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This Guy Says Google Took Away $46K In AdSense Earnings, And He Doesn’t Know Why

    August 19, 2014
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

It’s not uncommon to hear about an over-dependence on Google costing people big money. There have been plenty of tales of businesses losing all their search visibility after Google algorithm changes. In some cases, people have lost their jobs. In even worse cases, businesses have had to fold or completely change course.

Sometimes people get burned by Google in other ways. Sometimes it’s their own fault, but it’s not always black and white. One guy just lost nearly $50,000 after Google decided his site didn’t comply with its AdSense rules, though the company had recently praised the job he was doing.

Do you think Google sends mixed messages about its guidelines? Let us know in the comments.

Jim Edwards at Business Insider tells the story of Idris Sami, a 19-year-old entrepreneur, who runs a site called MesTextos, which offers a messaging service for French speakers. His site was doing so well, the story goes, that by December, Sami’s Google account hit $46,000 because so many people were clicking on the AdSense ads that appeared on the site. Then, Google canceled his account, and returned all of that money to advertisers. Sami is now banned from Google ad services.

Edwards reports:

In an email Google sent to Sami, Google says MesTextos was incentivizing or forcing people to click on ads to use the site, which is against the rules; Sami denies that. He says two different Google sales staff praised his revenue-generating efforts and, in separate emails, offered to help optimize his site to improve its performance. He says he wasn’t warned there was something wrong with his site until it was too late.

The report includes screenshots of the emails, which are in French. It also has a generic statement from a Google spokesperson, who wouldn’t comment on this particular case:

… we always send a note to the publisher explaining which policy was in question and, in many cases, give them a chance to make changes to their pages to keep the account in good standing. Publishers are also given an opportunity to appeal policy decisions.

According to the report, the ban came less than two weeks after Google sent Sami an email offering to help him boost his revenues. He claims to have spoken with the company, and that they told him “everything was good.” He also claims to have “begged and pleaded with Google,” but is unable to figure out what Google thinks is wrong with the site.

And that could be the real problem here. If Google is going to take away nearly fifty grand from someone because they were in violation of some rule, shouldn’t that person at least have an understanding of what they actually did wrong? That’s a lot of money.

Weirdly, the BI report says Sami’s site has an ad that requires a click before you can use it, which it says was what Google said was wrong with the site, but that Sami claims not to have even put such an ad there until after Google cut him off and he lost revenue.

Whether or not Sami was in the wrong, Google seems to have been sending a mixed message, as it has been known to do about certain things. The company allegedly told him everything was good, and then banned him, and took away a huge sum of money a couple weeks later, and he doesn’t even know why (again, allegedly).

Google likes to say that it’s transparent about things, and it is about some things, but recently, it seems to be getting less transparent about others. At best, Google’s reputation for transparency is a controversial one.

Sami’s story also comes a few months after Google was making headlines for alleged business practices related to AdSense. As you may recall, someone claiming to be a former Google employee posted two very detailed explanations about how Google was stealing money from publishers by banning their accounts just ahead of payouts. The claims have been mostly written off as conspiracy theory in the press – Edwards even mentions it in his report, saying the theory has “giant hole” in that Google makes money only when it delivers ads, so banning successful sites would make it “poorer”. Still, a lot of people on the Internet spoke out after those claims, suggesting they seemed to jibe completely with their own experiences.

Later, a class action suit was filed against Google making similar claims, but without relying on the allegations from the alleged former Googler. That person, however, said they had plenty of evidence to provide should they be called upon to do so.

Look, people have been accusing Google of all kinds of shady stuff for years, and much of it goes unproven or even disproven. Other times, the government intervenes, and Google pays penalties.

In the case of Sami, we just don’t know all the facts about what happened, and it’s just one man’s version of the story. Google could be a little more “transparent’ and comment on the situation. They could at the very least make clear why this guy lost so much money. If he’s made it a public case, why not come out and comment directly on it? If it’s because he messed up (which it may very well be), just explain.

Do you think this guy has a legitimate beef with Google? Is Google transparent enough when it comes to banning accounts? Let us know what you think.

Image via Google

  • Max

    google is nothing more than organized criminals – i am changing search engines – they need to pay that poor guy

    • Sofakingdabest

      google does end with a vowel

  • Joe

    Happened to me too, although not for $50k. I was a long time adsense publisher for many years, then got cut off. No explanation, no reinstatement and no payout for the accumulated income.

    I’ve sworn off Google. I won’t use their search engine, won’t click on their ads and have changed all of my families default search engine settings to Bing. I would encourage everyone to do the same.

  • Alena

    I always find it interesting how Google ALWAYS WAITS and cuts off an adsense advertiser and keeps their earnings right BEFORE the customer is due to be paid instead right of AFTER an advertiser was just recently paid. That alone tells you that Google is doing this stuff in a less than honorable way.

    • Al Do

      I had a very similar experience a couple of years ago, right before I was due to be paid. They claimed that someone (the inference being that it was me) had been clicking on the advertisements on a too regular basis.
      I appealed and got no response whatsoever. I tried to start up AdSense again, was rejected and appealed again – still cannot get any response other than an automated reply that my appeal would be considered – Like when??

      Best advice is to avoid Google before they get you by the google-ies

  • Thomas Anthony

    I too was robbed the same way by Google. But certainly not for that much money. My business background steered me to always leave as little money as possible sitting in an account I can’t control.

    -Thomas Anthony

  • http://analyzer.growthhow.com/ Chris Phelps

    Happened to me too, years ago, and I never got a real explanation, just a generic list of policies I may have broken. I have tried several times to appeal over the years with no luck. When I got the email that my site was not in compliance and warning me that I needed to fix it, just seconds later I got the shutoff email that said banned for life and apparently they meant it. To this day, I don’t know what I did wrong. I have talked to real people and have always been told the decision was final.

  • Bandit Aerial

    Google is not the only one doing this. Facebook is guilty as well. Clearly profiling and only allowing companies they feel fit to advertise on their paid advertisements as well. I had advertised on Facebook for month’s specifically advertising products that are legally sold in many states that I targeted, non adult products. Facebook says no, not on there site any further. Really question the legality of this type of practice by any company. http://www.fireworksstoreonline.com, http://www.banditaerialproductions.net

  • J Brown

    Google certainly needs to clarify on this. They enticed the advertiser to advertise and now they are withholding payments to the advertiser. Ironically speaking, do a Google search on this and you will find many more similar cases.

    Cost per Click (CPC) which Google charges advertisers is a failed idea because of fraud clicks. Do a search on “fraud clicks on Google” and you will get the idea.

    Now the real question. Do the people at Google use Google as their search engine? My answer is NO. If they did, they would have fixed their fraud click issue and there will be no such case of Google failing to pay advertisers.

    Now do a search on Google, about Google reimbursing their Adwords customers because of fraudulent clicks.

    I am an Adwords Customer and never had any notice of any reimbursement due to fraud clicks. But I stopped advertising because the ROI just does not add up.

  • james

    This guy has been cheated by google as I have been cheated be them for $3xx,- in the same way. Goggle is a scam they just do what they want and cheat adsense publishers as they want the problem is the us government don’t touch them at all. Which points automatically to the long suggested idea that google is a setup of the cia / military to gain information and they wont touch that.

  • cholleti

    This was happened to me, no warning nothing and my site earned about 1200$ in a week.

  • UbuIbme

    License to steal. Situations like that make Google look like such a shady business.
    You’re talking about someone’s livelihood – a little due process would be in order before they are granted permission to refund advertisers.

  • Stupidscript

    Your (and some posters) description of Google “stealing” their money is described accurately as “Google cancelled that account and returned all of the money to advertisers.”

    Sorry, but that’s not “stealing” … that’s “recovering”.

    If you broke the rules, you don’t get to profit from it, and the advertisers don’t have to pay for it.

    Google didn’t take anything … they returned what was rightfully owned to their advertisers from whom it was stolen, in the first place.

    And that’s an awfully long article based on a dubious premise, as you admit in a pseudo-disclaimer at the end: “..we just don’t know all the facts about what happened, and it’s just one man’s version of the story.”

    Why write it until you know the truth?

    I know I won’t change any minds, and I’m an AdSense/AdWords user myself, but someone needed to state the obvious.

    • Robert

      Ok fair enough….but when you get burned you’ll get no sympathy with those burned before you.

    • james

      You are wrong, first they dont give back any money to anyone and the people they steal from usually never have done anything wrong, Google says that but never present any evidence, have you ever heard that anyone ever got any penalty at a law-court without any evidence? This is an organized cheat that’s it.

    • http://analyzer.growthhow.com/ Chris Phelps

      I’m sure they found something wrong, it was definitely not on purpose and I was not cheating in any way, but my problem with it is tell me what I did wrong and I will correct it. Instead, with no notice, I’m banned for life!

  • incensedatadsense

    This is a daily occurrence with Google. I am so happy that there is finally some light on this disgusting situation which occurs way to frequently with Google AdSense. There is never any information given about why they chose randomly to ban any account and keep the money. I so doubt that the advertiser sees $1 on any of the revenue they steal from their smaller publishers.

  • BeenBurned

    Google never gives an explanation when they take your earnings, they have the power and the capability and they do what they like. You would think that they would work with a big earner as Google benefits too but with Google it seems you are guilty if they say you are and you are not given an opportunity to correct your mistakes. It would certainly be easier not to make mistakes if Google guidelines were less vague, but as it stands they write the law, they interpret the law and they are the judges.

  • ★★ Maryanne Myers ★★

    Adsense has done this to me twice on two different sites, using the same reason they did the same thing to me. I did not offer anything for people to click on the ads and it was not even put anywhere to be a main focus. It only made small amounts (25-100 dollars). For years I have not used adsense on my sites because I know I probably will not get my earnings yet again for the same reason… so why bother wasting the space on their ads.

  • vincent_g

    The problem is the advertiser is more apt to file a law suit then the adsense partner.
    Lawyers don’t want to take on these types of cases as it requires tech experts to testify which costs big bucks.

    Although I am surprised that Google can get away with causing so many companies to spend so much money on keeping up with their changes such as Panda and so on.
    These changes could well cost a company a great deal in not only SEO fees but also in lost revenue.

    I would think that once a company opens it’s doors and sets up a standard it should have some responsibility to those that depend on it should it change it’s standard.

    After all if Panda has caused a serious drop in traffic to a website Google should be required to give the owner every bit of info as to what the changes are and whats has caused the drop in traffic.

    The fact that it’s a free service is irrelevant.

    A river is free but altering the course of that river has significant consequences.

  • Steves Apps

    Same happened to me,but not thousands in revenue. They don’t offer any human help what-so-ever during setup,their help/faqs/guidelines are often outdated and false. They don’t even tell you why your account has been deactivated,just a vague message stating many possible reasons. Google are scum,think how much money they make doing this to everyone…..Google don’t offer any help or feedback during the setup phase, just so they can remove your account and still serve their adverts….I waited months to hear back from Google,tried several forums,no answer,as soon as it comes to payment time,guess what? Account = gone

  • Fred1973

    I totally agree with the guy. Google has to be accountable and not act as a monster. Google should stop playing such dirty games. From such incidents it looks like they are entering into the field of criminals. http://www.header.no/webutvikling/

  • europe1

    Never build a business based on income from google. There are so many story’s out there, where google cut the money flow to business owners. The biggest problem is that google are too big. We will not see any changes before people STOP using google and switch to alternative services.

  • tessadick

    Google Adsense terms say that they can steal our earnings for any reason, and they don’t even have to tell us why. And so they do, on a regular basis. Besides, it isn’t all that good a deal for the advertisers, either.

  • Plain2014

    If you make money and you are happy it does not matter if Google is stealing money.
    If you are losing you make think otherwise.
    I invested a little in Google Ads but unsuccessfully. I did not like it very much.
    But I did have more traffic to me Web site. Probably it was not valuable traffic.
    I have forgotten details, but for some reason, I do not trust Google.
    they seem to be backward,dishonest people. The kind of people we do not like.
    Will I use again Google Ads. May be, if it becomes profitable.
    I hope someone strong and honest look deep into the subject matter and if it becomes clear beyond any doubt that this people steals money on a constant basis and are harsh with the employees we put them aside once and for all.
    At this moment I give them the benefit of doubt but I do encourage investigation.
    We will be making big changes in the world of digital technology hopefully.
    Honesty is very important and we should not be slanderous.
    Also we need to be generous and responsible, and help each other.

  • joes

    Wow 50k – That is alot of money. It amounts ot theft – I do not know the whole story, perhaps he was doing shady tactics. But its certainly unfair a company can say – No were not paying you 50k, and we are not telling you why, thats shocking.

    I am begining to really dislike google.

  • joes

    I might take this time to point out.. googles results are getting worse and worse. I can think of many keywords i compete for – My sites are EXACTLY what the user is looking for, yet useless pages from pinterest and other big sites are ranking way higher, when they are totally irrelevant.

  • Mr Max

    We had the same problem just before payout we where banned accused of clicking on the site our self’s ! with is 100% untrue we did NOT click our self’s, is was a mush lower amount but if you ‘collect’ hundreds maybe thousands small amounts it will add up………………..

  • Mark Lamendola

    His losses were minor, compared to the losses inflicted on my business due to Panda and Penguin (though not having to do with AdSense). Google is evil, and there is no debating that. I think they must sit around figuring out ways to destroy small businesses and then laugh about it. It certainly seems that way, when you consider the carnage and take the body count into consideration.

    “Google guidelines” is an oxymoron. As has been discussed in this very forum (and elsewhere):

    1. Google violates every one of these itself.

    2. The language is so vague, it borders on idiotic. They aren’t much help.

    3. Nothing in these alleged guidelines has shed any light to help the huge number of small sites with great content figure out what it is that Google doesn’t like about them.

    This list could easily hit 100 items. You get the point.

    The solution is for all us to boycott this spam serving site that pretends to be a search engine and educate others about the problems. We need to break Google’s back, just as it has broken the back of so many good businesses that made the mistake of trusting Google to act in an ethical manner.

  • Henk

    Same thing happened to a website I started a couple of years ago. Google offered no explanation, dialog or any comment on why Google had taken these steps. Very frustrating.

  • Guest

    Allow me to present an alternate perspective. Google changes its terms and algorithms because PEOPLE LIKE YOU are CONSTANTLY attempting to find loopholes to exploit so you can be ranked on page one based on how well you can follow the script unknowingly posted by someone who, likely just for fun, found a work-around, but only for the sake of the challenge and with no interest in exploiting Google’s vulnerability for personal gain (this would likely be considered unethical by this person, not to mention unstimulating due to being VERY EASY, hence the desperation by self-described-super-genius-innovative-entrepreneurs but really just frightened and lazy, passionless, spineless marketers to acquire it to sell to other marketers under the guise of doing them a favor before using what they don’t understand* for personal gain.

    *I won’t waste time defining what you don’t understand because all of you are so far gone that not one could appreciate any part of it if I offered a cash prize for just the attempt.

    Now, here’s something you may not know. There are corporations – large, multinational corporations with legal teams that don’t pursue any of you because they’re either not bored or prefer an actual challenge. Businesses that SHOULD

  • https://restore.solutions/ Numus Software

    Don’t forget.. Google crawls the web and indexes it for profit! It is not the net / web WE ARE.. Also EVERY company the size of Google gets blindsided by something new. innovative and something they have not even thought about.. I know for a fact there is something around the corner.. keep your eyes open.. keep your sites up .. and as i said.. We are the net not Google 😉

    Remember MySpace before Facebook!

  • Cilene Bonfim

    Google can do everything; bans people for no reason. I think it’s time someone sue Google. This guy could do it.

    • stinks

      >Google can do everything

      Engineer & Consultant at Google – Be shocking if it is the same guy!

  • http://www.g9ggames.org mr.rambo

    Your information is very good. I have tried Adsense but registration seems hopeless. This blogger’s headline will help you increase your income and hopefully leave you more money from your blog. Google displays images from the top spot for advertising.!
    4 Games _ Enemy

  • Dolce Vita

    One question. Who regulates Google? Who do they answer to? As far as it goes now it seems the answer is no one. They do whatever they want. A sad state of affairs for the net.

  • David

    Don’t know about Sami, but we had adwords that didn’t perform very well at all, taking us about 3 years before we had “accumulated” the $100 minimum before payout at which time Google informed us that we were now banned for some unspecified violation. There is no explanation of the violation, no proof that the violation occurred, no reference to why it’s a violation (like pointing to terms of use), and there’s no mediation/due process to question it. All that for $100 stinking dollars when our company was PAYING Google about $500/month for many years.

    Needless to say, we stopped all Google ads because why would I pay them for my ads (which they also never once gave a credit despite our showing them false looking clicks) when after 3 long years we magically become a banned user once we hit the $100 in ad “revenue.” Google is often evil.

  • Fred

    Hey Google has to get the money back someway after the penalties they had to pay-like the IRS go after the little guy!!!

  • Olawale Peter Odetayo

    I made payment into my Adword account… got charged for few clicks. Only then did i received this from Google team:

    “Hello, ————————————————————————————

    We’ve identified suspicious behavior in the payment activity of your
    AdWords account (customer ID 8633924987) or a connected account. To help
    prevent any unauthorized activity, we suspended your AdWords accounts and
    stopped your ads from running.

    This suspension means that your ads in this account and any related
    accounts can no longer run, and you won’t be able to open any new AdWords
    accounts. You can read more about AdWords’ suspension policies at
    https://support.google.com/adwordspolicy/answer/164786?utm_source=policy&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=susp&hl=en_US.

    If you believe that your account was suspended in error, please contact us
    through the AdWords Help Center:
    https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/8206?contact=1&utm_source=policy&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=susp&hl=en_US

    Sincerely,

    The Google AdWords Team —————————————————-”

    I responded with information about my card and also reminding them that my card has already been charged and all, they then responded with the follow:

    Thanks for your continued patience during this process. Our specialists have re-reviewed the account and confirmed that it is in violation of our AdWords policies. Since this decision is final, the account will not be reinstated. Please avoid creating additional AdWords accounts, as they will be subjected to the same suspension.

    Our support team will not be able to give you any more specifics on the suspension.

    We appreciate your understanding and cooperation.

    Sincerely,

    Anne-Marie

    ——————————————————————————————

    They are reaping people off oh… and they need to be controlled big time.

    • http://analyzer.growthhow.com/ Chris Phelps

      Good luck with this, again, no explanation of the violation.

  • Olawale Peter Odetayo

    I made payment into my Adword account… got charged for few clicks. Only then did i received this from Google team:

    “Hello, ————————————————————————————

    We’ve identified suspicious behavior in the payment activity of your
    AdWords account (customer ID 863392XXXX) or a connected account. To help
    prevent any unauthorized activity, we suspended your AdWords accounts and
    stopped your ads from running.

    This suspension means that your ads in this account and any related
    accounts can no longer run, and you won’t be able to open any new AdWords
    accounts. You can read more about AdWords’ suspension policies at
    https://support.google.com/adw….

    If you believe that your account was suspended in error, please contact us
    through the AdWords Help Center:
    https://support.google.com/adw

    Sincerely,

    The Google AdWords Team —————————————————-”

    I responded with information about my card and also reminding them that my card has already been charged and all, they then responded with the follow:

    Thanks for your continued patience during this process. Our specialists have re-reviewed the account and confirmed that it is in violation of our AdWords policies. Since this decision is final, the account will not be reinstated. Please avoid creating additional AdWords accounts, as they will be subjected to the same suspension.

    Our support team will not be able to give you any more specifics on the suspension.

    We appreciate your understanding and cooperation.

    Sincerely,

    Anne-Marie

    ——————————————————————————————

    They are reaping people off oh… and they need to be controlled big time.

  • Andy

    They’ve done similar things to my sites, although in my case they close Adwords so I can’t buy ads, then send a link to their policies saying I violated ‘one or more’. Yeah, good luck figuring that out, they have a ton of policies. The funny thing is they can detect something is wrong, they say, but for both Adwords and Adsense, they won’t tell you what it is, and appealing is like shouting into the void. No ticket, no reference, just ask to be reinstated and then wait. No feedback. In was also praised and got offers for optimization just a week before. In one case they wanted me to fix a domain I no longer own. Since I obviously can’t be responsible for other people’s domains, my account got suspended.

    Think about it this way: wanna kill a competitor? Fake some clicks to his site. Or buy someone’s old domains, and you can get their accounts killed. It’s just insane lately.

  • MonkeyC

    Totally agree. “Do No Evil?” Yeah, right. Google needs more regulation. They’re a corporate monster.

  • https://restore.solutions/ Numus Software

    Don’t forget.. Google crawls the web and indexes it for profit! It is
    not the net / web WE ARE.. Also EVERY company the size of Google gets
    blindsided by something new. innovative and something they have not even
    thought about.. I know for a fact there is something around the
    corner.. keep your eyes open.. keep your sites up .. and as i said.. We
    are the net not Google 😉

    Remember MySpace before Facebook!