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.