Google Plus says my name is not allowed — now what?

Stanislaw Tokarski /
Stanislaw Tokarski /
Google Plus doesn’t like David Books’ name. And now it’s stopped listening to his requests for a social media account. Is there anything he can do to get the company’s attention?

Question: Could you possibly help me with an issue that continually keeps popping up for me. Because of my name — Books — I keep getting denied the right to set up an account with Google Plus, Google’s social network.

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I have used Google’s email service for years under my legal name, but when I tried to set up a Google Plus account, I was denied because of my name violating their name policy. I sent a copy of my driver’s license, but was still denied.

There is no way to appeal the denial. I might have a better chance if I could send Google my Facebook credentials, but I have the same problem there. I can’t establish a Facebook account because of (you guessed it) my last name.

I have been asked during job interviews if I have a presence on social media and have explained that I do not. My degrees are in computers, so I get really strange looks from people.

It would be nice to talk with someone who can look at the documentation and realize that this is my real name. The funny thing is, I have been able to establish a LinkedIn account and a YouTube account. What is wrong with these people?

David Books, Phoenix

Answer: My thoughts exactly. I checked out the emails between you and Google Plus, and it looks as if the review of your documentation was at best cursory.

The Google Plus rules make sense on one level. Google doesn’t want someone setting up a personal account under a fake name or as a business. So words like “books” or “music” are probably not allowed. Which is a problem if your name is David Books or David Music.

“We want users to be able to find each other using the name they already use with their friends, family, and coworkers,” Google told you in its form response. “For most people this is their legal name, or some variant of it, but we recognize that this isn’t always the case, and we allow for other common names in Google+ — specifically, those that represent an individual with an established online identity with a meaningful following.”

But if that were true, Google should have seen your ID and approved a David Books account, knowing you were not an author named David who is trying to promote his latest work. But that didn’t happen.

This isn’t the first time Google has brushed off a customer like this. My last book trailer was briefly banned from YouTube, an action that took down several other Google accounts that belonged to me. You’d think a company as large and successful as Google would have a process in place to prevent a “bad name” case from being wrongfully dismissed.

You could have tried sending an appeal to one of Google’s executives. They’re known to answer their emails personally, and might have passed your request along to the right person. But it’s hardly a sure thing.

My efforts to help you led me on a long odyssey. My initial attempts to contact Google through its media relations department were unsuccessful. I made several calls to the company, and a representative finally responded and agreed to “look into” your case. A few days later, Google reported that your case had been resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.

Is Google too difficult to reach?

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44 thoughts on “Google Plus says my name is not allowed — now what?

  1. Customer service has never been Google’s strongpoint. There have been repeated debacles in the part of the company that sells phones and tablets to consumers; if they can’t figure out how to service paying customers, those using the free services are certainly in trouble.

    1. Google doesn’t need customer service because they have such a superior product. What are you going to do, not use them because you’re pissed off at them? Not realistic. For example, this website won’t display correctly on my older Windows XP IE browser. But it comes up just fine on Chrome.

      So long as Google has a clearly dominate position in the businesses in which it operates, customer service is not something about which they need to worry.

      1. i think the people who have nexus phone catch on fire would hope they would have some number to call. It’s impossible to be perfect 100 percent of the time for a company as large as google, they need to have some customer support.

    2. Google has always been known for their behind-the-scenes customer service monkeys who present no face to the customer, but merely approve and reject requests with no explanation whatsoever. AdWords is their only business segment that that seems to pull in money for the company and therefore that’s the only one they staff with actual customer service agents. You’re on your own with everything else, which could perhaps be indicative of why so many of Google’s other businesses have fallen flat on their face.

  2. Google is too big for it’s britches. People are too busy playing foosball instead of working in that place.

    Glad this got resolved.

  3. Strange. My degrees are also “in computers”, and I’ve been in IT for over twenty years. I was never asked for my “social media presence” on any job interview, even the most recent one.

    1. If a potential employer wants to see your “social media presence” they won’t have any issues finding it on their own as part of the background check they do for most job applicants these days.

    2. Same here, but requiring a social media presence is standard for today’s young job applicants. You’re not considered hip and engaged unless you spend all your break time fiddling with your Facebook presence.

      I did have a buddy whose name was Music, and who had the same problem as the OP: everyone thought his name was a company, and so that was the sort of junk mail he got. Fortunately those were the days when if you had a customer service problem, you could still call and get a person.

        1. What do you think he failed to figure out? You’re talking like you didn’t read the article. In the comment above you say he failed to contact them, yet the article plainly states that not only did he contact them multiple times, he went as far as to send them a copy of his drivers license. How would you have resolved this?

  4. You get what you pay for. With Google, you don’t pay anything so why would you expect to get anything?

    If you are wanting to use one of these free services as your primary email account, which is the only reason I can think of an employer needing anything related to these accounts (I guess if you were applying for a job as a social media person your prospective employer might want to see what you have out there, but just having “degrees in computers” should not require this), there is your problem. Get a real email at a real provider (i.e. one you have to pay to keep!) and there is no problem.

    1. You hit the nail on the head. I worked with some Google folks when they were looking in to buying Sprint and direct customer contact was foreign to them. Their stance was that they put out a quality product for free and there are online communities to help so why should they get in the middle.

    2. @MarkKelling:disqus I’m with you. If I was paying for one of the Google products, I’d expect customer service. If I was paying a lot of money, I’d expect Google to provide excellent customer service.

      But… Its free. I paid absolutely nothing for it. Why would I expect Google to not only pay to develop the product and maintain the servers it runs on but also pay for a customer service staff.

      Sorry… I hold free services and events to a MUCH lower standard than something I pay for

      1. You can purchase a paid google account – I have, and it’s worth it. It’s not great at customer service, but when you get someone, they do try and fix the issue, even tracking down other areas in the organization. Response time is slow, though.

  5. I voted no. Ive never had a problem getting a hold of someone at Google, I just didn’t like their response.

    Back when AdWords was new I ran a website for a non-profit and we displayed Google Ad Words to help covert he costs of the web hosting. We kept generation income in our on-line account based on people clicking on ads. They told us they would cut us a check each quarter. After the first quarter we had about $380 in the account and I requested the check. Google flat our refused. They said that they do not think all of our clicks were legitimate and therefore had the right to withhold all of the money. I asked why they believed the were not legitimate and they said that it was a trade secret and they could not tell me. I never had trouble getting in touch with anyone, including executives. But I always got the same answer, they will not pay us the promised commission. They had no problem displaying the adds still, so I removed their code and used an other advertising company which did pay us the commissions they promised.

  6. My access to Google Plus was blocked because someone reported a post of mine as spam. At least I think that’s what happened. No one would ever say, and could never find out for sure. And since I may post 1 or 2 a month to the account, I could hardly figure out what was “spam”. Trying to get the account reinstated was difficult. Finally found a forum somewhere on google’s site, posted my issue. No official response to my post, but the account mysteriously started working shortly thereafter.

    To me, Google support is non-existent. It’s like shouting in the wind and hoping the sound caries to the right person way off in the distance.

    Now I try not to use G+.

    1. Honestly, I don’t know why anyone would use G+ unless they were angry with Facebook…which certainly does happen. I know some G+ users argue that it’s more about sharing info than FB, but that seems to be really a matter of perception from what I have seen. They’re basically the same exact service.

  7. “I keep getting denied the RIGHT to set up an account with Google Plus” Seriously ?? It is a right to have a social media account now?

  8. Google, Facebook, Yahoo, etc., all make it difficult to reach them in case of a problem or question. Too many companies are following suit and making personal contact a thing of the past. I tried to make a complaint with a company in August and they told me they needed it done through a complaint form on their website and not via email. Nor was there someone to speak with in customer care. They had a “correct” procedure to follow and would not work outside of that procedure. I took to my business Twitter account and broadcast my complaint. Company took exactly 12 minutes to call me and deal with the problem. And promised to “re-think” their customer care procedures.

  9. Some of us still have careers that may not depend on social media (hype); though these might be relics in the future. All I see here is an attempt of a few to dominate how we communicate and maybe who we communicate with. It is so sad that people have to search where to find that next tasty meal and have to rely on misinformation or bogus advice. Used to be you had friends and family and their friends and family that told you. And they were usually right. As you can see this writer does not give a damn about facebook, twitter or google +.

  10. As a long time Googler, I will tell you emphatically: Give it up. You will never get through unless you know someone. It’s how the system is designed.

  11. google is like the wizard of OZ, it is all seeing, all powerful but no one is really ever suposed to be able to contact it.

    I am impressed that you got goggle to resolve this issue for the OP

  12. Good thing I have a two-degrees connection to a Google employee (co-worker’s daughter). Sounds like that might come in mighty handy sometime.

  13. I can so relate as my last name is a generic word as well. Google was easy (odd, after this story), but Facebook still won’t accept the last name (which is why I didn’t join until 2011), so my sister and I just submitted edited versions and left it at that. I don’t care at all if people can find me or not, as Linkedin is the only one I care for people to see.

  14. This is another proof of G-d – after all how else could someone with the name Books have a lifelong dream of becoming an author?

  15. Considering how many fraudsters of the Nigerian spam sort use Gmail drop boxes and how hard it it to get Google to take action, their arguments about this guy’s email name is beyond silly.

    And like more and more companies these days, they prefer you never contact them in any way whatsoever.

  16. When the IBM PC came out in the 1980s, it was also impossible to get any customer support (or even contact telephone numbers) for any hardware or software problems. The marketplace spoke and eventually forced IBM out of the personal computer business.

    Arrogance has its price. This past week, Blackberry collapsed. Google and Facebook will also one day soon be replaced.

  17. My name is Sean Fruit, and my G+ account was suspended for the same reason as Mr Books. I was able to unlock it by abbreviating. They allow one of the names to be an initial. Typing Sean F. in the name field instantly unlocked my account. I then typed my full name in the Nicknames field so that people I know can recognize me.

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