IT Law

Google warned over dead-end enquiries inbox

The German Federation of Consumer Associations has sent a warning letter to Google about its dead-end customer enquiries e-mail address.

Google warned over dead-end enquiries inbox © Africa Studio -

Google warned over dead-end enquiries inbox © Africa Studio –

Google’s e-mail address

The phenomenon is well known to some: when using Google’s generic support e-mail address to contact the company for technical assistance with its search engine, Google+ or YouTube, you are unlikely to receive the help you need.

Worse still, you often receive an automatic reply, stating that due to the large number of e-mails received, the company is unable to answer your questions directly. The e-mail also informs users that, for technical reasons, there is no possibility to reply to the e-mail just received.

As an alternative to offering tailored advice, Google advises customers to view the company’s help forum and support site for assistance.

German Telemedia Act

In May 2013 the Federation of German Consumer Associations sent a warning letter to the Google, requiring the company to set up a proper customer service e-mail address.

The Federation believes Google is breaching its obligations under German telemedia law to provide customers with an e-mail address under which the company can be contacted quickly and directly (§ 5(1)(2) German Telemedia Act).

Google takes the view that its services comply with Germany’s Telemedia Act.

Due to the differences in legal position, the Federation of German Consumer Associations lodged a court claim at the Regional Court of Berlin on 13 May 2013.

Christian Solmecke is a partner at the law firm WILDE BEUGER SOLMECKE. He is the author of numerous legal publications in the area of internet and IT law. He is also an associate lecturer for social media law at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences.

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