Even Google Screws Up

Helaine and I attempted to do our taxes yesterday. We’re about 95% of the way through the process. Part of what’s keeping us from completion is Google.

One of the tinier parts of my tax return relates to this site, geofffox.com! See those ads on the right side of the screen? I get money as people click them.

DON’T click them just to get me money. Please, don’t. Legitimate clicks are fine. I have no need or desire to scam the system.

Since I received cash, Google must send documentation to me and the IRS in the form of a 1099-misc. They did – twice!

With two 1099’s, the IRS thinks I earned twice as much as I did, which means twice the taxes (which I must pay, even on this income).

Google printed a phone number on the Form 1099-misc which I dialed. It’s not in service. They only printed the 1099-misc last week.

I tried again. Same thing.

The ‘not in service’ voice invited me to press “0” if I needed to speak to the Google operator. I did, and then spent four quality minutes as she decided she had no clue who to send my call to.

Finally, she conjured up a name. My message to his voice mail politely asked him to call me, even if he isn’t the right person. Then I could at least know if anything was being done.

That was around seven hours ago.

You would think, with a problem like this, I should be able to use Google.com itself for the answer… you would think… incorrectly.

This evening, I found a place on Google’s AdSense site with an email link. I sent a note and immediately got a response that showed no one had looked at my question. Again, Google seems to be the place where this shouldn’t happen. Their machine intelligence should understand my query… you would think.

Thanks for your email regarding your tax information. We’ve provided some information below which we hope will address your question. As you know, you can also find instant answers to some of our top questions in the AdSense Help Center at www.google.com/support/adsense. If you still have unresolved questions after looking through this material, please reply to this email and we’ll be happy to help you further

I’ve now replied and am waiting. In the end, they very well may help me. I can’t imagine under what conditions they’ll be happy to do it.

The Company I Keep

A while ago I decided it would be a good idea to let Google sell ads on my website. Actually, it originally started as an experiment – I just wanted to see how it worked.

I don’t get a fortune from these ads. It pays for my web hosting – not much more. We’re not taking any vacations on this money… even a vacation to Cheshire.

Here’s the funny part – I don’t see the ads!

There are two reasons I don’t see them. First, I use Firefox (instead of Internet Explorer), with an ad blocking extension. It’s sort of scary. I see very few ads on any site… even the most populated.

The second reason is more important. I don’t want my page views to count. On this little website, if I correct an entry or move something around, my ‘hits’ become a substantial fraction of the total traffic.

Saturday, while looking at Helaine’s computer, I caught an ad that upset me. I sent the following to Google.

There was an ad listed on my site for xxxxxxxxx.org. Their ad’s bold type offers advice on how to cheat at hold’em poker. There might be controversy about online poker in general, but I don’t think anyone condones organized cheating. I certainly don’t and find it morally and legally wrong.

I will block this advertiser, but I think you should consider whether this text, or their product, is appropriate for AdSense.


Geoff Fox

A quick clarification. Though I don’t choose the ads that appear, I can remove or block advertisers I feel aren’t appropriate. I block my TV station’s competitors. I block some national weather providers. I now block this poker site.

Here’s Google’s response.

Hello Geoff,

Thank you for your email regarding a Google AdWords ad.

I’ve forwarded this information to our AdWords team, who will remove the ad in question if it is in violation of any AdWords policies. We appreciate you taking the time to let us know about your concerns.

For additional questions, we suggest you visit our AdSense Support site at https://www.google.com/support/adsense . If you’re unable to find an answer to your question on our site, please feel free to reply to this email.



The Google AdSense Team

They probably won’t tell me how this is resolved, though I’m hoping this kind of ad is now out.