This Is What Happens When Google Maps Accidentally Labels Your Home a Pizzeria
“It is like getting your identity stolen.”
If you stopped a dozen people on the sidewalk and asked them if they’d want to live in a pizza restaurant, I’d bet a good portion would give you an enthusiastic yes. (And, depending on where you conducted this experiment, at least one of them would try to recruit you to sell Rodan + Fields.) But one Australian man has learned that living in a pizzeria sucks, especially when Google Maps is what put you there.
Michael McElwee was confused when a deliveryman showed up at his front door with a stack of magazines addressed to a pizzeria. He was borderline perplexed when a stranger rang the bell, hoping to get a job at that same restaurant. When people started stopping his daughter to ask what time the pizza shop opened, he realized there was a serious problem.
McElwee discovered that Google Maps had mistakenly labeled his Darwin home as Cucina Sotto Le Stelle, a pop-up pizza restaurant that occasionally operates at the nearby Seabreeze Carpark. “It is like getting your identity stolen,” McElwee told ABC Radio Darwin. “Your house has been stolen and put in as a pizza shop.”
In its review of Cucina Sotto Le Stelle, AFAR said that, when the pop-up was open, you could “follow the smell of wood-fired pizza mingling with tropical sea air to find in-the-know locals and travelers gathered at checkered communal tables.” Or, in the past few days, you could wander aimlessly through a residential neighborhood and find one confused, out-of-the-loop local who’d like to know why you’re in his front yard.
McElwee told ABC Radio that he’d lost count of how many people had knocked on his door, looking for pizza, but his dog had been “barking a lot” lately. A Google spokesperson told the station that the company was aware of the mistake and was working to fix it.
Google Maps has made the occasional mistake—it has erroneously labeled a Berlin intersection as Adolf Hitler-Platz and described a New York City neighborhood as the “drug section”—but such address and phone number mixups were infinitely more annoying in our Analog Years.
In 1991, Rose-Marie Malek-Yonan’s home phone number—which was also the number for her home-based business—was mistakenly listed as the number for Domino’s Pizza in the phone book. She told the Los Angeles Times that she got 40 calls each day and up to 200 on the weekends, at even the most unreasonable of hours. “The phone rings every five minutes. It starts early in the morning and they call until 2 a.m.,” she said. “It is a nightmare.” She filed a $750,000 lawsuit against Domino’s Pizza, the publishers of the phone book, and the Yellow Pages, respectively.