A Deeper Look Into Our Experience
This past July, we successfully launched an AdWords campaign for one of our clients. Everything was functioning well up until a few days into the campaign when we logged in and were met with a dreaded red notice atop the campaign dashboard: our account had been suspended due to unusual billing activity. We had never, as personal internet marketing individuals nor as a company, encountered such a situation. However, we did know that we had no choice but to fix it sooner rather than later.
We Attempted To Contact Google and Failed
We first contacted Google’s AdWords support department over the phone to obtain details behind our account suspension, but we were always led to an automated machine. Our next step was reaching out via email, where we received a vague, automated response with a link to appeal the suspension if we believed it was a mistake. Before immediately appealing the suspension, we really wanted to understand what we were getting into; after all, this was a delicate situation. If we went about this appeal in the wrong manner, our client would no longer be able to use AdWords again – neither under their current account nor by creating a new account. Losing access to AdWords would result in our client losing access to a huge money making and lead generating channel, and we were NOT about to let that happen.
Since our attempts to contact Google directly yielded zero results, we circled back to a more simple approach and “Googled it”. We hoped to find a solution via the search engine – at the very least find someone who can point us in the right direction or obtain a step-by-step guide on how to best go about this process. Needless to say, we didn’t find much in-depth insight as each suspension case is unique, so we were left to fend for ourselves.
Understanding The Problem
Our suspension notice stated that our account was no longer active due to unusual billing activity. So, first things first, we checked the transaction history. We noticed that our account was successfully charged for some of the clicks we had acquired, yet a small balance remained. We were confused as to why Google didn’t charge the full amount in the first place. Regardless, we assumed the suspension was due to the presence of that remaining balance, so we decided to pay it. We attempted to charge the card on file but the payment did not go through, so we contacted the bank to identify any issues with the card or account. The bank assured us that there were in fact no issues with the bank card or account, nor were there any holds or other attempted charges for Google.
Once we established that there were no issues with the bank, we turned our focus to the client’s website to identify any issues or hacks going on in the backend. We ran security checks, cleaned up the databases, updated passwords and reviewed backlinks to make sure toxic sites weren’t bringing us down but, alas, nothing was found.
Seeking Help From An AdWords Suspension “Expert”
Since we were unable to speak to an actual person at Google nor were there any quality articles outlining the suspension process, we sought the help of social media for assistance. We eventually heard back from a Google Adwords Suspension Expert who said he could offer his insight to assist us. We contacted the expert via email and phone to discuss our situation in detail – walked him through the billing situation, the remaining balance on our account that we were unable to resolve due to the suspension and the assurance that there were no issues with the bank or the card on file. Along with this information, we provided screenshots of our account and the automated emails that we received from Google.
The expert advised that our situation seemed like a simple billing misunderstanding. The suspension was most likely attributed to Google’s tendency to “shoot first and ask questions second”. This means that, in order to combat fraud, Google will immediately suspend an account showing any unusual billing activity. Even though it “seemed” like a simple billing issue, he advised that first step towards a resolution would be to “further evaluate” the AdWords account for any contributing factors to the unusual billing activity. Here’s the catch: in order for his team to perform this evaluation, we first had to pay a nonrefundable fee of $500.
The next phase of the process would go one of two ways:
- If the account suspension was limited to issues within the AdWords account and nothing related to the actual website associated with the account, we would have to pay $3,500 for him and his team to “go to court” for us against Google to get the suspension revoked.
- If the suspension was website related, we were looking at a larger fee; however, we were able to avoid this option as it didn’t pertain to our situation.
The $3,500 fee we were facing was refundable if the team was unable to get the suspension lifted. However, we were assured that we had a 95% success rate and a team with over 8 years of experience in AdWords suspensions on our side to win this appeal.
As we let the $4,000 service fee sink in, we quickly knew that this was not the route we wanted to take; we thanked the “expert” for his time and (vague) insight and parted ways. Amongst ourselves, we applauded his salesmanship and thought about how many people he had hooked and reeled with this sales pitch. While the fee in OUR eyes seemed a little outrageous, we also understood the sense of urgency others may feel when trying to regain access to an AdWords account. After all, this is such a prominent component in any marketing plan. Many see this as a small price to pay considering the potential loss of money involved with losing access to Adwords.
How We Appealed And Won
Days had passed since the account became suspended so stress levels were at an all-time high. We had spent too much time trying to find outside resources to assist us and had yet to find a suitable solution or lead. At this point, we made the decision to take a leap and appeal the suspension ourselves.