Germany Tackles Google over Lack of Consumer Service

Google has today received an ultimatum from German consumer groups to respond to support requests from users via email under German law, or face court proceedings.

Germany's Telemedia Act makes it mandatory for businesses to provide an email address to allow customers to contact them quickly, which Google does not comply with.

The Federation of German Consumer Organisations (VZBV) has asked Google to sign a pledge to provide adequate customer service by responding individually to users' questions sent by email or be liable for fines.

Carola Elbrecht, VZBV's Project Manager for Consumer Rights in the Digital World commented: "If Google does not sign it we're going to court."

She added: "It is not enough to just provide an email address that leads into emptiness, you also need to be able to communicate over it. Responding to users attempting to get their questions answered with automatic replies, as Google does in Germany, is not sufficient".

The VZBV has also said that it's pointless for German users of Google's search engine, Google+, YouTube or other services sending the company an email, because they do not get a reply. Users who need support are forced use email forms or dig through the Google help forums to find an answer to their questions.

Google spokesman Mark Jansen has responded in an email that the search giant is looking into the matter. Meanwhile, VZBV have given Google until May 6 to comply with its demands.

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