Google AdWords Bug Costs Company $1000s

A Google AdWords bug has cost a company thousands of dollars. Even after Google fixed the situation for the company, Google has not offered the company a refund or even a credit on their account. Lawnstarter.com realized that Google was running their ads in Austin, Texas with someone else’s phone number–even though the company is located in Virginia and restricted their ads to their local area.

In a blog post on the company’s website, Lawnstarter explained what happened:

Not only was our search campaign that was limited in geography to McLean, VA (it was our McLean Page) being displayed in Austin, TX, it was displaying a random Google voice number that wasn’t ours! It went to some poor girl named Dana’s phone who sounded like she was all of 16 years old.

The company has proof that their ads were showing in another State, Texas, with someone else’s phone number:

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At first, they thought that the had entered the phone number wrong in their ad. However, that was not the case. They contacted Google AdWords Support about the situation:

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After explaining the situation, the Google rep admits:

Hm, okay yes it does look like that number is not forwarding correctly. I’m going to pass this on to the technical team right away, and they will be able to assign a new phone number to you.

Two days later, Lawnstarter.com received a follow up email announcing they had fixed their mistake.

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I’m really happy to let you know that we have successfully reassigned your Google forwarding number on the Fairfax campaign. It may take up to 30 minutes to register this reassignment, but after that you should be seeing a different number that will forward to your own.

Lawnstarter.com’s concerns here are valid. They are spending hundreds of dollars every day with Google, and they are just taking Google’s word that their ads are actually being served up properly, with the correct phone number. If Google has screwed up this account, how many other accounts are being screwed up and the account owners just don’t know about it?

So far, Google has not offered a refund or credit to Lawnstarter.com.

Update:
Steve from Lawnstarter.com has posted an update on the blog post:

Edit: Since people keep asking, no my account wasn’t credited.

Double Edit: It now has been credited, and we found out that within the account there were 2 similar numbers with the incorrect one displaying. All is right with the world again.

TheSEMPost.com is also covering this, with an article here.

Update: Links in this post have been removed, as they weren’t working at last check. November 16, 2014.

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Comments

  1. Gail Gardner says

    This is not the first time I’ve seen mistakes on Google’s part cost small businesses. Google’s unwillingness to correct overcharges is a major reason I elected to stop managing AdWords campaigns. My small clients would be severely damaged financially and I did not have the resources to protect them from overspending. (Very few ppc managers do.)

    When Yahoo! once featured an ad on their buzz page which spent thousands of dollars they refunded the money immediately when I objected that we had our account set to search not content. They returned working capital to that small business.

    But when Google overcharges I have never seen them refund the spend caused by their mistakes. Errors in where geo-targeted ads have happened in the past. So has them displaying your most expensive exact match targeted ad for the most generic of keywords. That last issue caused a $350+ spend in one day on a keyword that usually only cost $15/mo.

    Advertisers have to hope that their ads are displayed correctly and that these are technical glitches and not intentional methods of increasing Google’s income knowing that most won’t notice a spike in one keyword for one day.

    Even when Google admits their mistakes, offering a credit that will take a small business years to use while leaving their credit cards maxed out at high interest rates so that they have no operating capital is a huge risk for a small business to take.

    Anyone with a large ad spend needs to have an automated way to shut down overspending immediately. At a minimum, you need to watch over every account like a hawk daily.

  2. spiritual awakening retreats says

    Recently I started a campaign in google adwords. I made a payment and fixed it with a fixed amount per day. But after running few days they are telling me that my campaign is going to stop for insufficient money. Then now they stopped to show my ads. But I got only few clicks and in my campaign it is showing that only 30% of the deposited money has been used. They took 70% of the money without showing anything. This is ridiculous.

    Can you tell me where I can contact google about this issue?