Google to App Engine customers: Don't call us, we'll call you

Google charges $500 a month for 'premier' App Engine support, but weekday-only hours stop at 6 p.m. Is that how to treat customers?

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According to Google's guidelines, customers must try to fix problems themselves before contacting support, then submit a written request for help. If the issue is considered a priority, meaning a problem that affects customer operations, Google says it will respond within four hours. That doesn't sound very good to me. After all, four hours is a big chunk of a business day. I'm not sure how many companies use App Engine for operational functions, as opposed to developmental ones, but those that do can't be very happy about losing that much business time.

Google's support announcement come just a few months after a hefty price increase for App Engine customers, an uptick that left more than a few steamed customers. As my colleague Savio Rodrigues noted, the Hacker News and Google Groups message boards dedicated to App Engine are filled with developers complaining about dramatic cost increases of 50 percent to more than 2,800 percent. Is anyone surprised by what the customer that got socked with a 28-fold increase decided to do? "We are moving 22 servers away. Already started the process to move to AWS."

I was impressed with the balanced view expressed by Ted Hoff, an active developer, who wrote in his blog, "The dream (of pay for what you use) is dead. Everyone will pay more. And that's not wrong. Googlehas every right to make money. It's the speed of the change, the direction of the change, and the magnitude of the change that has thrown people for a loop. Selecting App Engine was a leap of faith, and much of the anger is because many feel that faith has been betrayed."

I agree. Google shouldn't lose money on its services once they are out of beta. But if you're paying $500 a month for so-called premier service and can get help only part of the time -- and slowly at that -- Google simply isn't giving customers good value.

Google does many things really, really well. But customer service isn't one of them. Google can't support the billions of people who use its search engine. But 200,000 developers? Give me a break. This company needs to grow up if it wants to be a serious player in business.

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This article, "Google to App Engine customers: Don't call us, we'll call you," was originally published by Read more of Bill Snyder's Tech's Bottom Line blog and follow the latest technology business developments at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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