Mapping error: What happens when Google Maps leads people astray?

Mapping error: What happens when Google Maps leads people astray?

SALEM, Ore. – Google Maps is an incredibly popular navigation tool, but what happens when the map is dead wrong?

Allison Houck suffered the brunt of a Google goof. The map was directing people looking for a car dealership down her dead-end rural road, not to the actual dealership miles away.

The problem started when some people search on Google Maps for Capitol Toyota. If you were driving to the dealership from I-5, the map took you far past the business – ten miles to be exact. The route eventually ended on Gray Oak Lane at Houck’s front door.

“The dot will put you right here,” she said, “at my house.”

Houck’s house sits on a rural private road. Drivers had to pass two “dead end” signs to get there.

“But people will follow Google, they’ll follow the Google map,” Houck said. “They’ll sit around on our street trying to figure out where they need to go.”

As many as a dozen people a day showed up on the street looking for Capitol Toyota. Houck said most of the frustrated drivers are from out of town and many sped through the neighborhood once they realized they were in the wrong place.

“Kids are playing. There’s a basketball court set up on the street, there’s chalk drawings,” Houck said. “You know there’s kids up here.”

Bob Myers with Capitol Auto Group said they hope signs from the dealership are catching some people as they first drive past.

“It’s a weird situation,” he said.

Both Myers and Houck notified Google of the problem and requested a fix but they go nowhere. They tried to reach a live person with no luck.

Frustrated, Houck called KATU for help. I called Google myself and asked what they would do about Houck’s problem.

A company spokeswoman told me to file a report online, just as Houck and Myers already had done.

I filed the report and the map pin for the dealership was fixed to the correct location within a matter of hours.

But about 18 hours later the problem returned and the pin for the dealership once again showed up at Houck’s house.

Two hours after that, Google Maps showed the dealership as being at both locations – Houck’s house and the dealership off Salem Parkway.

We did a final check just before publishing this story and the pin for the dealership had again been fixed and pointed to the right place.

Still, Houck said considering the inconsistencies she’s expecting to see more drivers coming down her street looking to buy a new car.

“I want them to make it stop. I want the dot to go where it belongs,” she said. “I want it to not show back up on my street.”

Google says it uses a combination of sources to map businesses, including its web search results, private and public directories. The company would not comment specifically about why Capitol Toyota’s locator is off.

The dealership did move locations about a year and a half ago but notified Google about the move.