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Google Places Misleading Opening Times

     
2:45 pm on Sep 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

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UK based bricks and mortar + online business.

Today we received a call from a customer asking if we are open tomorrow (Friday) as "our" website says we only open Thursday 6am-5pm. Slightly confused, I informed her that yes, we are open Fridays.

Turns out she'd seen our Google Places listing in the SERPS which only shows today's opening times (unless you click the "See All" link) and took it to mean we only open 1 day a week.

I've shown a Google Places listing for a random company to a couple of (non-technical) colleagues, who both separately made the same mistake/assumption.

It seems this could be quite dangerous for business - has anyone else come across this issue?

Not sure of the best course of action - removing the opening hours from the listing probably risks affecting our Places ranking (and isn't helpful for users), whilst leaving as-is is confusing and potentially losing us business.

Google's feedback form returns a "Submission Failed" error.
6:49 pm on Sept 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I never thought about a customer thinking that today's hours that are displayed, are the only times you are open.

I'll ask the Google Local team if they can add a small link saying "click for complete hours" or something.

I'm sure they don't show all the hours because of display space. Google's UI is so minimalist and subtle, that for the average non-techy user it's easy to miss things like the fact you need to click hours, to see all the hours. (Although I always thought that was fairly obvious and intuitive.)

"Not sure of the best course of action - removing the opening hours from the listing probably risks affecting our Places ranking"

Want to warn that you don't want to remove hours from the listing. Don't think it would affect ranking, but could get the listing removed or suspended. Because businesses that don't have hours listed could imply they are either online only or by appointment only or closed to the public. All of which are listing types that are not allowed on Google maps.

Linda
9:10 am on Sept 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Thanks, Linda - much appreciated.

"click for complete hours"


There already is a "See All" link next to the opening times, and like you say, I think that most people would understand its just today's opening times which are displayed and click to view all, however you have to work with the lowest common denominator...

Another point, when displayed on-line its fairly obvious (to me anyway) that they're only showing today's opening hours, but if I saw the same sign in a shop window I'd certainly think twice (and maybe ask them - "are you really only open today...?").
6:52 pm on Sept 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Anything that can be misinterpreted, will be misinterpreted. If you're open 6-5 on Thursdays and the listing doesn't specify a day, you'll get people showing up at 6AM Sunday, angry that you're not open then.

"See All Days" seems like a perfectly reasonable compromise. After all, the function is intended to benefit humans, isn't it?
7:01 pm on Sept 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

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"There already is a "See All" link next to the opening times"

Not for me, which is why I brought it up. For me there is NO "see all" link - nothing at all next to hours that would indicate there is more info or additional hours available. (Checked in both FF and Chrome.)

And I agree with both comments: "you have to work with the lowest common denominator..." and "Anything that can be misinterpreted, will be misinterpreted."

Thanks for posting both of you because you reminded me. I forgot to share this with Google. Off to do it now.
6:51 pm on Mar 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I just saw much worse. The B&M store which is now (6:55pm UK time) closed has displayed the following:

Hours: Now closed Hours

where the second "Hours" is a link to all opening hours. But "Now closed" (and shown in red) can be misleading - it could be understood as business has stopped operating.
10:14 pm on Mar 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

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It could say "currently closed", but then it would sound as if they're closed for repairs. Maybe a better approach would be toggling color, or weight or similar, when showing your hours. So it says

"Open 9 to 5" in cheerful green bold print from 9 to 5,
and then
"Open 9 to 5" in shadowy red print the rest of the time.

Or, hm, "we'll open at 9AM" when they're closed, and "we're open until 5 PM" when they're open.

Someone, somewhere, has probably published an analysis of the marketing effects of the word "open" vs. the word "closed".
10:37 pm on Mar 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

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The cleverness by the programmers in trying to tell you if it's currently open or not has too many problems, not the least of which is relying on the business owner (or more likely, a business data aggregator) for the correct information.

How about simply: Today's hours: 9-5
With a disclaimer that the information is provided by the business and may not include holidays, special events, or other emergencies.
11:30 pm on Mar 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Hi guys,

I just alerted the Google Local team to this thread so they could see the concerns, as I did with the issues previously.

My guess is that for mobile they want to be able to give you fast access to businesses that are "open now" and clearly show ones that are closed now so you don't drive there.

But I guess my vote would be LifeinAsia's suggestion. Just list the hours with a disclaimer.

Linda
 

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