If working with Google Places ever makes you want to just totally pull your hair out, join the club. It’s a big club. 😉 Sorry, didn’t intend for this to be dump on Google Places week, but I had to share a post Mike Blumenthal just made at Google+.

If you ever have a client (and you will) who says: “I simply can’t believe a company as big as Google has this many bugs, maybe it was something you did wrong.” OR “I can’t believe a company as big as Google has no support and takes WEEKS to fix problems like this.” OR “I thought a competitor hijacked or sabotaged our listing – you are telling me Google did this to us?” Then you’ll find that Mike’s post will be a good one to have handy in your bookmarks.

Need to vent about Google Places? Head to the link below and vent away or vent here. Google will read this, so if you have problems you want to bring to light, head over and add your 2 cents! I added a copy of my fave Google Places pet peeves below.

25 (err… 250?) things I hate about Google Places. – Mike Blumenthal

“Danny Sullivan wrote a piece 5 years ago called “25 Things I hate About Google” and revisited his pain points again this year.

It’s OUR turn now. You have the floor. Pile on! I am giving you permission to vent your frustrations.

I would like you to add your favorite things to hate about Google Places.

Thanks Mike for giving us permission to vent! Below is list of are some of my “most hated.”

Category: Duplicates, the entire process is so broken I don’t even know where to begin. But I guess I don’t need to. ESPECIALLY if you deal with Drs, Dentists and Lawyers who tend to have multiple variations of their name (practice name, Dr name, DDS version etc.) you know. Dupes can be a nightmare.

Dupe solutions. (Easier said than done, I realize) Once a listing is claimed they need to have something similar to the negative keyword option in Adwords to black list other variations of NAP from merging or creating new dupes. Once a dupe is deleted or merged and purged it should be blacklisted in the system so it does not keep coming back.

Category: Hidden Ghost Records – The most recent verified Place page should take control and data stuck in a previous inaccessible account should simply overwritten NOT cached and merged into the new record. Example: previous employee or rogue SEO creates Place page filled with violations 2 years ago. Biz owner can’t get access to the listing or in many cases does not even know someone created the old page. Now the biz owner wants to make changes, improve, enhance and that old data stuck in an old record they never even created, continues to be in partial control.

This is a big part of complaints and frustrations in the forum. It’s just that most SMBs don’t realize even realize this is the problem and have no idea what’s going on. When they can’t change their own data – especially when their name, address or phone is wrong, much less when cats and description are wrong, they get rightfully upset and are impotent to fix the problem. Or when what’s in dash does not match what’s live, they have no idea this usually indicates another Place page somewhere is still in partial control. But they have no way of knowing this is the problem, much less is there anything they can do about it. That hidden merged ghost mystery dupe can cause bugs and problems forever. So frustrating!

Category: Data scraping and changing verified listings. Once a listing is claimed Google should not be allowed to add crappy data they “think” is applicable. For the longest time Google added my 1st category as Physician. (Just an example, no biggie for my listing because that’s not where I get clients). But for many SMBs G changing their Place page by adding cats and images that are WRONG is a big frustration and sometimes the changes even hurt their business.

Category – Bugs and Tech problems:
Way too many bugs! Several examples here: “Google Places Bug Makes Listings Disappear for 6-10 Weeks – They call this a HICCUP???” http://marketing-blog.catalystemarketing.com/google-places-bug-listings-disappear.html

Plus Google’s turn-around time to fix bugs is way too long. Additionally they do not give enough feedback on the status of problems. Even if all they did was pin known bug reports at the top of the forum to advise it was being worked on and give a status report, it would help so many SMBs. Example: one user in the forum started giving people this advice due to the missing description bug: He said everyone should just start posting their description as a REVIEW FOR THEMSELVES. Really bad advice that could cause other problems. But people get desperate when they are left in the dark and feel their business is being negatively affected.

Category – Support. SERIOUSLY this product IF it worked as it should COULD be a self service product. But it’s so buggy it should be marked BETA and they need to offer support.

Category: Allowing User Edits: Marking a viable business as PERMANENTLY CLOSED

I’ve only had this happen to clients a few times, but check the forums. There is a disturbing and growing trend. I think someone must be selling an eBook on how to nuke your competitor’s local listings or something because there are sure lots of reports lately.

This is totally unacceptable and can destroy a small business!

Wish the forum would allow you to sort by date. If you could you would see a huge increase over the past 2 months.
http://www.google.com/support/places/bin/search.py?hl=en&forum=1&query=permanently+closed+more%3Aforum

Right on top is a good example: “Hospital Emergency Room – Listed as Permanently Closed” It’s the only ER for 18 miles. Numerous report a problem attempts to no avail.

Let users submit a report. Some are likely honest reports. But DON’T mark the listing closed and wipe it out of the SERPS without verifying the business is actually closed. For many SMBs it’s an ongoing battle. They get the close label removed and their competitor just keeps doing it.

Continuing to allow users to report a business as closed without proof or verification is criminal neglect in my opinion.

Do. No. Evil.

So what do you hate about Google Places? Google is reading. Maybe together we can make a difference. Share here or post over at Mike’s + thread or both!

Image Credit: graur razvan ionut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net