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Google Sued over Interpretation of Daily AdWords Limits

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[An earlier version of the headline of this story included the name Howard Stern. It was changed to prevent the misimpression that the radio celebrity with the same name was one of the parties involved in the suit.]

An industrial printing firm and a New Jerseyite named Howard Stern launched a lawsuit against Google last week, alleging that the search engine giant fails to live up to its promises regarding the daily budget limits that AdWords users can place over their accounts. The plaintiffs are seeking class action status. They say that Google's daily budget limits are misrepresented and that Google "continues to bill plaintiffs and all other members of the class in excess of the daily budgets," creating in effect a monthly budget limit made up of the sum of the daily budget multiplied by the number of days in the month.

Google does indicate that it will refund customers charged more than 120 percent of a daily budget, but the lawsuit gives examples that allege regular violation of this policy, with one example campaign running from between 121 and 162 percent of overdelivery, all charged to one of the plaintiffs.

The suit asks for all charges in excess of the daily budget to be disgorged, along with unspecified compensatory, consequential and punitive damages.

The suit was filed last week in California's Santa Clara Superior Court by lawyers for CLRB Hanson Industries, a Minnesota industrial printing concern doing business as Industrial Printing. The suit does not make clear why it involved Howard Stern, a New Jerseyite, other than to say that he is an AdWords customer similarly affected along with the rest of the class.

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