While Ian was visiting Hawaii, he wanted to check out a restaurant a friend had told him about. He looked the place up on Google Maps and was dismayed to find it had closed. When he actually got there, he found the joint was very much open, and talked to employees who alleged Google affixed it with the false label as a way to blacklist the restaurant for refusing to advertise.
I did what most tourists do and hit Google Maps to find the place and to my dismay saw a notice on the listing “This place is permanently closed.” Not deterred, I hit Yelp and noticed reviews from a week prior so I figured there was an error. Sure enough, I dined there a couple of days later (awesome carnitas and guacamole). When I asked the staff about the GMaps notice they knew about it but didn’t know what to do about it. The story they’ve got is Google got mad because the owner didn’t want to pay for advertising, so Google is shutting them out. I figure Google’s got more to worry about than some little hole in the wall restaurant in Hawaii, and they do have that whole “Don’t be evil” motto. Hmm.
As soon as I got back to my hotel I hit the little “not true?” link on GMaps and filed a “I ate there tonight, and they’re starting to get upset with you, Google” report. I also did a review and began it with NOT CLOSED, but three days later they still haven’t fixed the closed notice. Checking the edit log I see people have been marking it open since 10 Oct, so who knows how much business they’ve lost due to Google’s inaction?
If you’ve heard of an online search site shutting out a business due to its unwillingness to advertise, let us know.
UPDATE: Here is the response from Google:
“There is no connection between Google AdWords and the marking of this business as closed in Google Places.
The business listings in Google Places come from a combination of sources including our web search results, data submitted directly by users and local business owners, and third-party sources such as licensed and publicly available directories. These listings are a popular source for local data, but we recognize that with millions of listings, there will be an occasional error. In this case, our team has now reviewed the “Report a problem” reports that we’ve received, and the listing for this business has been corrected so that it is not marked as closed.
Also, business owners are able to claim their listing in Google Places by visiting www.google.com/places. Doing so enables them to maintain their own listing, helping to ensure that it is accurate and up-to-date.”