Google could face class action lawsuit over free G Suite legacy account shutdown

Google could face class action lawsuit over free G Suite legacy account shutdown

The folks behind the Pixel and Nintendo Switch Joy-Con drift class-action lawsuits are looking into it

Google recently announced that it would kill its free legacy G Suite account program, which allowed those that snuck in before 2012 to get free Google apps services tied to a custom domain rather than Gmail. Plenty of people used this free service for their personal accounts, but when Google announced the shutdown, it left all of those customers (and purchases tied to those accounts) in the lurch: Either they would have to cough up the cash for a paid subscription to keep their stuff tied to a fully working account, as before, or accept using a broken and suspended account on the side while moving to a standard Gmail address. That seemed pretty bogus to us, and the attorneys at Chimicles Schwartz Kriner & Donaldson-Smith agree, as they’re opening an investigation into the matter for a potential class-action lawsuit.

If the name sounds familiar, that’s because we’ve covered the firm before. They’re the company that sued Google for the Nexus 6P’s early shutdown and bootlooping issues, the Nexus 5X’s bootloops, the 2016 Pixel’s microphone problems, and the more Pixel 3 news. You may also know them from the Nintendo Joy-Con drift class-action — it’s a well-known firm for these big tech class action lawsuits. And now they’ve set their sights on Google‘s legacy G Suite shutdown.

No lawsuit has been filed yet; the attorneys involved are just collecting information for a potential lawsuit in the future once all the facts are straight (and Google has had time to reconsider its actions).

When we covered the original news of the legacy G Suite shutdown, it seemed unreasonable to us, because customers using those legacy accounts are unable to transfer purchases or things like grandfathered subscription discounts to new accounts. When we asked if moving purchases between accounts might be possible, a Google representative confirmed it wasn’t:

“No, customers cannot move those subscriptions and purchases to a free Google Account. If a customer does not wish to upgrade, they will not be asked to forfeit their login credentials, and they will not lose access to other Google services, such as YouTube, Photos and Google Play, nor paid content, including YouTube and Play Store purchases. They will be able to continue to log into their Google services and third-party sites with Google credentials. If a customer does not upgrade, only core services in a customer’s Google Workspace subscription, such as Gmail, Calendar, Drive, and Meet, will be suspended. In this state, users won’t be able to receive or send email, including authenticating password resets via email. Without access to Gmail in the suspended state, we recommend customers use a different email to send and receive email messages, including changing logins and authenticating new passwords.”

That means years of purchases tied to Google Play — potentially hundreds to thousands of dollars of assets like movie and music purchases for a given customer, across thousands of affected customers — could be tied to broken accounts because of the transition. Google explicitly confirmed to us that was the case, though customers could elect to keep using their broken suspended account alongside a working one.

In essence, everyone that migrated to one of these accounts while they were still offered (from 2006 at least until 2012, so far as I can tell) will have to pay extra money to keep their existing purchases tied to a fully working account, and we think that’s pretty ridiculous. Attorney Benjamin F Johns, a partner at the firm Chimicles et al., tells us he agrees:

“This appears to be a classic bait and switch strategy: lure people and businesses into signing up for a purportedly free service and then, years after customers have become accustomed to using their G Suite accounts, force them to make the untenable choice between paying for that service or essentially losing access to it. Just imagine if Facebook suddenly started charging its users.”

Again, no suit has been filed yet, and Google could yet circumvent any of these issues by simply allowing customers to move their purchases and subscriptions to another fully functional account or by continuing to allow customers to use their old G Suite accounts for free — though the latter seems less likely.

Many of our readers used free legacy G Suite accounts tied to a custom domain for their personal accounts. All those affected can reach out to the attorneys involved in the case should they like to participate in any future class actions that could develop from it.

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About The Author

Ryne Hager
(2893 Articles Published)

Ostensibly a senior editor, in reality just some verbose dude who digs on tech, loves Android, and hates anticompetitive practices. His only regret is that he didn’t buy a Nokia N9 in 2012. Email tips or corrections to ryne at androidpolice dot com.

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“Simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.”
― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching