Google stole my money

I've been too pissed off to blog this, but the time has come.

Many years ago - around the same time I got this blog going - I signed up for Google AdSense. Installed it here, and then installed it on a few other sites and blogs as traffic increased. It took 3 years to make $50. The threshold payout is $100, so I was still a ways off.

At the end of last year the code went on to a couple more sites, including Cape Connect Classifieds. As that particular site gets a good few thousand hits per month, the revenue started adding up nicely and quickly in my Google AdSense account. Until last week.

As my account hit the $100 mark and was due for payout, I received this email:
While going through our records recently, we found that your AdSense account has posed a significant risk to our AdWords advertisers. Since keeping your account in our publisher network may financially damage our advertisers in the future, we've decided to disable your account.

Please understand that we consider this a necessary step to protect the interests of both our advertisers and our other AdSense publishers. We realize the inconvenience this may cause you, and we thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation.

If you have any questions about your account or the actions we've taken, please do not reply to this email. You can find more information by visiting


The Google AdSense Team
I was gobsmacked. I shot off an appeal with facts and figures to prove my statements, was auto-informed I'd have a response within 48 hours, and sat back to wait.

Two days after the 48 hours expired, this came in:

Thanks for providing us with additional information. However, after thoroughly reviewing your account data and taking your feedback into consideration, we've re-confirmed that your account poses a significant risk to our advertisers. For this reason, we're unable to reinstate your account. Thank you for your understanding.

As a reminder, if you have any questions about your account or the actions we've taken, please do not reply to this email. You can find more information by visiting


The Google AdSense Team
Sent, of course, from a no-reply address. A stock-standard response without even a customised "Hello Michelle" in sight.

$100 stolen by Google (R800 in local currency, which is a good chunk), just like that - no chance of further appeal, no "real human" to discuss this one with, not even a decent reason given as to why my account was disabled - just nothing. Account gone, permanently.

As someone put it so well "Google didn't make billions writing out cheques"...

It's rich writing about this on a Google-owned blog, using a Google-run email address - and for all I know they'll completely shut down my online presence (or perhaps they only do that to Big Bloggers?) once this goes live. But I'm not the first one they've screwed. The net is spattered with the remains of flustered and aghast previous Google AdSense account holders who simply don't know what's happened to their accounts.

The upshot of it is Google are crooks. They'll happily give you free code to go scatter online for their advertisers. They'll track your stats and garner your visitor's details/search trends so they can further entice advertisers in. They'll take the cash from their advertisers too - but all that time and effort you put into tweaking things? All that work you've done to optimize your ads and help both you and them make some cash? Doesn't matter. They'll shaft you as soon as they can find an excuse to.

They're not the only ones. Traffic Synergy (local South African affiliate programme) did exactly the same thing. I had their code running on this site, on the Cape Connect Classifieds site and a few others. Come pay-out time it was a case of "oops - we don't like how many clicks you've generated, your account has been deleted". There goes well over a thousand bucks - into their pockets from the advertisers, but not passed on to those doing the hard work. When we called them we were told "we don't like it when people click on the ads" - in their words, straight out.

I'm not one to get angry easily, but both these guys have seriously pissed me off.

Yes, I still have banner ads running on my site/s (being the eternal optimist). OfferForge is one of them - they have proved honest and reliable, doing exactly what they said they would and paying out right on time. There are others I'm trying out who I hope will show themselves equally trustworthy.

But Google AdSense and Traffic Synergy will never get a good word from me ever again.