Founder's blog

Google tech support

Mar 19 2008 :: by Alex
About a week ago I have contacted Google's support. I wanted to let them know, that when their web services (Google Apps, Google Reader, AdWords/Adsense etc.) are being accessed via httpS, the browser sometimes shows a security warning: "This page contains both secure and nonsecure items". This message is always shown when you click the "help" link, sometimes it even pops-up during normal operations (opening items, logging-in etc), especially when using "Google Apps".

Simple steps to reproduce: navigate to and click "Help".

[webmaster-hat-on] The reason is obvious: some element on a secure web page (one that is loaded with "https://") is not being loaded from a secure source (uses "http://" absolute path). This typically occurs with images, JavaScript, frames, CSS etc. It's a well known "mixed content error" which can be easily fixed [webmaster-hat-off]

Anyway, I decided to contact support. First, it took me dozens of clicks to finally get to the Google Apps support form through all their suggestions and troubleshooters. Then, Google has answered me with an automated email with links to FAQs, top suggestions and the closing phrase: "if you still have unresolved questions after looking through this material, please reply to this email". I still had unresolved questions, so I replied. After 4 days of waiting the Google's answer was:

Please switch to Firefox
use our application via unsecured http.
I don't want to read my confidential emails via unsecured http. I don't want to switch to Firefox. I guess I will continue seeing this lame error from Google webdevs...

When Windows Vista was first released we had a lot of trouble with our "network switcher" tool, cause Vista requires administrative permissions to change network settings on the fly. And getting admin permissions is a real pain under Vista. We've had tons of support requests. Imagine if we would answer:

Please use Windows XP
Disable "User Account Control" in Vista security settings.
Of course Google is a giant company which gets tons of emails and support requests from their users and crazy fans. They are obliged to filter these requests by forcing users to read their FAQs and troubleshooters. They simply can't afford being personal. It's not their fault. But that's the advantage of being a mISV. You're small enough to be personal to your customers.

P.S. I wonder why don't they use some kind of ticket tracking or helpdesk software in their work.

P.P.S. 2 seconds after posting this, I found this thread on BoS: Google support

'Google tech support' was written by Alex by Alex. CEO, founder