Got the brush-off from Gmail support, now what?
July 21, 2013 7:15 AM   Subscribe

My account was compromised earlier this morning to send a spam message. My contacts were missing, along with all my sent mail since January of 2009. I changed my password and rolled back my contacts, but couldn't recover my sent mail on my own, so I emailed support. Their response was swift and worthless.


Thank you for requesting to recover mail that has recently been deleted from your account. After investigating, we discovered that we will not be able to successfully recover messages in this case. We apologize for this inconvenience. If you have not already done so, we suggest that you take the steps outlined in our Security Checklist.

Gmail Security Checklist:

Because there's unfortunately no more we can do to try to recover these messages, we won't be able to respond to future inquiries.

The Google Team

That's it? That can't be it. What can I do now to keep pressing this?
posted by jinjo to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Unless you're paying Google for your service, you get what you pay for. :-( I know it doesn't help now, but in the future you can use a mail client like Thunderbird, or Google's takeout service for to back up your old mail on a regular basis. Unfortunately, the mail that got deleted is probably gone.
posted by jferg at 7:26 AM on July 21, 2013 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Sorry, that's awful!
In the future, please turn on 2-step verification for Google. It makes it harder for someone to hijack your account.
At least you have your contact list. You might want to back it up somewhere else.
posted by bchaplin at 7:47 AM on July 21, 2013

When I first logged into Thunderbird with my gmail address, it downloaded from the google server what seemed like every single e-mail I had ever received to that address, from 2004 until the present, many thousands of them. I couldn't tell if it was really all of them, or only those I had not deleted. But for you it might be worth a try?
posted by ipsative at 7:52 AM on July 21, 2013

Unfortunately, that is indeed it, as far as Google is concerned. In cases like these, it is their policy to not restore lost messages.
posted by sm1tten at 8:01 AM on July 21, 2013

ipsative, that's expected behaviour for an IMAP client (which Thunderbird now is by default for Gmail accounts) connecting to a Gmail account where old mails have been archived (relegated to All Mail) rather than deleted.

Everything you can get from a Gmail account via IMAP you can also get via the web interface, so if the mails jinjo can no longer find are not still in All Mail and Google says it can't restore them, they're gone.

It used to be common wisdom in IT circles that digital information doesn't really exist until you have at least two copies. Now that we're all in Cloud cuckoo land, it's worth emphasizing the you have part of that.
posted by flabdablet at 8:02 AM on July 21, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks, but regardless of the state of my mail, does anyone know how to escalate a problem with Google support?
posted by jinjo at 8:11 AM on July 21, 2013

did you just email a general support address, or go via. the "file a report" link at this page?
posted by russm at 8:24 AM on July 21, 2013

Best answer: Unless you're a well known blogger/journalist or have a friend high up in the Google hierarchy, I wouldn't expect much.
Here's an account of a situation similar to yours from a couple of years ago.
posted by goshling at 8:25 AM on July 21, 2013

"does anyone know how to escalate a problem with Google support"

As jferg mentions, with a free service like that, there's no escalation path.
posted by colin_l at 8:29 AM on July 21, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks again. The article goshling posted mentions a (paid) support number, also referenced by this forum post, but I can't find it anywhere. Anyone know where to dig this up?
posted by jinjo at 8:42 AM on July 21, 2013

Best answer: the phone numbers are listed here. if you're not a paid google apps customer you'll need to upgrade before they give you phone support (the procedure is linked from that page).

(I found that by searching for "google apps phone support")
posted by russm at 9:35 AM on July 21, 2013

...does anyone know how to escalate a problem with Google support?

When it comes to their free services, Google doesn't have "support" in any real sense, and getting anything beyond an automated "Sorry, but we can't do anything" response from them is all but an impossibility, no matter what you're dealing with.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:45 AM on July 21, 2013

Google Apps and free gmail are distinct. I would be surprised to discover that taking out a GA account could enable data recovery from a non-GA email account, not least for the burden of proof necessary to ensure this wasn't some criminal attempt to access data.

A bit clutching at straws, but have you checked your trash? Otherwise, deleted data isn't "gone" of course, but for all practical purposes it might as well be. A search warrant would almost certainly get your data, so perhaps you could get a lawyer to find some pretext to demand the messages.
posted by epo at 9:49 AM on July 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Ah, I needed the word "apps." Well, the upgrade process isn't working for whatever reason, and setting up a domain so I can join Google Apps for Business is more than I care to do about it at this point. I still have everyone else's halves of our conversations, and really I got away pretty clean. But if I remember something vital I'm missing and start actually raging over this, I'll revisit that, so thanks very much for the link.

On preview: Definitely checked and re-checked my trash. A lawyer, eh? Mmmmaybe.

Okay, I'm gonna call this one resolved. Thanks again to everyone, especially for the kick in the ass about 2-step verification.
posted by jinjo at 9:55 AM on July 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

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