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Google Closed Sign

Restaurant gaffe a reminder that Google isn’t always right

Google Closed Sign

Restaurant gaffe a reminder that Google isn’t always right

With the world making 3.5 billion Google searches every day, the search engine giant is the most knowledgeable friend any of us has, and we trust it. It may have completely ruined the humble pub quiz, but having answers at our fingertips is very convenient, and means that the concept of not knowing something, or having to ask another human for the answer to something, is rapidly disappearing.

A story from last week, however, is a reminder that Google does, just occasionally, get it wrong. And when it does, it seems that it’s very reluctant to admit it!

KATU, an Oregon-based TV station affiliated with ABC, picked up on a story of a Portland restaurant owner who was getting calls from puzzled members of the public under the impression that the eatery was closed for business. It turned out that the reason so many locals thought the Arrosto chicken restaurant was no longer open was because Google was telling them this.

Google relies largely on the public to let it know which establishments are no longer in business, and anybody can inform the search engine that one has closed. Google may then seek further information from the person making the report, or confirmation from the business owners (or former owners) that it is no longer up and running.

What seems more difficult is to tell Google that a business marked as closed is actually open, as Arrosto owner Kaie Wellman reportedly found out. When she informed Google of the phantom closure, she probably expected it to be quickly rectified and put down to some kind of system glitch. However, her conversation with KATU suggests that she had some difficulty convincing Google that her business was really open.

Wellman claims that she received an email from Google insisting that her restaurant “may not be actively managed” and that there were no plans to change Arrosto’s status, leaving the restauranteur pondering what she needed to do to convince them that chicken was cooking, waiters were serving, and diners were dining at the premises.

Thankfully, perhaps partly due to the attention from KATU and, later, IT website The Register, Arrosto was listed as open for business again as of Friday afternoon.

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This piece of open/closed hokey-cokey is a reminder that misunderstandings and mistakes can be hard to correct when communicating with huge companies like Google, and that inaccurate online information can disrupt your business. Be sure to check your Google listings regularly, and let the search engine know straightaway if you see anything wrong, so that you can avoid the sort of online cluck-up experienced by Arrosto.

John Murray

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