Improving our account management policies to better support customers

Recently, a Google Cloud Platform (GCP) customer blogged about an incident in June, in which a project they were running on Google Cloud Platform was suspended. We really appreciated the candid feedback, in which our customer noted several aspects of our account management process which needed to be improved. We also appreciated our customer’s followup and recognition of the Google Cloud support team, “who have reached out and assured us these incidents will not repeat.”

Here’s what we are doing to be as good as our word, and provide a more careful, accurate, thoughtful and empathetic account management experience for our GCP customers. These changes are intended to provide peace of mind and a predictable, positive experience for our GCP customers, while continuing to permit appropriate suspension and removal actions for the inevitable bad actors and fraud which are a part of operating a public cloud service.

No Automatic Fraud-Based Account Suspensions for Established Customers with Offline Payment. Established GCP customers complying with our Acceptable Use Policy (AUP, TOS and local laws), with an offline billing contract, invoice billing, or an active relationship with our sales team, are not subject to fraud-based automatic account suspension.

Delayed Suspension for Established Online Customers. Online customers with established payment history, operating in compliance with our TOS, AUP and local laws, will receive advance notification and a 5 day cure period in the event that fraud or account compromise activity is detected in their projects.

Other Customers. For all other customers, we will institute a second human review for flagged fraud accounts prior to suspending an account. We’re also modifying who has authority to suspend an account, as well as refreshing our training for the teams that review flagged accounts and determine response actions; re-evaluating the signals, sources, and the tools we use to assess potential fraudulent activity; and increasing the number of options we can use to help new customers quickly and safely grow their usage while building an account history with Google.

In addition to the above, for all customers we are making the following improvements:

24X7 Chat Support. We are rolling out 24X7 chat support for customers that receive account notices, so that customers can always reach us easily. We expect this to be fully rolled out for all customers by September.

Correcting Notices About our 30 Day Policy. Our customer noted, with appropriate concern, that their suspension email stated “we will delete your account in 3 days.” This language was simply incorrect -- our fraud suspension policy provides 30 days before removal. We have corrected the communication language, and we are conducting a full review of our communication verbiage and systems and ensuring that our messages are accurate and clear.

Updating Our Project Suspension Guidelines. We will review and update our project suspension guidelines to clarify our practices and describe what you should expect from Google.

Improving Customer Contact Points. We will encourage customers to provide us with a verifiable phone number, email, and other contact channels, both at sign-up and at later points in time, so that we can quickly contact you if we detect suspicious activity on your account.

Creating Customer Pre-Verification. We will provide ways for customers to pre-verify their accounts with us if they desire, either at sign-up or at a later point in time.

These suspensions are our responsibility.There are also steps that customers can take to help us protect their accounts including:
  1. Make sure to monitor emails sent to your payments and billing contacts so you don’t miss important alerts.
  2. Provide a valid phone number where we can reach you in the event of suspicious activity on your account.
  3. Provide one or more billing admins to your account.
  4. Provide a secondary payment method in case there are problems charging your primary method.
  5. Contact our sales team to see if you qualify for invoice billing instead of relying on credit cards.
We’re making immediate changes to ensure our policies will improve our customer’s experience. Our work here is never done and we will continue to update and optimize based on your feedback.

We sincerely apologize to all our customers who’ve been concerned or had to go through a service reinstatement. Please keep the feedback coming, we’ll work to continue to earn your trust every day.