You’d think the Dickensian bureaucratic nightmare is reserved for courts, but in the modern economy giant global corporations like Google can create labyrinths that would make Kafka proud.
Here is one. When you sign up for Adsense, you give them your physical address. It so happens you need to move property, but in the meantime your Adsense threshold has been reached so google sends you a pin by email to verify your now old address.
It’s fine, Google says, just log into your account and change your address then ask us to re-send the pin. So you do as you are told. The problem is, when you ask to re-send the pin, Google wants to confirm it should be sent to the old address.
Well, no, so you go to check whether you changed the address. You did. You try again, going back and forth maybe four or five times, but the pin just keeps asking you to confirm you want it to be sent to the old address.
In short, it is impossible to ask google to send you a pin to your new address. You search around and see you’re far from alone. In fact, complaints go back to 2013, some four years ago. Here’s what Ethan Green said back then at Adsense’s help forum:
“I didn’t verify my address, and now I have reached the ‘alert’ stage. I have since moved address though. Because it is at the alert stage I am not able to change the address to have a new pin sent to it. So even if I request a new pin, it will be sent to the old address also and so I will still be stuck and not able to verify it.”
He is joined by a chorus of other Adsense publishers, including one who says “Google technically owes me money, and then won’t give me the customer support so they can correct my address and pay me? That’s called theft.”
It is, because it’s impossible to contact Google, now you can’t verify the address, that means they will stop serving ads on your website, so you have to find alternatives, while Google in the meantime doesn’t have to pay you what they owe you which after six years in some countries means they can rightfully retain this money due to contract enforcement time limitation laws.
Perhaps Google didn’t see this chorus of complaints accusing them of theft some four years ago, so they were reminded of it in 2015 and then in 2016 and that’s just after some two seconds of research.
They still haven’t solved the issue, but it can get more interesting. Suppose you get angry and just incorrectly enter the pin three times. Google then suddenly makes available an ID uploading option. You oblige, send a British driving license. In around 30 second google e-mails you to say they don’t support this sort of verification for your country.
That’s nice. A British driving license is good enough to open a bank account, but not to receive rightfully earned money? Why does google need to verify anyone’s address anyway when they don’t verify identity? Why are they using paper mail to verify anyone’s address when payment is sent to your bank account which they also verify?
Now we don’t have any basis to suggest Google is intentionally with-holding earnings from some publishers by not fixing an obvious bug and by requiring address verification for no reason whatever.
Nor are we suggesting they intentionally make support unavailable when phone companies manage perfectly well to provide the service as they and Google makes billions in profits thus can easily afford a $100 million call center or thereabouts in India or somewhere.
However, it would probably be somewhat profitable for Google if they did not have to pay some publishers, if they trap some other publishers in a maze, if they froze some publishers accounts, or overall acted in an unaccountable manner because you can’t even speak to them.
No wonder we have heard little from Google regarding blockchain technology. They must be making so many payments to so many publishers across the globe, something for which blockchain tech can be very useful due to its global nature, but that’s only if efficiency, transparency and accountability is desired.
It may well be the case that in this specific aspect Google would far prefer it is as inefficient as possible so that publishers can be trapped with no recourse and if they think of going to court just intimidate them with Grade A lawyer’s costs.
That’s simply sad, because back in 1998, start-up Google told us don’t be evil. Now, almost two decades later, they tell us talk to the wall because your tiny self is insignificant to our global businesses where we command a monopoly which allows us to steal your money.