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Transition leaves frustrated corporates locked out of Google Groups

Catch 22.0

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Users are becoming increasingly frustrated that Google has been locking out users from Google Groups as the result of changes it made when it separated Google Apps accounts from Gmail and other consumer accounts around six months ago.

Revising account structures to separate Google Apps accounts and Gmail accounts by itself makes good sense, as well providing benefits to corporate Google users who have gained access to more applications as a result of the move. Snags have occurred, however, in cases where users linked their Apps email address with a consumer gmail/googlemail account.

The move used to make sense because it allowed users to log into different products with the same email address. Following the apps account transition, however, users with this set-up get shunted into what the IT director who told us about the problem described as an "endless loop".

"A page 'Update email address' gets shown, intended to allow you to say which account should be used," our tipster explained. "Unfortunately it doesn't matter which options are chosen, you get dumped into the same page again, effectively locking you out of Google Groups. And to add insult to injury, it locks you out of the groups help pages."

Google Group administrators would be able to resolve the problem by updating the affected user's email address. However if admin users were among those with an affected account then that route to resolving the problem gets blocked because in those cases even the administrator of a Google Group is locked out of the service.

Our source, an experienced IT director in a financial services firm, just the sort of person you'd have thought Google would want to court, said that Google has done little to resolve the problem since it was first reported to the search engine giant a full six months ago.

This is a far from isolated problem as a log of complaints over the issue on Google's support forum (here and here) illustrate. Google employees, responding to the thread, said they were investigating reports that some users were still been affected by the problem, without giving any indication of when the problem might get resolved.

We passed on a query to Google over the issue around a week ago but have yet to hear back. We'll update this story as and when we hear more.

Google's handling of the issue raises legitimate concerns about the competence of its customer support operation in this particular area. Our source concludes: "I think this is cock-up rather than conspiracy, but it certainly raises serious questions to me whether any organisation can dare to trust its data to Google if serious issues like this get ignored." ®

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