Well, I should say Google Checkout in this perticular case.
On my online store (www.ParadoxalPress.com) I have over 300,000 books for sale. Since most of my sales are drop-shipped from the distributor within 24 hours, there is no reason why I can’t offer their whole catalog. Of course, this may include some books of a more “questionable nature”. Hey, if it’s published and distributed, then I sell it…
Last week, recieved an email from Google saying that I were violating their policy and that any promotion as me being a “google checkout merchant” would be suspended until the violation was resolved. This was in regards to a book named “The Big Book of Porn”. Of course, the policies are that the sale of “adult or pornographic” content is prohibited. Which after looking at the description of the title, is somewhat in a grey zone. In most likelyhood, Google probably runs some periodic keyword checks and does audits based on the result.
Their policy doesn’t prohibit the actual sale of these products, just that you are not allowed to let users use Google Checkout to complete such purchases. Overall this is fine by me, my main problem is that they email me saying that I am cut off because of a specific title and that I am “suspended” until the issue is resolved and reviewed. So what, that means I can loose a whole week of business for this? Maybe a 48 hour notice would be nice?
Another problem is the subjectivity of the policy. Books are clear products with unique identifying numbers (or ISBNs). So my question back to Google was for them to provide me a list of “forbidden” titles. Their answer was of course a generic canned message (probably originating from India or China) saying they don’t have such a list and that I should read the policy. So essentially, I either have to go through 300,000 products by hand and make a judgement call on all of them or simple play the game with Google, addressing specific products every time they barr me.
Now, what about this double standard thing? Well I wanted to prove them wrong, so I went to another large merchant which offers Google Checkout (Buy.com) and found the same exact book. Was able to select the book and go through the Google Checkout process. I even sent them a screen shot and asked them whythe larger entities were not held to the same standard. Their answer was again generic and said they would investigate. Of course, Buy.com has much more leverage than I do but they also have much more man power to implement such policies within their web store.
I just really hate when companies that are supposed to offer services to small businesses decide to start trampling over them (oh don’t get me started on my Amex card problems!!)