getting employees to overcome their own biases is a challenge.
  30. Google Sued by Job Candidate for Age Discrimination
    Comment: Includes a table listing the median ages of 22 tech companies’ employees.
  32. ROBERT B. REICH: Big Tech Has Become Way Too Powerful
    Excerpt: “Google is now among the largest corporate lobbyists in the United States.”
  33. From The Economist: Robber barons and silicon sultans: Today’s tech billionaires have a lot in common with a previous generation of capitalist titans—perhaps too much for their own good
    Excerpt: “This year Google's political action committee spent more on campaigns than Goldman Sachs, a company legendary for its political connections.”
  34. France fines Google over ‘right to be forgotten’ privacy violations
  35. Did Google Manipulate Search for Hillary?
  36. Google Has Quietly Dropped Ban on Personally Identifiable Web Tracking: Google is the latest tech company to drop the longstanding wall between anonymous online ad tracking and user’s names.
  37. A Google software engineer fed up with their obvious leftist bias published a 10-page memo entitled Google's Ideological Echo Chamber:
    Excerpt: “ … we [Google] have an intolerance for ideas and evidence that don't fit a certain ideology.”
    Comment: In other words, they are close-minded and bigoted.
    Excerpt: He recommended that Google “stop alienating conservatives,” adding “Viewpoint diversity is arguably the most important type of diversity and political orientation is one of the most fundamental and significant ways in which people view things differently. … Political correctness is … a phenomenon of the Left and a tool of authoritarians.”
  38. I criticized Google. It got me fired. That's how corporate power works.
    Comment: More proof of Google's thin skin and bigotry: an intolerance for other viewpoints.
The views expressed on this page may or may not reflect my current opinions, nor do they necessarily represent my past ones. After reading a slice of what I wrote in my various websites and books, you may conclude that I am a liberal Democrat or a conservative Republican. Wrong; there is a better alternative. Just as the primary benefit from debate classes results when students present and defend opinions contrary to their own, I use a similar strategy as a creative writing tool to expand my brainpower—and yours. Mystified? Stay tuned for an explanation. PS: The wheels in your head are already turning a bit faster, aren't they?

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald

Reference: Imagining dialogue can boost critical thinking: Excerpt: “Examining an issue as a debate or dialogue between two sides helps people apply deeper, more sophisticated reasoning …”

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