Editor’s note: This SOS column is part of an occasional series highlighting companies that are proving unresponsive, unhelpful, or uninterested in explaining themselves.
Tech giants Google and Meta offer plenty of automated online help for customers who run into issues with their products.
But good luck finding a human employee appointed to do what machines can’t (or won’t).
Chris Hornung, 70, formerly from the Verona campaign, emailed SOS in March to say that YouTube had charged him twice for his one YouTube account for more than a year, and after trying to resolve the issue with his credit card company, the credit card company suggested he do it with YouTube’s parent company, Google. directly.
It was easier said than done.
“I wonder if customer service is a test bed for their AI (artificial intelligence) software because their email responses were polite but predictable and unhelpful,” he said. “They seem like a big machine that’s bulletproof except when it’s not. »
Hornung said he filed objections to the additional bills with his credit card company, which would alert Google only to see Google dismiss the objections and reinstate the charges.
“I don’t know why anyone would need two identical streaming subscriptions,” Hornung said. “Also, Google should be able to see if any of the accounts are being used. Here’s a catch: According to Google, I only have one account, so I have no idea how they can charge for the first of the month and the 17th.
SOS began its string of failed attempts to help Hornung on April 11, when it emailed the folks at Google. He emailed again on April 20 and May 4, when he also posted on Google’s Facebook and YouTube pages, tweeted YouTube, and spent 23 minutes on hold at Google headquarters in California without ever speaking to nobody.
YouTube’s unnamed tweeter responded with a link to online help. “They will get real human help by contacting us via Twitter or contacting our live support here,” he said. Google’s press service also sent a link to online help.
Hornung dutifully tried both; they didn’t help and he reported no actual human contact.
“I ended up canceling the credit card that was attached to the duplicate bills and reinstating a subscription, but they still owe me 14 months of payments,” Hornung said on May 24. “Welcome to the world of lost machines. »
Chris Monge, 53, from Lodi, had spent eight months trying to get Facebook to restore his hacked account before contacting SOS on April 18.
“Someone changed the email address associated with the page,” he said. “I emailed a copy of my photo ID along with other information requesting help to an email address for Facebook, but haven’t received a response. »
Likewise, SOS received no response from Facebook or parent company Meta to emails sent to Facebook on April 20 and May 4. Ditto for posts or messages on two Facebook Facebook pages – at least not from a human. In one case, it appeared that a bot responded:
“We’re slowly learning how to respond better to all types of requests, but we don’t have more information on that at the moment (sad face emoji). Visit our Help Center for additional assistance or choose from our options below.
SOS informed Monge on May 27, and Monge said he would report “if I ever contacted anyone”.
Monge works in the insurance field and said on June 14 that “what hurts me the most about my situation is that in order to control my company pages, I have to be able to log in personally because I am the administrator.
“Without access to my profile, my business pages are effectively dead,” he said.
Photos: Google’s new office in Madison