Bill Hartzer

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:

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:

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.

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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