Items tagged with: terminated
A plea to all android app developers and small start-up tech business owners to come together and force Google to change their automatic…
Article word count: 1153
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19124324
Posted by jacquesm (karma: 147699)
Post stats: Points: 215 - Comments: 79 - 2019-02-09T20:14:13Z
\#HackerNews #account #business #developer #google #our #play #terminated #via
Go to the profile of Mark Dodson
A plea to all android app developers and small start-up tech business owners to come together and force Google to change their automatic termination policies
Our start-up idea
18 months ago, my wife and I came up with idea for an app. We carried out extensive research to find a company who could help us to create our vision. We used Upwork and found a company who had extensive experience in the area of development we required. Their reviews were great and the developers we spoke to were eager to create our app.
To cut a long story short — after many months of collaborative work between ourselves and our app developers and many mistakes along the way, we were ready to launch our app. Behind the scenes we had also been busy creating our brand, social media pages, promotional videos, adverts and getting ready to onboard businesses and customers. We’d invested every penny of our entire £25,000 into the development of the app.
After a few late disasters with our dedicated server and validation process within the app, we were finally ready to launch in January 2019. Then, to our dismay we realised our app had been removed from the Play Store. Our first thought was that there was another problem with our server connecting to the app. We then had a look on the App Store and saw that the iOS version of our app was listed with no problems whatsoever. We were confused as to why the app was listed on the App Store and not the Play Store.
I then attempted to login to my ‘Google Developer Account’ for the first time. Previous to this our app developers were the only ones to access our account to upload and update our app for us. Each time I tried to login to my account I was sent to a blank page with ‘403’ error message. I couldn’t understand what had gone wrong. I contacted the app developers who attempted to login and they also received the same error message. I then contacted the Play Console Help team via their online chat function.
According to Google’s records, my account had been terminated and I had been informed of this via email on 23rd January 2019. I was confused as I had not received an email but I was still confident the situation would be resolved quickly. I checked my junk folder and found I had been sent an email to let me know my account had been terminated. The email had a link for me to be able to appeal the decision and within 4 hours of completing the form I received the following response:
Google’s automatic rejection of appeal to reinstate Google Play Developer Account
I couldn’t believe what I was reading — effectively my accounted had been terminated because of an ‘associated’ account. I had created a Google Developer Account simply so I could pass on the login details to my app developers who uploaded and updated the app via my account each time. Therefore, the developers, one of their employees or one of their ‘associated’ accounts had previously been banned and therefore by mere ‘association’ my developer account had also been terminated, causing our app to be removed from the Play Store and effectively ruining our whole start-up business.
I sent an email back to Google Support explaining there must have been a mistake unless my account was fraudulently used without my knowledge. I asked for a contact that I could speak to so that we could resolve the situation.
My request for a contact was completely ignored and on 30th January 2019 I received the following email:
Google’s response to requesting human support
It was at this stage that I became very concerned. Our app and therefore our whole business was useless without cross-platform functionality and there appeared to be no way of contacting Google to get the issue resolved. I contacted @GooglePlayDev via Twitter and received the following response when requesting contact details of somebody that could look into our case:
Google’s Twitter Developer Support
I then searched on forums for help and there were countless developers who had posted about similar situations they had been in and none of them were able to get their situation resolved. I quickly started to lose all hope when I came across an open letter from an app developer who had managed to get his rejected appeal overturned and his developer account and apps reinstated:
The developer had managed to get his story to go viral and attract the attention of some of the ‘developer relationship managers’ within Google’s Play team. Therefore, my only option left was to get in contact with these employees to see if they would look into our case. I connected with as many ‘developer relationship managers’ as possible including Adriana Puchianu, Aleksandra Ben Har, Thierry Muller, Mark Masterson, Paul Kinlan, Kubra Zengin, Jaime Gonzalez and Nicolas Bortolotti. I also attempted to message Purnima Kochikar, the Director of Google Play, Apps & Games at Google.
As of 6th February 2019, I have received no further responses to my emails to Google Play Developer Support or twitter messages to @GooglePlayDev Only one of the developer relationship managers on LinkedIn has been good enough to message me back but even he has no ability to overwrite the automatic termination process.
I am in utter shock at the lack of customer support from Google. Both Apple and Amazon have app developer customer service departments that deal specifically with issues like this. I have no idea how Google can terminate accounts without fully checking the reasons behind the termination.
To put into perspective the situation we are in, imagine one of your neighbours commits a crime and is arrested by the police. You don’t know which neighbour has committed the crime but you are linked to each other by the street you live on and therefore you are ‘associated’ to that neighbour. As a result, you are also arrested for the crime and you are guilty by default! There is no unbiased court case or appeals procedure because the decision is final and you cannot find anybody to contact to get your case re-heard! That is exactly how we feel! Our account has been terminated because of an
‘association’ that we don’t know and our whole business is ruined as a result. Even more worrying is that anyone who this ‘associate’ develops apps for in the future will also have their apps removed and accounts terminated.
The fact that our app is still listed on the App Store (https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/hoopapployalty/id1287914039?mt=8) with no issues whatsoever demonstrates that we have done nothing wrong and that our account and app should be reinstated to the Play Store.
Our absolute last hope is for the good people reading this letter to like, share and comment on this story in the hope that the Google team will do the right thing and reinstate our app and developer account.
Thank you in advance for your support
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An open letter from an Android developer to the Android Community and specially to Purnima Kochikar, director of Google Play, Apps & Games…
Article word count: 1553
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18788450
Posted by dsr12 (karma: 26285)
Post stats: Points: 145 - Comments: 42 - 2018-12-30T10:28:20Z
\#HackerNews #account #google #our #play #publisher #start-up #terminated
Photo by Freebie Photography — Creative Commons Attribution 3.0
Go to the profile of Pablo A. Martínez
\* December 24th. Received Google Play account termination email. It mentions it is due to prior violations of “associated accounts” outlined in previous emails. \* Never received any communication prior the termination regarding any infringement not solved or previous emails regarding to an “associated account”. \* December 24th. I appealed for human assistance by suggested text form because Google Play lacks of a proper Developer Customer service by phone or assigned account manager. \* December 25th. I received 24 hours exactly after the termination communication an email telling me that my appeal has been rejected. (Most probably rejected by a bot) \* Result: A ten years long Android career and a successful start-up killed for Christmas.
I have been developing Android apps for nearly 10 years and I have personally lived the evolution of the whole Android ecosystem, since Android 1.5 to Android 9.0, from “Android Market” to “Google Play”.
I started developing apps as a hobby, later on I joined a major company as developer and finally 4 years ago I decided to follow my own path and co-founded a start-up with a colleague. Android has given me all, a career path, economic independence and best of all, the privilege of making a living doing what I would do just for fun.
While it is undeniable that Google Play has flourished to become the greatest App, Games and Media distribution platform of all times and has devoted all the effort to provide the best experience to more than 2 billion users, it has failed in one simple and plain key point:
Developer customer support
Two other key services provided by Google for Android developers are Admob and Google Ads. If I have a problem with Google Ads, I can just make a phone call and have direct customer support. If I encounter any problem with Admob I can even meet in person with my local Admob Account manager, which is great.
But If I have a problem as a developer at Google Play I can just get a text form and template answers.
We count with all kind of tools in our developer console to publish, monetize, track, monitor, get user feedback, etc… but we cannot just simply get a proper “human” support when an issue arises.
And I can tell you that issues arise more often that we could expect, if you are lucky it’s just an app suspension that can be fixed with an app update but others is an app removal and you must to republish your app. It can be even worse, one day you can receive an email that notifies you about your “Google Play Publisher account termination”.
My “personal publisher account”, was terminated last August 1th. I probably will never know why. It was mostly abandoned, I had just a few old apps just for testing features or make experiments. It was not really important for me nor my start-up but I felt very worried and thought that this had to be a mistake done by an automated process or bot, a false positive… so I looked at this line with confidence, this mistake was going to be fixed for sure:
If you feel this termination may have been in error, please reach out to our policy support team
“Reaching the support team” consists in filling a text field with a 1000 chars limit which is referred as an “Appeal for reinstatement”.
A couple of days later I got an email that confirmed the account termination with this answer:
I couldn’t understand anything, “Multiple violations… by an associated Google Play developer account” ? So I answered back requesting more info.
But the effort was futile, I later discovered searching at Google that this has happened to many other developers and I was just getting the same canned responses.
I tried to get help from other channels like @GooglePlayDev but they just directed me to the same “appeal text form”.
The first email was clear at one point, I can’t publish anymore Android apps in Google Play by myself.
Do not attempt to register a new developer account. Any new accounts will be closed and your developer registration fee will not be refunded. We recommend that you use an alternative method for distributing your apps in the future.
I felt terribly sad, disappointed and angry at the same time. How can Google let this happen? How can such a critical action be taken without any prior communication? Who are “Taylor” and “Sam”, the signers of the replies I got?. Are they actual humans? are they bots? Are they accountable for their decisions? Do they minimally understand what involves developing and publishing an app? Who watches them?
Despite this I thought that I had been in the past smart enough (3 years before all this happened) to open an independent Gmail account to isolate all my start-up services, accounting, work and apps from my personal stuff. And that the team would be able to continue developing apps and publishing them on the start-up Google Play account with ease.
I thought I was right until last December 24th I wake up with the long dreaded email awaiting in our start-up Gmail’s inbox. 5 months later we were receiving at GreenLionSoft the same “Account Termination” email template.
Notified the 24th at 5:15 (CET)
Of course, I appealed and in exactly 24h I got the expected account termination reply, what a Christmas present…
Google Play’s Christmas present for December 25th, just exactly 24h later.
This completely ruined my Christmas holidays with my family.
This time the account termination has overwhelming implications. We at GreenLionSoft had 18 published apps, with more than 1 Million downloads and 300k monthly active users. We were a successful company employing 5 people (2 direct employees and up to 3 freelancers) and expected to continue growing in 2019 and increasing further our portfolio of apps.
\* We have lost everything we have been able to build in the past 4 years, downloads, reputation, store position, etc… \* Our users won’t be able to get future updates and they won’t know what has happened. \* Our only source of income that are ads and in-app purchases will eventually run down. \* We will have probably to close our start-up in the next few weeks/months so my colleague and me will lose our current jobs and the freelancers will miss the workload they were expecting to have.
This is is happening because we, the publishers (developers), are just a drop of water in the ocean compared with the amount of Google Play customers. The actual business for Google Play are them, not us.
To ensure quality, safety of apps, and the user experience for their billions of customers, Google Play is probably scanning apps looking for malicious behaviour, sdk’s or broken policies in an automated fashion. And this is not bad.
They probably have a team of “watchmen” reviewing apps and the automatic reports generated by their internal tools. And again this is not bad.
What is bad is how it is being handled, what is terribly bad is using automatic responses and templates for customer support. Who is deciding that an account has to be terminated? Under which circumstances? Is it actually somebody terminating accounts on Christmas eve? and answering appeals on Christmas? Do they never commit mistakes? Who watches the “watchmen” are doing their work properly?
Dear Android devs, always remember that Google Play may terminate your dev account at any time, without prior notice, without any explanation and you may have to close your company and seek for a new job tomorrow. This is how it works right now.
I believe that we as developers deserve transparency and a proper communication channel to solve this kind of issues, just terminating years of work without any ‘human’ interaction nor explanation makes us feel totally defenseless.
It’s also our responsibility as community to give visibility to this problem, otherwise the problem virtually doesn’t exist for the people that have the power to fix it.
If you happen to be a Google employee, please escalate this issue, share it among your internal channels, do whatever is in your hands to improve the Google Play platforms for us, the developers.
Dear Purnima Kochicar, please let me have the nerve to say that something is broken at Google Play from the developer perspective and nobody seems to be able to help us.
It is your call to take an action on this, to fix processes and customer support, to avoid Google Play ruining developer careers or companies, to stop people losing jobs in the worst of situations. Is in your hands to recover the developer community trust on Google Play, we are willing to help and collaborate.
December 29th, 2018, Madrid, Spain.
Pablo A. Martínez: CEO and Android Lead at GreenLionSoft
Also subscribing this open letter:
\* Miguel Villacorta: Program Manager at Telefónica \* Antonio Leiva: Android Developer, Kotlin Expert & Writer \* Chelu Martín: Head of Tech Lab at IE Business School \* Débora Gómez: Technical Lead at myToys \* Álvaro Abella: Architect at /Bluetab \* Arturo Naredo: CTO at Glownet \* Jesús Díaz: Android Lead at Glownet \* Raúl Martínez: CTO at EthicHub \* José Orozco: Android Dev at eDreams \* Sergio Casero: Android Lead at Worldline SL \* Cristina S. Barreiro: Mobile Developer \* Jaime GC: Android Developer at Icinetic
Do you also want to be listed as a subscriber of this open letter? DM at Twitter, or LinkedIn or just make a comment and I will add your name.
Otherwise please share and make this open letter reach every Android Developer you know. Let’s support an extremely needed change for the good and the future of the community.
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