A few weeks ago, I got a rather blunt email from Google telling me that they had shut down my Adsense account for fraudulent clicks and returned all advertiser money earned. At first I thought they had sent the email to the wrong person, since over the past 3 years, I’ve only made not much more than $100 from the account. Sure enough, I went to login and got a big fat denied message and a link to a FAQ on why my account was shut down. I was around $20 shy of another payment that would have been nice.
Just great I thought. Why in the world would Google think a little tiny web guy like me would have bad clicks? I thought about it for a few, and realized that I’ve never clicked on my own ads or encouraged others to do so. So why did Google turn me off?
When I went to the FAQ page to figure this out, I saw a link to a form where you could request that your account be reactivated. They ask all the regular questions like name and account ID and whatnot, but towards the end, there are a couple fields to list why you think your account may have been turned off and then another field to paste any server logs to weird visitor activity which may have caused it.
Without a flinch I started to look through all of my visitor logs, and sure enough for one day in February, someone pinged my site hundreds of times trying to do a massive save of one of my sites with Adsense on it. This had to be the problem I thought and quickly copied some of the log events and explained my case into the Adsense form. After submitting, I was messaged that I would hear a reply within 48 hours.
After a week and a couple days, and another form submit stating my claim, I get an email from Google saying that they were sorry for the inconvenience and that my account has been turned back on. Awesome I thought. They mentioned the ads might take a few hours to re-appear (which wasn’t the case, they were already back on when I checked) and asked that I read through another FAQ on how to protect my ads in the future.
I check my sites and the ads are back, so I then log into my account to read this FAQ and sure enough, my balance is now zero. They cleaned the entire account out. I couldn’t believe it. They knew they messed up, and still took all the money I had earned since the first (and last) payment.
I couldn’t believe it. I’ve emailed them a couple times since asking what is going on. If they want to reimburse their advertisers for bad clicks, I’m all for it – but only for that one day in February that caused it. If there was another problem, take 5 whole minutes and give me some sort of explanation.
So my ads are back on, I’m back to square one, and Google won’t get back. I wonder if Adsense is even worth the trouble. They sure aren’t paying enough for the headache they’ve caused and a little more insight would be nice.
If I don’t hear back within the next week, I’m deleting the account and stripping the ads. Adsense just isn’t worth it.
So nearly 3 weeks after posting this entry, and about a dozen emails to google, I finally got my balance back to what it was. I literally kept resending the same email asking what happened to my balance every 3 days or so up until a few days ago. On the last email sent, I prefaced the email with the question if I needed to drive down to Shoreline Drive and start pestering the adsense team myself to get some sort of an answer.
After that email, I got a short reply, and the balance went back to what it was before. Lesson learned: 48 hours to google support really means about 4 weeks.
Oh, and just to top it off, my page rank dropped a point after my balance came back. Awesome.