A local business owner is sounding a warning after Google continues to mistakenly list her business as closed.
Sarah Coffey, who runs Kelowna’s Unless Market, said the mistake appeared on Google searches shortly after she moved the business to a new Lawrence Avenue location in January.
Since the change, the very top of every Google search for Unless Market features a picture of the store’s former storefront above a bright red banner reading “permanently closed.”
The error comes courtesy of Google’s “My Business” feature, which you’ve probably seen if you’ve ever Googled a local business: on the right-hand side of the search results a box shows up with information about a business’ location, hours and storefront.
Google claims My Business allows business owners to manage information about their establishment and link that information to other services like Google Maps, Search and Google+.
The problem, of course, is that Coffey had never registered her business with the service, nor had she really given it any thought.
“It’s not something I paid attention to until Google told me I was permanently closed,” she said. “I don’t even know how they got the information to put on there in the first place, especially how they figured we were permanently closed.”
Since she discovered the discrepancy Coffey says she’s been trying to get her business verified through the service – a painstaking process that involves entering a confirmation code through snail mail.
But while that process unfolds she’s losing more and more business.
“I’m sure we have lost people because of this thing on Google, and there’s nothing we can do about it,” she said.
Coffey said she had tried “a few times” to get in touch with someone from Google, but that she “didn’t get anywhere.” The service’s frequently asked questions page also “didn’t take me anywhere productive.”
A Google agent providing support for the My Business service told Okanagan Edge the information appeared on Google because somebody had created a My Business entry for Unless Market.
Additionally, the reason the service listed them as permanently closed was because whomever created the entry had since deleted it.
The Google agent said the entry had been created without any email address, so she could not say who was responsible.
Okanagan Edge reached out to Google for information on why someone apparently unconnected to the business was able to create the entry, but did not receive any immediate comment.
When Coffey learned someone else had apparently registered her business she was even more baffled. She said she had no idea who could have created the entry, or why they would have deleted it.
Coffey said she planned to check with some of the organizations she belongs to to see if someone had done it on her behalf, but once again expressed her frustration that there was nothing she could do until she receives the proper piece of mail from Google.
She also urged any business owners who haven’t registered with the service to do so, lest they get stuck in the same situation.
Until then, she said she’s waiting impatiently for a confirmation code to arrive in the mail, hoping she doesn’t lose too much more business before it comes.
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