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Google struggles to fix calendar problem as users bemoan missed appointments

Problem popped up on Nov. 29 and won't be solved until Dec. 6

By Jon Brodkin on Fri, 12/03/10 - 4:34pm.

Google has been struggling to fix a calendar problem that is causing appointments to show up on the wrong day, and has told users the glitch will not be eliminated until Monday, Dec. 6.  

The issue is discussed at length by Google Calendar users on one of Google's official help forums. Based on user comments the problem seems to affect Google calendars embedded on websites created by users, rather than what appears on Google.com/calendar. The help thread began on Monday, Nov. 29 with a user named NETech4u reporting:

On my website events from the embedded Google calendar show on the wrong day of the week in "Month" view - events are shifted to the first open day on the left. This happens with events from both the personal calendar and public calendars. Tested with both recurring/whole day/regular events with the same result. This error can be seen on Google calendar > Settings > Embed this calendar > Customize... = this shift in the day can be seen there (before the calendar is ever embedded on an external website) When calendar is viewed in Week view, events are showing on the correct date/time.

The user reported the problem occurring on both Windows 7 and Ubuntu, and on the IE8, Firefox and Google Chrome browsers.

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Many more users have reported similar problems in the days since, filling up ten pages worth of complaints. A Google support employee acknowledged the problem on Tuesday, but the company has still not fixed it for all users.

"Our team is working on a fix," Google employee Alice wrote today. "As I posted previously, the resolution will likely take a few days, and we'll be sure to update you here once things are back to normal." Earlier in the week, the same Google employee reported "some of you should already be seeing a resolution, and we'll continue posting progress reports for everyone else as we get them."

Although the original complaint said the problem occurred in month view, further comments showed users saying that week view was also affected. Google asked users to switch their embedded calendars to "agenda" view to make appointments display properly, but it sounds as if users are having problems in agenda view as well.

The problem appears to be affecting both consumer and business users. One user who contacted Google's enterprise support reported receiving the following response from Google:

We have had other reports of this issue occurring with Sites from other domains and already have a team working on this issue. They have a fix in place for the issue that will be rolled out over the course of Monday, December 6.

For users still having problems over the weekend, one commenter suggested this workaround: "I've discovered that if you log out of Google sites/calendar/etc, clear your browser cache, and then view the embedded calendar, it shows up correctly."

I contacted Google's public relations team, and was promised more information. I'll update this post if and when I hear anything substantial.

One issue I wondered about is whether this problem affects calendar reminders. I don't use Google calendar, but I was able to get an answer by posting the question on the Google support thread.

A user helpfully told me: "The reminders should work since the listing isn't actually effected, only the styling of the page, if you click on a calendar and get the actual event to popup it still has the correct date and time, if you look at the agenda view you will understand better, it is only sliding all the events to the left not changing their information."

If true, that is some good news, but this problem and the fact that it will apparently take a full week to be eliminated won't help Google's reputation with users.

One user who apparently works at a school says "I have had to revert to my old way of having to send all available times to students in an email.  Really is a trip back in time. I hope it is fixed soon."

Another commenter suggested that problems like this calendar glitch are inevitable for users of cloud-based products.

"We know you are annoyed at Google. We all are," the person writes. "However we all took this chance when we made the decision to use software that is available to the general public in a hosted manner that you ultimately do not have control over."

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