MCC issues - requesting help[ Edited ]
November 2014 - last edited December 2014 by Mini-CM
My name is John and I am new to the MCC Adwords and have some experience using normal Adwords accounts. I apologize in advance for the very log post but I have spent 2 years in development, tens of thousands of dollars, and expecting the arrival of our first child in June (my profile is of my wife, godchild, and me) and my business has been shut down because of a human mistake. I have not lied or fabricated any of our story and just want some answers! Thanks in advance for any feedback or positive information provided!
Thanks Mini for the post and thanks Ahmed for the FAQ!
We own a Directory website for towing companies. It has been a project we have been working on for over 2 years building a customer database and offering a free listing to all companies. In the 2 years and a lot of money spent to get just under 1000 users on our website we decided in September of 2014 we were now going to start to offer Adwords as an advertising solution. I have had some experience using Adwords in the past but not familiar with everything it had to offer. I had called Google to see what the best way to set the accounts up was and I was told about the MCC account and consolidating billing option. Hearing and reading all the horror stories about billing issues we thought that this was a great solution and problem solved! However in February of 2014 we had some partners that could not take the pressure or expenses acquired in the last year in half, so we decided to part ways and a new company was formed. Which resulted in not being approved for the consolidating billing but we had already started our advertising so we decided to keep it the way it was.
I called and spoke with Google around 2-3 times a week to ensure we were setting the accounts up proper. The only advice we continuously heard was we needed to get on consolidated billing sooner than later because in just 1 month we had about 20 customers and a spend over $3000 (which is not a lot of money but I do think it shows some solid growth). In the beginning we were told about the promotional option we could offer our clients which we thought was amazing because so many companies out there do not provide a break even point in advertising for customers. So we saw thing as a great way to show the power of Google and that we knew what we were doing and they would for once actually make money on the money they spent on advertising (which everyone could agree that does not happen very often..). Things were going great! We were charging our new clients a $99 fee to advertise for them and then putting 100% of the additional money into Google Adwords. We had clients getting around 20 calls to their business for a $100 spent on Google. They were actually making money on their money and turning a positive ROI. We did not have 1 client cancel on us and they were all happier than could be.
Although our clients did not know we did have some issues. These issues were more on a technical end and how to setup the accounts properly to ensure that we did not spend more money than allowed in the clients budget. Because we could not get consolidating billing I called Google at least 5 times trying to figure out and understand the best way to set these accounts up was going to be. I received probably 5 different solutions.
• we could use the Adwords API and backdoor the consolidating billing by creating a "legal customer"
• set the daily budget to $3.33 (if only a $100 a month Adwords spend)
• create time zone accounts
• can you find a company that will be a signer to get consolidating billing
• the last one was do you have $50,000 for a security deposit...
All of which I would say are not valid solutions. Finally I thought of an idea! Create a "50/50" Adwords account for all new clients and if they decided to be come a monthly customer I could create them a new Adwords account using their monthly spend and incorporating a rule that once cost was >= to x to Accounts stop the campaign. I thought this was a great idea because I did have an early conversation through the video chat and email with a Google rep about rules and this was the only rule that was told to me that would work. Which after our suspension I found I we could of used a campaign rule name of cost >= to x stop campaign which we could have incorporated in every account by just naming the campaigns proper instead of Campaign #1 or Month 1. Once we started doing this in our Account I still continued to call and go over everything. When you call Google you use your MCC ID and there had to be at least 5 Google Reps who say every account I had and not one of the seem to mention making multiple accounts for the same client was not good to do. Considering the name of the Adwords accounts would have been Jims Towing 50/50 and if they became a monthly customer it would have been Jims Towing Monthly - $100 (or what their actual spend was). I would have to assume that common sense would say that Jims 50/50 and Jims Monthly were the same account and If I was actually trying to get one past Google I probably would have been a little more creative...
Now my retired Father was just looking to help and wanted something to do everyday. I gave him simple tasks to go over the previous days campaign results and match that up with our own in house call tracking software and to once a week apply the promotional code to the accounts. Previously to setting the multiple accounts up I showed him how to do everything. At that time adding more than 1 promotional code to 1 client was not something I thought I need to explain because that was not our practice or how we operated. Once we started setting the multiple accounts up I should have explained that he need to only apply promo codes to the 50/50 accounts and not the monthly accounts. That is my fault and take responsibility for not remembering the most crucial part of billing. I do not have an excuse for my mistake all I could say I was definitely busy with sales, building a CRM, and beginning phases of taking this concept across 10 other industries.
The day some of the campaigns were put on a "billing hold" I called Google to see what was going on. All I received was the text book response "The accounts are being verified for billing information and should be live in 2-3 days" (on Wednesday of that week). It was now Friday and I still have not received any information about what was going on. I talked to someone over chat and the phone and both had the famous response "The accounts are being verified for billing...."). It was now Friday and all the accounts were "being verified". We had just had our best week in sales and converted a lot of 50/50 customers to monthly customers and some new 50/50 clients had yet to receive any advertising (calls) and the new monthly customers (whom are accustomed to receiving at least 3 calls a day) have not received any calls in the past 3 days and I was worried about chargebacks and/or refund requests. So I thought it would be a good idea to create some generic accounts or time zone accounts to get me through the weekend and figure the billing out on Monday once Google Reps were back in the office. I literally created accounts with the name "Google down 1, Google down 2, Google down 3, and Google down 4"... I am now rocket scientist but again, if I was trying to get one past Google don't you think I would have been more creative??? Once those accounts were immediately flagged for billing (which I had never had a new account previously flagged immediately upon creation) I knew something was up and there was a serious problem. I called Google again later that afternoon and spoke with someone. He looked into the account I told him exactly what I was doing and why I was doing it and I was finally told that it is in my best interest to not make anymore accounts and wait till next week to call back and resolve the issue. I was also told that there was no way we could continue to use our company credit card for our client accounts and consolidating billing was our only option. So at this time I was still sure that the reason for the hold was a credit card or billing issue (which was also told by a Google rep and have email confirming that it was all right to use our credit card on all client accounts).
The Suspension Notice:
That weekend we started to receive our suspension notices for all the accounts. Telling us we broke the promotional code policy. Not really understanding or even thinking we did I immediately responded to the violation and posted on the boards and explained the situation. Not really thinking about what we did wrong I pled my case via the boards and it resulted in an auto-generated email from Google about a final decision with a personal signature. I replied to that email and many other emails using tracking software and not one of my emails were opened (using yesware so pixels do not need to be downloaded to track an open). I would have to say not really knowing or understanding what we had done wrong I probably did not explain everything correct. I had originally thought it was because the destination url we were using was to a page on our website that has GPS enabled on it and it will display the local clients in the users area. I really thought the suspension was because of using the same destination url vs the individual company profile page.
The following days:
After hearing the decision was final and there was nothing we could do I thought and figured it was because of the destination URL so we decided to purchase a generic domain and individual domains for every client. We quickly build a mock directory listing and individual websites for the 22 clients that were still around. After all was done we created 2 new MCC accounts and called Google about them to go over what was the best way to move forward to ensure were not suspended again. Once I said we were suspended the Google reps would no longer speak to me and told me I need to resolve the previous issue. But I was told the decision was final and there was no chance of reversal. Clueless of a solution to this problem and the boards seemed like a place that would not help I decided to hit the internet because I figured I was not the only person to experience this. After reading blog/article after blog/article that there truly was no solution and Google would not give we decided not to give up on all our hard work/dream. It seemed easier to ask for forgiveness than permission at this point after reading all this negativity. We did not try to hide or create a new existence (which the exception of new company domains and generic directory site) but that was because we just thought our website had been blacklisted by Google. We did not clear our cookies, cashed files, or remove our personal linked Google Accounts. We went ahead and created the new accounts and did not follow any of the same protocols of the last setup. It lasted days and were suspended again. I called Google and the suspension had not hit the mcc account just the new accounts that were setup that Friday. I explained the situation to that Google rep and he said he would relay the circumstance and if they consider the situation he would try to reach out to me but if it was final then there was again nothing I could do. I asked him if I just used a normal Adwords account (that was created years ago) could I do that because there was no way we could break the promotional violation. He said that might work but you never know. We added the accounts to normal Adwords accounts that we have had from the past and they seemed to work but every time we made a change they were flagged for the famous billing verification. Passed 2 or 3 times before I gave up because every change or add it was put on hold for 2-3 days. Those accounts are paused and really not sure if they have been suspended or not.
Which now leads to today… I am tired and frustrated of continuously reading consistent negativity about Google and Adwords how there is no solution and the only real solution is creating a completely new existence. Having to purchase a shelf corp (to get consolidated billing and new billing information), purchase new computers to change the device SID, use a proxy or change local IP, purchase new domains (with private registration), new hosting or change current shared hosting IP, and a few others… Which seems absolutely ridiculous that a legitimate business has to do this for a human mistake/error. As advertisers we are human and do make mistakes unlike Google which is a machine. Murders, rapists, terrorists, and felons receive a better judicial system than what we have been provided. I do not disagree, hate, or think Google is wrong for the security measures it takes. I am a small business owner who experiences fraud and wrongful acts from clients. I could not imagine the level of fraud that Google receives on a regular basis let alone on an hourly basis. So, Yes… These measures are 100% necessary. Whatever the outcome is with my case I am ok with. I just wish/hope I can receive just a little recognition/acknowledgement that the case is being reviewed and I can have some involvement… such as a phone call or email. For the size and volume of business Google does daily I am continuously amazed on the customer support and knowledge you receive from Google when you are in good standing as them. I don’t think there is another company out there that even come close to A++ service you receive from Google at their level of business. And the employee thousands of US employees which amazes me even more! I just have a problem with if you make a human mistake/error you are treated as if you have the Ebola virus.
Issues that need to be resolved:
* There is an unpaid balance from our first account suspension that I would like to clear up. Logging in every account to update a credit card seems a little much considering some of the balances are under $10. Is there a way just to get 1 itemized bill to pay in full? This will insure there are accounts that are not forgotten and I am certain my bank my deny multiple charges from the same company for different amounts and do not need the hassle of calling my bank too.
* Is there a fighting chance to get back on Google legitimately and solving a problem to a simple human error? If so… How, when, and what do I need to provide. I am free to talk whenever I need.
If my issue cannot be solved then it is what it is. I made a mistake and am responsible for my actions. I would only hope that maybe Google considers an option for future advertisers to receive a fair trial/resolution than automated emails and no support. People do make real mistakes and not everyone is a scam/fraud.
It would be nice if Google provided a group/team to the MCC accounts to ensure they are not making mistakes. Accounts are setup correct. They fully understand the responsibilities of an MCC account. Give advice geared more towards MCC accounts vs Adwords in itself. And maybe a better billing/budget solution. It does not do my business or Google any justice to set a daily budget based on a monthly budget because how do you get your clients to spend more money? If my clients used all $100 in the first week of advertising that means they need to spend more money... But I as a business cannot afford to spend more money on a client then what is allocated and there are truly no options to set budget other than consolidated billing.
I can provide links to the website(s), email address, and/or phone number upon request.