Google gets ultimatum from Germany

Germany has issued an ultimatum to the search engine Google to start answering user questions via email or face the consequences.

The Federation of German Consumer Organisations (VZBV) has told Google to sign an undertaking that it will provide customer service by responding individually to users questions sent by email.

Carola Elbrecht, VZBV’s project manager for consumer rights, said that if Google signs such an agreement it could be fined if it breached the undertaking.

Of course the answer there would be for Google to tell Germany to go forth and multiply, but if it does then the VZBV will take it to court immediately.

According to PC World, under the German Telemedia Act, businesses must provide an email address to allow customers to contact them quickly.

But it is not enough to just provide an email address that leads to Nevernever land , the company needs to communicate over it. Google has a habit of answering questions with automatic replies and not really helping, she said.

At the moment, German users of Google’s search engine, Google+, YouTube or other services sending the company an email will get nothing back. This means that users have to use email forms or dig through the Google help forums to find an answer to their questions.

Users are also notified that “due to technical reasons” it is impossible to reply to the mail the user just received. Instead, Google directs the receiver to its forums and support pages. While doing evil to customers is acceptable business practice in the US, in Germany it is in breach of the the German Telemedia Act, the VZBV said.