Trust is a currency that is easy to spend, hard to earn

Earlier this year, Google sent out a nastygram to those of us who were still using our Google Apps For Your Domain (henceforth abbreviated to “GAFYD”)/G Suite Legacy Free accounts that we were finally being shown the door, and we now had to pay to play or take our toys and get out. (Even though–oh, you know–Google promised us that this service would be free forever. Time is just a social construct to Google, or something.)

To allow you to work out the timeframe of all this, the “pay or GTFO” announcement was done in mid January. 5 months ago. Google set the deadline at May 1st (yes, this month, you aren’t going blind or losing your mind) and billing wouldn’t begin until July.

People (myself included) did not take this lightly. This was Google going back on a fairly big promise (but, honestly, they’ve done this so many times we should have seen it coming) and charging us for a service that none of us really wanted. When this began as GAFYD, it was just that: A way to use a Google account with a custom domain name rather than an address. Then Google decided they wanted to make this a business offering, so they made it into G Suite and later Google Workspace.

I think I speak for most of us when I say that we didn’t want the business features. We just wanted the same functionality as normal Google accounts just with a spiffy custom name on it.

Hell, G Suite Free wasn’t even as good as a normal Google account. Google treated us as second-class citizens all the time and it feels like we missed out on cool stuff on a consistent basis. New features would just mysteriously not work because oh, you’re on a G Suite account. So we dealt with reduced functionality arguably in exchange for that spiffy custom name.

So it isn’t surprising that when Google told us to pay up, a lot of us said “hell no, we won’t go”.

Some of us decided to wait. Some of us (like me) decided to take their toys to another playground because they know how Google rolls and generally when they do a stupid move like this, not even the Pope can convince them out of it.

Eventually Google “heard” us…by introducing a free Google Workspace Essentials plan. To say Google utterly failed at reading the room is an understatement. Essentials included all the fun Workspace crap we don’t want…but lacked Gmail access. Yep. Google really does NOT want us to have Gmail access without paying for it. 

Yep. Google out here giving us all the features we don’t want nor need, but taking away the one thing we actually want. Typical Google.

This announcement was made one full month after the “pay or get out” announcement. Since then, there was a survey that went out that asked what we use G Suite Free for, and…that was it. Not a peep from Google.

The more I thought about this and Google’s attitude as of late, the more infuriated I grew with them. On moving my custom domain email, I didn’t wait: I moved all logins I used with that email to my iCloud email address, and also mapped that email address to iCloud instead of G Suite so now anything going to my domain email goes to iCloud.

This also set off a chain reaction, because Google’s silence toward people still kinda stuck in limbo on this was maddening. I also felt like Google was punishing me because I opted to forego the Gmail app and website and use other apps like Thunderbird and iOS’ built-in mail client, and Google doesn’t support push email because it’s their way of making you use their app.

This wasn’t too big of a deal until a fairly important email arrived 30+ minutes late. I searched for solutions for this problem, but every one of them said “just use the Gmail app!” Thus, another reaction was set off: I wanted to just get the hell out of Google because I didn’t trust them anymore after the whole GAFYD debacle, and now this. 

As such, I embarked on an endeavor to use Google Takeout, grab all my data from Drive/Photos, canceled all my paid subscriptions on my 18 year old main Google account, and moved everything over to Microsoft’s offerings. Because at least Microsoft is far better about things like this and doesn’t tend to just randomly kill things with reckless abandon. I got myself an Outlook email address (that’s my new public-facing address), set my Google account to just forward everything to it, and reduced my long-held Google account to a shell of its former self.

Google burned me one too many times, and now I don’t trust them.

Circling back around to the GAFYD fiasco, however: You might notice that it’s currently May 18th. Or at least as of me typing into this text box, it is. We’re now 18 days past the deadline that Google originally set back in January.

Guess what Google finally did? They offered us the ability to affirm that we are in fact using G Suite Legacy for personal use, and not business use, and keep our free plans as they are.

I appreciate that Google finally relented, but…it’s too late, really. They should have announced this months ago. And didn’t. I’m sure this was 100% intentional, too, to see how many people’s accounts they could play chicken with and hoping the customers would blink.

Sure, I could move back, but again: Google has violated my trust in them. Given how horribly they handled this mess this time, I wouldn’t be surprised if they attempt to do this again in another couple of years.

Plus, I’m happier on the other side, honestly.