The bad check story seems to have struck a chord with lots of people. I’ve enjoyed reading the various posts and comments left here and elsewhere. Thank you to everyone who added to the conversation.
First, the story was picked up by Valleywag and the avalanche began from there. The Huffington Post ran the story from Valleywag and next someone posted it to digg. My traffic exploded thanks to hitting the digg front page. Next, from digg it moved to StumbleUpon and later a number of very high profile news portals and blogs.
Notice that there are zero ads on mobilejones.com and that has been the case since I began to write about Adsense. I intentionally and perhaps foolishly didn’t want ads during the story’s life span. The point of posting about this situation was not to serve as link bait and drive traffic for monetization purposes, but to humanize this problem and get Google’s attention. From that perspective I will declare my efforts a success.
Everyone no doubt wants to know if Google made good on the check. The answer is yes. But there’s more to the story and I can’t resist sharing it with you.
July 10th – check bounces and tried to call someone at Google
July 10th – sent an email to Jesus via the generic firstname.lastname@example.org email address. I had no idea who if anyone might receive that communication. Apparently, no one did.
July 11th AM – phoned Google HQ and left a message with whoever answered the phone for Brian the Adsense payments operations management guy. I was assured that the message would be delivered. The message was to inform him that the check had bounced and I needed further instruction. Basically, a “what now?” plea.
No word. No reply.
July 11th PM – post check bounced article to mobilejones.com
No word. No reply.
July 12th – post a comment to Matt Cutts blog which is never published because it posted on an article about Amazon customer service – off topic I presume. Matt did return and comment here on the 13th.
No word. No reply.
July 12th PM – post “by the numbers” article on mobilejones.com
July 13th – Google Adsense calls to discuss their findings and recommendations
- Calling are Suzie and Scott – self described as – in management at Google and covering for Brian who began vacation on July 12th.
- My message to Brian didn’t get through. There maybe more than one Brian in Adsense payments they tell me.
- Adsense checks are deposit only (FAQ mentions this for Citibank checks, but mine was from Wells Fargo)
Google would be happy to talk to my bank to ensure the check goes through. (why would that be necessary – and no, don’t want you talking to my bank, thanks) Google already knows everything about me other than the location of the largest birthmark on my body. This idea felt a bit intrusive. Where’s the mystery if you know it all, Google?
Scott the Google management covering for Brian whiles he’s on vacation guy offers to call me back on Monday to ensure all is well, and wants me to know that they want to solve the problem and will stay with the issue until it is resolved.
I tell Scott this. I don’t want to deposit the check. I want to cash it and use the cash for a down payment on a car.
We’re sorry for the inconvenience, Scott tells me.
July 14th – Wells Fargo cashes the check and wants to sign me up for a checking account. I leave the bank happy without a new checking account.
July 16th – at 9AM as scheduled Scott and Suzie call. I inform them that the check is cashed and all is well.
They want me to know that their findings indicate that the problem was a technical one and that the engineers are already tasked with fixing an issue around updates that fall close to the payment cutoff date every month.
Scott and Suzie tell me that my case is being studied to determine how to improve the system. Being a perfect storm, they have learned much from my case.
I ask, “What did you learn? I’d like to hear your takeaways. That’s important to me. I know what I learned.”
Suzie continues to explain the technical issue that they are chasing down and that the engineers are already working on it.
Scott answers with something that I didn’t expect to hear. “We’ve learned that our payment system and what we do has real impact of the lives of our publishers.” Bingo! Empathy is a great teacher.
We discussed what I felt was the more important aspects of creating the perfect storm and that was Google policy and process. Google services accounts with millions of publishers. And like the Wizard of OZ, on our journey we hear about the goodness of the Wizard (Google) and that he can grant our wishes (for revenue) simply by the asking. So when we knock on the door of the Emerald City (Googleplex) only to find a gatekepper who chases us away, it’s not only frustrating but like Dorothy we question the goodness and wisdom of this so called Wizard.
I asked as many others have before me, “What is the revenue split between Google Adsense and we publishers?” Scott explains that this is information Google will not release. I ask him, why, when other ad networks do release this information, would Google want to create a trust issue with it’s publishers rather than be transparent about their take. The only reason I can imagine for not disclosing the details of the revenue split is that it must be unfair to publishers.
What I learned from this experience is that I joined the Adsense network as a publisher/business partner with Google without much thought to the logic and benefits in that partnership. I didn’t give much thought to what I wanted from a partnership with Google or what I wanted from monetizingmobilejones.com. It’s now time to reset and approach my relationship to advertising from a more structured and thoughtful position.
If my experience in this perfect storm of a customer service episode improves things at Google for publishers and front line support staff, then I’ll be very happy with that outcome. Kudos to those I spoke with at Google who worked around a broken system to solve my problem.
I’m closing my account at Adsense until I can see that improvements have been made and until Google discloses their revenue split with publishers. No breath holding on that one.
If anyone out there has ideas for making mobilejones.com profitable. I’m all ears.
Goog nite and Goog luck!