FTC Complaint on AdWords Ban – Yes, I’m still banned

Google’s final response to the San Jose BBB case was this:

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, and we are unable to provide any additional information. Google reserves the right to disable any ads when deemed necessary per the AdWords Terms and Conditions: https://adwords.google.com/select/tsandcsfinder. Again, we apologize for any frustration. Your AdWords account will remain suspended unless you have the ability to edit the content of the sites for which you were previously advertising.

The whole thing is pretty insulting.

Over the past few days there were some really great comments on the original post – with some really good ideas.

Since the BBB channel got nowhere, I decided to file a complaint with the FTC – Federal Trade Commission. The FTC doesn’t attempt to resolve individual complaints – at the same time the FTC can do a lot to solve everyone’s complaints about something like AdWords and their practices – especially as Google gets as big as it is now. The only way for that to happen, though, would be for them to get a bunch of complaints, not just two. I’ll put in my grain of sand and wait for the avalanche. Maybe the FTC will get a hundred complaints over three years and act like they got them all last Tuesday – playing the same time-distortion games Google plays with everyone else.

In case you’re interested, and it helps you file your complaint, here is the full text of the complaint I filed.

Google AdWords service is using misleading and deceptive language, policies and practices with regards to suspending accounts. Furthermore they offer as a way of resolving AdWords service problems a course of action that is either impossible (modify sites you dont own) or would involve committing a crime. They offer no real recourse. They bar you from their advertising program as an individual, for life, and mark accounts that may be associated to your person. This does make me a less valuable professional in real life. If this was the corner coffee shop, that would not be a problem. The problem arises when Google uses these policies that provide no realistic recourse, and at the same time controls the great majority of search traffic worldwide.

I filed a case with Google’s local BBB (the San Jose BBB, case #<withheld>) and received Google’s final reply of  “Your AdWords account will remain suspended unless you have the ability to edit the content of the sites for which you were previously advertising.”  These sites they are referring to are sites I dont own and Im not trying to advertise at all – It has been over two years since I advertised those sites. Google is knowingly acting in a devilishly deceptive manner, while ruining my good name and barring me from their system with no recourse.

Google AdWords is taking permanent and continued action starting June 2011, based on events that took place at least a year ago, which merited a warning in 2010. Google unilaterally escalated the perceived severity of past actions and provides as a possible way of resolution an avenue which Google fully understand is impossible to execute. While Google’s explanations seem rational (‘fix the website’), and it may fully fit within the processes Google has defined, that doesn’t take away nor satisfactorily explain nor resolve the material facts that Google has permanently suspended me personally based solely on activity that took place a year ago, which they reviewed in due time a year ago, and provide no viable course of action to resolve the dispute amicably. “Fixing” a website I don’t own is not a viable course of action and Google insists that is their only acceptable means of resolution, and puts the onus on me. Google is knowingly asking to perform an impossible task, so Google can bar me from their system with the deceptive claim that I am unwilling to fulfill their requirements for compliance.

Google continually cites they “Reserve the right to disable any ads…” That is not an issue here. The issue is that they are barring me for life with no recourse; that is not the same as reserving the right to disable non-compliant ads.

Please give me a call if you have further questions.

To file a complaint with the FTC, just go here and click the big “FTC Complaint Assistant” graphic.

You’ll need a bit of Google’s business details, which they kindly provided via the BBB, and are these:

Google, Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Pkwy
Mountain View, CA 94043-1351
Phone: (650) 330-0100

Have fun!

6/22/11 update: Don’t forget to also file your complaint with your state’s Attorney General. You can find your states attorney general webpage (and their online complaint form) right here in the National Association of Attorneys General directory or just Slash it with blekko.