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Google Hates the United States *

I’m a Google fan, and I’m a contrarian idealist. And I know the pain of being ignored by technical support while travelling abroad. So, I bring you Greg Kaiser‘s explanation of why Google Hates the United States:

From any computer in the world, with no previous settings…
…a visit to www.google.ca gives the Canadian Google site.
…a visit to www.google.com.mx gives the Mexican Google site.
…a visit to www.google.com.gt gives the Guatemalan Google site.
…a visit to www.google.com.sv gives the El Salvadorian Google site.
etc., at least for every country I’ve checked,
EXCEPT
…a visit to www.google.us gives the local country’s Google site.
i.e, visit www.google.us from within Canada, and get the Canadian Google site, visit www.google.us from within Mexico, and get the Mexican Google site.

Why is this? www.google.com redirects to the local country’s Google site by default. That’s fine, but unfortunately, Google’s decided to have www.google.us just point to www.google.com, instead of a US version of Google.

This means that US users accessing Google from outside their home country do not get the same ease of use that users from every other country in the world enjoy.

I have tried over the past several months, multiple times through official Google channels, and also through multiple friends who work at Google, to have this situation fixed. While my friends there understand and acknowledge the problem, Google as a company refuses to even admit that the www.google.us behavior is inconsistent or undesirable, much less take the simple steps to fix it.

Given how easy this issue seems to correct (just make www.google.us point to a static site, instead of redirecting), and how dismissive Google has been of the reporting of this problem, I can only conclude that Google hates the United States of America. I suppose it’s also possible that it’s just a company run by apathy and arrogance, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

Anyone out there who’s bored, though, feel free to report this bug early and often to Google, or just ask them why they hate the United States. Thank you.

Can any foreign users confirm this bug? I was hoping to get a screenshot of www.google.us showing, say, Swedish text, but it just sends a redirect to http://www.google.com/ so that’s the only URL you’ll ever see in the Location bar.

This is a serious contrast from Craigslist. The eponymous CEO of Craigslist, Craig Newmark, writes that “my title at craigslist is ‘customer service rep and founder,’ and my customer service role is at least a full-time gig [ . . . ] If you e-mail me about the site, I’ll probably write back–quickly, too.” Sure, Craigslist is not as big as Google, but they claim to serve ten million people per month. (I am told that the Google founders still review and approve each new hire for their more than 3,000 employees . . . Google at least know that hiring only the very best is also important. Perhaps they are afraid to burden their engineers with the gripes that come in to the customer service folks.)

There’s this annoying assumption among technologists that if you build awesome technology, you will obviate the need to support it with excellent customer service. I think the opposite holds true: if you supply something awesome, you’re going to get more and more feedback as people come to use your stuff, and you need to be able to work from that, to keep supplying your customers with what they crave, to make them intensely loyal. Part of why I use my Sidekick, is that when I e-mail support@danger.com, I get good answers, and despite the troubles I have had, T-Mobile is pretty responsive at answering my concerns. In contrast, I look forward to buying my next digital camera from someone other than Canon, because they have jerked me around far too much when it comes to customer service.

Well, we aren’t about to stop using Google. Their search technology is solid, and the few times I have contacted them about search, they have always had great answers. We love Google, because it usually rocks, and we expect the best. So, when it acts dumb, well, that’s exciting, in the “dog bites man” sense of news.

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