First of all, I was not paid to write this blog. I am not offering a magic pill here for your problem.
I am sharing my true account.
I run a trop-petit business of luxury consignment and have just begun exploring the possibilities in the world of e-commerce. If you happened to be the one stuck with a GMC account suspension, I humbly hope my experience will help get you out of the limbo.
Thirteen minutes from midnight on one Saturday, I got from Google a notification of account suspension, policy violation: Misrepresentation.
The suspension happened three days after I opened the GMC account, less than 2 days after products feeding by website crawling. In addition to my GMC account, my Google Ads account got suspended along together.
Just like that, without warning, without a clue, and explanation.
And, just what the heck is Misrepresentation!!!
I spent the next 4 hours squirrelling on the internet like a headless chicken, hoping to find anything helpful but none.
And this brings us to the first point.
It is not a cliché saying.
By 4 in the morning, I was desperate. If you can feel what I mean, then listen: It is a time that you are incredibly vulnerable to making foolish decisions that you would regret later.
I was only lucky.
To the end of hours of reckless attempts, I was willing to pay anyone who claimed can help. I left a distress call in the Google Community, and sure enough, someone approached to suggest I make a return contact and help lift the suspension.
It was only because of inadequate computer skills myself, I had no clue how to make contact with a member of the Google Community, and therefore I was held back. The brief moments straightened my head. I checked. The person who joined the community for about a month was not a technical staff of Google. How does it add up working to resolve my issue? Uhm
I suppose he is genuine, and he does possess the necessary skill and knowledge. Please don’t take me wrong. In the Google community, I saw numerous generous and good-hearted members offering valuable advice; there is also paid service available on the internet to fix the problem. I genuinely believe they are helpful.
That being said, this incident also asserted that false information does exist on the internet, and they do more harm than help. For instance,
Contrary to some euphemistic statements I came across, this type of suspension is not permanent, at least not yet. It is a request to the owner to address the conflict. There are cases with serious offences where Google would ban the account indefinitely at the moment of discovery. That is something you, as the website owner, know better. For the rest of the majority, who do not use the website to conduct illegal activities, nor in the website contains flatly inappropriate material, the likely chance is your website has compliance issues with Google’s, might be the product content, or website policies etc.
Second, it is WRONG to suggest or insinuate that Google allows JUST ONE chance of correction, and if you fail, you are toasted eternally. Even with opening a new account, Google will track you down and ban it. I think people who make such intimidating statements only hurry you to look for “professional help,” which, of course, with a charge.
I had more than one submission for account reveal, multiple attempts of website corrections and amendments in 6 days, and here I stand, my account is far from being shut down.
It brings us to my second point:
Contact Google Merchant Center Specialist by PHONE
And I mean to do it now if you haven’t done so.
Phone contact is direct and immediate. Email takes too long. Even a reply within 24 hours is still too much of waiting.
Again, it is entirely your choice if you prefer third party paid service. I have nothing against the preference. That being said, consider contacting Google and put in your back pocket. I strongly recommend setting it your priority for simple reasons.
First and foremost. If you were like me, who has a minimal budget, I do not see much of an option on the table.
A paid service as I glanced over some of them; they have a “disclaimer” or some sort. It does not and can not guarantee a 100% working solution. For two, I seriously doubt it would be a 2-man-hour job at a charge of a plumber. I am illiterate in this professional trade, the SEO, e-commerce etc. So I can't help keep picturing myself standing before them like a lamb on a butcher top.
And just in case you wonder how to make contact with Google by phone. Below is a simple illustration on the steps. You never know. I was among those who gone crazy couldn't think straight since the moment seeing my both accounts went dead.
Google has already made it accessible and straight forward.
On your Google Merchant Center to the left of the screen, click highlight Overview,
On top of the page, you should see the warning statement in red, click the red button "Contact Us"
It leads you to Google Support, Merchant Center help page.
Forget about what Google trying to explain on the page. It confused me even more. Nothing works better than having a real person explaining and answering every questions you have along the way. So instead, scroll all the way to the bottom and click "Contact us"
Fill up the information and click confirm. Google will return you a call almost immediately after.
A huge part of me initially perceived the suspension as some social injustice, small businesses helplessly bullied and bull-dozed over by a cold-blood monstrous enterprise. Some truth in it might be, but that thinking won’t change the reality one bit. When I started looking at the matter from another perspective, I realized plenty of works can be and should be done on my website.
Let’s be honest. You and I want GMC to boost the company’s sales. It is like trying to benefit from having a celebrity’s endorsement on my brand and products or having Google as my bank loan guarantor, metaphorically speaking.
90% of the internet search activity of the entire world happens on Google. It is a significant stake on them. So, however small an issue might seem to be, it will have a devastating impact on humankind literally.
Google won’t take a chance of having business activities under their nose which would potentially lead to bad customer experience, period. And it is understandable.
The conclusion here is to have a new mindset, work out your website with crystal-clear content and policies to ensure a FAIR experience.
I emphasize the word fairness, fairness that a contended experience that both your customer and you share where engaging activity in your website. Each company has its niche and unique characteristics; you have to figure out what is fair in your particular business.
Engage in Constructive Sessions
I wrote emails and make calls. I put down what I have explicitly done on my website and in return asking for their feedback.
Most of the time, it was fruitful. Except for one encounter, the staff was diplomatic, vague and repeating some mechanical, prefabricated answers throughout the conversation. What did I do? I quickly hung up and made another call.
Another point, it is not official, just my impression. There is some kind of file record monitoring the progress. On one occasion, the specialist slipped out from his lips acknowledged the things I did, which I detailed in an earlier email.
So, complaints and murmuring won’t get you too far, nor begging for some panacea or quick fix.
I had numerous sessions that each last over 30 minutes, with them patiently going through checking my website content, then offered their unique opinions. I sometimes feel they won’t let me hang up until I fully understand their point. On one occasion, the line went dead abruptly. The staff made an effort to call me back and picked up from where we left the stuff. Very impressive. I rarely give credits to customer service, but this is an exception because they deserved it. It changed my perception of Google.
Maintain a Close Follow up with GMC Specialist on Your Progress.
I stubbornly believe that the human factor plays a role in lifting the suspension.
Despite the saying that it is the bot-crawling, the machine that checks the website content and draws a conclusion, or the saying that a different and independent team of staff works on the account reviews, there is a chance your specialists can influence the decision. Again, not an official answer, just my impression from the incident.
If my memory holds, on one particular day, I made five calls. I expressed on various occasions my willingness to comply with Google’s regulations. All I needed was guidelines, and I presented them with the changes I made on the website.
Write to the Google Ads support team too. Express your concerns and put down the improvement or correction you have made. Someone returned me a follow-up call.
I got my Google Ads suspension lifted first. Roughly 12 hours before the lift on my GMC.
Make your judgment on engaging in some meaningful sessions; do not abuse the system flooding with calls with repeating content. The point is to convince people that you are seriously working toward the goal of Google’s compliance.
Try to Contact Google at Different Times of the Day.
Google support teams located around the world. I came to speak with specialists from Europe, NA, and India. Surprisingly, they all offered unique opinions.
It was the support team in India that finished the walk with me. My request for account review got rejected, the suspension remained. Things went back to the drawing board and another session started over.
This time the specialist after listening to my long story and whining, as usual, she patiently examined my website. Without guarantee, she strongly suggested for one change and waited till it was done while holding the line. Then she offered to submit on my behalf a new request for account review and promised to call to follow up.
I did not expect much since I just just previously requested account reviews. That specialist did follow up, called me the following morning at around 8 am EST time, confirming the news of the suspension lift.
Do not take it wrong. I do not infer the geographical differences would render one team superior or with higher authority over others. May be Google had enough of me, prefer freeing up resources for other users and decided to give me a push to cross the finish line.
Thank you for reading. I hope you will have your suspension lifted soon without spending extra money.