Poppycock. That’s what I have to say to those who’ve been standing up talking about how awful a place Oregon is to do business, especially not when compared to doing business with big business.
After nearly a decade working professionally in politics and government, I reverted back to my previous career late last year and in mid January opened up The Guild pub and restaurant. I spent a lot of time looking at what agencies I’d have to deal with and a couple of websites to point you in the right direction, it’s pretty easy. Now Comcast and Google, on the other hand, haven’t been as great to work with.
When Comcast required we change our phone number after the doors were open because they were too bureaucratic to figure out how to let us keep the number we’d been assigned originally, Google promised us they’d update The Guild’s places page within 3 weeks. Heck, CitySearch (yeah, remember them?) still hasn’t been able to update it.
Oh, and let’s talk about any vendor. This is a cash and carry business. If I go to the store to buy products, pay leases on equipment or accept delivery of goods, there’s one thing in common: it’s cash up front. The delivery driver or maintenance worker will stand there and wait for you to write a check each time.
And when I went to my credit union and a bank to inquire about any potential loan programs? Of course they’ll help a business. So long as I’ve been in business for at least two years!
And they say government’s the problem?
I’d been warned how tough the Oregon Liquor Control Commission was to deal with. I not only found them to be easy to work with but pleasant and informative. Anyone who thinks they’re tough to deal with has never had to deal with bureaucracy before. I was able to secure my temporary permit to operate in less time than it took Google to update my phone number online. Seriously. They weren't easy or lax but they were efficient.
Was it all rosy in dealing with the government? No. There was one interaction I thought was downright intimidating. There were a few steps that I’m sure could be simplified. But down to my health inspector who was obviously there to protect the public health more than play a game of gotcha, I’ve found fees reasonable and regulations understandable.
What has been an impediment? Having Comcast take a week to hook up my cable but in the mean time cutting off the previous tenants hours before we had our first customers walking in the door to watch the Ducks in the National Championship. Oh also, how cute to keep charging the previous tenants once you finally figured out how to charge us. Oh and when you sent them a bill for the equipment they didn’t return, did you think about how hard it would have been for them to return equipment you hooked up for me to use? Oh and disconnecting the phone while I was talking with you about getting it transferred over? Classy. If not for your monopoly of the Portland Trailblazers, I’d never do business with you again not at home and certainly not at my business.
But if I’m not successful as a business, there’s one finger I’ll point other than to myself and that’s to Google. You cannot simultaneously serve as such a center of information yet have such blatantly false information out there and be incapable of fixing it.
Despite, sending messages to them for over two months, The Guild’s Google Places page still contains the logo and reviews from the folks who previously rented the space I currently lease. It links to over a dozen reviews of the business that was there before us. Most of those links are dead because the other websites figured out that a business that closed nearly 4 months ago is no longer in business. Google can’t seem to figure out to make them go away – won’t even try. Bear in mind that the only similarity between the previous business and us is the space we now rent. Because of our address, Google is making sure my business is being held responsible for the sins of another business.
So why would I point the finger at Google? I mean, how do I know it’s impacted business? I’ve had dozens and dozens of friends mention seeing those bad reviews. They’re always happy to hear from me that those reviews are for the old place and if we generate our own reviews, those will get pushed out. Apparently that’s not so. We’ve generated a fair number of reviews for The Guild with the first one dating just days after our opening but Google doesn’t link to a single one of them. Most of them are good and a couple aren’t great but our reviews have been out there for a few weeks yet Google is too bureaucratic to fix my little problem. With as many people that have mentioned our bad reviews, it’s unimaginable that hundreds of others have just opted to go elsewhere.
So congrats Google. You’re a massive multi-billion dollar operation. My heavy use over the years has helped build the monster. But now you’re too big. Now you’re so big you can’t fix the smallest of problems. That’s something we need a little government regulation to fix.