back to article Google, what the hell? Search giant wrongly said shop closed down, refused to list the truth

A restaurant owner feared for her business's future this week after it was mistakenly listed as closed down on Google Maps – and the ad giant wouldn't correct the error. Kaie Wellman says that her rotisserie chicken outlet Arrosto, in Portland, Oregon, US, was showing up as "permanently closed" on Google's mobile search …

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I guess that this was added to Google Maps / Google Business automatically had the owner registered with Google Business to claim their business this could have been resolved. Unfornituntly changes even once registered take a while to update.

My suspicions are that someone, I'm not saying a competitor but... saw this as an opportunity to send this store fewer customers.

I know exactly how they feel, I had a customer that moved two miles down the road and delivery drivers keep using the wrong location data to turn up, being a narrow one-way road system around the village of Wem in Shropshire turning was not an option.

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I've had a constant battle with Google My business.

For close on 2 months, I'd log in and see "We've changed xyz based on user feedback"

Effectively turning us into late night licensed restaurant with no toilets and not family friendly....not good for a business listed as a youth centre and charity cafe.

That said, it's been stable for a whole 3 days now.

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re: had the owner registered with Google Business ... this could have been resolved

Nice business you've got here, looks very profitable! Wouldn't it be a pity if something bad were to happen to it? Say if people thought you'd closed down, just as an example....

What you need is protection buddy, and we're just the internet search giants to give it to you. All you have to do is sign here....

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WibbleMe - I did register Arrosto with Google Business, and actively manage it. There's nowhere on that page where you can refute this notification. I can though refute that I offer gift wrapping at my chicken rotisserie.

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"That said, it's been stable for a whole 3 days now."

Logged in again. Apparently we now take debit cards.

Not bad as we have no card machine.

Still, only one change this time, not the usual 20 or so.

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And people trust goo ...

... why, exactly?

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Re: And people trust goo ...

Because it is correct 99.9% of the time?

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Re: And people trust goo ...

And Google trusts 'users', (or should that be 'losers') why exactly?

Sounds a bit like protection rackets and the laundrette wars of a few years back.

It is also known as poisoning the well in some circles.

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Re: And people trust goo ...

99.9% ... Does that really mean what you think it means?

0.1% of goo's indexed 200 Billion[0] URLs is how many incorrect answers, exactly? Not quite a number I'd bet the farm on. YMMV.

[0] A number I've seen bandied about recently ... I suspect it's a trifle larger.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: And people trust goo ...

And Google actively edit both the information that they allow searching on based on what you are looking for and the results.

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Re: And people trust goo ...

On what basis do you think it's correct "99.9%" of the time?

Try this. Go to Google Search, and type in 'arrosto roast chicken portland' (without quotes). Note the number of results it claims to have.

Now page through the results. (Skip directly to page 10, then onwards as far as you can with each screen.) Note how many results you actually get.

You can do the same for just about any search term you like: the number of results Google will actually show you is far, far lower than what it claims to have.

Trust Google? Yeah, right.

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What about the postcard thing?

To get an AdWords account started, a business logs onto their Google account and asks them to send a postcard with a code on it. Once received by the business, it is entered and their address is verified.

If a business is falsely marked as closed down on Google Maps, why not do the same thing to verify it's alive instead of relying on crowdsourcing, which won't work when it's marked as closed down because people will shrug and pick the next one.

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Re: What about the postcard thing?

Because it takes too long. If they have mistakenly marked a business a permantently closed, then they should immediately revoke that status, THEN send out the postcard and if it isn't replied to within 14 days, re-apply the permanently closed status.

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Devil

Re: What about the postcard thing?

Users of Google maps should not be able to mark a business as closed, period, not without proper verification. That's too open to abuse by competitor's shills, trolls and idiots. It's an abuse of Google's market share too.

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Re: What about the postcard thing?

Dan 55 - That's a great way to go.

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Re: What about the postcard thing?

But how can you VERIFY that. I was searching for local chemists recently and went to my local shopping centre with three listed. There was actually only two, one closed down and another chain bought it and then that taken over store moved with in the centre and somehow the closed one is still listed somehow in the original position despite the fact that the new chain must have been running it in the same spot for a while and then moved (and I'm assuming google isn't smart enough to work out that two chemists in the same spot can't exactly happen).

Also if it is a franchise based business how would you manage that? Take the word of a franchise owner that a franchisee has closed down?

Then the second thing is the opening times. The number of times when there are public holidays etc the time displayed is wrong is unbelievable. But I just consider this to be the large businesses not giving one fk about displaying when they are open (apart from a piece of paper stuck somewhere).

In the end google maps can only give crap data because if no business regularly updates google (and when your business closes down the first thing you are going to think of is to update google). Even if google provided a whole range of functionalities to list the standard opening times the special times for half open days (i.e. Christmas morning) and the public holidays, special closures, renovations, etc would that actually be used by the businesses? Large retail chains with their own websites are a pain in the butt to work out when they are open let alone the small businesses.

So in the end google has decided to use user feedback and if a user provides incorrect information that is obviously more than the business itself. Take the business in the article, I bet you if a journalist asked them how often they updated their opening times, etc it would be we setup the account and didn't touch it.

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Re: What about the postcard thing?

"That's too open to abuse by competitor's shills, trolls and idiots. It's an abuse of Google's market share too."

It also changes from a possibly erroneous "review" to slander on the part of Google once they have been informed and then refused to do anything about it. Maybe a few lawsuits are in order?

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If Google lists Google as closed...

...will it break the internet?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If Google lists Google as closed...

lets try it and see :)

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Re: If Google lists Google as closed...

I dont think Google knows what closed is, asked my phone search what supermarkets are open on Sunday" and it returned 5 results cards with closed supermarkets being 19:00 on Sunday.

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Re: If Google lists Google as closed...

"lets try it and see"

Didn't someone just try that with Amazon?

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Devil

Re: If Google lists Google as closed...

... there will be much rejoicing.

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Guidelines fixed

It looks like Google have updated that guidelines link now.

The article now says "Has one of your locations mistakenly been marked as permanently closed? Find out how to reopen a location." at the top with a link to page with instructions on reopening...

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Re: Guidelines fixed

Still inadequate. It should be impossible for users to mark a business as closed without verification. This is arrogant negligent behaviour and worse than Wikipedia (because Maps), which is bad enough.

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Alert

Re: Guidelines fixed

It was El Reg wot won it!

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FAIL

Google no longer lists my business either

Despite having a google+ site and getting JUNK MAIL from google addressed to my business, they took my business location off of the map and it's a struggle to "trick" google into getting it to come up in search. There was one month that I kept getting phone calls from various people pretending to be customers who would chat a bit about my services and then ask if it was a home business or not... and then abruptly hang up on me. Google has also told me to "just create a new google+ page and re-list my business". Yeah, but I can't use my current business name then, idiots. Who's going to do business with "Linden Consulting2"?

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Re: Google no longer lists my business either

"Who's going to do business with "Linden Consulting2"?"

Google2?

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Surely an easy fix..

Just mark every google office as shutdown permanently...

See if that will catch their interest...

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Not just UK and/or businesses

I've seen the biggest temple in Chiang Mai marked as "permanently closed". It just means that some idiot decided to edit the entry in Google Maps. I've also seen two or more map markers for the SAME PLACE and getting Google to take notice is impossible. Plus, if you look at the pictures of a place and cycle through them you very often find two or three or four occurrences of the same picture.

That's what you get with crowd-sourced data. Google needs to get busy curating to preserve value. If they care.

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Anonymous Coward

She's in America so...

Why hasn't she sued Google? Isn't that what they do over there and a matter of course?

Or invite Sergei and his team to visit at their expense naturally...

Nah, that won't work either.

Google has pretty well everyone by the short and curlies which is why I only use them directly as a matter of last resort.

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"the process for changing a mistaken listing is less clear."

A billion dollar lawsuit for libel would probably be effective.

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Arrogant

The same attitude to everything they do. Even when they are "right" they are totally arrogant and mow their tank over your <insert entity>.

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Anonymous Coward

It's not hard....

In fact it's very easy.

I turned up to a takeaway I like, to find it shut, with a council notice on the door claiming the premises seized for lack of rent payment.

I marked it closed, with a photo of the letter on the door (as proof) and within 30 mins, GMaps updated.

A week later, clearly after some to-ing and fro-ing, it was back open, and the Maps were updated again accordingly.

But yes, it's quite easy to do that if you're not connected to a business....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: with a photo of the letter on the door (as proof)

Her business didn't have a letter saying it was closed, because it was open. Looks like your photo was a waste of time. Saying that it was closed is what got it marked as closed.

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Re: It's not hard....

I really don't know why you got a downvote for reporting how easy and quickly a business can be marked closed by someone not related to the business in question, or why the AC got 6 upvotes for "correcting" you.

Have an upvote from me for reporting some facts, and AC can have a downvote for not understanding what you were saying.

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Anonymous Coward

Close Google for good

Use Startpage.com / Duckduckgo folks... Encourage a change of home page on devices used by friends / family / colleagues etc. Stop the masses just becoming googhoul drones...

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Re: Close Google for good

@AC Use Startpage.com / Duckduckgo folks...

I think that in this particular instance, ChickenChickenGo would be more appropriate.

Still - no harm, no fowl...

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Re: Close Google for good

Thanks to Windows 10, a lot of people I know now use Bing, but they still "do a Google". Just because people say they use Google doesn't mean they do. My wife does the Hoovering with a Dyson :-)

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Kafka

When we apply the term 'kafkaesque', we usually assume we're talking about some faceless state organ. But this shows that the impersonal mega-corporation can be ten times worse than any government.

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Libel

li·bel

ˈlībəl/

noun

noun: libel; plural noun: libels

1.

Law

a published false statement that is damaging to a person's reputation; a written defamation.

Seems to me that publishing a statement that a business is closed, and then refusing to correct it, is damaging to that business and would qualify as libel. Time to calculate the damages!

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Coat

Re: Libel

For a chicken rotisserie business though I think that, if successful, the amount awarded would be poultry.

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Re: Libel

if successful, the amount awarded would be poultry.

I would have thought it would be chicken feed...

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According to Google my wifes bisiness address doesnt exist so it cant be mapped. Even though its on their streetmap. Tried getting it added but they havent actioned it yet (months have passed)..

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Based on my own experience of Google Maps and similar services, I don't know why anyone would ever rely on them for anything other than finding a general area or maybe a big name chain. The likelihood of them being accurate in location or up-to-date in business types seems to me to be very poor. Maybe it works ok for the city hipsters looking for the nearest starbucks and that's good enough?

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"Based on my own experience of Google Maps and similar services"

I agree.

However, many people seem to 'expect' that what they find on the Internet to be 100% accurate.

The amount of times our web site has been blamed for inaccuracies found on "Google" is ridiculous.

I've had people complain that a map-pin shows the wrong side of a small car park, or a pin stick in a large shopping centre doesn't reflect the actual layout within the building...

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WTF?

Google My Bus. and Maps - Permanently screwed

I hate those guys. It takes a massive effort to wrestle control of your own business when you are "listed". The postcards never validate, phone calls are useless, if you go off script with the call agent you will get nowhere. If our customers weren't using the map info we would ignore it. As they are, we need to regularly check and fix (and re-fix) changes, vandalism and unexplained errors. Asshats!

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Devil

Google Maps is working perfectly! (for Google, that is)

Is anyone making the mistake of believing that Google wants to give you good information? They don't care about that, or if you are devoured by lions at a restaurant-turned-wildlife-refuge. They want to show ads and sell AdWords. The listings are just bait to dispense ads, it doesn't matter if they are correct or not. Google doesn't give a damn if your listing is correct, if it's helpful to users, or if your business goes under because of their mistakes.

My wife stupidly uses Google maps for nearly everything. I won't let her use it if I'm involved. It's taken us many times to closed businesses, the wrong location for open ones, or the correct location but the wrong hours. I wanted a Hardees hamburger one day, they showed several stores miles away but not the one closest to us! I could go on all day about my personal experiences with Google Maps Fails, they roughly equal the successes. Hardly the 99% correct rate another poster claimed.

Google used to be a good search engine. Now I find it hard to applaud them for much of anything.

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Re: Google Maps is working perfectly! (for Google, that is)

Ahh google maps.

Where it's told me on three different occasions that I have arrived at my destination, whilst on the motorway running past it.

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Google asking to be sued yet again?

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