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Google Glitch

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Churches are affected, small businesses are affected, the fire department is affected, people's homes are affected, even historic places are affected. The iconic Bennington Battle Monument is clearly in Bennington, but ask Google and it will tell you the monument is in Woodford.

"The Bennington Battle Monument is at 15 Monument Circle, Woodford, Vermont," the Google app told us.

If you live in Bennington, you're not likely to confuse your town with its tiny neighbor 10 minutes to the east. But tech giant Google can't get it right.

"For some reason, Google thought that everything around the Bennington area should be called Woodford," said Matt Harrington of the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce.

"I've had many calls with people saying, 'How far are you from Bennington?'" said Lynn Green, who owns the Four Chimneys Inn.

For months, Google has put Green's Bennington bed-and-breakfast in the wrong town. She says the error is confusing customers and some guests are choosing other hotels. That's money leaving her pocket.

Google Maps is messing with her mail, too. Green says bills are not making it to her mailbox. And the address discrepancy is bumping her website down in Google's search results.

"I just did a quick test of about 60 businesses and 58 of them were wrong," Green said.

It's a big blow for a town that heavily depends on tourism. Woodford and Bennington share a ZIP code and that may be part of the problem. But who's affected appears completely arbitrary. Take the hospital, for example. Google gets its address correct in Bennington. But it puts several of the other doctors' offices on the hospital campus in Woodford.

"Addressing is the key to any public safety agency," said Forest Weyen, the executive director of Bennington Rescue.

Weyen says this Google glitch could be putting you at risk since home and business addresses do not match the 911 database.

"There could be a delay in dispatchers getting proper resources to them whether that is police, fire or EMS," Weyen said.

"It's very hard to get somebody in Google to actually be a human and be listening to you and have the decision-making capability to really change it," Harrington said.

The Chamber of Commerce tells us it has tried to fix the problem 700 times, physically editing the addresses for each of its 350 members twice! But 72 hours later the correction always reverts back to Woodford.

"In the long run, it's really going to hurt the economy of Bennington," Green said.

Green got so frustrated, she started a local task force. After 70 hours on the phone, she was able to convince Google to change the text for her inn's entry but the map remains wrong.

"I think Google wants a good user experience and I don't think they're out to hurt Bennington, I think we're just getting lost in the shuffle," Green said.

We wanted to hold the tech giant accountable but couldn't get anyone on the phone. After repeated calls and emails, we finally got this statement from Google: "We recognize that there may be inaccuracies that could arise... in this case, we're actively working on the issue and expect to have it fixed in the coming days."

In a rural state like Vermont, lots of towns share ZIP codes. So it's unlikely Bennington is Google's only victim.

We also reached out to the Vermont attorney general's Consumer Assistance Division. The director said Google worked on the issue all weekend. Apparently, it's a time-consuming fix because each inaccurate address must be fixed manually.

We should point out that the glitch does not seem to affect the driving directions, the app will still get you where you need to go.

If you have a problem in your community that sounds a little fishy, send an email to investigate@wcax.com

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