I think it’s great that Google is trying to improve customer service. In trying to fix my wife’s current merged listing cluster****, they’ve sent me more emails than I could’ve ever imagined. Yay Google! Except the last email they sent wasn’t so good.
Yesterday, Google emailed me to let me know that they’re going to unmerge my wife’s listing, and then re-merge it with another listing. Here’s the email, and then I’ll explain after you see it.
Isn’t that the nicest email? I’m serious – that’s exactly the kind of informative, helpful thing Google Places should be doing in its communication with small business owners.
Except that, in this case, they’re not solving anything with the listing at all. Here’s the story….
First, The Background
For those who are new to this site, my wife is a local real estate agent with Windermere Real Estate.
There are two Windermere Real Estate offices in our area. They used to be partners (same brokerage) but are now, technically, separate/competing brokerages under the Windermere name. Here are their addresses:
Windermere Real Estate Tri-Cities
329 North Kellogg Street
Kennewick, WA 99336
Windermere Group One
490 Bradley Blvd.
Richland, WA 99352
Making matters worse? Cari used to work at the Richland office, but now works in the Kennewick office.
She switched offices more than a year ago, but knowing the inherent risk in updating a Google Places listing, I refused to change the address. Too dangerous. Too many stories of disaster from a simple address change. No thanks.
Everything was fine. She was listed with the Richland address, but it used her cellphone number so any calls would still come straight to her, not to the old office.
Then, Disaster Struck
In early December, the folks at her old office in Richland finally decided to create their own Google Places listing for the brokerage. It immediately consumed my wife’s listing. They used a different business name and a different phone number than what’s in Cari’s listing; only the address was the same. But the new listing immediately took over and Cari was nowhere to be found in Google Places.
None of my attempts to unmerge the two listings were successful. I used the “Report a Problem” tool on the listing, with no luck.
Mike Blumenthal suggested I use the recently added troubleshooter tool in the Google Places Help Center. On December 27th, I went through that process, indicating that I’d already used the “Report a Problem” button. I filled-in the parts asking for her business name and address. At the bottom of the form, I explained this:
My wife’s listing has been merged with Windermere Group One at 490 Bradley Blvd., Richland, WA, 99352 — my wife used to be at that address, but is now at the Kennewick address. Her photos are showing up on the Windermere Group One Place Page, while her own Place Page no longer appears anywhere.
Google’s autoresponder contacted me almost immediately, and then about 48 hours later — during the week between Christmas and New Year’s, which is quite impressive — I got another email from Google with this message:
We have taken the necessary steps to make sure that your business information will appear correctly in 4-6 weeks.
Oh, No You Haven’t!
That was the last email I received from Google until the one that came in yesterday. In reading the latest email, you can see that Google hasn’t done anything to fix the problem. Here’s what they say the listing will look like when it’s fixed … err, “updated.”
But that’s not Cari’s listing. That’s the primary listing for the brokerage where she’s at now. It’s the same address, but the business name and phone number are the brokerage, not her. This is what Cari’s listing looks like in the Places dashboard — the basic Name, Address, Phone (NAP) data hasn’t changed in years. Notice that the business name and phone number are different.
So, Google is basically going to unmerge her listing from the Richland office, then re-merge it with the Kennewick office. She won’t have her name nor her phone number showing up; it’ll be the brokerage’s listing, not hers.
This is 2012. Real estate agents, doctors, dentists, lawyers, hair stylists and numerous other local businesses work in situations where multiple independent business owners share the same building and physical address.
How long do we have to wait before Google Places figures that out and stops merging these kinds of listings?