Google Trusted Stores Merchant Guidelines
Customer Complaints and Refunds
Technical Overview and Requirements
LAST UPDATED: 20 JANUARY 2015
The Google Trusted Stores program (the "Program") is designed to help customers easily find merchants who offer a superior online shopping experience.
Merchants who are accepted into the Program can become eligible to display the Program badge on pages of their websites to let shoppers know that they offer reliable shipping and great customer service.
When a customer completes an order with a Merchant who has been deemed eligible to display the badge on their website, the customer will be offered the opportunity on the order confirmation page to have their order protected by Google. This protection helps ensure a great shopping experience for customers. In the unlikely event that a customer is unable to resolve an order issue with a participating store, they can ask Google to help resolve the issue. Google will work with you to make sure the customer is satisfied.
Merchants participating in the Program ("Merchants") are required to adhere to the rules and requirements in these Merchant guidelines. Google monitors several aspects of a Merchant’s performance and defines minimum performance standards for the Program. Failure to comply with these guidelines or to meet the minimum standards may result in revocation of a Merchant’s eligibility for participation in the Program and termination of the Merchant’s Trusted Stores Program Agreement (the "Agreement"). For the avoidance of doubt, a Merchant’s participation in the Program and an order’s eligibility for the Program is at all times at Google’s sole discretion, and such participation may be revoked or suspended by Google at any time.
Because we may change these guidelines from time to time, please check here often for updates. You can determine when we last changed these guidelines by referring to the "LAST UPDATED" date above. Pursuant to the Agreement, it is each Merchant’s responsibility to keep up to date with and adhere to these guidelines.
The following criteria apply to Merchants wishing to participate in the Program; additional restrictions apply to certain orders:
US Merchants Only
Only US-based Merchants selling items priced in US Dollars are eligible for the Program. Google may modify the territorial scope of the Program (including with respect to Merchant location, customer locations and permitted currencies) at any time.
The Merchant’s site content and customer support must be in English.
Google Trusted Stores Policies
Merchants participating in the Program must comply with the Google Trusted Stores Policies. Violation of our policies may result in Merchant’s disqualification from the Program. If a policy is violated and a prohibited item is nonetheless sold, Google may retroactively declare as ineligible for the Program any orders for prohibited items.
One Account Only
Merchants may not create or maintain duplicate, back-up, replacement, or reserve profiles in the Program. Merchants may register only one Program account per domain.
Some Merchants operate multiple domains. Merchants may register each domain as an individual Merchant in the Program, in which case Google may treat each domain as a separate Merchant. Alternatively, Merchants may aggregate multiple domains into one Program account. In the case of an aggregated account, it will be at Google’s sole discretion to determine which metrics to display for each such aggregated account.
Merchant Is Merchant of Record; Transactions on Third-Party Websites
Merchant must be the merchant and seller of record for at least 80% of the transactions that are initiated from or on Merchant’s site. To the extent that any transactions initiated from or on Merchant’s site are completed on a third-party website, Merchant is fully responsible for such transactions as if they occurred entirely on Merchant’s site, and such transactions will be subject to the Agreement and these guidelines. Feedback that Google receives regarding any transactions initiated from or on a Merchant’s site that are completed on a third-party website may negatively impact the Merchant’s own eligibility for the Program.
Google may conduct ongoing tests, including multivariate tests, to all components of the icons, logos, messaging, data, and other elements of the Program. Merchants do not have editorial control over the tests.
Merchant Profile, Logo, and Contact Information
Changes to the Program
Google may (i) change, suspend or discontinue the Program, in whole or in part, at any time in its sole discretion, including to perform maintenance or updates to the Program and (ii) impose limits on certain features or restrict access to parts or all of the Program, in each case without notice and without liability.
No Hard-Coded Elements; Use of Google Materials
Under no circumstances may any of the Program’s or Google’s logos, icons, or functionality be “hard-coded” on the Merchant’s website. Merchants may not under any circumstance display images, screenshots, iconography, or other visual or written elements that in Google’s opinion imply the Merchant is a participant in the Program other than as provided and approved by Google in advance. The only acceptable integration of the Program’s or Google’s materials is through the Program’s code as described in these policies.
No Obscuring Visual Elements of the Program
Merchants must not allow any of the visual elements of the Program to be obscured by any other content or material on their sites.
Merchant must not restrict any online customer from viewing the Program’s visual elements, regardless of the product being ordered or the quantity of items ordered. Merchant may not selectively show or hide the Program’s visual elements, whether as part of a Merchant-controlled A/B test or for any other purpose. Google may restrict the display of the Program’s visual elements on Merchant’s site at any time for any reason.
Bill Before Shipment
For credit and debit card purchases, if Merchant captures payment more than 1 business day in advance of the expected ship date, Merchant must notify customers of such billing practice through their terms of service or at the time the order is placed.
US Shipping Addresses Only
Only orders shipped to the fifty United States and the District of Columbia are eligible for the Program. Google may attempt to suppress the Program’s visual elements to users accessing a Merchant’s website from outside the US; however this action is taken as a convenience only.
Orders shipped to Post Office Boxes are ineligible for the Program.
Voice/Telephone or Mail Orders
Only customers who complete their order online and affirmatively opt in to the Program will be eligible for the Program. Orders placed via telephone, mail, fax and any other non-online means are ineligible for the Program.
Orders paid via virtual currency are ineligible for the Program.
Transactions may be ineligible for the Program, including (but not limited to) fraudulent transactions and ineligible shipping addresses and locations, currencies, language and product categories. If a customer’s order is ineligible for the Program, but the customer nevertheless elects to participate in the Program and the customer later escalates the order for assistance, Google may, at its sole discretion, attempt to provide assistance resolving the issue as a courtesy and the Merchant shall assist Google, but in no case will the order be eligible for any other protection or coverage implied by the Program.
Unless otherwise specified in writing by Google, Google does not intend Merchant's participation in the Program to create obligations under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, as amended, (“HIPAA”), and makes no representations that the Program satisfies HIPAA requirements. If you are (or become) a Covered Entity or Business Associate under HIPAA, you agree not to use the Program for any purpose or in any manner involving Protected Health Information unless you have received prior written consent to such use from Google.
Only Merchants who meet the performance standards set forth below are eligible to display the badge on their sites; however, such eligibility is not a guarantee that Google will permit Merchants to display the badge or otherwise participate in the Program. For Multi-domain Merchants [link to section above], the below performance standards will be measured on a per domain basis. For example, if Merchant owns store A and store B, each store must independently meet the below performance standards in order to be eligible to display the badge.
If a Merchant’s ratings do not meet the required standards, Google may suppress or remove the visual elements of the Program from the Merchant's applicable domain; after such time, orders on the Merchant's site will be ineligible for the Program. Google may also elect to use longer periods for determination of the required standards in the case of insufficient data or at Google's sole discretion.
|Transaction Volume||Merchant must process at least 600 orders on a 90-day rolling basis through the order confirmation module code.|
|On-Time Delivery||At least 90% of all shipments must be shipped by the estimated ship date provided by the Merchant at the time of purchase. To account for variability beyond your direct control (e.g. carrier delays), Google requires at least 80% of all shipments to be delivered on-time based on Google Trusted Stores customer survey results on a 90-day rolling basis.|
|Overall Google Trusted Store Rating||Merchant must maintain minimum 4.0 star overall ratings on both Google Trusted Stores customer survey results and seller ratings on a 90-day rolling basis.|
No more than 1 in 300 protected orders shall be escalated to Google on a 90-day rolling basis.
|Average Escalation Resolution Days||
Average number of days to resolve a customer escalation must not exceed 4 calendar days from the time when the escalation is filed to when the escalation is closed on a 90-day rolling basis.
|Annual Payout Cap||
If Google’s annual payout for refunds to the Merchant’s customers exceeds $5,000 in aggregate on a 365-day rolling basis, Merchant’s participation in the Program may be suspended or terminated.
Exceptions to Standard Criteria
A Merchant may request an exception from one or more of the Program’s eligibility criteria, and Google may grant such request if Google determines, in its sole discretion, that application of such criteria do not accurately reflect or are not representative of the quality of the Merchant’s operations. If an exception is granted, it may be contingent on Google’s ability to track an alternate metric which more accurately reflects the quality of the Merchant. Any exceptions are solely at Google’s discretion.
Timeframes for Qualification Period
If a store’s monthly order volume is at least 1,000 orders, the qualification period will generally last around 30 days. If a store’s monthly order volume is closer to 200 orders, the qualification period may be closer to 3 months. However, Google may make determinations regarding Merchant’s adherence to Program performance requirements based on any timeframe that Google chooses in its sole discretion.
After the qualification period, Google may hold Merchant to standards in excess of the performance standards set forth above if Google determines, in its sole discretion, that it has insufficient data to rate Merchant or deems Merchant to be high risk.
Metrics and Data Verification
To further assess the Merchant’s shipping and service quality, Google may contact or encourage other parties, including customers, to provide feedback or to validate data provided by the Merchant at any point in time. Information about a Merchant provided by third parties, for example, customer support evaluations through mystery shopping, may impact the Merchant’s eligibility for the Program.
If Google suspects that Merchant has manipulated performance data or any other data provided to Google in connection with Merchant’s participation in the Program, Google may suspend Merchant’s participation in the Program.
If a customer's order results in recurring charges for recurring shipments, only the initial shipment will be used by Google to calculate Merchant's performance metrics and be eligible for purchase protection. However, if a customer escalates subsequent orders for assistance, Google may, at its sole discretion, attempt to provide assistance resolving the issue as a courtesy, but in no case will the subsequent order be eligible for any other protection or coverage implied by the Program.
Minimum Response Timeframes
Merchants must acknowledge and respond to Google and customer within 1 business day.
If Google feels (in its sole discretion) that the Merchant’s responsiveness is negatively impacting the customer experience, Google may suppress or remove the visual elements of the Program from the Merchant's site; after such time, orders on the Merchant's site will be ineligible for the Program. However, the Merchant is still required to resolve issues with any protected orders and assist Google in any such escalation.
In cases where Google determines a refund is due to customer:
- If Google determines the customer is not required to return the item: 100% of refunds within 2 business days.
- If Google determines the customer is required to return the item: 100% of refunds must be issued within 6 business days of receipt of returned item at Merchant's warehouse.
Building a Performance History
After submission of an application and successfully completing code integration, Merchants will enter the qualification period. During this time, the Google Trusted Stores badge will not be visible; however, customers who make a purchase may be invited to opt-in to take a survey about their shopping experience with the Merchant. During this time, the Merchant must maintain full integration of all Program code. During the qualification period, Google will collect and review various sources of data, including, but not limited to:
- order data
- survey results
- products available for sale
- the Merchant’s customer service and return policies
- 3rd party reviews of the Merchant’s business
- end-to-end shopping experience at the Merchant’s store
- the Merchant’s marketplace sellers and policies (if applicable)
Displaying the Badge: Qualification Period; Minimum Time and Order Volume
No action is required by the Merchant to emerge from the qualification period. If a store’s monthly order volume is at least 1,000 orders, the qualification period will generally last around 30 days. If a store’s monthly order volume is closer to 200 orders, the qualification period may be closer to 3 months. However, Google may make determinations regarding Merchant’s adherence to Program performance requirements based on any timeframe that Google chooses in its sole discretion. Once Google has evaluated the Merchant’s application to the Program, Google will contact the Merchant with a decision and next steps.
Failure to Meet Performance Standards; Suspension from the Program
Merchants are responsible for ensuring their full compliance with Program requirements, including meeting all of the performance standards set forth in these guidelines. If a Merchant fails to meet a particular performance standard, Google may elect to either (a) suspend the Merchant from the Program or (b) work with the Merchant to improve the Merchant’s performance prior to suspending the Merchant. If, after working with the Merchant, Google determines that the Merchant’s performance does not meet the Program’s performance standards, Google may suspend the Merchant from the Program. Upon suspension from the Program, the Program badge will not appear on Merchant’s site, but Google may continue to evaluate Merchant’s performance to determine whether to reinstate Merchant. The duration of any Merchant suspension from the Program will be in Google’s sole discretion. If a Merchant believes the drop in performance does not reflect the Merchant’s general, longer-term performance, the Merchant may request an exception to the suspension. Any exceptions are entirely at Google’s discretion.
Customer Complaints and Refunds
Customers are encouraged, but not required, to communicate directly with Merchants to resolve problems. However, if a customer is unable to resolve a problem with a Merchant directly, they may seek Google’s assistance. These guidelines describe a Merchant’s obligations during the escalations and refund process.
Unless clearly indicated on the Merchant’s product page and the customer's invoice or receipt, all items sold by Merchants are assumed to be in new condition. Google may snapshot the Merchant’s product page at the time of order for reference in the event of a dispute. Merchants selling products which are used, refurbished, floor models, or otherwise not brand new are advised to ensure they sufficiently communicate the product condition to customers to avoid potential disputes.
No-Fee Cancellation on Late Shipments
Merchants must ship items within 3 business days of the original estimated ship date provided at time of order or provide a no-fee cancellation option if requested by the customer. Customers must request cancellation directly with the Merchant, not via Google.
If the Merchant fails to remedy the problem as described above and the Merchant nevertheless ships the order at a later date, the customer is entitled to the option of returning the items (in new condition) according to the Merchant’s normal return procedure; however the customer shall not pay any fees related to the return.
If the customer does not cancel a late order and the late order is then shipped, the Merchant’s normal terms and policies apply.
Customers may ask for Google’s help if they are having trouble with an order eligible for the Program.
Google recognizes that top-performing Merchants frequently resolve customer problems on their own, and encourages customers to work with the Merchant first to resolve the problem directly. When a customer seeks help from Google, Google first provides the customer with the Merchant’s contact information and asks the customer to contact the Merchant directly. Google may also provide the customer with a copy of the Merchant’s customer-facing terms and policies from the time of the order.
If the customer indicates they have been unable to reach satisfactory resolution directly with the Merchant, customers may file an escalated claim with Google via the Google Trusted Stores customer account. Once a claim has been filed, Google may engage directly with the customer or Merchant at any point in its sole discretion. Throughout the escalation process, the Merchant must respond to any question or request from Google within a maximum of 1 business day.
When an escalated claim is filed, the following process begins:
- The escalated claim is forwarded to the Merchant via email and appears in the Merchant's Program account.
- The Merchant must work with the customer to resolve the escalation. The Merchant is expected to start working on the escalation immediately and respond to any Google or customer inquiries as defined within these guidelines.
- Google may contact the customer:
- as soon as the Merchant has updated the escalation in the account; or
- at any other time, when Google believes that the escalation may have been resolved.
- The escalated claim will be closed if the customer does not dispute that their claim has been resolved.
If the matter is still unresolved after 7 calendar days or if the customer disputes the Merchant's resolution or if the Merchant has not responded to a question or request from Google within 1 business day or, otherwise, if Google chooses, in its sole discretion, the following process begins:
- Google will evaluate the matter based on available information.
- Google will inform all parties of its decision. If Google determines (in its sole discretion) that a refund is due to the customer, see Refunds Process below. Google’s decisions do not constitute a legal assessment of the matter but are based on reasonable business judgments.
Incorrect, Broken, Defective, or Damaged Products
At the Merchant’s option, Merchants may resolve problems with incorrect, broken, defective, or damaged products by letting the customer choose between:
- receiving a replacement unit of the identical make and model as the original item ordered at no additional cost to the customer; or
- returning the broken item by following the Merchant’s Return Policy; however the customer shall not be required to pay for return shipping or any restocking fee.
Google may request that the Merchant provide a full or partial refund to a customer. In such cases the Merchant feels a refund decision by Google is not in accordance with the Merchant's customer-facing terms or policies, Google may elect to refund the customer directly. Such refunds will be applied to the Annual Payout Limit and may impact the Merchant’s standing in the program.
Merchants must initiate the refund to the customer in a timely manner.
All refunds must be made by the Merchant via the customer’s original form of payment, unless as otherwise agreed to by the customer.
No Change of Address
Due to fraud risk, Merchants are advised not to permit consignee re-routing of packages during transit. If a package is re-routed and a customer claims it was not received, Google may assume the package was not received (even if the shipping report indicates delivery, including a signature by the consignee), and the Merchant may be held responsible for replacement cost or a full refund.
Requests by the recipient to have the carrier divert a package to hold for pickup at a carrier operated location are acceptable provided the carrier requires a signature for pickup.
If a product is damaged in shipping, Google will determine responsibility for remedying the problem based on the Merchant’s customer-facing terms and policies. Merchants may require specific actions by customers, including (but not limited to) the requirement to refuse delivery, the requirement to file a damage claim with the carrier, the requirement to send photo evidence of shipping damage, or an overall waiver of Merchant liability for shipping damage. If the Merchant does not specify the customer’s required actions in the event of shipping damage, Google will consider the Merchant responsible for shipping damage.
Google Contacting Customers
Google may contact customers for reasons including:
- Program confirmation - to send customer confirmation details on the Program and instructions on how to seek help.
- Feedback solicitation - to determine the customer’s satisfaction about the product, the Merchant, or shipping, including, for example, a post-purchase survey.
- Cancellation and shipping confirmation - to confirm the reason for cancellation or to validate an untrackable shipment.
- Throughout the escalation process - if a customer has filed an escalation, multiple contacts may be required to achieve resolution.
Program Is Not A Product Warranty
The Program applies only to the transaction:
- It is not a product warranty of any kind; and
- It is not a means for customers to circumvent a Merchant’s return policy.
Technical Overview and Requirements
Merchants must integrate certain code on their website that allows Google to monitor website activity and transactions and to display the Program’s visual elements. The following describes the integration requirements.
Program Badge on Every Page
Order Confirmation Page
Transaction Information and Opt-In Module
Merchants must include the required Program code on their order confirmation page to transmit transaction information to Google and to allow customers to opt in to the Program.
Merchants must transmit to Google via Program code complete transaction information for each order placed on their site as required in the following Program code documentation. For clarity, Merchant must not transmit to Google any information that identifies the customer, except as required by the Program code.
3rd Party Payment Exception
If Merchants allow customers to pay via any of the 3rd party payment processes listed below, shoppers may be redirected temporarily off the Merchant’s website to enter payment information. The requirement to include code for the Program’s visual elements does not apply to pages served by these 3rd party payment processing websites:
- PayPal™ (unless it redirects back to the Merchant site);
- Amazon Payments™;
- eBillMe™; and
- Google Wallet
In all cases, the Merchant is required to:
- include code for the visual elements on the landing page when the customer returns to the Merchant’s site
- transmit the order confirmation details to Google, providing the customer with the opportunity to opt in for the purchase protection provided by the Program.
Trusted Stores and Google Cookies
Secure Checkout and PII
Payment and transaction processing, as well as collection of any sensitive and financial personal information from the user, must be conducted over a secure processing server (SSL-protected, with a valid SSL certificate - https://). Merchants remain responsible for ensuring that they are compliant with local laws and regulations on the subject of privacy and data protection. Google may suspend any account found to be in violation of our policy or the law.
We've created this policy to protect our users' online safety.