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Merchant Center account suspended. Very scared.

[ Edited ]
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 1
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Hi everyone,


After 3.5 years of running Google Shopping ads for my business without issues, my account was suspended on Friday, Nov 17. I woke up to an email saying that some of my account is in violation of the following policy:




I run an online security store, which I started in 2014, and have been in the industry since 2009. We sell items like GPS trackers, audio recorders, surveillance cameras, bug detectors, and etc.


Our typical clients are everyday people with issues that are causing them emotional or financial distress, but we also get law enforcement agencies that need our products and expertise:


1) Adults concerned about their children or elders. This ranges from wanting a camera to catch child/elder abuse, bad babysitters, and teens doing illegal activities.


2) Business owners needing to monitor employees or property. Examples include catching theft, tracking company vehicles, and etc.


3) Regular people whose homes are being burgled, who are being verbally/physically/sexually harassed and need proof, and people collecting evidence for lawsuits.


As you can see, there are very legitimate needs for our products and we're great at pairing people with the right product, which is how we've been successful.



Back to the suspension email. The only item listed in my suspension is a small camera disguised as an iPhone case. My business classifies it as a bodyworn camera, and it is often used by individuals in law enforcement such as police departments, private investigators, and insurance fraud companies, among others.




As Google Shopping makes up a significant percentage of revenue for my business, I removed the item and immediately resubmitted my feed that same day. The last 4 days my business has been on life support and I've sent my employees home since we have nobody to do business with.


Today, Tuesday Nov 21, I heard back from the person who took ownership of my ticket and she told me that my feed is still noncompliant and wouldn't be reactivated. Her exact words from the policy team were that, "any spyware camera would not be allowed to run with Google Merchant Center and you are advised that you remove any such products before another escalation."


I have been in this industry for 9 years and have never heard of a 'spyware camera'. But, the moment I got this, I removed ALL products that are in the 'camera' category. This was over 50% of my feed. I'm still waiting on a word back, but I've been told there may not be an update until next week (after Black Friday!).


I have two problems currently:


1) My entire shopping feed is down on the biggest sales week of the year, and I've had to send employees home because I can't afford to pay them. I can't really do anything about this at the moment and simply need to wait.


2) Confusion about this policy. I have been using Google Shopping at 3 companies since 2011 and have never had these product lines banned. As far as I know, this policy:


a) is not new

b) has not been applied to me,

c) and the term 'hacking - enabling dishonest behavior' doesn't accurately apply to my products.


If anything, my products expose dishonest behavior such as sexual harassment in the workplace and catches theft of property. To top it all off, all my direct competitors are still advertising without issue, so this seems to not have been applied evenhandedly.


I'm at a moment where I just don't know what to do and would appreciate some wisdom. Everything I've built over the years and all the people I employ are on the line and I'm very concerned. I can't talk to the people making the policy, and the people that I can talk to have nothing to share.

3 Expert replyverified_user

Merchant Center account suspended. Very scared.

Top Contributor
# 2
Top Contributor

Hi there,


I haven't come across your type of products being disapproved before. And here in Australia, a search for "spy cameras" shows hundreds of results in Google Shopping.


My best guess is that somewhere on your site there are trigger words that are telling Google's bots that you are selling something related to hacking etc. Keep in mind that Google will look at your entire site (as indexed for regular Google search) and not just the product pages - for example blog posts.


There is sometimes a disconnect between what Google says the policy is, and the actual problem. 


Feel free to share the URL so we can take a look. 


Merchant Center account suspended. Very scared.

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 3
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Happily. My website is ''.


I have changed almost nothing on my site in the last 2 years, other than remove a few products that have been discontinued in addition to improving page loads speeds. All product descriptions remain the same as when I wrote them over 3 years ago.


The only other thing I can think to mention is that my domain, '' is about 2 months old. I moved everything to it, and my Adwords spend shot up 120% overnight and still hasn't gone back down, even though my ads are the same as my old website, ''.

Merchant Center account suspended. Very scared.

Top Contributor
# 4
Top Contributor

Your site contains the following words:


"test kit"







To reiterate, this is just a guess on my part, because the reason they gave doesn't make sense. We don't know which trigger words Google looks for or how many they need, but context seems to be irrelevant to the bots. 


If could just be the semen test kit...


The initial solution is still to do what Google says. Beyond that a possible solution is to remove all of those words I listed from your site, and the test kit, and then resubmit some disapprove products. But it is really hard to know if that will make any difference. 


Merchant Center account suspended. Very scared.

Top Contributor
# 5
Top Contributor

Hi, Google does not allow the sale of products that promotes dishonest behavior, unfortunately it seems that Google deems your product to promote this.

More info about the policy :


As you can use the product for activities that are dishonest, it is not aloud.


Also never assume that because a competitor or other merchants are selling the same or similar products, that it is within the policies.


I recommend you contact Google directly, before you do this remove any mention of dishonest behavior.


Hope it helps.

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Re: Merchant Center account suspended. Very scared.

[ Edited ]
Top Contributor
# 6
Top Contributor

(a) if the issue has been inspected by the policy-teams,
then the violation has likely gone beyond any robotic
detection by the automated systems and mere content.


(b) the key issue with this type of violation usually centers around behavior --
generally, if the physical product allows a user to behave dishonestly, then
google will not allow the product, regardless of any legitimate uses.


for example, stationary, stand-alone surveillance cameras and detection devices

tend to be allowed -- but related, more portable, cameras and jammers are not.


(c) google tends to compare the products and content to current policies,
not other similar items or identical products submitted by other merchants --
which may not be in violation of the policies, or may be in violation but have
not been caught yet.


mentioning other merchants or their products tends not to help --
mentioning how a product does not violate the policies may help.


(d) as to moving the website, after any such move, the system will typically
reset critical historic information and any long-term benefits of the old site
and shopping-ads -- such as click-through-rates, business trust-factors,
quality, etc., resulting in the need for increased bids until the positive quality
related factors begin to be reestablished over time.


google may re-review a business, website, submitted content, or the
physical products being sold, at any time -- but especially after a new
site has been claimed, or any inventory items have changed id values.


(e) since customer-service tends to simply relay what the policy-teams
have concluded, typically after careful examination, an important factor
is to cautiously consider what the policy-teams are indicating, use that
as examples to find a root-cause and comply with as much of their

requests as possible.


for example, using the policy-teams' example of spycam products,
to help identify and remove any and all such similar products --
then resubmitting the feed and asking for a more formal review.


posting, here in public, any specific url's that google has flagged
as examples, may allow other forum-members to offer additional,

specific, suggestions.


there is less of a need to inspect the entire website if the policy-teams have
already offered product examples and instructions on what to do to proceed.


as was indicated, in addition to what the policy-teams have indicated,
removing possible trigger-words or information, related to the policy --

in this case, products allowing dishonest behavior -- from the website

and submitted data, and simply resubmitting the feed, without a formal

review request -- is another possibility to consider.


(f) importantly perhaps, google usually allows only a limited number of reinstatement

appeals -- on the order of three or so; not complying with the policy-teams' requests,

with as much diligence as possible, before asking for a more formal appeal/review,

may trigger a more permanent policy flag.


that said, this is primarily a peer-to-peer forum;
forum-members can mainly offer suggestions

based on information posted, here in public.


google is the final arbiter of all policies.