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Why I won’t be at Seattle Startup Weekend – Google Checkout

Updated: We don’t need no stinkin’ Google Checkout. I’ve registered via alternative means, and looking forward to it.

Sigh. I was getting psyched about Seattle Startup Weekend in January. I know it’s odd, and I know it’s “cumbersome”, but it is real live meshing and I so love meshing with tech peers in a goal-oriented challenge. As an odd combination of old skool tech project lead and new school search strategist, I thought I could make an important contribution. I also thought I would be tested in my ability to deliver the search strategy message in a high-octane Einstein-cats environment. But, I won’t be going.

Why not? Because they only use Google Checkout.

I won’t use it not because I don’t want to tie my real name and email address to my local SEO activities (although honestly I don’t like to do that). I even got over my distaste for giving Google my credit card number and physical address, just to be able to pay the $20 reg fee for this event (against my better judgement). I really don’t like the idea of giving Google my financial data. Those issues weren’t enough to deter me this time. But just as it has EVERY OTHER TIME I HAVE TRIED TO USE IT, Google checkout choked on my payment submission.

So no, I won’t be attending and yes, it is simply because those Seattle Startup Weekend dudes don’t take anything but Google checkout. That’s a deal killer right there for privacy reasons (secondary), and performance reasons (primarily).

This time Gogle choked on my “ship to” being different than my “bill to”. Give me a break. This is a freakin’ $20 registration. There’s nothing to ship! I simply ddn’t want my physical address to show on my registration, so I entered my mailing address as the “ship to”. But, even though I had entered the proper bill to address for the credit card, Google couldn’t handle it. They actually emailed me back and asked for a copy of my driver’s license and a copy of a recent credit card statement, FAXED to them.

Thank you for using Google Checkout. We periodically review accounts to ensure a secure environment for our buyers and sellers, and unfortunately we were unable to verify some of your account information. As a result, your account has been temporarily suspended and your pending orders have been cancelled. So we can verify and reinstate your account, please fax or email us a copy of one of the following documents:

  1. Your driver’s license, passport information page, or other government-issued ID
  2. Recent credit card statement (please black out the first 12 digits of your card number)

Please fax these documents using our secure fax line: (650) 644-0159.

What the hell is a “secure fax line”? New rule in my house – any vendor insisting on using Google checkout as the only payment method does NOT get the sale. Ever. Period. No debate, no discussion.


  1. Peter Davis wrote:

    What, you never heard of a Visa gift card?

    They do wonders for people who want to buy anonymously on the web.

    Friday, December 28, 2007 at 7:54 am | Permalink
  2. Paul Drago wrote:

    Virtual Credit Cards as well but I dont understand why they didn’t spend 10 minutes and set up a paypal acct

    Friday, December 28, 2007 at 9:04 am | Permalink
  3. john andrews wrote:

    I suppose I suffer from Post Traumatic Early Adopter Syndrome (PTEAS?) with Visa Gift Cards and Virtual CC’s. I started using them when they first came out (conveniently post 9/11) and suffered almost continual barriers to use. Take my money, promise me it works, get denied both in person and online. Call the number, establish pre-approval pre-sale at the cash register, with ID, and still no go. Eventually they were asking for more ID than a check cashing place in Irvington, New Jersey, and I gave up because — bottom line – it’s barely worth it to use the card even *before* the hassles.

    As for Virtuals, after a few $35 fees for “renewals” I soured on those as well. Again, I started with the bleeding edge so maybe now that the mainstream banks are doing it things are better?

    Update: Andrew at StartupWeekend has provided a work around for me if I want to use it. Apparently more people complain about PayPal than Google in his neighborhood. Can’t fault the guy for taking what looks like the easy route if he’s funding the venture through T-shirt sales, but there can never be enough awareness of the risks of Google-as-information-broker IMHO.

    Friday, December 28, 2007 at 11:26 am | Permalink
  4. Peter Davis wrote:

    In 2007, we only had that problem with one out of the couple dozen Visa gift cards we used. I can see, though, how you’d feel that way if that’s your experience.

    Wednesday, January 2, 2008 at 7:39 pm | Permalink
  5. RickH wrote:

    I’d forgotten Google Checkout even exists. Haven’t heard mention of it or seen it anywhere for more than a year. Thanks for reminding me what I’m not missing.

    Sunday, January 6, 2008 at 8:36 am | Permalink