Monday, August 31, 2015

Helena and the Google Wallet Customer Support that Wasn't

In my life, I've had some pretty bad customer support. I'm also known in my circle of friends for being able to make customer support happen in the toughest of circumstances through diligence, well-worded emails, and well-directed phone calls.

Bravo, Google. Bravo. You have managed to weave an impenetrable wall of complete support refusal. I've honestly never seen anything like it. I'm a mix of furious, confused, disappointed, and frustrated - and for the first time ever, I've considered crazy, irrational things like buying an iPhone instead of a Nexus and changing my homepage to Bing, sheerly out of hatred for what you've put me through trying to reactive my Google Wallet account. In case you're wondering why my account was deactivated, it's because I used it as it was intended to be used: I attempted to send a relatively small sum of money to a wedding photographer to book my date.

Allow me to walk you through the seven layers of hell that I've experienced thus far.

It started off somewhat innocently enough. I attempted to send the money over, and I received two emails: one email telling me that Google had decided not to send my money, and another informing me that not only were they not sending my money, but in fact, they'd locked my account instead.

Okay. I get it. It's for my own protection. I figured that I would verify my identity with a quick phone call or a few security questions and be on my way. But no. Oh, no. I had no idea what fresh hell was to be unleashed upon me. At this point, I clicked the link inside Google Wallet's verification page to find this nightmare:

Account Verification

Your Google Payments is currently suspended so we can protect it from fraud. Submit this form and the requested documents below for us to verify so you can regain access.

If you're having trouble completing the form or need more information, call 855-492-5538 (+1-404-978-9254 from outside the US, international call charges may apply).

You're currently signed in as This email address will be recorded when you submit this form. If this isn't the account associated with your issue please switch accounts.

First name *

Last name *

Government-issued identification *

  • Driver's license
  • Passport information page
  • National identification card
  • State-issued identification
  • Permanent residence card
  • A different form of government-issued identification

Your government-issued identification can't be expired. File size must be under 10MB.

Submit an attachment *

Billing address verification *

Important note:

Only the last 4 digits of your credit card, debit card, or account number should be visible in the documents you submit.

If you submit a photo of a card or paper statement, cover the first 12 numbers of the account with your finger or a piece of paper.

If you submit an electronic statement, use an image editing program on your computer to block the first 12 numbers of the account, or print the statement first and submit a picture of it where you cover the first 12 numbers.

  • Bank statement
  • Credit/debit card statement
  • Picture of Credit/Debit card

The address or card on this document must match the billing information in your Wallet. This document must be dated within the last four months. File size must be under 10MB.

Submit an attachment *

Additional comments

Contact number *

This number will only be used for verification purposes.

....You're kidding, right? I'm supposed to put all of my most sensitive data into an online form and ship it off over the internet to be looked at by a stranger with nothing but their word that it will be erased? I'm not loving this. Surely there must be a more secure way that I can verify my identity, like having a text sent to my phone (which is registered on Google), an email sent to my backup email address (which is registered on Google), or answering some security questions. I called the phone number. 

After holding on the line for an eternity, I am put on the line with a nice young lady from India who cannot help me at all. She put me on hold for about 25 minutes to wait for her manager, who in an offensively badly attempted 'American Accent' could also not help me at all. As a note to any Google CSRs abroad - please don't try to fake a southern accent to fool me into thinking I must be speaking to someone in Texas. It's insulting. It tells me that a) you think I'm racist and b) you think I'm stupid. I'm neither. 

I asked to be escalated to the next tier, and he informed me that the actual 'Account Specialists' don't have phones and can't be reached via phone at all. He suggested that I use the 'Chat' button on the form to speak with one of the 'Account Specialists', who might actually be able to help.

At no point during this now 8-day-long adventure has chat ever been 'Available'. When I pointed this out, he assured me that he would have someone email me to follow up.

Sure enough, I am soon sent a form email from 'Angelo', the most useless person I've had the displeasure of dealing with through this entire saga. Despite what I had actually asked, Angelo went ahead and instead sent over the identical instructions again without addressing my question. I replied by asking the question I'd actually initially asked again, and Angelo replied by .....not replying. Ever. I proceeded to attempt to follow up with him for a few days before I just gave up.

Angelo had clearly decided that since I wanted my case escalated to a Manager Specialist, I was no longer his problem. However, he also did not escalate me. He just decided to be done.

At this point, I took to Twitter. Google Wallet's Twitter team assured me via DM that they would send someone to help. Maine was kind enough to take the time to refer me to my old friend ....Angelo. In the words of Ron Swanson, 'Best friend I never had. We still never talk sometimes'.

Angelo continued to ignore me, even once I gave up and sent over the documentation that I hadn't wanted to send in the first place - both via the form and directly to Angelo's email, as their phone support had instructed so that the process could be 'expedited'. Reluctantly, I sent over a photo of my driver's license and a photo of the credit card linked to my account with all but the last four numbers hidden as directed. Andddd.... nothing. I updated Maine and pleaded with him for some help.

At this point, I also sent a copy of the documentation to Maine, since Angelo clearly had decided that I was dead to his world and would receive no support. I tried to use the 'let my team call you' link, but it was just a link back to the same f$%ing documentation form that I'd already sent. I explained via email to Maine that I had never received a response from Angelo since the first time we spoke, and asked if he could help me instead. In response, I received an email from ...Sam.

Sam kindly informed me that his team had deleted my documentation, because it needed to go to Angelo. He advised that I follow the instructions in Angelo's email, disregarding totally the part where I already had done so. My email had included the information that Angelo was no longer responding, but I was still referred back to Angelo nonetheless.

Finally, something! An auto-responder! This was progress. At this point, even at automated response was an exciting development. And Alka was now here to help. She assured me that my documentation was being forwarded to new, special specialists. Specialists that could probably maybe actually help. I was filled with hope and joy.

This morning when I opened Google Wallet, I was ready to re-send my deposit to my photographer. I'd done everything they'd asked, and Alka sounded like she was on it. I was sure my account would be active again. 

Of course, this hope was to be immediately crushed under the stomping boot of aggravation that is Google Wallet's F-Team of customer support. The next email I received was from 'San,'.

'San,' informed me that suspicious activity on my account had prompted them to temporarily suspend its use. You know, for my security. Thank you, San,. I HAD NO IDEA.

Despite my having sent everything they'd asked for exactly as it was asked for and waiting three days for the 'expedited service' on my account, they wanted more documentation. I sent it via the form and alerted both 'San,' and Sam that it had been sent over as requested - as well as a hearty amount of grumbling that I was being placed back into the queue.

I also begged for help via Twitter DM.

Would you be shocked if I told you that my Google Wallet account is STILL locked, and that no one ever answered me?

No. Probably not. For a company with more money than God and the ability to create so many incredible technological advances, WHY THE HELL CAN'T YOU MASTER CUSTOMER SUPPORT?!

I get it. We're not your customer. These services are free. We're the product. I work in tech, I understand these things. But guess what? If you piss off your product enough, you'll have nothing left to sell. Get it together, Google.

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