Being in the consumer electronic repair business, we take great pride in providing our customers with affordable repairs as an alternative to replacing their devices entirely. Since opening in 2012 we have helped tens of thousands of people repair their phones, tablets, computers, laptops, game consoles, drones, hoverboards, TVs, MP3 players, cameras, smart watches, and even an irrigation pump. We have our challenges like any business does, sure, but one that seems to be an unbalanced battle is how we are allowed to advertise on the most-used search engines, Google.
Nowadays, it’s difficult to find anyone who’s first choice of search engine isn’t Google, so much so that their name has become synonymous with search engine. We all conveniently use Google to search, 'nearest Chinese restaurant near me', or 'best HVAC repair'. However what happens when your business is restricted or blocked from advertising its services on Google? You're invisible.
Like most other businesses, utilizing Google Adwords is a big part of our advertising strategy and eats up a considerable portion of our marketing budget simply because it’s proven to be effective thus far in making our products and services visible to consumers searching for products and services we offer. After recently reviewing our existing ad campaigns, I noticed that Google has flagged our business as a “restricted business” and is not limiting our ads from running.
Restricting specific business types who prey on the weak and take advantage of the public is a valid stance to take, however for our repair business to now be lumped into the list of restricted business types is a direct attack against the Right-To-Repair movement by manufacturers who want to wipe our services from the marketplace.
On Google's site 'about ad policies' they state: “We restrict certain kinds of businesses from advertising with us to prevent users from being exploited, even if individual businesses appear to comply with our other policies. Based on our own continuous reviews, and feedback from users and consumer protection authorities, we occasionally identify products or services that are prone to abuse. If we feel that certain kinds of businesses pose an unreasonable risk to user safety or user experience, then we may take a conservative position and limit or stop related ads from running.”
To list a few examples of the criteria that qualify a business as a "restricted business", Google restricts ads that solicit funds, offer free desktop software, sell free items, sell event tickets, offer bail bond services. And as of just recently, the list now includes third-party consumer technical support as defined as, “Technical support by third-party providers for consumer technology products and online services.”
The fight to retain the rights of consumers to choose where, how, and what they want repaired with the products they legally own is rearing its head. This subtle yet critical move by Google to limit the repair industry’s ability to advertise their services deals a sizeable blow to businesses like ours and to our customers. As we perceive it, Google is making a clear statement: They don't believe you have the right to repair your property where or how you would like to.