It is no secret that Google does not provide (almost) any support for Google Places issues. When one clicks on “Contacting us” on the Google Places Help Center, they are directed to a page suggesting that the problem should be posted on the Google Places Help Forum. Supposedly, anyone should get proper answer by “other users” or “Google Guides”.
This is the default solution Google offers. Tens of business owners visit it daily to seek help by the almighty “Google Guides”. Although those exist (that’s what people say…), they are really hard to find. It is important to note that I am referring only to the English forum (currently there are forums in Arabic, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Portuguese, English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Japanese, Dutch, Polish, Russian and Korean). Here is a (probably incomplete) short list of the “guides”:
- PlacesPro.Jay - recently one of the most active Google Employees on the forum; however, seems to be low in the hierarchy, thus not being able to provide almost any insight information
- vanessagene - the current community manager of Google Places; provides rare support on the forum, but she is usually the person to make the big announcements when something crashes
- Joel H - he was more active some time ago, now his comments are rather occasional
- Sheetal M - the newest person in the forum support team I believe; specifically covers the AdWords Express topic
- Maps Guide Cecelia - similar to Joel H
- Brianna - she has been very active previously, also part of the Local University Faculty
- Helen L. - similar to Joel H and Maps Guide Cecelia
- lchau (Maps Guide Linda) - Similar to Helen L.
- howtr - noticed very occasionally
- Ari B. - not sure if she is still part of the team
You would definitely be more successful if you would look for these people, rather than the ones mentioned above:
Top Contributors (people with actual personal access to Google employees):
Others, who frequently contribute thoughtful recommendations:
- Jaxcoffee - especially for questions related to Google Map Maker
- Catalyst eMarketing - I’m lately seeing Linda posting rather rarely on the forum
- Axemedia - I haven’t seen Steve on the forum for very long time
And… me - Nyagoslav.
Google offers customer service only for its paid advertising product, named “AdWords Express”. The official phone number is 877-503-0842 and is available only for the US (although Google claimed that they are currently beta testing it at a limited area in the UK). Google’s customer service is friendly and helpful, although they usually do not solve any problems, but read the answers from standard forms. What you need to do is be pushy and make them refer the problem to the Google Places tech team, which are the actual people who could deal with it.
In June Google announced the launch of a new project, which aimed to create directory-like city pages, which would gather data from Google Places, Google Offers, Google Places’ Blog, and Google Places’ Twitter accounts. The bottom line is, of course, to make the business owners advertise more using Google’s products (AdWords Express, Offers, TalkBin). That is why business owners phones are available for the cities with city pages:
- Portland - 503-567-9632
- Austin - 512-537-5485
- Madison - 608-305-4001
- San Diego - 619-928-9401
Although Charlotte and San Francisco also have city pages, business owners phones are not listed currently. It is expected that the next city with such a page would be New York.
4. Via Social Networks
Since the end of 2010 Google is creating social buzz, trying to get more people active on the (ex)Hotpot network. They are gradually building “review communities” in some of the major cities around the US. Here are their Twitter and Facebook profiles:
- Google Portland - Facebook page Twitter handle
- Google Austin - Facebook page Twitter handle
- Google New York City - Facebook page Twitter handle
- Google San Francisco - Facebook page Twitter handle
- Google San Diego - Twitter handle
- Google Seattle - Twitter handle
Although it is not easy to directly contact Googlers via these means, publicly expressing negative opinion about their service could prove more powerful than one could imagine (that’s how I got most of my direct email connections with Google Places employees). You can see a post of mine on Google+ from the last week, which got replies from two G employees.