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Understand Google's advertising policies, including ad approval status and account suspension
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Account Suspended

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 1
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

I started a new on site computer support business in 2015 and started to advertise using Google Adwords on search as that's where my competitors were advertising.

 

A few days after my business started advertising, Google suspended my advertising account citing the reason Policy violation: Untrustworthy promotions.

 

There was nothing different about my website than any of the dozens of competitors advertising on Google search. My site contained clear information about the business, its' relevant business identification numbers, complete contact details and privacy policy.

 

After days of Google phone support hell, I submitted a complaint to a local statutory authority charged with dealing with Small Business disputes and following a referral from this agency to Google my account was reinstated and ads were allowed to run again.

 

Google never explained the reasons behind the original suspension.

 

Fast forward one year and I received the very same account suspension email yesterday. My Adwords account for the business has been suspended "Policy violation: Untrustworthy promotions".

 

Nothing had changed apart from minor keyword adjustments over the course of the year. However Google suddenly deemed my business website "untrustworthy".

 

Following the receipt of this email I contacted Google Adwords support and explained what had happened to a Google Adwords representative who then told me I needed to speak to the policy team - however he transferred me to an automated recording which stated Adwords can disable ads at any time and that as our account is suspended we can not advertise on Google ever again.

 

Following up by calling again results in the same automated message being played and then you are hung up on.

 

Following this I lodged a complaint with the statutory body that I dealt with last year and they referred the matter to a Google paralegal who dealt with the same issue last year.

 

Later in the afternoon I received an email subject line "Your AdWords account: Advertising Policy violation resolved" and the text therein said in part "Great news! We've re-reviewed your site and determined that the following site complies with our Advertising Policies:"

This seemed like great news, but alas it seems that it's not my site or business that's "untrustworthy" but Google itself. This is because when I log in to my account I get the following message in a banner "Your account is suspended - We've had to suspend your AdWords account because it contains major or repeated violations of our advertising policies. "

 

So here I am, in a circular Google imposed hell where there is no escape. Ring Google Support and they play you a message and hang up on you. Lodge an appeal with Google and they email you telling you your site is fine. Log in to the account and I'm suspended. No reasons, no explanation, no dispute resolution options, nothing from Google except the impersonal hand of dismissal.

 

So here I am, at the busiest time of the year, five days out from Christmas and Google pulls the plug on our advertising while allowing our direct competitors to take our business using the same types of ads and the same types of websites.

 

We're not in a high risk industry, we fix computers, we go to people's homes and provide them a service much like a plumber, electrician or handyman. Our site is not misleading, we comply with consumer law, we go above and beyond in our disclosures on our site and yet Google deems us untrustworthy.

 

Right now we are bleeding money. Google has cost us a lot this time and I am not going to relent on seeking a remedy.

 

I have an active complaint with a statutory body who have referred the matter to Google. Later this morning I am going to court to seek an injunction and relief from Google's arbitrary decision before the matter goes to a full hearing in about 8 weeks where tens of thousands of dollars in compensation for lost business will be sought.

 

We may be small fry in this world compared to the multi-billion dollar behemoth that is Google but fortunately in Australia we have rights, we have strong Competition and Consumer Laws and Google will not be allowed to get away with it's unethical and illegal behavior without a fight.

 

If any Adwords representative can offer some resolution that would be good. But right now Google has pulled the rug from under my business and it owes me both an explanation and compensation.

 

2 Expert replyverified_user

Account Suspended

Top Contributor
# 2
Top Contributor

Interesting....

Can you share the  site in question?

Moshe, AdWords Top Contributor , Twitter | Linkedin | Community Profile | Ad-Globe
Did you find any helpful responses or answers to your query? If yes, please mark it as the ‘Best Answer’

Account Suspended

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 3
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

The site is https://geeks.express

 

Google have accepted almost $6,000 of advertising from us for 12 months since the first time they did this to us in late November 2015. Google only reinstated the account after the Victorian Small Business Commissioner took the issue up with Google.

 

This time however it's more egregious as we are a fully fledged business now and suddenly had our primary method of reaching customers cut off 5 days before Christmas - the busiest time of the year and the most difficult time to commence proceedings.

 

All of our competitors reach the bulk of their customers using Adwords and to compete so must we. Google allowing ads from them and not from us is anti-competitive behavior and a breach of Australian competition laws. It's also possibly unconscionable conduct.

 

We've commenced legal proceedings this morning. I'll keep this thread updated as the day progresses as we are seeking an injunction.

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Top Contributor
# 4
Top Contributor

Hi Robert,

 

Due to significant scamming in the USA, Google has problems with tech support and locksmith businesses. Usually tech support sites get flagged when they mention remotely accessing computers, but not always.

 

I am in Australia as well, and I have a good understanding of consumer law. I believe that any business can choose not to do business with someone, as long as the business is not a utility like electricity. And Google hasn't been labelled a utility yet.

I have tried to have similar Australian sites to yours approved without success. That competitors are still advertising fits in with how your site managed to use AdWords for so long. Individuals make decisions about these types of suspension, and interpretations of Google's policies can vary.

 

Although this should not be a factor, impressions are everything when someone spends seconds evaluating your site. A more corporate looking site would have probably fared better.

 

 

Account Suspended

[ Edited ]
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 5
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Hi Rob,

 

We do not offer remote support, we are a call out, on site, in person business.

 

There is no suggestion of any other business model on our site and we only provide in person services.

 

On legal advice, it is unlawful to engage in anti-competitive conduct under the Australian Competition and Consumer Act 2010. If Google allow our competitors to advertise then they must allow us to do so providing we comply with Google policies - which we do.

 

Also on legal advice, given the lack of proper dispute and complaint handling processes to us, subject to such action, Google is also likely acting unconscionably - a serious breach of the law.

 

Google needs to make a decision, it either bans all tech support ads or allows those that comply with policies. It, in it's near monopoly position, does not have the right to cherry pick customers.

 

Be that as it may, there are now proceedings afoot for an injunction and there will obviously be legal debate back and forth until the matter is decided at a final hearing which won't be for weeks or months. So my focus now is being reinstated so we can minimize losses.

 

As for the design of our site, it's aimed at the home consumer, a corporate look is not our branding. Nor should it be for our market and for the 12 months since our last interruption at the hands of Google, the site has provided us stellar conversion rates. I'm not going to compromise our identity for some ill conceived idea that Google may have about the way our site looks with the exception of purely technical implementation.

 

 

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Top Contributor
# 6
Top Contributor

Hi Robert,

 

I'm not taking sides, just reporting my observations. 

 

I believe that your site should be acceptable, as it does not offer remote support. However I have worked with several sites like yours which have not been able to have the suspension lifted. 

 

I don't think anyone here will be able to offer a remedy, aside from what worked for you in 2015.

 

Account Suspended

[ Edited ]
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 7
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Hi Rob,

 

I understand that you're not taking sides, sorry if my reply didn't convey that.

 

I believe the processes I have underway right now are the only way to settle the matter. The Victorian Small Business Commissioner has the matter in hand and a formal complaint has been prepared for the ACCC,  in parallel to those processes we are also running a case in the courts for which a formal application was made out this morning seeking damages and remedies.

 

Hopefully, even if we lose business over the busiest time of the year, the longer term result will be that our legal action will force Google to reconsider how it deals with such matters, as it is my belief based on good legal advice that the way Google currently handles such matters is unlawful.

 

 

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Top Contributor
# 8
Top Contributor

@Robert K;

Do you have a brick and mortar location? i.e a store a client can step in with  the his / her device and have it fixed? OR you only offer on site repair  service?

Moshe, AdWords Top Contributor , Twitter | Linkedin | Community Profile | Ad-Globe
Did you find any helpful responses or answers to your query? If yes, please mark it as the ‘Best Answer’

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Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 9
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

We have an administration office in the Melbourne CBD, which incidentally is where our Google Places listing is also. Customers can come in to make payments, or receive information or make inquiries during business hours Monday through Friday, however our technical services are only performed on site. 

Account Suspended

[ Edited ]
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 10
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Our Google Adwords ads are now running again, but when we call Adwords Support we are played an automated message that says after careful consideration, Google has suspended our account and that we can no longer advertise with Google.

 

We can now log in to our account and the suspension message has gone but we can't edit ads, keywords or bids.

 

We've had two contradictory emails, one saying we have been successfully re-reviewed and another telling us we are still being reviewed and that may take 3 days to complete.

 

Does the left hand at Google Adwords know what the right hand is doing ?

 

How does the biggest one of the biggest tech companies in the world stuff up it's communication with it's customers so badly ?

 

We're still not sure where we stand, so our legal action is continuing.