Using Cloud payment gateways can seriously damage your business

Recently we had a customer contact us who had been using Google Checkout to sell an Android application. The customer logged into their Merchant account as they are prone to do each morning to be confronted with “Your merchant Account has been closed” with some templated details about why this could be the case. No specifics, just “we have done this because you may have fallen foul of one of the following reasons”. ¬†You can see the full message here.

This in and of itself is incredible if you think about it, you turn up for work one day, check your business account to find that it’s no longer accessible and no reason has been given, but it gets worse. Within the body of the message the customer is told that any income they have in their account has been refunded, and all access to account details is no longer permitted.

Where we come in is that we were asked if we could help. Well you’d reasonable expect this would be a simple process. Contact Google, figure out what the issues is and resolve it. Right ? Wrong !

Firstly it’s impossible to contact Google by phone to try and resolve this.. It seems that Google has a UK address (this is for a UK conpany) and telephone number but all you get is a recorded message. The address and telephone number is below in full:

Google Payment Limited
Belgrave House
76 Buckingham Palace Road
London SW1W 9TQ
United Kingdom
0207 031 3000

So, we fished about the web to see if we could find a support address for Google Checkout, which we did: checkout-support@google.com. But guess what ? You get an auto-resonder informing you that direct emails are not answered and to use the Merchant help centre, which is basically a set of links, and forums.

We did some more checking on the web and we found the issue is far from a lone issue. Companies invest in using the Google Cloud payment gateway and then at some point in time their accounts is de-activated, any payments for goods they have sent is refunded, and they cannot access any account details, or indeed contact Google direct to see what they have done wrong. This is akin to turning up at your bank to find out you can no longer access your account, your funds have been given back to your customers, despite you having sent them products, and your bank manager will not even entertain talking with you. Seriously we’re not often dumbfounded but in this case we are !

Now we’re not saying that some business may indeed have fallen foul of Google Terms of Service, but this is far from an isolated problem. A quick scan at the Google Merchant forum show many furious customers who have experienced the same issue, and getting in touch with Google at all in regards to Google Checkout issues seems impossible.

So what can you do ? Well it seems all you can do is apply for re-instatement. Further digging found us a link in which you can ask Google via an online contact form as to why the account was suspended. Other than this it seems there is little you can do. Nor is this a new issue. When digging about looking for solutions we found a particular post that is almost 3 years old that read like a litany of the issues our client faces.

Nor is this issue limited to Google Merchant services, PayPal users seem to have experienced very similar issues.

So, the morale here is, choose your Cloud payment gateway carefully. Your business may depend on it ! Stick to reputable merchant service providers and check out their customer service prior to doing any integration work. Make sure you can contact them and fully understand their terms of service.

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