Jesse Jones

Jesse Jones: Small business owner surprised at half a million charge from Google

Melissa Mitchell works for a company that helps integrate homes with smart devices, and part of her gig is creating online ads.

She pays Google for those ads with a company credit card until a discovery in March.

“Well, so my available credit limit is $20,000, and my current balance is $500,000,” Melissa said. “I’ve gone $480,000 over my credit limit.”

But how did this happen?

“It does shock me that Bank of America let something go through without any sort of protections in place for their customer,” Melissa said. “Normally, you have a credit limit for a reason.”

Melissa said the company’s Google ads dashboard showed the transaction was only supposed to be $5,000.

“It really just seemed as though the computer had dropped a decimal point when the transaction happened,” she said.

So, what do you do when a small business has a half-million-dollar credit card bill? Contact Google?

“The first interaction that we sent out was literally just an automated response,” Melissa said. “So, to know that my company’s operations were going to be just held frozen for 48 hours before we could even do anything and have no phone call, phone number to call or anything like that. It’s just incredibly frustrating.”

Melissa went to the bank next.

“That started the whole process where they told us that basically, the cards were going to be frozen for 90 days,” she said. “We were not going to be able to use them.”

After one week that was no additional news about any resolution or restitution.

A search of forums of Reddit showed others complaining of similar situations. One said Google Ads charged $50,000 to a client’s credit card on an account with a $500-a-day budget and a $500 billing threshold.

Another post said a client was charged $300,000 instead of $3,000.

Jesse Jones tried to reach out to Google and received the following statement:

“Due to a technical issue last month by a payment processor, a small number of customers were overcharged. We worked with the payment processor to initiate a full refund to the affected customers as quickly as possible; all customers have been refunded. There is no action needed on the customers’ part.”

“I feel like Google probably doesn’t care,” Melissa said. “Even though I know that we spend a lot of money on Google ads, a lot of people spend a lot of money on Google ads. And that’s part of the problem, is that the company is so big that there is no human element to what we’re doing there.”

But then, the accounts were adjusted with no explanation from Google. Or an apology.

“Small businesses really should not have to deal with this because they have enough to worry about in a time of recession,” Melissa said. “They have to worry about keeping their cash flow flush. They have to worry about keeping employee retention high. They have to worry about how they’re going to continue to market when the times are challenging. So the idea of anything taking away from all that focus and being spent on something like billing and banking is incredibly frustrating.”

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