Gmail And Google Apps Users Complain Of Bug Which Sees Contact Groups Empty Out

Next Story

Look Out, YC Payments Startup Balanced Is Processing $370M A Year

The cloud giveth, and the cloud taketh away. An undetermined number of Gmail and Google Apps users have been experiencing issues with their Gmail Contacts groups throughout the month of January, which involves contacts randomly disappearing from the groups they’ve been assigned to – something that’s more frustrating than devastating, to be fair.

It’s frustrating because of the work involved in getting these Contacts groups together in the first place – work that, by the sounds of it, will now have to be repeated. The contacts aren’t lost, you see, they just lose their user-assigned labels.

Writes one user on Google’s Gmail product forums, which have been flooded with complaints (see list below), “noticed it last night when I went to a group from my MOTO X to make a call and my Customer list of 50 had reduced to 4. Heart stopping because I was afraid that I had lost the contact altogether.”

The forums are fairly full of similar complaints. For example, check out the following links for more detailed complaints: 

http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!category-topic/gmail/contacts-and-sync/N7oIymohLTY
http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!category-topic/gmail/contacts-and-sync/8QhRu8hSqWs
http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!category-topic/gmail/contacts-and-sync/wL6TsJZxoZ0
http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!category-topic/gmail/contacts-and-sync/oXUQ9oLhRkE
http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!category-topic/gmail/contacts-and-sync/GDIHGb0TcmY
http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!category-topic/gmail/contacts-and-sync/gy_9RkGXnhs
http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!category-topic/gmail/contacts-and-sync/qA9PKrOXXhU
http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!category-topic/gmail/contacts-and-sync/B7iN285w99o
http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!category-topic/gmail/contacts-and-sync/R4OKmZBsXb8
http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!category-topic/gmail/contacts-and-sync/CLQQEMJnfAo
http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!category-topic/gmail/contacts-and-sync/9VoWKwpRCXo
http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!category-topic/gmail/contacts-and-sync/CBODyayYZRE
http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!category-topic/gmail/contacts-and-sync/bSRvZ2g2vSY
http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!category-topic/gmail/contacts-and-sync/mqvyNx7iaWc
http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!category-topic/gmail/contacts-and-sync/8_98UelFRas
http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!category-topic/gmail/contacts-and-sync/gLt5xbFx6uk
http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!category-topic/gmail/contacts-and-sync/Z-XnQzRI8Jc
http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!category-topic/gmail/contacts-and-sync/bSRvZ2g2vSY
http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!category-topic/gmail/contacts-and-sync/6RiP4FtxETw
http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!category-topic/gmail/contacts-and-sync/8_98UelFRas
http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!category-topic/gmail/contacts-and-sync/FNsfL9YCBXE
+  http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!category-topic/gmail/contacts-and-sync/wZQGKddP6cg

Laments another user, “at least half my 500+ Contacts are no longer in the Groups they were in – it took me weeks to get them all set up.”

Yikes, I feel your pain, Pete.

Screen Shot 2014-01-16 at 1.11.21 PM

Google staff has been involved in the forums, collecting information from affected users and providing progress updates. But TechCrunch tipsters, annoyed with the company’s uninformative public responses, have been pressing us to look into the issue, too.

The problem appears to be ongoing – Google is aware of the issue and working on a fix, we’re told. However, the company declined (so far) to provide details as to how many users have been affected, what exactly has happened here, or when a fix or workaround would be available.

From what we’ve surmised, a potential workaround is to roll back your contacts to a point before the issue occurred by clicking “More” from the Contacts menu, then “Restore.” (You may want to have a backup to CSV on file just in case, both before and after doing this.)

Google’s Contacts interface has largely been considered an afterthought in recent years, especially with the company’s increased focus on Google+ integrations, and organization through Google+’s social “Circles.” But for business users in particular – or, really, anyone who has painstakingly organized their contacts over the years – this kind of bug stings.  

Of course, one could make the argument that manual organization of contacts is a bit of relic, especially since there are now apps and services (like FullContact, which just acquired Cobook, Brewster, LinkedIn’s Contacts, and many more) which do smart organization, tagging and grouping for you. But a contacts database, even when used for business purposes, is a very personal tool – and for that reason, many users still like to be hands-on when it comes to managing the data it contains.