Home Page

Walter Gregg; PO Box 21693; Juneau, Alaska 99802; 907-586-6978 (voicemail)

September 2, 2022

Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20580

Dear Readers:

Google Maps Errors Restrain Trade

Google maps translates street addresses into locations on a map. Many delivery services rely on this. But it's riddled with errors that identify locations miles away from the actual address. Their plus.codes service, which draws a square on a map and gives it a plus codes address, is similarly affected. And it's being incorporated into apps that businesses rely on.

Errors in Google's interstate geocoding service do restrain trade. In some cases, one can't even order a pizza online because when you enter your street address, the system insists on entering a different city.

In rare cases such errors could be life-threatening. One hopes that Juneau's e911 system doesn't rely on Google maps. But you can never be sure that a responding doctor or social worker or even an ambulance driver might not refer to Google maps on their cell. Indeed, Google's plus.codes site specifically advertises its utility for deliveries and emergency and social services.

Please consider contacting Google to see if a mechanism can be established to correct such errors. It strikes me as just possible that the FTC might be able to reach a responsible human at Google. I can't even find a contact where they would accept a courtesy copy of this letter by email, fax, or post. The online feedback mechanism that used to be there did not work. More than one of us tried it over a year ago. Nothing was ever fixed.

Concrete examples

Go to plus.codes. Select find your code.

  1. Search on Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church Juneau. It will correctly show it on the map at 326 5th Street, Juneau AK 99801; plus code: 8H3R+7C Downtown Juneau, Juneau, Alaska (99801).

    Now search on 326 5th Street, Juneau AK 99801. The map will shift and incorrectly show a location near 5th Street in Douglas, Alaska (99824); plus code: 7JC7+G5. That's on an island miles away from downtown Juneau.

  2. Now plug in 94c78h3v+g9. The map will show a box near the corner of Fifth and East street with plus code 8h3v+g9 Downtown Juneau, AK (99801). This is the actual location of 534 Fifth Street, Juneau, Alaska (99801).

    Now plug in 534 5th Street Juneau 99801. The map will shift to a box near 5th Street in Douglas, Alaska (99824). To repeat, that's on an island miles away. As a result, the residents of this property can no longer order pizza online. The system changes the address to Douglas, apparently per Google. A small inconvenience for a pizza. A disaster waiting to happen if there's an emergency of any kind, and the responder happens to try using Google maps to find the property. Thank God we don't have self-driving Google taxis!

So far as I can tell, this error affects every single address on Fifth Street in Juneau, Alaska 99801. And though these addresses are in downtown Juneau, that's not a valid city or post office name. The capital city of Alaska is Juneau, not 'Downtown Juneau'. Douglas is a separate post office on an island a few miles away.

Sign me exasperated over Google's poorly implemented and half baked geocoding scheme. You can't have artificial intelligence without a goof button to make the computer try again. So where is Google's goof button?


/s/ 09/02; mailed in P.O.

Walter Gregg

📧 Send Comment Walt.Gregg.Juneau.AK.US/contact
🏡 Home Page Walt.Gregg.Juneau.AK.US
  Global Statistics   gs.statcounter.com