We Interview Google Checkout; Promises To Protect Consumers

Google Checkout looks like a Paypal-killer, but will it stand up for consumers when transactions go wrong? Google says yes.

Unlike Paypal, Google Checkout never holds onto your money. It’s linked to your credit card, not your bank account. For privacy, your full credit card number is never fully disclosed to the merchant.

So what happens if a store messes up your order and you want to do a chargeback? Will Google still be there for you?

Google’s Michael Kirkland answers our questions, inside…


CONSUMERIST: Since Google Checkout appears to act as a of transparent middle-man between Consumer and Merchant, what are the policies that Google has in place to help the consumer mediate transaction disputes? Although Google Checkout has a mediation procedure, your FAQ says it’s non-binding.

GOOGLE: With Checkout, we’re trying to create a safe and convenient experience for both buyers and sellers. Buyers will always have their chargeback rights to fall back on in a dispute, but Google’s mediation procedures are designed to bring both parties together before it comes to that. In our experience, nearly all disputes can be resolved if the buyer and the merchant have an opportunity to talk things out.

CONSUMERIST: Can a customer call a Merchant directly and ask for a refund on purchases made through Google Checkout?

GOOGLE: All Google Checkout merchants can process refunds for purchases made through Checkout. Just contact the merchant, let them know the purchase was made through Google Checkout, and they will be able to process the refund.

CONSUMERIST: Google Checkout says Merchants only receive Consumers last four digits of the credit card. Will this affect the Merchant’s ability to resolve disputes?

GOOGLE: One of the ways Google protects shoppers is by sharing only the last four digits of their credit card number with the merchant. This does not, however, affect the merchant’s ability to provide customer support or to resolve disputes.

CONSUMERIST: If a transaction dispute is unresolvable, will Consumers still be able to issue chargebacks, where they call their financial institution and instruct them to send the charges back to the merchant?

GOOGLE: The first thing you should do if something goes wrong with a transaction is contact the merchant. If the merchant isn’t responsive or the dispute cannot be resolved, then you can contact Google for help. (More details on Google’s mediation process can be found here: http://checkout.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=29070&query=non-binding&topic=&type=.)
If the issue still can’t be resolved to your satisfaction, then you still have the safety net of your chargeback rights to fall back on. When a chargeback is issued, Google receives it and shares the detailed information with Checkout merchant. Merchants are then required to follow card association (Visa, MasterCard, etc) rules to formally resolve the dispute.

CONSUMERIST: Consumers want Google Checkout to protect their transactions. Is Google Checkout simply a more transparent overlay to online e-commerce, or will it go to bat for them?

GOOGLE: The user experience is core to what we do here at Google, and Checkout is intended to make that experience positive and safe for both buyers and merchants. On the buyer side, we work to make sure we partner with responsible merchants who adhere to specific best practices — like agreeing not to sell or rent buyer information and keeping tracking numbers for all shipments — and we reserve the right to suspend merchant accounts if they fail to do so. And if there are disputes, we’ll work with buyers and merchants to resolve them. On the merchant side, we offer advanced fraud protection and a payment guarantee policy that protects merchants from unwarranted chargebacks. By offering these protections, we’re trying to make the ecosystem more efficient and more secure for everyone.

— BEN POPKEN

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. Falconfire says:

    I will tell you in 2 days if this is the case. I bought something using checkout on the 28th and it STILL hasnt even been shipped. Im having them attempt to refund me but if they dont respond in a day I will be getting Google involved.

    Figures my first use of Google Checkout has led to me buying something from a less than trustworthy seller.

  2. nick says:

    I used Google Checkout recently to buy a memory card on Buy.com. The process was smooth and simple, and I even got $10 off my purchase for using it! (You can also get $20 a purchase of $50)

    What I really like about G.C. is that it intercepts all emails from the seller (in this case Buy.com), and forwards them to your Gmail account. There is a link at the bottom of every email to stop receipt of all emails from that seller, which means you never have to worry about giving up your email and getting endless amounts of spam.

    G.C. sends confirmation emails very much like PayPal, so regardless of whether the seller keeps you updated on when your purchase is processed and shipped, G.C. keeps you updated.

    All in all, I thought using G.C. was a breeze, and far less annoying than using PayPal.

    For anyone who hasn’t used it yet, it’s definitely worth a try. Especially for $10 off!

  3. Sudonum says:

    I bought a wireless router from Buy.com using Google Checkout. When I clicked on “buy” for the item at Buy.com it listed the item as “in stock”. I also opted for 2 day shipping. I went back to Buy.com a couple of days later to try and get some tracking info. I discovered that Buy.com was still processing the order. Long story short I wound up canceling the order 4 days after placing it due to the fact that it hadn’t shipped yet.
    I received a cancellation notice from both Buy.com and Google Checkout advising me that a credit on my AMEX card would be posted in a couple days. Waited a week, no credit. Called AMEX and disputed the charge. A week later I finally got the credit. Had a similar experience with Amazon, God I love AMEX!

  4. DF says:

    “What I really like about G.C. is that it intercepts all emails from the seller (in this case Buy.com), and forwards them to your Gmail account.”

    As I mentioned in the comments to an earlier story about Google Checkout, this system appears to have some glitches. I’ve been trying to return something to Buy.com that I purchased via GC, and Buy.com claims — over the phone — that they can’t email me because Google Checkout is rejecting Buy.com’s emails to me as “spam.” (Buy.com isn’t making it any easier; they’re claiming they can only issue an RMA via email.)

    I’ve used Google Checkout’s support form to ask them to step in; we’ll see how it goes.

  5. loraksus says:

    I know some companies new to the google checkout thing have had, shall we say “less than optimal experiences”.
    Ritz cameras / wolf cameras have had pretty significant issues lately.
    I presume this will all get sorted out in time though.

  6. viriiman says:

    I’ve used it, and (thankfully) haven’t had any issues so far.

    I am glad to read that by using GC you don’t give up your credit rights. I’ve hear about people having issues with Paypal, so it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

  7. Hawkins says:

    I’m not sure I understand the point. Why would I want to use Google Checkout with a real online merchant, like Ritz Camera, who accepts my credit card?

    I mean, apart from the ten bucks.

  8. deliriousnyc says:

    I was shocked last week when I was updating my PayPal information and it asked for my bank online account name and password. With that information, they literally could go into my account AS ME and wreck havoc. Fortunately, there was also the option of simply providing your account number and bank routing number and waiting while you confirmed a small (2-3 cent) deposit or two. But I couldn’t believe they even suggested the former option. It made me stop to check out the site and make sure it wasn’t a fake phising scam.

  9. deliriousnyc says:

    ^oops “phishing”

  10. Sean O says:

    I just made a purchase from Buy.com using Google Checkout. It was painless, and I picked up a $50 printer for 9 ducks after GC discount and rebate. Was shipped promptly and in fine condition. One man, one story, but there you have it.

  11. Moneyca says:

    I placed an order with eBags.com and got my $20 off using GC. Somehow the order got lost between Google and eBags. When I reported it, I received immediate attention from both eBags and GC, was given an additional 25% off and free 2nd Day Shipping. I have used GC two more times since with no incident. Needless to say, I’m very pleased with Google Checkout.

  12. Triteon says:

    deliriousnyc– I’m assuming you actually wen to the PayPal site an didn’t follow a emailed link. When I changed my PayPal account a few months back I was only asked for the acct# and routing #…no passwords or anything.

  13. 44 in a Row says:

    When I changed my PayPal account a few months back I was only asked for the acct# and routing #…no passwords or anything.

    When you go to “verify” your account, PayPal gives you the option of doing it either by giving them your bank username and password, or by giving them your account and routing information and then verifying the amount of two deposits they make. They gave me the choice just a couple weeks ago, and I agree that the former option is, for lack of a better word, insane.

    Regarding Google Checkout: I’ve had nothing but problems with them, and though I’m sure it could be a good system, it’s not implemented that well yet. The problem is that, though Google doesn’t “hold on” to your money like PayPal, GC gets much more involved in the transaction than PayPal does. When I ordered something from Toysrus.com, the info never showed up in my Toysrus.com account, only in my GC order history. And GC was entirely unresponsive to my questions about the order. So I didn’t exactly get “burned” by them, but I’m very hesitant to use them going forward.

  14. nick says:

    Sounds like a mixed bag of experiences here. Mine have been all positive so far – in fact I just bought a Wireless-G USB Adapter for $11 on Buy.com using GC.

    “I am glad to read that by using GC you don’t give up your credit rights. I’ve hear about people having issues with Paypal, so it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.”

    @viriiman:
    I think this is Google Checkout’s biggest selling point.

    “I’m not sure I understand the point. Why would I want to use Google Checkout with a real online merchant, like Ritz Camera, who accepts my credit card?”

    @Hawkins:
    Google Checkout could be useful if you don’t entirely trust the seller with your credit card information, or if you just don’t feel like creating yet another account online.

    I hope GC pans out, at least in part because then my credit card information will be in that many less places online. Anyone else get annoyed when you get a new card and have to update the expiration date on every site it’s saved on?

  15. OnoSideboard says:

    I’m way late to this party, but Falconfire, online merchants have 30 days to ship per FTC regulations. I’m not sure Google, or anyone else, will get involved since it’s only been 17 days.

  16. I_need_money says:

    I ordered something from Buy.com the other day and was expecting Google Checkout to take some time to process my payment (PayPal does that sometimes). I opted for the free shipping and was expecting to wait around for at least a week for it, but it was at my door the very NEXT day. The whole process was painless. Haven’t tried returning anything yet though.

    But take advantage of the GC discounts! I was so pleased with my previous purchase that I ordered something again. This time, with rebates and whatnot, a pretty expensive flash drive ended up being $20, and with the extra discount at checkout, it ended up being FREE (okay, I had to pay the tax, which was $3).

    Sadly though, I hear this nifty perk is ending on the 19th. =(

  17. ediebeale says:

    I gotta say, I am loving the GC discounts and HATING the fact that their website seems to be down all the time. I have been trying to place a Buy.com order through them, and it repeatedly tells me “oops, your order request did not go through! Please try again.” Although maybe its Buy.com, I am having a war with them right now trying to get them to respond to my repeated customer service inquiries. If anyone has a phone number for them, it would be much appreciated.