Geppetto's Log - Stardate 012521.1
We were hijacked!
In case there is someone out there who doesn’t know what a Google listing is… It’s like an ad in an old school phone book. It’s the information which comes up when a business is “Googled” or searched online.
With a bit of effort… and a little help from a techie friend… I managed to secure Geppetto’s Google listing early on in ownership. Then I got busy… really freaking busy... learning the ropes here. And that was before closure due to arson fire in the neighboring business, a water crisis and the pandemic!
Somehow along the way… I lost control. “Ownership” of our Google listing was hijacked.
Customer complaints due to internet discrepancies have come around here and there over the last couple of years. I was frustrated until COVID hit… then I got mad. Not having the ability to update our hours began to impact our business. If Google says you’re not open… people believe it. If you can’t change the information… sucks for you.
Over time… the many phone calls offering help to fix our listing began to make sense. They wanted money to “help us.” I refused. Someone or some company hijacked our Google listing more than two years ago. I did not have the time, tech knowledge or the energy to fight it. “You can’t trust The Google!” was all I could say to our frustrated, angry and concerned customers.
Meanwhile… time was marching on… and with the pandemic and statewide guidelines flopping all over the place… I needed to reinstate our power ASAP… for the sake of our business.
I reached out to my dear friend who had helped me the first time around. She must have heard the desperation in my voice. She sent me contact info for another of her friends who she knew would be able to help us with our Google issue. My friend’s friend gave me great confidence when she said these words via text, “Don’t worry, Julie, I’ve slayed this beast before.” From that moment forward I called her My Zena, the warrior princess.
Zena quickly requested ownership of the listing on my behalf. Imposter/owner then had three business days to respond.
Zena gave these instructions, “If after three days there is no response from said “owner…” a postcard will be mailed to the restaurant address within five days. Watch for it. That postcard will contain a five digit code. Once you receive it… send me the five digit code… and we will take the next steps.”
I swear to Jesus, it felt like we were on a scavenger hunt, waiting for our next clue in the Billiard Room with Mr. Green and the lead pipe!
The card indeed arrived. The code was real. I sent it to Zena immediately. Just a couple more minor hoops… and it was done. I was in! Within half an hour I had updated our listing and replied to a bad review which spoke of the “immaturity and unprofessionalism of our answering machine message.” Obviously the woman was frustrated, and rightfully so, by her inability to get through during our busiest hours. Access to the listing gave me a way to respond. Without access… there is nothing you can do.
Small business is hard work on a good day. These days it’s exponentially more difficult. Bigger business has people who get paid to maintain a good internet presence. May we all remember… bad reviews stand out… but they might not be the whole story. Even hours of operation could be out of ownerships control. I bet I’m not the only person who didn’t have time or the knowledge to fix such a thing as a Google listing problem.
“Zena, how do I pay you? Do you Venmo?”
I wondered for the first time… what her help would cost.
“Julie, she said. You owe me nothing. This never should have happened to you in the first place.”
“Are you local?” I asked. Thinking perhaps I could at least deliver a pizza.
“No.” She said. “I’m actually living in Hawaii.”
Not at all what I envisioned. In my mind, my Zena, was somewhere in Oregon, working from home in her jammies because of COVID. I told her, “As much as I would love a getaway… Hawaii is a little out of our delivery zone.” My Zena is now tropical!
Everyone, every company has a choice. We can work for good, justice and peace… or not. Whoever took ownership of our listing wasn’t out for good, justice or peace. The person or company who took what wasn’t theirs wanted us to feel helpless and desperate and willing to pay any amount. I’m certain our business suffered because of my unwillingness to cave. The need to regain control had grown painfully obvious. Zena came along at the perfect time. Talk about a sigh of relief. True... this ability brings more responsibility... but my hands are no longer tied and I will be forever grateful.