Google now charges $6 per month for a free service

Google Interface in Germany (Photo by Jeremy Muller/Getty Images)

When Google told some small businesses in January that using a dedicated email service and other apps for office work was no longer free, said Richard Dalton, a longtime user who runs an academic exam preparation company in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.Ah, he felt as if the promise had been broken.

“Essentially, they are forcing us to switch to something paid after we are used to this free service”Dalton, who created his professional Google email account for his company, Your Score Booster, said in 2008.

Google said veteran users of what it calls its free old version of G Suite, which includes email and apps like Documents and Calendar, will have to Start paying a monthly fee, about $6 per business email address. Companies that do not voluntarily make the change to the paid service by June 27 will automatically switch to the said service. Accounts for those who have not paid by August 1 will be suspended.

Richard J. Dalton Jr., president of Your Score Booster, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, on June 7, 2022. (Jennilee Marigomen/The New York Times)

Richard J. Dalton Jr., president of Your Score Booster, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, on June 7, 2022. (Jennilee Marigomen/The New York Times)

While the cost of the payment service is more of an annoyance than a painful financial hit, affected small business owners say they are disappointed with the botched way Google handled the process. They can’t help but feel like a behemoth with multibillion-dollar profits squeezing smaller companies (some of the first to use Google apps for work) for just a little bit of money.

“I find it unnecessarily trivial.”said Patrick Gantt, owner of Think It Creative, a marketing consulting firm in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. “It’s hard to feel bad about someone who has been given something for free for so long and is now being told they have to pay for it. However, a promise was broken. That was what drove me to decide to go with Google instead of other alternatives.”

more money

Google’s decision to charge organizations that used its apps for free is another example of its quest to get more money from its business, as it has, at times, placed four ads at the top of search results in third place and is saturated with more commercial YouTube videos. . In the last years, Google has pushed harder to sell software subscriptions to companies and competes more directly with Microsoft, whose Word and Excel programs dominate the market.

After some old users complained about switching to a paid service, the deadline originally set for May 1 has been pushed back. Google has also confirmed that people using old accounts for personal and non-commercial purposes can continue to do so for free.

Zero customer service

However, some owners said that while they were considering whether to pay Google or give up their services, they had trouble contacting customer support. As the deadline approaches, six small businessmen speak The New York Times They criticized the sometimes confusing and ambiguous communications about changing the service.

“I don’t mind being fired, but don’t give us an unrealistic deadline for finding a replacement while they’re still deciding if they really want to,” said Samad Sagnalal, owner of Supreme Equipment, another software and technology consulting firm in McKinney, Texas. We were expelled.”

Patrick Gantt, owner of marketing consulting firm Think It Creative, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on June 10, 2022. (Jessica Deeks/The New York Times)

Patrick Gantt, owner of marketing consulting firm Think It Creative, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on June 10, 2022. (Jessica Deeks/The New York Times)

Google said the free version doesn’t include customer support, but it did give users multiple ways to contact the company to help them with the transition.

Google launched Gmail in 2004 and business applications like Docs and Sheets two years later. The search giant was eager for startups and small businesses to adopt its business software, so it offered services for free and allowed companies to combine custom domains with their business names in Gmail.

He said it would be free

When I was just testing apps, It told business owners that its products would be free forever, although Google indicated that from the start, the terms of service for its business software specified that the company could suspend or terminate the offer in the future. Google stopped accepting new free accounts in December 2012, but continued to support accounts for what’s known as the old free version of G Suite.

In 2020, G Suite was renamed Google Workspace. The vast majority of people (the company claims to have over 3 billion users) use the free version of Workspace. More than seven million organizations or individuals are paying for versions with additional tools and customer support, up from six million in 2020. A person familiar with the matter said the number of users still using the old free version runs into the thousands. She requested anonymity because she is not authorized to reveal these numbers publicly.

“We’re here to help our customers with this transition, including deep discounts on Google Workspace subscriptions,” Google spokeswoman Katie Watty said in a statement. Switching to a Google Workspace subscription can be done in just a few clicks.

© 2022 The New York Times Company

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