Remember the good ol’ days when you could simply take over a listing if no one at the business knew what the login was? I believe the conversations went something like this:
“Oh silly us,” remarked the proprietor. “Someone who worked here a looooong time ago must have set that up. In all of tarnation, I have no clue what it could even begin to be. Whatever can be done?”
“Not a problem,” the intrepidly handsome and muscular Local Consultant said. “We’ll just simply use an account we create and take over the listing with either a phone or postcard verification. No need to worry at all gentle business owner!”
Well, it seems those heady days may be gone forever. Or at least they are getting much less frequent. Check out what I just found.
1. As you can see, the listing looks completely unclaimed and unverified. Much like a listing that Google has created from information it scraped from around the Net.
2. However, after creating an account to house it and trying to claim it there, this message shows up in Google Plus.
3. And this is how it appears, and what “Request Ownership” means when trying to claim in the new Places dashboard.
The obvious benefit to this is that, just like Google mentioned a few weeks ago, only one owner can now have a claim on a listing and if someone wants to take over a listing, they need to request that the owner of the listing give up that claim or add you in order to make updates and changes. The bad part to all this though, is, much like the listing above, if the business owner doesn’t have any clue about the login – either they lost it, or someone who doesn’t work there has it and they can’t obtain it, or some other situation – then there could be problems. Creating a new listing for the same business at the same location is a violation and contacting Google support about transferring ownership could take an amazing amount of time and effort that more than likely requires the help of the business owner (who may or may not be up for it if they are busy or unhelpful). This has the feel of how Yahoo Local has their Merchant Verified Listings and those pose enough of a problem as it is. Simply put, I have a bad feeling about this, but it is the way Google Maps is choosing to move forward, so be prepared for this to happen to more and more listings soon.
I just got off the phone with Google support about this little issue and they told me that yes, this verified owner listing stuff started to roll out within the last two weeks. The best course of action to take would be to find the owner and, just as before, have them give me the login or delete the listing from the account in order to reverify. How long it takes for that check mark to disappear and me to be able to take over the listing after it has been deleted isn’t yet known (and I don’t think it will be in this case).
Support did give helpful info in telling me that it was an @gmail.com account and the last edit was made to the account on March 14th, which was adding the website. Then Support presented two options in figuring out how to proceed: The first was reclaiming the listing after it had been idle for AN ENTIRE YEAR and the second was calling Support back to tell them that the business owner still has no clue, at which point they will call the business owner to truly verify everything I am saying and can then remove the claim from the other account.
Now, the problem with the first solution is that waiting a year is extremely problematic, especially when Support tells me the last edit was made less than a month ago, and there’s no way to prevent the account holder from making another edit in 364 days to reset the clock. If this is the case, I feel the listing is a lost cause and it’s the end of the line.
The problem with the second solution is that, while being the better of the two, it can be hard to connect with the client (who may or may not be extremely busy, with no time for anything but their work, yet still wants this done as quick as possible), reconnect with support, have support then be able to connect with the client to verify the information and have either support or the client reconnect with me in order to verify that the listing is now unclaimed and I can finally start the claim process (unless they can then manually verify the listing in the new account so no new verification has to take place). In short, it’s still going to be a daunting process to get done.
While this new way forward does have the immense benefit of keeping one listing in one account, it certainly is going to present it’s own unique challenges as well. I hope everyone out there who deals with this gets ready. Winter is coming.
As Matthew points out in his comment below, and something I didn’t originally try, was to click on the “Request Ownership” button. I just tried it and, as he says, it opens up a new tab for the Google Help page… which is totally unhelpful. Whether or not any email is sent to the owner (as it says it will do right on the page) isn’t displayed or showed.
So again, when I requested ownership, all that happened was a new tab opened for the unhelpful Help page, and the dialog box remained on the other page with no message about any email being sent. I’m not sure if Google Support wants to be completely inundated by phone calls about this from people trying to manage listings, but that’s about to happen.