Axe to Grind: Google’s Customer Service

Posted September 30, 2012 by Carmel in / 16 Comments

Axe to Grind hosted by Rabid Reads

I’ve been using Google products for a number of years now; my reliance on their services increased two fold when I started book blogging. I manage my posting schedule with their Calendar, host my site with Blogger, plan events with Google Docs, manage my followers with GFC, track my stats with Analytics, use Gmail for all blog-related e-mails, my browser of choice is Chrome, I use their Webmaster Tools to manage my domain name; I also use Google+, Reader, Picasa, AdSense and Feedburner fairly regularly.

RSS

I have auto-renewals with them where my business is pretty much guaranteed year after year. They have my credit card number on file. And yet, when they decide to discontinue or modify a service I am not notified. Unless of course, you count their elusive blog posts which are a piss poor way of advising users about upcoming changes to their products if you ask me. You’d think that with the number of employees they have that they would have a somewhat decent customer service team. I mean, if you’re not servicing your customers then what’s the point?

I wasn’t really affected by the discontinuation of GFC for non-Blogger users but I sympathized with those who were and was outraged right along side them. I dread the day when it disappears from Blogger sites as well. Again, I doubt I’ll be notified. And what is it being replaced with? Google+! What a joke. Google+ is one of the worst social media platforms on the market. It’s chaotic, bulky, not very user friendly; in short, it just plain sucks. I’m still trying to understand how a tech-savvy, cutting edge company like Google believes that it’s the next best thing since Facebook. REALLY!? Have they used it? I track my stats religiously through a variety of software and I have yet to see a significant amount of traffic being directed to my blog thanks to Google+. Twitter is where it’s at people not Google+.

This bring’s me to my latest Axe to Grind: Feedburner is also going the way of the dodo on October 20th, 2012. Google announced this on June 3rd 2011 in a blog post that stated:

These APIs are now deprecated but have no scheduled shutdown date: Code Search API, Diacritize API, Feedburner APIs, Finance API, Power Meter API, Sidewiki API, Wave API

I consider myself to be a fairly knowledgeable web user. I do my own coding, I designed my own template, heck, I’m one exam away from being a certified Webmaster and yet, the above statement is complete gibberish to me. Feedburner has been deprecated but not shutdown. What does that even MEAN? My understanding is that they’re no longer supporting it but are still offering it. How is that even possible? Aren’t those two terms contradictory? Also, what’s the point of announcing a cut off date if you’re not going to honour it? All of my Feedburner stats went to 0 on September 19th. So not only are they half-assedly notifying users but they’re misleading them! My stats mysteriously reappeared on September 23rd, but for how long and why? Is it because they got caught and are trying to save face? This whole thing smells mighty fishy!

So what the heck can one lowly blogger do? Boycott Google? Threaten to move my business elsewhere? Will they even notice? Will they care?

How to retrieve your Feedburner Subscribers’ Info:

For those of you who use Feedburner (which is pretty much e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e), I strongly advise you to log-in to your account and retrieve your follower information before it’s too late.

1. Go to http://feedburner.google.com and click on your feed:

Feedburner Example 1

2. Select the date that you last had stats on from the dropdown box in the top right of the screen:

Feedburner Example 2

3. Click “See more about your subscribers”.

4. Scroll down to “Email Subscription Services” and click “FeedBurner Email Subscriptions”, followed by “Manage Your Email Subscriber List”.

5. These are all of your subscribers’ e-mail addresses. Select “Export: CSV” and voilà! Send an e-mail to these followers notifying them about the upcoming changes and what you’re going to do about it.

Feedburner Example 3

I’ve opted to give Mail Chimp newsletters a try. You can have up to 2,000 followers and send up to 12,000 e-mails a month for free. If you feel like supporting my little experiment, please sign-up to my newsletter. Other possible alternatives include: Feedcat, FeedBlitz, Rapid Feeds and Feedity to name a few. They all have their advantages/disadvantages and costs; it’s up to you to do your own research and find which service best fits your blog’s needs. Good luck!

What do you think about Google’s Customer Service?

About the Blogger
I review Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance books with a focus all things werewolf. Based out of Ottawa, Canada

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Owner, designer and main blogger behind Rabid Reads. Avid book reader, snowboard bunny, video gamer and Supernatural fan. I love all things paranormal, werewolves especially. Oh, and I’m Canadian, eh!

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16 responses to “Axe to Grind: Google’s Customer Service

  1. Okay that is a little wonky and scary. I didn’t know about feedburner… even though, who knows what the hell their statement means. I noticed my numbers disappeared and then reappeared but not only that they’ve been jumping all over the place daily. I will have to check out the other subscription sites you listed.

    I am not a huge fan of the linky or networked blogs. Which is what everyone had to use when GFC left their page. Nor am I a fan of Google+. If GFC goes away, I will be relying on FB, Twitter and email subscriptions.
    Book Sniffers Anonymous

  2. I am not sure what to do, when I checked out feedcat it said no explicit content- well I have an adult blog. I don’t have explicit content all the time but I do so I nixed using them. How is Mailchimp working out for you?

  3. @BLHmistress I’ve only done one small newsletter so I’m still learning but overall, I’m liking it. If you want quick, you can build one with your RSS feed. It’s quick and easy. Or, you can design one yourself. Just keep an eye on the total number of e-mails you send. You won’t be able to do daily but if you aim for bi-weekly it probably won’t cost you anything.

  4. Excellent article, Carmel! Loved it 🙂

    I also went on the hunt for a replacement for Feedburner and went through all the programs you listed above. MailChimp was really great for me, too, until they wanted me to give out my real mailing address at the bottom of their emails. I found a way to delete it on some, but not all. I’m so paranoid though and don’t want to give out my mailing address for all to see, so I kept searching and found Nourish.

    Nourish works almost the same as MailChimp, but I don’t have to give out any personal info and there are unlimited number of free emails it will send it out to (as opposed to 2,000) on MailChimp. It also gives you control of when you want to send it out and I’m experimenting with it to send it out as a weekly newsletter.

    It really is such a hassle trying to find an alternative, though. Thanks again! <3

  5. Feedburner at this time is not going away, however if it eventually disappears you can create your own RSS feed and do not need to pay anyone. I agree Goggle sucks in it’s handling of customers, but for most of us the rss and email will work fine even after the October date.

  6. I have heard the feedburner is not going away. APIs on feedburner are something that we wont even miss. Now, this is what I’ve heard from techy people, I can’t say for sure though what is going to happen. I figure I will ride it out and see what happens. I just don’t want to pay for something. My blog is just for fun. I barely make any money from it.

  7. Great post and thanks for the tips on retrieving subscribers! I’ve been abused by Google on all fronts and it’s wreaked havoc on my followers and stats. As a low tech blogger, it’s been a real headache!

  8. Hmm is that why my newsletter stopped being sent on Sept 19 and I had to go in and reconnect my blog? Interesting. Not sure if I will switch to something else yet but thanks for your article