If you’re like me you couldn’t resist playing with Google Wallet. If you’re also like me, your Google Wallet account was shut down. Unfortunately there are no clearly defined limits to using GW. Say what you will about the measely $1k a month Amazon allowed us to churn, at least we knew where the line was, and could choose to obey it, or try to skirt it.
Today I’ll cover what I’ve leared about GW shutdowns and how to get your money back when Google Wallet shuts you down.
When (not if) you’re shutdown ideally you’ll have no money in your wallet account. In practice, since you never know the criteria used to shut accounts, you can’t guarantee money won’t be tied up. Remember to obey the float rule, and assume that your cash will be locked up by Google for 2-4 months. I spent 3 months getting my money back from them, something to keep in mind.
The common thread with google is an inabilty to speak to someone with a brain. In addition you’ll find that the amount of bad information you’ll be given will outweigh the good. Know your rights, and fight for your money. The standard issue response seems to be “You will not be receiving your money back.”
Also Google seems to enjoy shutting down all acounts who’ve done business with each other. This could make things tough if you’ve ever sent money to anyone. Something to consider is the trouble you’ll have explaining why your friend/neighbor/mom/dad’s GW account was shut down even though they only used it once.
The Damage Report
A Partial list of what you lose out on when your Google Wallet account is shut down:
- Tap to Pay with GW at stores
- Google Play Store purchases and rentals (including $0 deals)
- Chromecast deals
- Google Voice number porting
- Upgraded Google Drive storage space
- Sending money or receiving money
In addition there’s a chance that Google will never let you back in. Trying to open new accounts may work, but once you go through account verification you might find this new account shutdown as well. I’ve pushed pretty hard using my most persuasive tone and have not been able to get my GW account reopened. I would call that definitive proof that it is a hard ban.
Today I’ll go over the tips I’ve learned in trying to get my money back from Google.
Tip #1, SAVE EVERYTHING
I can’t stress this tip enough. Google has been known to deposit balances to bank accounts after they shut down accounts. They’ve also been known to refund money to cards, which means keep the card you used to fund your account handy. There isn’t a firm pattern, so assume you’ll be getting a credit and keep anything related to the pending transaction/transactions, including receipts.
Tip #2 Don’t Waste Time with Identity verification
When your account is shut down you’ll be greeted with the following cheery page if you log in online:
This page makes it seem like your account can be reopened. This is not true. Filling out the information and submitting your documents will only result in the following:
“Thank you for submitting your verification information. Unfortunately, in an effort to protect our users, your account will remain closed due to violations of the Google Wallet Terms of Service.
Any previously pending transactions have been canceled. Authorization confirmations for these transactions may still appear on the transaction summary for the payment method you used, but your account has not been charged. These authorizations should be removed within 14 business days, depending on your bank’s schedule.
If you have a positive Google Wallet Balance, we’ll refund your money within 30 days and notify you accordingly.”
Tip #3 The Mobile App Continues to Work.
The good news is that while you’re locked out of wallet.google.com you can log into the app on your phone and pull up previous transactions:
You can also verify the money is still in your account, which can be helpful in conjunction with Tip #4.
Tip #4 Try This Link
If you can verify money is in your Wallet using the mobile app, try the following link:
This was a link that one of the second level CS Agents sent me. I don’t know if it will work for everyone, but wanted to share it here.
Tip #5 Chat Continues to Work
I prefer chatting with agents rather than dealing with them over the phone, and one of the annoying parts about your wallet account being shut down is that chat doesn’t seem to work. Clicking on “Start a Chat” only brings you to the above account verification page. Instead follow these steps to get an agent:
1) Log in
2) Click on HELP:
3) Click on any topic, Like “Add a Bank Account”
4) Don’t do anything. After about 30 seconds a Chat popup like this will show in the bottom right corner:
Click “Start Chat” and you’ll be connected to a pretty unhelpful CS Agent.
Tip #6: STOP Chatting
After you do chat with an agent, do not chat with anyone else. After you chat you’ll receive an email, instead of chatting again reply via email to the Google Wallet Support Team:
Stuck in a Loop
I do not believe Google has a solid procedure in place for returning money to accounts that are being shutdown. More than once I was told that my money would not be refunded, and I was simply “Out” the funds. I can only imagine how many people take them at their word and give up. Such bad advice is borderline criminal in my view. Consider filing CFPB and
FDIC complaints if you feel you’ve exhausted your options and are stuck. (Reader Lisa has a great tip on who to complain to instead of the FDIC, be sure to check your state here)
Getting my money back wasn’t easy. In fact, the problem became nearly comical. The circumstances of my shutdown were simple: I sent money to my wife’s account, and we were both shut down before she could withdraw the funds. My wife chatted with Google and was told different stories by each agent:
- The money would automatically be returned after 14 days. (Not true)
- Google would be keeping the money because her account was closed for Violation of ToS. (Pretty sure keeping funds would be illegal)
- The money could only be refunded to the sender.
We eventually asked for them to return the money to the sender (me). When the money was refunded it no longer showed in her account–but it never came back to my account either. The cash was missing, in limbo. No one at google could see it, no one could refund it, and so I was stuck in a loop.
I’d contact google, they’d claim there was no money in either account. I’d give transaction numbers, and the chat agent would either tell me they had to have someone above them look into it, or go off on a tangent, telling me things like “Oh well lets just work on getting your account re-opened first, please upload the verification documents needed and we can open your account.” (which again, does not work).
Eventually when I started replying to the emails instead of opening a new chat session I started getting somewhere. My money is safely mine again, and Google Wallet and I have parted ways.
A Big YMMV
I don’t think the 3 months I spent chasing down Google is typical. I had to often put this chase on hold for weeks at a time due to personal issues going on in my life. I know some of you have had a month or two long battle to get your money back. Others seem to have had their money refunded within 14 days after account shutdown. I can’t detect a pattern, except that google employees seem to have very little training in how to handle accounts shutdown with money in them.
Don’t be surprised if you have to spend a significant amount of time on this. Share any tips you have if you’ve been shut down in the comments section here and I’ll update the post.
– Written by Sam Simon. All ideas are my own, but I encourage you to see my point of view and I promise I’ll try to do the same. Connect with me on Twitter @Milenomics.