We got a new client last November, out of the Grand Rapids area. We inherited the client’s Google Ads account, which was a bit messy (as they normally are). We were granted access, I went in and did our normal audit and let the campaign “rest” for two days. I have never experienced what happened next in the 14 years I have been managing PPC campaigns.
When I went back in, I was shocked. Someone took the client’s main login, activated a campaign, put in a ton of generic broad match keywords, set the daily budget at $1,500 per day and changed the geographic setting to global. The client spent $2,000 in one day. The campaign was then removed as if I would not be able to find it. I went through and documented the Change History and sent it to the client. Additionally, this person had set up two-step verification on the main admin login so we were unable to take the account back over.
Acting quickly on this, I got a meeting scheduled at our client’s office right away so we could call Google Ads together and attempt to get some assistance with this. We had two issues. One, a $2,000 rogue day of charges to deal with. Two, we needed two-step verification turned off so the client could log into their own account with their admin. The client also had their recovery email handy.
We called Google Support. While we did have a productive conversation for almost an hour with a rep, she could not solve our issue at that moment. However, we were told that the case was going to be sent to an Account Hijacking team. We also established email contact, at my request, to get the correspondence on record. So far, so good, I was pleased with the phone call. Then, things changed.
We were told we would be emailed within 24 to 48 hours with a response. We waited and waited. I contacted our rep via email for an update. She responded that the Account Hijacking team was still reviewing the case. And we waited. This began a vicious cycle of me emailing, and telling us it was still under review. Another email saying it would be another 24 to 48 hours. We received three of these between January 17th and January 24th. Then, I received an auto-email with our correspondence chain saying that:
I understand that you have some concerns about a competitor advertising on Google ads, and you believe this competitor may be in violation of our policies.
I can completely appreciate what a difficult situation you’re in. We absolutely want the same thing: a level playing field for all advertisers. Please know that we take the integrity of our platform very seriously. Our policy team aspires for users to have a fair, consistent advertising experience, and your reports certainly help with that.
This is about when my confidence in this situation getting resolved in a logical and timely fashion was starting to erode. I immediately responded to this and clarified that our issue had nothing to do with a competitor. Our contact did not respond back to my curt email, so I called after 4 days of silence and asked to speak with a floor supervisor. I was transferred 3 separate times and had to re-explain our situation each time.
Once I was finally able to talk to what seemed to be a supervisor, I had hope that they were going to be able to lift the 2 step verification restriction, only to be let down. They balked and said that the rep that I had been emailing will get back to be that afternoon. I’m still waiting on that call…
After two more unanswered emails from me asking for an update, I called again on February 10th. This is now over 3 weeks into this situation. I had also reached out to one of our agency reps, but there were limited in what they could do, which I understood as this account wasn’t in their suite of accounts.
I walked through the scenario again and was guaranteed I would get a call back from our rep that afternoon. Nothing. At this point, we gave up. We created new Google accounts and decided that we were going to have to start over. The client had also communicated to the credit card company not to accept charges from that account again. We went ahead and created a new Google Ads account.
Then, without warning on February 13th, our client’s recovery email received a message saying that the 2 step verification was temporarily lifted, it was acknowledged that the account had been compromised and the client could now login and change the password. For the record, two days later I was emailed the same thing.
While I am happy that the issue has been resolved, this was undoubtedly the worst customer experience I had ever had with Google Ads. It was truly one of the most helpless situations a client has been in. The absolute lack of response, coordination, accuracy, and delivery on quite a serious matter was appalling. As bad as a reputation that Google Ad reps have been getting, this was a new low. Unfortunately, I hear learned from other PPC industry gurus that this experience was not unique.
As the stakes become higher for Google to generate search revenue for their quarterly estimates and guidance, it must, MUST find a solution to their current customer service structure.