The phone orders are not an issue. It is an ecommerce store and 90% of all the products were correctly listed as 'in stock'. The difference with the others is that they are items that come and go, so some poeple will call and ask to order them, and there was a benefit of listing them on the site even if out of stock, as it was mroe reflective of what they can get in store.
The problem was that the default attribute for the 'availability' attribute was if 'out of stock', show on xml as 'in stock' - so the plugin was listing out of stock items in the XML file. I recognized this as an issue and it is no longer happening.
The important thing is that right now I have a valid, and as far as I can tell, Google-compliant feed that is not being accepted and business is being lost as a result- exacerbated by the loss of sales. Here is the letter that I got from Google, which does NOT indicate that anyone actually re-evaluated the feed, as these things have been fixed.
Thank you for your email. You can list your products to Google Product Search using highly structured information with the help of two types of attributes: a) Required attributes b) Recommended attributes
Any items that are missing required attributes will not process successfully. Items missing recommended attributes will still process successfully, however, we strongly suggest you include information about those attributes if possible to increase the chances that your products will be included in relevant categories.
Required attributes include basic product information such as ID, title, description, link, image link, availability, price, and condition. There are additional required attributes based on the category of items being submitted and the target country to which these items are submitted. For example, the ‘Google product category’ attribute is required only for items that belong to the 'apparel and accessories', 'media', and 'software' categories, and are in feeds which target the US, UK, Germany, France, or Japan. Similarly, items belonging to the apparel category targeting the US have a set of attributes that are required.
Recommended attributes include attributes such as ‘product type’ , ‘additional image link, ‘sale price’ etc. Also, attributes which are required for certain countries are recommended for others as they may become required in the future.