Rob's Ramblings

Saturday 5 January 2013

Google Play: Couldn't sign in

My better half has an android tablet, which I've already touched upon.  It's configured with her Google account, and works fine for gmail, youtube, etc., but one thing that's been bugging her for ages is an inability to purchase anything from the Google Play store.  Free apps are apparently OK, but not paid-for or, indeed, in-game purchases.

The error we get is a page headed "Couldn't sign in" with the rather unhelpful "An error occurred connecting to the Google servers".

Searching these found advice such as "clear the cache", "reinstall the play app", "Disable 2-step authentication" even. But nothing worked.

I have, however, found the problem, so am documenting it here for others to search for and find.

Her Google account is actually a Google Apps account - it uses an email address based off a custom domain rather than a googlemail or gmail domain.  This seems to be the root of the issue.  In the store, the payment options are done via "Google Wallet" which, when accessed on the laptop, when logged into Google as her, brought up a page "Reinstate your Google Wallet online account - If you’ve arrived at this page, it means that your Google Wallet online account is currently suspended."

It turns out that any administrative action on a Google Apps based account automatically suspends access to Wallet! Presumably they think that a domain's administrator is not to be trusted with their users' card details.  There's a form to fill in to get access back - give the last transaction details, last four digits of card number, etc.  It's not much help when the account has never been used before and so we didn't have any details to fill in..  It also looks like that's then sent off to Google themselves to action, manually.

In the end, the solution was not to use that account.  She's got a hotmail email address that already has a Google profile associated with it, so we logged into Wallet with that, and then set that up as an additional account on the tablet.  It's mail is already fetched by gmail and added into the Apps mail, so that means any correspondence won't be lost.  Jobs a good 'un.

So, if you are getting this error just in the Google Play store, and your account is a google Apps account, then you have two choices - don't use that account for the store, or login via the website, fill in the recovery form, and hope for the best.

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