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Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

Don't ever use Google Apps for anything important

Here's why you should never use Google Apps for your domain paid or unpaid.
I started using the free version Google Apps a little over a year ago for one of our intranets. Luckily it was an intranet and not the main site! I guess it wasn't entirely luck. Management would never have let us use it on the main site. Anway, we used the shared calendar, email for a certain group, Google docs and a few other things.

For the most part things worked well.  A few weeks ago it was time to renew the domain, and as the admin I promptly paid it using Google checkout.
Shortly afterwords the domain expired on the day aniversary date and we were totally hosed.

I went and double checked, and, I'm showing in google checkout that I've paid for the renewal. I then go back to the dashboard and see that it tells me that I need to renew in 2010.  So as far as Google is concerned I'm cool. But enom which is the registrar that google used to register my domain thinks that the domain is expired. Worse, I can't log into their system and pay for the damn thing.
I can't pay for it on Google either because Google thinks I'm all paid up. It gets worse. Much worse.

Next I find out that not only is enom setting up one of their @!#$@#$# parked pages selling real estate on my pages (Am I glad at this point that this is an Intranet), but also, any email that goes to this domain, does not bounce. No, instead it goes to some spam handling outfit that they use. Damn it, it's *our* domain.

So I start doing some research and guess what:
http://www.google.com/support/a/bin/static.py?page=known_issues.cs
        "I puchased my domain through GoDaddy or Enom when I registered for Google Apps and the renewal was charged, but the domain didn't renew."

Hello? This is big time amatteur city. This is a known problem? And they want people to pay for this product, and trust their email to them?

So I research this some more and I find this:
http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Google+Apps/thread?tid=1e8fdbf9cec765f3&hl=en
Exactly the same issue I have. Fine if the solution is to upgrade to premium support we'll pay the $50 per user. Management's not going to be too happy, but it's better than being down.

Easier said than done. I follow the instructions on
http://www.google.com/support/a/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=60217
except that there's no "Upgrade to Google Apps Premier Edition." link anywhere on the "Account Information" tab.

Fine. I'll just call the premium support group and sign up and then get them to help me resolve this issue. Apparently that's not going to work either. After looking around everywhere on the site, I found http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Google+Apps/thread?tid=37b64a9f87c8f406&hl=en
They don't offer phone support anymore.

At this point, I'm ready to cry. What have I done to be stuck in this kafkaesque place.

I send email to all the different venues that are mentioned on the google apps web site.

No response for 24 hours. Finally I get a response from a guy asking me to provide info I already provided. I do so, and then 24 hours later (India?) I get a response that yes, this looks like a real problem and he's moving it to the appropriate department. I then reply indicating that this is really urgent for us.

I tried calling the main office, but their phone tree was clearly set up to avoid letting you talk to anyone.

In the mean time I correspond with Enom who's somewhat more responsive. It only takes then 4-8 hours to respond to each email. Finally we agree that the thing to do is to move the domain from Enom through google to enom through enom. Major change! I'm warned that it can take up to 7 days. I happily pay the fee, and start the process.

To make a long story short, I move the domain from Google to Enom and luckily it didn't take the full 7 days. Never heard back from Google. We're in the process of moving everything away from Google Apps.
I advise you to do the same until they have a clear procedure to handle these kind of issues.

I know. Some people here are going to say that I shouldn't expect any better since I didn't pay for the product. I'd like to reply to this with the following points:
-- I was willing to upgrade to a paid account and couldn't
-- Even paid accounts don't have phone access according to my research. If they do, it's well hidden.
-- Many people use both google apps and regular gmail accounts for crucial things. This posting is a warning of the dangers of doing so.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009
 
 
Anyone remember when Google Calendar didn't work at all for a 4 days?
Jos Stoned
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
This is substantially more serious than that, though.  If your calendar application goes down, oh well, muddle through it.  If your website falls off the Internet and your emails suddenly start bouncing at the same time, your customers are going to figure you absconded with their money.
Patrick McKenzie (Bingo Card Creator) Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
I just recently converted to Google Apps. Luckily I have a separate domain registrar (always do this), otherwise I'd foresee tons of problems when I need to migrate out.

Before migrating to Google Apps, I was actually in the process of migrating out of Dreamhost to Slicehost. And I realized that Dreamhost has struck a deal with Google Apps that all your domains can only be registered thru them. In other words, if you accidentally close your Dreamhost account, you wouldn't be able to register for Google Apps in the future. Google Apps will detect that your domain is/was hosted on Dreamhost and refuse to let you register independently.

Damn Google is getting evil!
Joe Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
Hmm. I'm happy to ping people about this. I have no idea whether it's something on Google's side or (say) on the eNom side, but I'll ask around.
Matt Cutts Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
Google Apps is a low-cost provider. Like Southwest Airlines, Wal*Mart, etc. Even Google's premium offerings are so much lower cost than the competition (e.g. Microsoft Office) that you really can't expect very much in the way of support. Decent phone support is extremely expensive; there's no way Google could provide it at the prices they're charging.
Joel Spolsky Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
> Damn Google is getting evil!

Every big companies will be evil :)
mISVer Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
Evil?

"Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity" ... or something equally non-evil.
Steve McLeod Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
@Steve McLeod

True, but sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from malice.
Giles Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
Matt - this needs an official response. People's businesses depend on this and it's currently easier to get someone from Amazon on the phone over a problem with a cheap book than it is to get a response form Google over an issue that could bring down a company.

I know you are trying to keep costs down but for business to business services we need a number we can call.
Andy Baker Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
You get response in 12 hours (india)!!
Indian Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
I've bought and renew my domains with GoDaddy, manage using ZoneEdit, and Google Apps has worked as requested since day 1. No problems here, I recommend Google Apps, very nice product at a great price.
satisfied customer Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
For searching nothing beats Google, but obviously things can go wrong here and there from time to time. I'm surprised that seeing as it was a known problem it wasn't fixed, that's very unlike them but the problem will most likely be fixed ASAP now :P
Matt (Car Insurance Info) Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
When I wanted to unlink my AdSense and Analytics accounts, I was able to chat (i.e. realtime) with a Google employee (in Ann Arbor, not Bangalore). I had her undivided attention for at least 20 minutes. Of course, ads are Google's cash cow, so it makes sense for them to support that service properly.

I use Google Apps for my personal mail, calendar and docs. My only interaction with Google Support on this service was for a non-urgent issue, which was addressed by email within a few days. Satisfactory in my case. Unsatisfactory if you're offline until they help you.

I keep my domains and DNS at GoDaddy. Their Customer Service has always treated me well.
Mike
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
Google Apps is excellent product.

As with SAAS applications, there is always risk of not being able to access your own data but your problem has nothing to do with it.

Everything would be fine if you would use third-party registrar. What's the point of buying a domain through Google if they are delegating purchases to someone else anyway. You're just setting up things more complicated and more likely to fail.
lubos
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
If you're using Google Apps as a domain registration service, you're kind of doing it wrong. I'd recommend dealing with each company directly, and you won't have any anomalies like this. Use each provider for their core competency, basically. Most companies that act as middlemen to another company as a courtesy for their customers can't necessarily be held liable for the end company's flakiness in all fairness (in an ideal world, perhaps). I'd imagine Google does their best, but considering they've only got 20,000 employees or whatever, and the scope of their operations is so vast - how can you really expect such a granular level of high quality customer service?

The fact that it's not easy to upgrade to their paid service, however, is a failure of interface design on their part - so that's a bit shocking.
Eyeraw Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
This is what you get for relying on the big ole Web2.0. I hope you learned your lesson.
S m D Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
the most important point is this "Use each provider for their core competency".

google will NEVER be great at direct customer relationship. it is simply not part of their DNA. this is true if you are an end user dealing with them directly or if you are a hosting company trying to deal with them on a reseller basis.

google is wired for fantastic engineering and delivery of web services that scale to never-before-dreamed of levels. they accomplish this by ruthless focus. that focus precludes a great customer relationship.

as a former seven-figures/year customer I learned this the hard way.

this is not a criticism but an observation.
elliot noss Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
Never trust your domain registration to a third party.  Always deal with a registrar directly.

It's a tough lesson to learn, but it's one you never forget.
Dave Ross Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
How close to the expiration did you renew? You should always handle renewals as far in advance as possible, and check dates with whois. I agree that this should not have happened, and that google is at fault as the broker, but it is your fault, too, so learn your lesson and don't throw a tantrum. It is one thing to warn others and another to gripe.
Neal Elward Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
Register your domains by yourself using godaddy or others and then point the domain to google (mail, calendar etc).

It works fine for me like this.
web development Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
While there are legal and privacy issues for non US citizens in using Google Apps, I've never had any significant problem with GA.

I would never, ever let someone else manage my domains though. I use a reputable eNom reseller for all my TLD non .ca domains. if a problem arise I can fix, redierect or otherwise handle any issues.

In addition the 4hour outage didn't effect all Pro accounts.

I will say that the Google Checkout renewal system is borked and I did have problems renewing my pro account, in addition the stupid requirement for you to be able to access the admin (you get locked out of if your account is lapsed) to call for your pro support made it more difficult to get it sorted.

All in all I am happy with Google Apps and would not likely ever go back to local machine based svcs.
Jay Gilmore Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
@Elliot
>>"Use each provider for their core competency".
>>google will NEVER be great at direct customer relationship.

My experience as an adwords customer has been excelent. I had lost my adwords password and contacted them without any real expectations: I was ready to create a new account and move on.

They responded quickly, without any canned responses. It was obvious someone had read my email and thought about it for a few seconds before replying. The issue was solved in less than 2 days.  Now compare that with GoDaddy support: Eliza would do it better...

So it seems that Google has decent results outside their core  competency... or we might be under the wrong assumption that "searching" is google's core competency. Maybe it's "selling ads".
Fernando Rodriguez (EasyJob Resume Builder) Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
+1 with registering with GoDaddy or NameCheap directly.

Then use their DNS tools to point your domains for webhosting and email, etc.

I use GoDaddy for registering.
I use GoogleApps for email for my domain.
I use Slicehost to host the website for my domain.

All has worked just fine with those parameters.
Joel Marcey Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
"Even Google's premium offerings are so much lower cost than the competition (e.g. Microsoft Office) that you really can't expect very much in the way of support."

50$ per user per year. For a 10 person setup that is $6.000 per year. Over a typical Office software lifetime (3 years), that is $18.000, and I can't expect support?

Microsoft Office Pro Licenses go for around $250 (typical upgrade or bundle deal) to $400 (if you are a eal sucker and would pay full retail every time). So over 3 years that 10 person setup will typically cost me $2.500.

That is a HUGE cost saving for going with the Microsoft stuff. Am I missing something here?
Vee
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
$50 * 10 users * 3 years = $1,500

Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
@vee

Didn't you just say Google Apps are $50/person per year?  So for a 10 person office, that's $500/year compared to $2,500/year for MS Office (using your own prices, I don't know anything about these things.)

Am I missing somethign?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
Are you saying you didn't actually own your domain until you got it via Google? That seems like a bad move to let your domain registration be handled by someone else.  Still sucks that they didn't renew it though. I actually have my domain through Yahoo and run my apps on Google. Why the hell doesn't Google just do their own domain registration?

As far as the pricing goes, it doesn't make sense to compare it to Microsoft Office client licensing. You have to compare it to costs of buying and maintaining hardware and software for a Sharepoint server, an Exchange server, spam filtering, etc.
Matt McKnight
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
I would never use a proxy service for anything I value as important or essential.  I think it's a very VERY bad idea to rely a company to act as a proxy for you to maintain a business account or relationship with another company when there is no significant advantage to doing so and no road blocks preventing you from maintaining the relationship yourself.

I use and love Google Apps and personally keep my registrar, DNS and hosting services through different companies so that no one organization ever has complete control over all of my IP.  If I decided that once service is not working sufficiently for me I can move it to another provider without fear of incompetence or malice bungling something up in one of the other services.  I can configure and test new services without affecting the existing ones and transition almost seamlessly canceling services at my convenience.
Peter
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
Vee - Yes, you are missing hardware and administration costs.  The $50/seat/year for Google Apps covers all of this. With Microsoft setup you need to buy an exchange server, disk space, web servers, etc. Plus you need someone to install and maintain all of that, and deal with software updates, viruses, breakages, etc. GA turns out cheaper once you look at the Total Cost of Ownership, not just the superficial cost.
Anonymous Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
This has nothing to do with using Google Apps for "anything important"or for anything else for that matter.

Never renew a domain _right_ before it is going to expire. If your domain is worth anything to you, you will renew further in advance just in case something goes awry. Do not allow your domain renewal to be delegated through some other party to yet some other party. Before even registering with them, make sure your registrar provides a solid means by which to confirm the status of your payment and renewal. Also make sure that your registrar will not lock you in in any way.

All of the above requires only one thing: competence in IT. But no, let's blame _Google_.
Jeremy Gray Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
An important lesson learned.  No one, not even Google, is perfect.

However, as a professional blogger, spelling 'amateur' as 'amatteur' is also amateur city.

Judge not, lest ye be judged yourself and all that.
JP
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
That's $50 per user per month, so 36 x $50 = $1.800 per user.
10 users -> 10 x $1.800 = $18.000 for 10 users, 3 years.

A Windows SBS for email will cost you about $2.000, including the hardware. Administering is not for everyone but if you can do it it is trivial for a small team with limited needs.

If this is too much too handle for you, get Hosted Exchange and SharePoint for abour $10 per user per month.

Both scenarios are still priced well below the Google offering.

Again, what am I missing?
Vee
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
I would hate for someone to think that I'm defending Google, but for those that have long hosted their email and web through some low-cost companies, it's pretty standard practice NOT to register your domain through the company that does the hosting.  Everyone gets bitten by this at some point, which is the sad state of our industry.

I used to be a customer of 1and1.com and there was a similar issue there too.  Your domain is tied down to them and it's hard to move it.  Once you're not a paying customer they have little incentive to bust their butt to help you move away from their service.  Your best bet is to just buy it from GoDaddy or some provider and your domain should not have anything to do with your actual server/web/email host.
Tim Gebhardt Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
> Hmm. I'm happy to ping people about this. I have
> no idea whether it's something on Google's side
> or (say) on the eNom side, but I'll ask around.

Matt - I'm sure the slow customer service response time by Google was on eNom's side.
Ben Atkin Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
Vee: $50/YEAR, not month
Erik
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
I personally think it is somewhat scary that so many people tie up their 'online presence' to the big G alone. You get what you pay for!
Daniel Larsson Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
I think its ridiculous that some of you intend to defend google and say that the author should use another registrar. Google Apps is a service for businesses, small buisnesses that do not have their own IT departments. It's supposed to be the "one stop shop" where a small buisness could setup everything they need, including domain, email, hosting, etc. If google is offering any service, especially identity services, it should be top notch as the rest of their offerings. Funny that a lot of you reccommend godaddy and namecheap, the internet is full of tons of threads like this claiming to leave domains regs to "real registrars" ;)
Darshan Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
Why would you ever trust Google as a registrar?  Very dumb if you ask me.  You would have never run into any problems if you just kept your domain name with a real registrar....
Steve Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
@Giles:
THAT is the best corollary of Clarke's Law I have EVER read!  Infinite kudos unto you!
Tyler Style
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
If Google was a real registrar, it probably wouldn't be so poorly handled.

Ever since they launched Google Apps, I have wondered why they didn't offer DNS.  Then they started this partnering, but it apparently is done as poorly as when Yahoo! did it.

I moved email for my domains from Yahoo! to Google Apps after major email problems with the Yahoo! inbound relays (I believe it was related to anti-Spam measures) a couple years ago.  I have been very pleased.

I now have domains at Network Solutions and GoDaddy and they auto-renew and have long terms and I manage them myself.

I am doing a migration to Google Apps right now for a local non-profit - they need some handholding and consulting about the choices to make with their domains, and yes - the DNS part is the biggest part where the user experience completely breaks down.

I noticed there are companies that will do Google Apps setup for people for like $50.  If Google improved the UX for the non-technical user - they could easily take that extra money.
Cade Roux Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
isn't this more a problem with enom than google?

i mean, granted, google chose them and there was something that fscked up between them and enom, but at the end of the day, it looked more like enom needed to fix their system than google did.
Colm
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
Joel,
On your domain's dashboard, don't you have a link which says something like "Try Premier Edition" in the area above your list of services?

I still have Google Apps set up, but I don't use it any longer due to not being able to get any response from Google regarding serious technical problems, neither when I was a free user or when I switched to Premier, not through the forums, via e-mail or by phone. The technical problems were never fixed (or if they were, it was after I gave up using Apps).

Google's motto may be "Don't be evil," but unfortunately they don't seem to interpret that as "Be good."
Michael Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
Use Google Apps for their services not for domain registration.  Use another company for registering and renewing your domain.
Amir Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
Michael,

Assuming you are referring to me in the "Joel" you mention, yes, I do have that in my dashboard:

> Try Premier Edition Free
> 25GB storage per user, no ads, 99.9% uptime SLA
> Message Security and Discovery by Postini
> SSO and user directory sync tools
> Phone and email support for critical issues

I hardly notice it though. For one, I have not had many technical problems. Secondly, I hardly go to my dashboard as I get my email through a 3rd party desktop client via IMAP anyway.
Joel Marcey Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
@Vee and others comparing MS Exchange and Google apps.  Instead of MS Exchange server get Kerio mail server.  It does everything Exchange does and a 10 user license with antivirus and antispam is about $600.  And it will run on Windows, Linux, and/or Mac OSX.  Kerio also has business partners that host the thing for you.
Druid.Dude Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
I have used Google Apps since the beginning.  I have called their customer support (it was in Mountain View, CA), and have had only great service from Apps.  I'm a heavy user of my paid Google Apps webmail and have noticed infrequent non-business-hours outages (read 3am) for a couple of minutes each time.  There are 7 paid users on my domain.  When I signed up there was an 800 number to call, which was located on MANAGE THIS DOMAIN > SUPPORT.  Looks like this has been refined to e-mail/phone support, Doh.  Google, you're better than this!

I haven't needed to call, so I didn't notice when they changed their support section.
J. Hewitt Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
Andy Baker, folks inside Google are taking this very seriously and (from where I'm sitting) swarming on it. I believe this will be a one-time thing and that Google will prevent this from happening in the future.
Matt Cutts Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
@Matt: your efforts are kind, but perhaps G should have "swarmed" on this before it got posted to a site with high page rank, the front page of Hacker News, etc.  Customer support the Dell (and now Google way) should be different from waiting until you get embarrassed sufficiently by a story that people will find when they google before doing sh** for a customer.

Earl
Earl Hathaway Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
When I have a domain I care at all about, I register it for 10 years. That's what, a hundred bucks or so? And it solves a lot of problems of this type.
Avec Frites Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
... and don't ever post blog comments when you're angry ;-)
Abdulhaq Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
Hi, I work with Matt Cutts and am responsible for Google Enterprise products.  We've had a chance to investigate this more deeply.  We've identified the bug in our code that caused this issue for a small handful of domain renewals, and are deploying the fix.  Please accept my apologies on behalf of Google for the inconvenience this caused you.

Also, phone support is definitely still available for all Premier Edition users.
Matt Glotzbach Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
welcome to the cloud...
trollz Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
To those who are excusing Google's behavior and blaming the customer... don't. There is simply NO excuse for lack of customer support in an enterprise product. Zero, none.

Any company who cannot provide it should not call themselves enterprise ready. It's that simple.

Google Apps is in no way shape or form ready for production in an enterprise environment. Take it from someone who is forced to support it in IT.

They do not let you back up your data despite it being one of the most requested features on their admin boards. They give you horrible up time, and as this user experienced their support is near non existent. I have submitted multiple requests to fix issues and in half the cases don't even get a "we're looking into it" response, it reads more like "that's nice, we don't intend to do anything about that bug that makes our product not preform."

Cisco will move me around the world with their support teams, hand deliver parts if needed and GET ME UP AND RUNNING. That is all I care about, that I know when something goes down, it will be fixed. If a company cannot do this, as Google cannot, they don't rate being called an enterprise product.

Don't get me wrong, host your personal domain there, I do and love it. Makes my life easy. As head of IT for a business, I argue daily to move our stuff away.
Jonathan Hansen Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
The problem here is that you have a complete moron trying to manage the IT for this company. There are simple steps to fix this. It has nothing to do with Google - it is Enom's fault. However, all you would have had to do is fax a form with your photo ID and proof of payment and you would have control in about 1 - 12 hours. Also, when you renew a domain, check the whois to see if it is renewed - don't wait for it to go down. There is no problem with a person trying to handle this themselves - but hey, if you hold yourself out to be an expert and you write an article on it - it makes your look really really really stupid to the ones of us that are experts. I deal with situations for customers all the time with not only Enom, but other registers. I don't expect them to know - but if I had a guy like this working for me - I'd fire him on the spot for lying to me and telling me he was qualified.
PD Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
Matt Glotzbach, thanks for stopping by to comment on this.
Matt Cutts Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
I'm the OP.

Matt Glotzbach I appreciate your coming here to respond. Here are some of the things that I find inexcusable and until Google comes up with a strategy to fix them, I'll stand by my subject line.

-- How is it possible that you have a known issue about this problem. How long has it been a known issue? Shouldn't it be a show stopper and fixed within 24 hours.
-- Give that you knew about this problem, it's great that you had a button that says "This is affecting my domain!" and have a link to a form to report this issue. But when I used the form the response was not escalated. You need to have a mechanim to indicate that a customer issue is *your* problem and you need to fix it ASAP.
-- This issue was already reported on 12/11/08 in http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Google+Apps/thread?tid=1e8fdbf9cec765f3&hl=en It's been over 45 days now, and you haven't fixed this issue. You need to have a commitment to resolve these type of issues that take doesn businesses in 24 hours or less.


Finally, I want to respond to all the people who said "I would never let a third party handle my registration" Yes, now it's obvious, but at the time, I registered the domain, it wasn't considered an important one for us, and it was convenient to have Google register it and configure and DNS and MX records. Little at the time, we started using it more and more. Normally, I'm very cautious about these things and renew domains way in advance. No, Google doesn't give you the option to renew for more than one year in advance.

I can tell you of plenty of mistakes I made in other arenas, but in this case, I lay 95% of the blame on Google. I paid, got a confirmation of it. Was sent to my dashboard which showed that I was in good shape for another year. The one thing I could have done better is run a "whois" on the domain that would have shown that enom hasn't renewed it. Didn't occur to me.

By the way, I think that the google apps product is quite good. But at this point, I think I mostly agree with elliot noss
"google will NEVER be great at direct customer relationship. it is simply not part of their DNA. this is true if you are an end user dealing with them directly or if you are a hosting company trying to deal with them on a reseller basis."

And Joel
"Google Apps is a low-cost provider. Like Southwest Airlines, Wal*Mart, etc. Even Google's premium offerings are so much lower cost than the competition (e.g. Microsoft Office) that you really can't expect very much in the way of support. Decent phone support is extremely expensive; there's no way Google could provide it at the prices they're charging. "
Anon for this
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
Google created a reseller program for GA, which I reckon is because they realise that support is not their fortae (and not a business they want to get into), so they are putting it out to the channel to handle it.

Otherwise, name me an Enterprise software that doesn't have occasional problems, and some cons as well as pros. It seems to me that as an IT pro, we should all be aware of the pluses and minuses and making intelligent decisions and sure, GA might not win in all cases, but it has a pretty compelling argument in many of them.

It's still a young product. I've been using GA for over a year, and absolutely thrilled by it. In that time there have been a bunch of new features, many large (postini, video, etc) and that's just what I see on the front end, I can't imagine the kinds of stuff going on the back end.

I sympathise with Google as it develops and releases at light speed, yet still does a great (occasionally some problems) job at keeping robustness and stability. Sure, maybe occasionally the balance tips the wrong way a bit, but like I said - name me an Enterprise software that doesn't have occasional problems. When was the last time your exchange server was down, or out of service for a weekend of upgrades, or telling you to remove large attachments, etc.

M
M T Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
"... and don't ever post blog comments when you're angry ;-) "

Unfortunately we have to learn that lesson the hard way.
Joe Knapp Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
...and to all the very helpful sideline quarterbacks who say "always deal with the registrar directly", I can't help but wonder what you would be saying if the problem had been caused by dealing with a registrar directly, but somehow Google didn't get it right.  I suspect an equal number of people would be saying not to involve a 2nd party in the deal, and he should have used Google to provide the domain so that they would be totally responsible.

It's always easy to prevent the problems that have already happened.  Saying what he should have done is no solution.

And I don't think the price of a product is the issue.  You should always be able to rely on what is promised to you, regardless of price.  I don't think Google would want to be known as an unreliable provider of a service no matter what the cost.
Marty Fried Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
Quite a few of us have had issues with not registering a domain name with a separate registrar.

Once.

That should be all it takes to learn the lesson.

...and regardless of what SHOULD be the case, if you NEED support, you cannot expect to get anything other than an answer or two from a free or cheap company in ANY industry.
JC Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
In our company in Brazil we use premium google apps and never have a single issue. It's a fair price(considering other solutions and maintain the email infrastructure, bandwidth, ...) but you have to put in your mind that everything, EVERYTHING(even Google) one day will fail. And then you turn on your redundancy in our case one server with zimbra opensource, receiving all mail(we just change the MX in DNS). It's cheap, good and works forever.
Wagner Sartori Junior Send private email
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
 
 
And now you see why Google will never compete with Amazon in the cloud computing market at any price point above $0.  Amazon isnt perfect but at the end of the day who do u trust more to respond to your mission-critical issue?
Ryan Send private email
Thursday, January 29, 2009
 
 
Joel S. . . .

I agree that Google may be a low cost provider, and that's fine. But GoDaddy is certainly a low cost provider for the service in question, and my experience with thier phone support has been uniformly positive.  So, it seems that if you achieve sufficient scale, the registrar business model can sustain quality phone support, with enough left over to pay for borderline Super Bowl ads!

You know, Stevey wrote that piece long ago, arguing for the 'loose' Google style, saying that not having release dates, etc. was nirvana. And he kept arguing 'I bet you think that we would never finish software with this system . . . but we finish projects all the time!"

Interestingly, I never thought that not shipping would be the problem with the "every one gets to work on what they want!" system. I thought the problem would be that no one would want to fix old bugs in someone else's code that only come up one in a thousand times. 

It's probably personal bias, but Google does seem better at shipping than catching bugs.  This seems like an example. Another: I have carried a Blackberry since 2000 . . . Google Mail is the only commercial scale app I can recall that puts "java.lang.exception" on the screen with some regularity.

But what can I say . . . it's worth more than what I paid for it!
Chris Send private email
Thursday, January 29, 2009
 
 
"Vee: $50/YEAR, not month"

Thanks. I knew I was missing something.
Vee
Thursday, January 29, 2009
 
 
It's rather silly to call this out as a Google Apps problem. As you work more and more with the Internet, you'll find that these problems occur with domains and other important processes all the time.
I've seen people lose domains worth tens of thousands due to poor provider processes AND poor internal company domain management processes. As with security, its often the internal processes that fail more often than the ones on the internet but the fact remains, the risk is never zero and you're likely to find similar problems elsewhere.

Steve
Steve P Send private email
Thursday, January 29, 2009
 
 
+1 ""google will NEVER be great at direct customer relationship. it is simply not part of their DNA.""

They can't even provide good support for Adwords (which is their bread & butter).
Pam
Thursday, January 29, 2009
 
 
Fear mongering is no way to respond in a situation like this.  It is unfortunate to hear about the author's experiences, but they could have been avoided easily. 

- Always deal directly with the domain registrar -- NEVER use a 3rd party, Google or otherwise.  I learned this lesson the hard way many years ago, way before Google Apps existed. I use GoDaddy and have never had an issue.

- Manage your own DNS with a separate party like ZoneEdit.  Having this control removed from your hosting company gives you much flexibility when the time comes to make changes.

If your application is truly critical, take the time to do things right.  If you don't, then it must not have been that important to begin with, and blaming someone else rings hollow at best.

For the record, I have been running Google Apps on a half dozen domains for free for close to 2 years.  Other than a partial day, widespread outage, there have been no issues.  I enjoy the performance, flexibility, and security that Google offers and have seen no real competitor to date.
Ed Karjala Send private email
Thursday, January 29, 2009
 
 
@mattc/mattg you can "swarm all over this" all you like. google will, imho, never be great at direct customer service.

this is not necessarily a bad thing or even a criticism. we (tucows) will never be great at search (or macrame)! if you are really interested, email me offlist and I will tell you a story about the onset of this program.

@all those who say "never use the same company to register your domain name and hosting", this is an old saw that does work, on one small level, if you are a geek. please remember that ANYONE reading and participating in the comments on this blog is a geek (and should be proud of it).

human beings need a great customer service relationship for their Internet services. they can't be expected to handle things like this. some of you (reference to namecheap) are using resellers you are happy with. some of you ("I have my own enom account") are essentially resellers and I bet many, if not most of you handle this function for some clients/friends/family.

finding a great customer service relationship with a company to provide Internet services is SO important for 98% of small business. our whole business (opensrs/tucows) is full of companies who supply that. like any segment, some are better than others so ymmv but a bad meal at a restaurant does not mean I will do my own cooking forever!
elliot noss Send private email
Thursday, January 29, 2009
 
 
I use Gmail and it's a great service (although still in beta...) but I only use it for my personal email - I definitely wouldn't feel confident for using it for business reasons because outside of it's core search/advertising Google products still have a very amateurish unfinished feel which doesn't inspire confidence.

If they really want to be a player in online apps they have to start behaving much more like a grown-up disciplined software company.

Yes, this sounds patronizing and I'm certainly not in charge of a multi-billion dollar company so obviously Google is full of very smart people who know what they're doing - but they need to get a handle on providing professional and reliable software and services.
Simon Send private email
Thursday, January 29, 2009
 
 
A few comments from a Google Enterprise Partner and one of the pilot Google Apps Resellers.

First, Google provides phone support for Premier Edition.  Joel didn't see the contact information because he was not yet an authorized administrator.  Account admins have access to email addresses, phone numbers, and support codes.

Second, Google does not have any exclusive relationship with domain registrars and hosting companies.  If the hosting company gives you some excuse about Google to keep you from pulling their business, they are lying to you.  Google rotates domain registrations through a pool of providers.

Third, an earlier poster is correct.  If you provided Enom with proof of purchase, they are obligated to correct the situation.

Fourth, Google does not want to build a large support organization for Google Apps.  It should be obvious that when you buy a product and the vendor tells you "no support", you should not expect support.  Google is building a reseller channel specifically so that businesses can get the implementation and support they need.

Finally, Google Apps is not yet a replacement for MS Office.  The docs and spreadsheets are not that mature.  Google Apps complements Office today, and provides a dizzying array of collaboration and communication capabilities.

Regards,
Allen
www.horizoninfoservices.com
Allen Falcon Send private email
Thursday, January 29, 2009
 
 
It's easy to misinterpret the author's angst as the swift and reliable outcome of a poor customer service experience. Make no mistake about it, though -- the title should have read "Don't ever use Google Apps for anything important if you are incapable of time-tracking and ensuring that a single domain name doesn't expire."

See, if it had read that way, the reader would have immediately understood that the service that provides its users with free email & collaboration tools at a fraction of the cost of other providers was only minimally responsible for the outage that was so carefully detailed in the remainder of the blog post.

If the title had been different, readers would have understood that, unlike a scenario where their Site or Email hosted through Google had been wiped out, THIS scenario could have easily been avoided by a little competence in domain name registration and renewal.

Again -- seriously? You're blaming Google Apps for what again? Oh, that's right. For you, forgetting to renew your domain name.
Aaron B Send private email
Thursday, January 29, 2009
 
 
Isn't this like saying never use a computer for anything important because the hard disk failed? Even if you got a run around afterward as to whether the manufacturer of the hard disk or the computer maker has to respond to you, it's just a fact of life.  I don't think this has to do with Google Apps at all. Maybe it should be: Don't register your domains with Google, they suck at renewal and at customer service. The inclusion of Google Apps in the title is misleading. I used Network Solutions as a register, because from the time they were the only one (yes, I am that old), they have provided good service, they are the most expensive (by far!) and your millage may vary, but I am sticking with them because domains are important. I normally use DynDNS for DNS service, even though Network Solutions does, pretty much, the same for the price of registration. I do it, again, because it is reliable. Google Apps have been reliable for me, much more than hosting email solutions or roll your own. I manage several companies emails with little or no problem.
Alfredo Octavio Send private email
Thursday, January 29, 2009
 
 
That is some tale of woe. I am surprised that there were so many steps in this journey of yours that were so difficult...it is one thing to create free and helpful tools - and quite another to not put some better procedures in place that would get rid of such amateurish problems.

I see Google becoming the new Microsoft, at least in terms of controlling our computing experience. It used to be Bill Gates we could direct our anger at. Now its just a company rather than a single person we can point at - when things go wrong now we have "Google" to blame.
David (Seaside Heights, NJ) Send private email
Thursday, January 29, 2009
 
 
your beef should be with ENOM, not with Google.  Once a domain expires they will start the process of determining what they want to do with the domain, but in the meantime they will monetize the domain, which also means resetting the CNAME and MX records with the domain.  I've been using google apps for over 2 1/2 years and it's worked perfectly (although it's for my personal site, not business).  Once you resettle things with ENOM and get reset the CNAME records everything should be working again.
yc Send private email
Thursday, January 29, 2009
 
 
I agree with Tim's comments above. Should Google have things set up like this? No.

Should you have investigated all this beforehand and registered your domain separately on your own? YES.

The title of your post is like saying "Don't use Microsoft Office / Windows for anything important because they crash" or "Don't use hard drives because they sometimes fail."

With any technology you should make sure that you control as much of it as possible, have as much access to all the different moving parts as possible, AND have backups of everything so that you can move it all to a new provider should everything go wrong with the current provider. That's computing 101.

I'm sorry, but file this post under user error.
C.K. Sample III Send private email
Thursday, January 29, 2009
 
 
I have an account and it is self registered through a Go Daddy reseller account. No problem ever.

Maybe Google could get a license to sell domain names?

Good luck

David
David Saunders Send private email
Thursday, January 29, 2009
 
 
been there
done that

http://blog.eduserv-psg.net/post/2008/09/more-Gmail-security-NOT.aspx

never, ever use Gmail in a purchase or anything that may expose your ID, there is NO way to know who else this info will go to
j morse Send private email
Thursday, January 29, 2009
 
 
I use Google Apps for both my personal (free) and my 3-user business (premium).

Yes, there are still some bugs, like if you've once mapped a subdomain to a service, you can't re-use it, even though you've removed/deleted the original mapping.

Yes, there are outages (I only knew because I was credited some money due to not meeting SLA -- although I never felt it myself).

But at least for my current usage, the spam protection alone is enough to justify using it. Not to mention email searching. Try searching anything on Exchange/Outlook (I survived that corporate life by using Google Desktop to search my Exchange email).

And yes, I use separate domain registrar and paid DNS provider.

So I can't vouch for the hundreds-of-users IT guy, although I'm not sure he would've liked it more supporting those users on Exchange.
Perry Ismangil Send private email
Thursday, January 29, 2009
 
 
It seems to me - and as others have already stated - the real problem here was not managing your domain registration directly. I'm not making excuses for Google's lack of customer support, but it really is foolish to trust a 3rd party to manage your domain.
Andrew Young Send private email
Thursday, January 29, 2009
 
 
To me the solution/ market opportunity is clear, build and market a cloud-based product with the functionality of Google Apps but with amazing tech support that listens and responds to customer complaints at the "right" price-point.

Thursday, January 29, 2009
 
 
I think any business aims to be scalable and to avoid issues, so I'm sorry that the original poster got into this situation and had to deal with the frustration. It did highlight something that Google needed to fix, and the team started deploying a fix yesterday (see Matt Glotzbach's comments above, if you're just landing on this thread.)
Matt Cutts Send private email
Thursday, January 29, 2009
 
 
During the two months surrounding the death of a family member, when my attention moved off business matters, one of my valuable domains approached expiration. 

I did not receive a single alert from the registrar via email.

It turns out that Gmail had spam-blocked all the warnings -- from a leading domain name registrar.

They corrected this, I note.  But too late.  The domain was gone.
Sylvia Connor Send private email
Thursday, January 29, 2009
 
 
I have been using both premier and free accounts with Google Apps and all in all it's a great service. Apart from a few brief slip ups (well within the SLA) they provide a *good* service for *very low cost*. Like many others I use a separate registrar on all accounts and make sure domains stay in my name for years to come.

As others have pointed out good phone support is something you pay a lot for and I can't understand how Google provides it! How exactly will they scale phone support; floating containers filled with human support teams  or cloud powered Eliza?
Tariq Send private email
Thursday, January 29, 2009
 
 
Sylvia, do you mind if I ask which registrar was getting its emails marked as spam for you?
Matt Cutts Send private email
Thursday, January 29, 2009
 
 
Re: "You shouldn't have let google handle your registration" ad nauseam:

The point so many of you are missing is this:
The entire experience was managed by google within google's site.
Google offers the option to register a new domain name.
Google handled the setup of the original name.
Google took payment for the renewal BEFORE THE EXPIRATION DATE! (Even though they had a "known issue" that can cause these renewals to not work.

If you got a meal with a bad piece of chicken you would take it up with the chef and the restaurant, not Perdue.

If you got a car with a bad sparkplug you'd bring it back to the dealer, not Bosch.

If my customers pay me for something I need to follow through and make sure it happens.

Google took his money for the renewal, didn't make sure it happened, and wasn't able to answer his questions or help him in a timely way.

Is it suddenly NOT rational to expect that Google will do what they promise?
Greg Charland Send private email
Thursday, January 29, 2009
 
 
I agree that a 3rd party registration services should be used. Many people learn that the hard way. I also agree that it seems to be primarily eNom's fault.

I do not agree, however, that Google is without fault. Just go to google.com and you will see a "Business Solutions" link beneath the search box. They're not exactly targeting their marketing toward a technically savvy user base.

Clicking through to the Google Docs collaboration page, you read this:

[snip]
Traditional "collaboration" falls short in today's workplace
[...]
    * Teams need IT support to set up new file shares.
[/snip]


This is specific to setting up file shares, but I'd be willing to bet that the masses would interpret this as meaning Google Docs doesn't require any internal IT support. So if they're going to market to all levels of technical competence, they should be able to support all levels of technical competence.
Nicholas Hebb Send private email
Thursday, January 29, 2009
 
 
"And now you see why Google will never compete with Amazon in the cloud computing market at any price point above $0.  Amazon isnt perfect but at the end of the day who do u trust more to respond to your mission-critical issue?"

http://examazonian.wordpress.com/2009/01/17/wondering-how-amazon-treats-its-loyal-sellers-by-deleting-all-of-their-listings/
Geribald Send private email
Friday, January 30, 2009
 
 
I recommend the following book as relevant to this topic: "The Support Economy: Why Corporations Are Failing Individuals and the Next Episode of Capitalism" by Shoshana Zuboff  and James Maxmin.

Secondly, people place different value on their time. Many would be willing to pay an hourly fee to talk to a competent support engineer. Why Google is not offering this option is a mystery to me.

My approach to Google Apps email to forward email to it from a traditional mail server. I also forward to Hotmail or Yahoo in case GMail is down and recommend to my customers to use POP to store local copies of email. Personally, I like GMail user interface, search speed, and the placement and format of ads in the free version.  The workarounds necessary to reduce downtime and support risks are well worth it in my opinion.

David Vydra
http://itarra.com
David Vydra Send private email
Friday, January 30, 2009
 
 

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