Monday, November 14, 2005

Google: Start acting like a real business or you're doomed

Zvents is an Urchin hosted customer. Yes, customer, as in we pay Google $200 per month to provide our web stats to us. We have been very happy with the quality of the tools that Urchin provides, but intermittently unhappy with the time lag it takes or our web data to appear, and the occasional gaps in our data (we are still missing two hours from last Monday). Google has been kind of OK on the customer service front.

Until today.

I don't know how many other people like us there are - people who paid for hosted Urchin before today's announcement. But I bet that all of them are pissed.

Here's what happened:

I tried to log in to Urchin. Surprise! Urchin now resolves to Google analytics. I typed in our login and password, and I was informed that this account "has to be validated". As it happens, this is a special account just for Urchin and I don't havedirect access to the email address - a not uncommon problem in any organization larger than, say, one. After a few hours of fumbling around and swapping phone calls and emails, I get one of the other guys to send me the validation information.

Next surprise: Because Google is switching to some damn unified login system, whenever I use the login for this account, it messes up any other Google logins I have. Apparently there's a way to pipe this login over to my Gmail account, but it's another hassle-filled step that I didn't have to take yesterday when Urchin JUST WORKED.

Eventually I get in to Urchin. Urchin is getting slammed with traffic. We hear all this hoorah about Google's hundreds of thousands of servers and their ability to host applications, and all I can say is, if casual interest in a service you aren't even accepting new registrations for grinds you to a halt like this, you are nothing like ready for prime time.

Here is a screen shot of what Urchin looks like to me after 10 minutes of waiting and a couple attempts at reloading:

urchin blank

Not very useful.

When I finally do get in to Urchin, I have no data since 3pm yesterday. That's 24 hours without data. Zero. Zip. None. I'm trying to run my business here, folks! Hello?

It's nice that it's now free. But I was willing to pay $200 per month for a service that Just Worked. Google may be all excited about advertising business models, but there are billion dollars businesses built on charging other businesses $200 per month.

Right now, I feel like Google doesn't care about me enough as a customer to tell me that they're changing a product I pay for. They don't care enough about me as a customer to make sure that my login doesn't change, or that they at least ask or warn me before changing my login. They don't care enough about me as a customer to make sure that the re-launch of their product doesn't dramatically impact the people who are already paying them lots of money.

Google isn't acting like a real business, they are acting like an over-enthusiastic Golden Retriever puppy. Oh, they just knocked the vase off the table with their tail, but aren't they cute? Um, no. Google, grow up.

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