Google eats humble pie over video fiasco

Google scored a major own goal with its shoddy customer service.

When Google bought YouTube in all its video-sharing goodness last year it was only a matter of time before its own Google Video site would see some major changes. So, the company's recent announcement that it was no longer renting or selling videos for a fee was no surprise.

However, what the sprawling online giant didn't anticipate was the strength of the backlash to its shoddy treatment of its own customers. Quite how anyone at Google thought it would be acceptable to stick it to people who had opened their wallets by denying them what they'd paid for and offering a pathetic $2 (£1) as compensation beggars belief.

Moreover, the puny refund was in credit at Google Checkout and could only be used at online shops using the payment system, which smacked of a company hoping many of the refunds wouldn't even be used.

Fortunately, the story doesn't end there - given the degree of mismanagement, Google probably had no choice but to cave in and offer a better deal to its customers yesterday.

Humblest of pies

In an official Google Blog post, the company said: "When your friends and well-intentioned acquaintances tell you that you've made a mistake, it's good to listen... We should have anticipated that some users would see a Checkout credit as nothing more than ... annoyingly self-serving ... Our bad."

To make amends, the company is now backtracking and offering a full refund of everything customers ever spent on Google Video - to credit cards this time - and is allowing them to keep the previous Checkout credit to say "We're sorry we goofed".

And, probably more importantly to most people, paid-for videos will remain playable online for another six months and downloaded clips will work offline indefinitely.

Lastly as if to prove that the fabled Google corporate sense of fun remains intact, the blog post closes thus: "We take pride in moving quickly, and we think this philosophy helps to create lots of new and innovative products. But it also leads to errors that - upon reflection and your feedback - we need to rectify.

"This was one of them. We make mistakes; we do our best not to repeat them - and we really do try to fix the ones we make. That said, the very least that our users should expect from us is that our mistakes be new and innovative, too. ;)"

J Mark Lytle was an International Editor for TechRadar, based out of Tokyo, who now works as a Script Editor, Consultant at NHK, the Japan Broadcasting Corporation. Writer, multi-platform journalist, all-round editorial and PR consultant with many years' experience as a professional writer, their bylines include CNN, Snap Media and IDG.