Google fails to placate Calendar users over lingering flaw

Months after problem is identified, Google promises fix this week to Google Calendar

Google has failed to solve a long-running problem that is preventing numerous Google Calendar users from receiving email and text message notifications before events.

Google has failed to resolve a long-running problem that is preventing numerous Google Calendar users from receiving email and text message notifications before events.

A Google help forum thread begun last September, titled "Google Calendar Email Notification not working," is running strong nine months later with users complaining about missed reminders up to this very day.

FRUSTRATION: Missed email reminders have plagued Google Calendar for years

Users have vented about Google's sporadic responses to their complaints. One claimed Google's failure to fix the problem violates the company's own Code of Conduct, which promises responsiveness to user feedback.

Another tried to rally users to be persistent, writing, "If enough people continue to contact [Google] in multiple ways to let them know this problem continues to exist, someone will begin to pay attention."

There have been multiple help forum threads on the problem, with Google employees occasionally telling users that a fix is coming soon, and offering workarounds that have worked for some but not all.

Google promised a fix is coming soon in a statement sent to Network World today.

"We're fixing the issue with email and SMS reminders and daily agendas not being received," a Google spokesman wrote in an email. "It's affecting less than 2% of calendars, and we expect it to be resolved within the next couple days. In the meantime, those affected may still experience some inconsistent reminders, and we're doing our best to shorten that timeframe. As part of the fix we've also implemented new monitoring that will allow us to better detect if reminders are not being delivered correctly. Solving this issue has taken longer than expected due to some infrastructure changes, and we're sorry for the inconvenience it has caused."

Google Calendar has tens of millions of active users, the spokesman said.

We passed Google's statement along to David Martin, one of the longtime Calendar users who has been frustrated by the ongoing notification problem, to get his thoughts.

"My first reaction is why didn't they post this communication on the support forum, where their lack of communication has damaged the Google brand and business," Martin, an adviser to software startups and nonprofits in San Francisco, wrote in an email. "My second reaction is I'll believe it when it's fixed ... and working reliably for a long period of time."

Similar problems have plagued Google Calendar for years, with support forum threads going back to 2008.

On May 16 of this year, a Google employee posting in a support forum said "we're rolling out a new fix" and that "the cleanup will take up to a week to complete for all users."

Martin, whose experiences were detailed in a Network World article last month, said the situation has improved over the past four weeks but hasn't been fully resolved.

"I'm getting about 90% of my daily agenda emails first thing in the morning, and about 75% of my email and SMS reminders, across the two free Google Apps accounts that I use daily," Martin wrote.

Another user, Bob Coates of Massachusetts, also told us that the service is "still flakey."

Google's rival Microsoft has had trouble of its own this week, with an outage in its BPOS cloud productivity service.

It wasn't Microsoft's first outage, but the latest one, at least, was identified and fixed on the same day. The unlucky Google Calendar users affected by the reminder problem have been waiting for months.

Follow Jon Brodkin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jbrodkin

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