+Leah de Jager
1) As I understand it, COPPA law specifically restricts websites from recording information about children. The ad in question specifically showed a father creating an account for the explicit purpose of recording data about his child. That's why I say I'm not sure it matters.
Look. I'm not a lawyer. Your argument--while logical--is not a legal argument. Unfortunately, laws don't always make logical sense.
2) I do feel like I pay for the service by providing Google with access to valuable information about myself. But, let's not argue about that. Let's assume your definition is correct. Why does it matter whether or not I paid for the service?
I've talked a lot about customer service because it's an important topic for me. However, a lot of people seem to be getting hung up on the word "Customer." Don't. It's a useless distraction from the main point.
Businesses don't provide good customer service because people pay them. Businesses provide good customer service because they want people to come back. Because they want them to tell their friends. They want them to become advocates for the business.
Now, Google should want us to come back. They should want to keep us happy. They should want us to be recommending their services and saying good things about them on the internet. That's why Google should improve their customer service. It has nothing to do with whether or not we are technically their "customer".
3) I originally set out to contact Google, but I was unable to. The notification page that we were sent to had a single link to a FAQ (which, honestly, raised more questions than it answered), and a link to verify the account owner's age.
That's it. There was no contact link. No ability to ask followup questions or get more information. And, in fact, this is one of the main reasons I was upset.
4) Remember, I didn't blast this across the internet. When I posted this note, it would only be seen by those people who had specifically chosen to follow me. That was a very small audience.
However, it struck a nerve with a lot of people, and they began to share it, and share it, and share it. Honestly, it spread much further and much faster than I would ever have guessed possible. Apparently, a lot of people have had similar situations. Even more feel that Google acted unfairly.
But originally I only sent it out to a small group--many of whom I knew personally. Of course I was, in part, hoping that someone from Google might spot it and might answer some of my questions. Maybe Google would have scripts set up to scan G+ for complaints, letting them proactively deal with problems. Writing this post was also a chance to vent my frustrations with the whole experience. I never expected it to go beyond that.
Ironically, no one from Google has ever tried to contact me about this. Even though, I'm pretty sure someone in the company has seen it by now.