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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: 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.