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posted by n1 on Saturday September 13 2014, @05:41AM   Printer-friendly
from the too-big-to-email-customers dept.

Normally Google users who email the address “support-de@google.com” receive an automatic reply notifying the emailer that Google will neither read nor reply to customer support emails due to the large number of requests sent to the address. After that sentence, the automatic reply directs Google users to various online self-help guides and contact forms. Now PC World reports that a German court has has ruled that Google must stop ignoring customer emails and start offering a way to communicate with the company. According to the German Telemedia Act says, companies must provide a way to ensure fast electronic communications with them. The Federation of German Consumer Organizations (VZBV) argued that Google’s support address is a black box in which messages disappear into a void.

This doesn’t mean that every incoming email should now be checked and processed individually by a Google employee, the court said. But the company has to provide the possibility for users to contact it via email, it said. It was left up to Google how to deal with future incoming email. If Google does not change its conduct, it could be fined up to €250,000 (about US$323,000) (PDF in German), the court said.

 
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  • (Score: 2) by Ryuugami on Saturday September 13 2014, @06:10AM

    by Ryuugami (2925) on Saturday September 13 2014, @06:10AM (#92687)

    Ignoring for a moment that Google could recoup those 250k Euros in something like 5 seconds, what would be the cost of setting up such a system (including additional employee wages etc.)?
    With the volume of emails G probably receives, it could be significantly cheaper to just pay the courts and keep ignoring the law, 'till the next lawsuit rolls around.

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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by frojack on Saturday September 13 2014, @07:14AM

    by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Saturday September 13 2014, @07:14AM (#92697) Journal

    With the volume of emails G probably receives, it could be significantly cheaper to just pay the courts

    Courts have a habit of upping the anti when you ignore them.

    The cheapest solution is to appeal it to a higher court, pointing out in the appeal that having people to read and categorize every email, let alone answer them, would exceed by several orders of magnitude any revenue that Google could earn from servicing those users.

    Failing that, the best solution is to apologize via to each customer that you can't help them, and a German court says that they can not continue to serve "customers" they can't help, and therefore Google has no choice but to close the customer's Google accounts.

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    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 13 2014, @09:04AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 13 2014, @09:04AM (#92706)

      Failing that, the best solution is to apologize via to each customer that you can't help them, and a German court says that they can not continue to serve "customers" they can't help, and therefore Google has no choice but to close the customer's Google accounts.

      That would be an excellent result. We need more variety in internet services. Consolidation into a handful of behemoths is not healthy in the long run because it discourages innovation -- no need to innovate when you are 10x larger than the next closest competitor.

      • (Score: 2) by khallow on Saturday September 13 2014, @07:47PM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Saturday September 13 2014, @07:47PM (#92794) Journal

        An "excellent result" would more variety of services that can't have German customers because of this ruling? Small businesses would have the same customer support problem as well. And somehow I think this ruling is less of a problem for the behemoths due to economies of scale than for the small would-be competitor.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by maxwell demon on Saturday September 13 2014, @08:18AM

    by maxwell demon (1608) on Saturday September 13 2014, @08:18AM (#92702) Journal

    Not very high: Instead of sending back mails saying "we don't care about your mail", instead send back a mail saying "to contact us, please make sure that your mail conforms to the following requirements. [two pages of requirements, which are easily automatically checked]". Only mails that pass all those requirements are passed on.

    This would reduce the mails to those people who have a serious enough problem to actually go through two pages of instructions, and then additionally weed out those not able to follow them. The few mails that pass this barrier can then easily be handled by a few employees.

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    • (Score: 1) by archfeld on Saturday September 13 2014, @08:06PM

      by archfeld (4650) <treboreel@live.com> on Saturday September 13 2014, @08:06PM (#92800) Journal

      Do like SOE does to its' WoW customers, give them a phone number that is NOT toll-free, is located in 'far-away land' and has a single line available. You'd have to be exceedingly desperate to wait and pay the toll charges. Net result is the same though, very few, if any will hop through that many hoops for a free service, be they customers or consumers or however you want to refer to them.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 13 2014, @03:21PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 13 2014, @03:21PM (#92745)

    Could? It's probably cheaper to pay, even if they get fined that every month.