A longtime family-run Calgary company is accusing Google of driving traffic to another business in a bizarre situation.

Ryan Schoel, owner of The Costume Shoppe, came across a Google listing that showed his address as Pirate Fashions Canada, even though the photos and phone number were for his business. Schoel said he discovered it about three weeks ago while trying to geotag a photo.

“(The site) said I was in Pirate Fashions Canada. Um, I’m in my building. Who is Pirates Fashion Canada?” he questioned.

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The Costume Shoppe has been in Calgary since 1994 and in its current location off of Blackfoot Trail for the past 12 years. Schoel said he found it absolutely absurd the search engine would tell him he was in the wrong place.

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“(Google) says you don’t exist, so you don’t exist,” he said. “They say The Costume Shoppe isn’t The Costume Shoppe — it’s this company in Florida — therefore we’re the company in Florida. That doesn’t make sense.”

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The listing that told Schoel he was in the wrong place also had a link to a website — again not for The Costume Shoppe, but for Pirate Fashions.

He contacted the American company but said not much came of his concerns. The owner did click on a Google setting that advises the business is not at that location. However, Schoel said that just made things even worse.

“Google did turn around and say it’s permanently closed. That’s great, however it still has a picture of my building, so now my building looks closed,” he pointed out.

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“That’s not a win. A win for me is the whole thing comes down because it’s fraudulent.”

Pirate Fashions tells Global News it didn’t know anything about this until Schoel contacted them. It also said it did nothing wrong on its end and tried to help by letting Google know it was a wrong address.

However, when we asked why it’s not pushing Google to take the listing down, owner Tiger Lee told us having it up has not hurt the business and may in fact help it.

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Global News also reached out to Google for comment and have yet to hear back.

Schoel also sent the search engine a complaint but was not pleased with the response from the Google team, who he expects was not a real person.

“At this time, Google has decided not to take action,” the email read.

“Local listings (including business listings) displayed on Google Search and Google Maps are intended to provide our users with the most complete and up-to-date information possible about a place.”

Schoel doesn’t know how many customers were driven away by the incorrect listing and Google Maps, but said business has been hard enough without this happening.

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“Coming off the pandemic and trying to survive as a business is hard enough. Adding to the difficulties by blatantly and falsely showing my business location as another business is a horrible and unethical thing to do.”

He added while he knows mistakes do happen, he wishes Google had taken his concerns seriously and fixed the problem.

“Realistically there has to be a point and check system,” he said. “I expect that there’s going to be errors but there has to be a way to fix it.”

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Calgary company accuses Google of driving business away with fake listing
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