Square Review


Overall Rating Breakdown
Sales & Marketing Tactics
Costs & Contract Terms
Complaints & Service
BBB Rating

Square Rating

"B" Credit Card Processor Rating

Best Mobile Payment Apps For: iPhone & Android | Square User Reviews


Jump to: Sales & Marketing | Costs & Contract | Complaints & Service | BBB Complaints

Square Overview

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Square Logo

Square Logo

Unlike most Square reviews (squareup.com & square.com), this Square Up review primarily covers the topics that matter to most merchants and small business owners rather than Square’s technology. Square is often called “Square up” or “Squareup” because of the domain that Square uses for its website; however, the official name for this company is “Square.” For the purposes of this review, the names will be used interchangeably.

Founded in February of 2009 by Jack Dorsey, who is also the founder of Twitter.com, Square has seen tremendous growth in a very short amount of time. Much of the company’s success can be attributed to the fact that Square has ingeniously broken the mold of credit card processing by removing the traditional barriers-to-entry that restricted processing services to actual businesses and instead brings credit card acceptance to the individual, or essentially anyone and everyone.

Signing up for the company’s payment processing service is simple: iPhone, iPad, and Android users simply fill out a quick form, download the Square app, and then await the arrival of the Square up reader in the mail. The Square credit card reader plugs into the headphone jack of the phone or tablet, thereby making it a mobile credit card terminal. In fact, Square’s model has been so successful that it has inspired numerous clones from both big name competitors and fledgling startups.

Other Square Services

Since the launch of its card reader and mobile app, Square has rolled out several other payment services for both business and personal use.

Square RegisterSquare Register is a point-of-sale (POS) system that provides extra features not included in the company’s mobile app, including analytics, sales reporting, staff management, and a customizable item library. The service, which is free to download and optimized for the iPad, also allows merchants to set up loyalty programs and send digital receipts.

Shopping cart with a mouseSquare Market is an online store directory for Square merchants. Merchants with an existing Square account can create an online profile for their store within the Square marketplace for free. They may then sell their products through the Square market for the usual rate of 2.75% per transaction.

Square CashSquare Cash is a direct peer-to-peer cash transfer service that is linked to a user’s debit card. Square Cash sends payments via email and allows for free transfers of funds between users. The service is not targeted at business owners, but they may use it to make payments outside of a business setting.

merchant cash advanceSquare Capital is a merchant cash advance program that can be activated from the dashboard in the Square Register. Square Capital allows merchants to receive a large upfront cash amount and then pay that total back to Square over time with a fixed percentage of their daily credit card sales.

Square has also recently launched an order-ahead app called Square Order, an online invoicing feature called Square Invoices, an online scheduler called Square Appointments, and an offline processing mode that enables merchants to capture payments even when their internet is down.

Square Sales and Marketing Tactics | A-

Key Points – Sales & Marketing 
Uses independent resellers? No
Promotes deceptive rate quotes? No
Discloses all important terms? No

Square differs greatly in how it markets and sells its service in comparison to traditional credit card processors. Where most merchant account providers utilize poorly trained outside independent agents who are focused on setting high fees in exchange for big commissions, Square relies mostly on online marketing and partnerships with retailers and cell phone service providers, most notably partnering with Starbucks in 2012. Nearly all of Square’s customers sign up directly through the homepage of the company’s website or by purchasing a reader at a store with a mail-in rebate covering 100% of the cost. Square has also benefited from an enormous amount of online buzz and word-of-mouth promotion.

Square markets its pricing with a straightforward and easy-to-understand message (covered later in this review); however, the company fails to mention anything about its account cancellation and risk mitigation policies in its marketing materials and advertising placements. These policies have been reported to cause significant problems for many merchants, and some have even complained of large financial losses. Due to the importance of these policies, and the fact that Square allows merchants to run transactions that may trigger account cancellation without any prior warning, many merchants have complained of misleading marketing by the company. Hence, we have lowered Square’s grade in this section to a “A-” rating.

Square Marketing Example

Square Costs & Contract Terms | B+

Key Points – Costs & Contract Terms
Swipe rate: 2.75%
Key-in rate: 3.5% + $0.15
Termination fee: None
Monthly minimum: None

The Good

One of the most appealing aspects of Square is that, unlike traditional credit card processors, Square credit card processing has only one fee: the processing fee of the transaction. There are no other fees that are typical of credit card processing, such as activation fees, monthly fees, gateway fees, PCI Compliance fees, downgrade fees, and early termination fees. Square has no additional monthly fees whatsoever as well as no monthly minimum processing fees or requirements.

Square now offers a single pricing option for all merchants: pay a flat rate of 2.75% for swiped transactions and 3.5% + $0.15 per keyed-in transaction. The company formerly offered a plan that included a flat monthly fee of $275 and 0% on swiped transactions up to $250,000 in processing per year, but this plan will no longer be available as of February 2014.

Although the company’s transaction rate is higher than the “Qualified” rate of most traditional merchant accounts, it is comparable to the “Mid-Qualified” and “Non-Qualified” downgrade surcharges that about 80% of most transactions experience with a traditional merchant account anyway. The rate is, however, much more expensive than a competitive Interchange Pass-through rate pricing plan.

The Not-So-Good

Square does not verify the credit history of its customers prior to approving an account, so it sets a few limitations to avoid potential losses to fraud.

Square states that there is no limit to the amount of money that can be accepted per transaction or per month through its service – which is only partially true. Instead of setting processing limitations and denying transactions once a user reaches a limit (a tactic used by most other providers), the company relies on other methods to mitigate potential losses due to fraud. These methods allow merchants to accept an “unlimited” single transaction amount as well as “unlimited” monthly sales volumes, but with a catch.

Until November 2013, Square placed holds on funds of card-not-present sales for 30 days if more than $2,002 was charged within any rolling seven-day period. This meant that if merchants keyed in $2,100 in sales within a seven-day period (either in a single transaction or in multiple transactions), the extra $98 ($2,100 – $2,002 = $98) would be held by Square for 30 days. This policy generated a lot confusion among users because Square did not provide any warning before the $2,002 limit was reached. Square now claims that merchants can process transactions of any type and any size without having to worry about a processing limit, but this claim is not entirely accurate.

 

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The primary tactic Square currently uses to limit fraud is much less transparent than its previous rolling reserve policy and is the reason for the company’s low score in this section. Square appears to rely on undisclosed algorithmic “risk factors” to place automatic holds on transactions that it deems suspicious. The system appears to flag a high number of legitimate transactions and can cause serious problems for some merchants. Numerous complaints have surfaced that Square has randomly and without explanation, or notification, placed lengthy holds (exceeding 30 days) on their funds – even with swiped transactions. When a transaction is flagged, Square will either contact the merchant to obtain additional information about the merchant or the transaction, or it will simply deactivate the user’s account. This deactivation allows Square to publicly claim that it does not hold its merchants’ funds because the withheld funds technically belong to deactivated Square merchants rather than active Square merchants.

Square’s policies regarding fund holding and risk mitigation are very murky and make the service quite risky for higher volume merchants. It appears that the company needs to do a much better job of educating merchants about the types of transactions that could result in account deactivation. This includes issuing a warning prior to letting them run transactions that will be held, notifying when transactions have been held, and communicating with the merchant through the hold process.

In most respects, Square has very favorable pricing and contract terms for merchants. It has a simple signup process, no monthly fees or long-term contracts, and easy-to-understand pricing. However, sudden account deactivation can greatly impact a merchant’s operations, so the grade for this section will not quite enter “A” territory until Square improves its risk mitigation system.

Square Customer Service and Complaints | C

Key Points – Complaints & Service
Total complaints: Over 1,200
Live customer support? Active merchants only
Most common complaint: Fund holds

Another area that Square comes up short in this review is in its customer service. For a company that has only been around for a few years, Square is racking up a lot of complaints (over 1,200 in just our comment section below). The majority of the complaints fall into three areas: virtually nonexistent phone support, misunderstanding and nondisclosure of its former $2,002 card-not-present deposit hold policy, and reports of random fund holding or account deactivation exceeding 30 days with no explanation or communication from Square.

The company appears to rely too heavily on customer service provided by email, its support forum, and social media. This is a big drawback for many business owners, especially for those who are not willing to wait for a response through email, Twitter, or other social media channels. The company does have a newly launched customer support phone number (855-700-6000) that operates from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PDT, but merchants must request and receive a code from this webpage in order to actually reach a representative. Phone support codes are only provided to active Square merchants, meaning that any Square user who has had his or her account deactivated will still be unable to reach the company by phone. It is our position that deactivated merchants are the merchants who have the greatest need for phone support, so this customer support line is only a minor step forward for Square.

Regardless of how they contacted the company, merchants are reporting wait times of several days before getting a response from Square. Numerous users have also reported that Square has failed to respond to their support requests entirely. For many reviewers, it seems inexcusable for a financial services company this large to not have readily available live support for all of its users.

Square could greatly improve its rating in this section by allowing all merchants to access its customer support phone line and by better communicating its hold policies.

Square BBB Report | C (CPO Adjusted)

Key Points – BBB Report
Product/service: 659
Billing/collection: 397
Advertising/sales: 40
Guarantee/warranty: 2
Delivery: 52

As of this update, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is reporting an “A” rating for Square despite 1,150 complaints filed in the last 36 months. This complaint total is up from 812 complaints as of our January 2014 update and 603 complaints as of our July 2013 update, and has skyrocketed from just a few dozen complaints since we first published this review in April of 2011. Surprisingly, the BBB has also raised Square’s grade from a “B+” in July of 2013 to an “A” despite the rising complaint volume.

Of the complaint total, 659 are regarding problems with service, 397 with billing and collection disputes, 52 with delivery problems, 40 with advertising and sales issues, and two due to a guarantee or warranty issue. Additionally, the report goes on to say that there are three types of common complaints: delays in deposit times, long funding holds ranging from 30-90 days, and difficulty reaching any type of customer support or getting issues escalated to a higher-ranking representative. Square has responded by quoting its Terms of Use policies and referring to the help section of its website. The company has successfully resolved 968 complaints, but 182 complainants reported they were not satisfied with the company’s response.

Due to the company’s high complaint count, rapid growth, and short time in business, we have adjusted its rating to a “C” for the purposes of this review. To learn more about about why we adjust BBB ratings for our scoring purposes, please see our Rating Criteria.

Bottom Line

Square is definitely on the right track with providing an easy credit card processing solution with no long-term commitments and no monthly fees. The service is proving to have some major drawbacks for higher volume merchants, though, because of murky fund holding policies and poor customer support. It appears that Square is best suited for individuals who have an occasional need to accept a credit card payment, such as babysitters and flea market vendors. The service does not appear to suit very well merchants that either have a high volume of credit card sales or that sell high-ticket items.

This review was originally published on 4/28/11 and last updated on 11/3/14.

Leave your review of Square in the comment section below:


Square Review

Rated 3.1875 Out of 5 Stars
Reviewed by Phillip Parker
Reviewed on 2014-11-03 11:53:55

Square (squareup.com), known for its Square Register and Card Reader App, has over 1,200 negative user reviews posted beneath this review. Square is often called Square Up or SquareUp but the official name is for the company is “Square.” Learn more in this Square review.

 

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About the author

Phillip Parker

Phillip Parker is a former merchant services agent turned small business advocate and the author of "Fee Sweep," which teaches merchants how to dramatically lower their processing rates, eliminate junk fees, and avoid fine-print scams. He founded CardPaymentOptions.com to help merchants enact positive change in the credit card processing industry.



 
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1,336 comments

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  1. Tim Cox

    I can understand the simplicity for which square is banking on, literally, but I don’t understand why anyone would pay such high rates. Especially since as of Sat Oct. 1st 65% of debit cards dropped to .05% due to the Frank.Dodd bill. At 2,50% which Square is now, that’s an incredible amount of money a merchant would be throwing away to square.
    Also, square is not under the Industry guidelines, and there’s no real recourse should you have a disagreement with them. Basically same as PayPal.
    the only reason I could see why anyone would go with Square, is one, as your article states, if you’re low volume sales, and just want the convenience, or maybe your credit isn’t stellar. Other than that, you’re throwing money down a hole with Square.

    Also, as your article stated, Interchange Plus pricing is the one to beat. You can’t get more transparent or lower in rates. As of last Sat. Oct. 1st, I’ve set some as low as .10%, which means they’re paying .26% on over 30% of cards accepted. Since I got into this Industry a couple of years ago, I’ve always tried to talk everyone into Interchange Plus. I even give them the option to try it, and switch to another type pricing if they like. I’ve yet to date have one business switch off the Interchange Plus pricing.

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    1. Phillip Parker

      Hi Tim,

      Thanks for the comment. The Durbin Amendment (part of the Dodd-Frank bill) put a flat fee cap of 21 cents on debit card transactions plus a one (1) cent “fraud prevention” fee. The 0.05% figure you mentioned is actually an “ad valorem” tax that is also collected at the time of sale. I’m not sure how Square is affected by this, but since it’s not a bank it doesn’t have to pass the savings onto the app users.

      Also, none of your customers are only paying “0.26% on 30%” of their transactions. They are paying the Interchange cost, plus Visa’s or MasterCard’s Dues & Assessment fee (0.0925% & 0.0950% respectively), plus your markup fee. Since Visa and MasterCard just raised all Interchange debit processing fees to the maximum 21 cent limit, your merchants are paying $0.21+$0.01+0.05%+0.0925%+0.10% on there Visa debit card sales. On a $10 sale that would be roughly a $0.46 fee, or 4.6% of the transaction. Obviously the higher the sale amount, the more merchants benefit from the new debit rates – if they are on Interchange-plus pricing. However, Square actually costs merchants less in small dollar debit card sales now that this legislation has been enacted.

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      1. Marques

        I’m a little confused on your calculation here. It looks like you are adding regular interchange+ assesment fee with debit interchange+ assesment fee together?

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        1. Phillip Parker

          The calculation in my example is: (Debit Interchange Fee + Fraud Prevention Fee + Ad Valorem Tax + Dues & Assessment Fee + Provider Markup). It should also be noted that the Dues & Assessments fees for Visa and MasterCard are now 0.11%.

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          1. Marques

            so….0.05%+.21+.35% would be an example for a debit transaction correct?

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          2. Phillip Parker

            Well, sort of. It looks like you are quoting it as Debit Interchange + Provider Markup, which is a simplified quote. Since the other fees are tiny and non-negotiable, I believe that it is fine to quote it this way.

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          3. Marques

            so is this a good rate?

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          4. Phillip Parker

            It’s reasonable depending on your processing volume. If you process more than $15,000 per month you should be able to get it lower. If you haven’t already, I recommend downloading my ebook, “Fee Sweep.” Currently, you can get it for free by “Liking” my Facebook page.

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          5. MJR

            I was just checking. This is based on an avg ticket of $50 and an annual vol of about 1 mil mostly debit transactions so thats about 1% if converted into fixed or blended rate.

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    2. Laurel Redd

      Tim,

      Of course you would push the product of the company you work for and dis the competition. I am a user of square not an employee. I actually dislike seeing competitors come on here and push their own products. I agree with Phillip that you are mis-stating what the fees on your own product comes out to be. :( Bad on you man! At least Square’s fees are honest and never vary from what they claim!

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  2. Trinity

    Squareup not only is not doing a good job at processing transactions, they are also keeping the money for way too long (most likely they are using it) and they could cause great damage to companies that need that cash flow to keep afloat. I sympathize with all those people that lost alot of money, I hope they get it back. I will definitely not be using squareup even if I get my money($400.00)….it’s too much of a risk.

    I will remove any money from the affected account to prevent any illegal withdraws from upsquare…do not trust them at all!!

    I should of checked them out before using their service. I SMELL SCAM…BIG TIME!!

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    1. Laurel Redd

      I personally have always gotten my money within 2 business days from transaction initiation which is pretty much industry standard.

      I know many many people who happily and consistently use square without any of the problems talked about on this site because they follow some basic security guidelines and have read the fine print and the instructions for activation in contracts they sign.

      Some things to think about that cover working with ANY credit card processor.

      -I do not believe withdraws for charge backs or fraudulent transactions are illegal, basically ANY credit card processor will do that and square is no different in that respect.
      -If you have the documentation (I take a picture of the person with my phone at time of purchase which attaches to the square charge, also I am looking at getting a knuckle buster as back up documentation (these cost all of about $20) charge backs should not be an issue if its a customer either doesn’t remember the charge – there is the picture of them attached.
      -Having a solid returns policy posted helps with customers who want to return an item or is unhappy with an item if you have that documentation and require the return of the item prior to any refund that can be helpful. Also if you can try to work with the customer. Another thought – on large sales (over $50 for me) I always get a name and contact information for the purchaser just in case of an issue like this. That way you can contact the client and work with them directly and resolve any issues they are having directly. They can cancel a charge back more easily than you can fight one.
      -If the charges were fraudulent than honestly the person’s credit card who the charges were made on should not have to pay (put yourself in that person’s shoes; the one whose card or identity was stolen and you will find that you agree).
      Unfortunately the laws and regulations place that blame on us for not checking the IDs and we have to pay the money back. (I always check IDs with credit card sales and will not take a CC sale without a valid and matching ID – this keeps me from having stolen cards used and thus protects me from almost all fraud charge backs ). The only thing it can not protect me from is stolen identity fraud since that person’s ID will match the credit card they fraudulently obtained and unfortunately for us as small business owners in the unlikely event that this happens we take the hit.

      Hope this helps you in the future, I also hope that you understand that if you are dealing with a charge back that it is not square’s fault. I know that it is frustrating but I know people who have had the same issue’s with mainstream CC processors and could do nothing about it due to not having instituted proper security steps.

      Laurel Redd

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      1. Laurel Redd

        Trinity,

        Square is working on getting a full time call center up and running from what I understand but they are still a new company with limited resources. And there is a phone number available that they do answer. If you need to get them through electronic media, they do in my experience respond best on Twitter but they do respond via email if you send them specific detailed information and information in a coherent manner.

        These are my specific questions to you:

        Have you contacted Square and talked to them at the number we gave you yet? Has your problem been resolved? Was it a charge back or fraud issue? Have you contacted the customer in question and found out what you can do to resolve their issue?

        And finally as I stated above: If its a charge-back or fraud it’s NOT Square’s fault or a trust issue all that information is in the details of the contract you agreed to when you started to use the service (did you read it carefully when you signed it – including the small print?). If its a charge back or fraud It would be the same with ANY merchant service.

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        1. Trinity

          I fiiiiinally got a hold of Upsquare on Tuesday (10/11/11) and they told me I had to verify my bank account which I did the same day. to this date Thursday 11/13/11 @ 11:30 a.m. there’s still NO funds deposited in my account!!!

          Like I said, I WOULD BE FOOL IF I CONTINUE USING THIS COMPANY.!!!!

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  3. George

    I just got of the phone with them.. I had a small I mean small issue and they worked it out! Reading these reviews can get scary, but rest assured “Square is There”

    I was concerned as the fact that there is no easy way of getting a hold of them till I Found there # on here and that # again is: 415-375-3176 The phone rang 2 times and it was answered! The guy was Nice, and understood what I was asking..

    It was Easy.. And now I’m ready to sell!

    God Bless You All

    George

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  4. Cristall

    Can anyone tell me if they’ve used Square successfully when they had more than $1,000 in “SWIPED” transactions within a 7 day period? Meaning, did all of your $1,000+ funds get deposited in the 12-36 hours?

    I am considering getting Square for a one-time art show and it would be nice to accept credit cards. I’m expecting a few thousand dollars in sales in one night. Each sale will definitely be a ‘swiped’ or ‘card present’ transaction.

    The Square website https://help.squareup.com/customer/portal/articles/11863 says that there is no limit to swiped transactions, but I really need to hear a success story from someone who actually experienced and can verify this before I jump in with Square, despite all of the negative feedback on this forum.

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    1. Laurel Redd

      I have had times that this has happened – I have received all of the funds within a reasonable amount of time (usually 2 business days at the most 3). Make sure you require that you can send receipts to the clients via text or email (that’s part of it). Also make sure that you have activated your account (enter the deposits/withdraws that equal each other that square puts through your account to ensure that the transactions will work with your bank in the activation area).

      And about the negative feedback – remember for each 1 person complaining about Square there are probably 100+ users that are very happy with Square that don’t think to post reviews. Remember unhappy people are very vocal, happy people usually aren’t. I’m one of the few that posts when something is excellent – and you will see a few people that do post good things here as well.

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    2. Kris Butcher

      Not one single time in eight months. This comment will not be posted. Every other comment of mine is still “Awaiting moderation.” I have had no chargebacks, nothing. Just a continual line of unwarranted holds, no contact and non existent customer service. :(

      Square is fine to run an occasional $5-10 charge if you are desparate.

      If you notice, the primary supporters of square in this forum are Laurel and Eric. I would bet every dime that Square is holding of mine that they are affiliated with Square somehow. That’s a lot of dimes. And three weeks of no answered emails and consistently non answered phone calls.

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      1. Laurel Redd

        I dislike being irrationally and incorrectly accused by you of collusion with Square. I am in no way whatsoever affiliated or connected with Square in any other way other than I have used the service since it came out.

        I have had ZERO holds placed, no chargebacks, and NO problems with customer service. I am able to help others here simply because I understand how Square works because I use it and AND have talked to them about issues that can come up and how to handle them using the number that is posted in the original article and re-posted all over this site. I support Square because I have had ZERO problems with them!

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        1. Kris Butcher

          Hi there Laurel,

          Thanks for accusing someone you do not know of being irrational. I never once said you were in “collusion” (what a dark word) with Square.

          I just have read through this forum and you are a very resounding voice for Square. You will not ever give that they may make an error at any point and that in itself suspicious. I apologize if that is offensive to you. It is at the very least suspicious to the outsider. There is no other person on this forum who comments a vehemently as you do in their favor.

          To add to what I said earlier about Square, I just received an email from square about a chargeback on SOMEONE ELSE’S ACCOUNT. Not even my information, my name, nothing! So they are ramdomly emailing out account information about someone else to people. The person had the same last name as I do, but not the first. This is exactly what I mean. They do not know what they are doing. And they are holding my money (AGAIN) for no reason.

          This is the first email I have had from them in three weeks and it does not even pertain to me. If you have a defense for that, go for it Laurel. I am not irrational Laurel, and I think that the shoe may be on the other foot if you can provide a defense for Square doing this.

          I would not tell a young artist that they will get their hands on their money quickly from square if they are large funds. It simply does not happen. Small funds, maybe. Large funds, nope.

          Best……Kris

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  5. Katherine

    I was finding Squareup so convenient, I’ve recommended it to several small business owners. Now I’m finding myself sorry – and frightened – about what I’ve gotten myself into by working with Squareup. Square has taken over $1,000 from my account and I cannot get in touch with anyone in customer support (I wonder if there is customer support???) to explain why. I’m very frustrated. The email they sent me just said to go to their website, but there is no explanation there. I keep sending them urgent emails as they said I had a limited time to respond to them. I have to figure out how to cancel my contract with them and use another company. What should I do? Who can help me?

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    1. Laurel Redd

      The phone number for square customer service is 415-375-3176.
      I’ve had no trouble contacting them on this number. Dont leave a message, keep calling until you get through. Most likely this is chargebacks and you should be able to fight it through the credit card issuers.

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    2. Laurel Redd

      Also try tweeting them at @SqSupport

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      1. Katherine

        Thank you, Laurel. I called the number but was told he couldn’t help me and he’d pass my request to someone in “customer service” LAUGHABLE!!! There is no customer service! I am leaving SQUAREUP as soon as possible and am spreading the word about their lack of professionalism. I have been emailing them for 4 days now and all I got was what seemed like an automatically generated email saying “someone will respond to you soon!” HA!

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        1. Laurel Redd

          Katherine,

          I’m sorry you are having such a rough time with this. Anytime that I have called that number they were able to help me with any questions I had and resolve any issues that I had. I am sadly confused as to why they couldn’t help you. My guess is that you are dealing with a charge back from a customer. Do you have any documentation? Was it a card present sale with a receipt sent? Have you sent square all documentation?

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        2. Joey

          Laurel,
          There has to be more to your story. I have worked with Square and have had to contact them and every time I have had an issue it has been very quickly resolved. As long as you have all the documentation to support your claim, Square is very quick to fix or correct an issue.

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          1. Laurel Redd

            Joey,

            Actually I am singing the praises of square and have not had any unresolved issues, Katherine is the one that has had issues.

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    3. Eric Gillette

      Katherine,

      Odds are if Square removed $1,000 from your account, and sent you correspondence about having a “limited time” to get in touch with them and so forth, it means you’ve experienced what the rest of merchants have come to know as a “chargeback”.

      This is a situation or case where your customer contacts their credit card issuer, and says: “I don’t recognize that charge” (potential fraud) or “I didn’t make that purchase” (fraud) or “I’m unhappy with my product/service” (customer dispute).

      Either way, at the end of the day, you now will have to provide documentation demonstrating your case to the customer’s credit card issuer (meaning proof that you provided said product/service [side note: much harder to do with services, which is why you should get a signed contract from your customer before providing said services], or a signed receipt/contract from the customer).

      If you accepted this transaction as “card-not-present” meaning you typed in the customer’s information into your square terminal, your case will be that much harder to prove, and odds are unless you have definitive proof the customer received a product from you (i.e. like a UPS tracking number, etc) — odds are you will lose the case (and the money), as well as be subject to chargeback fees and so forth from Square.

      If the transaction was “swiped” meaning you swiped the customer’s card through your terminal, than a potential fraud or fraud case will be a lot easier for you to prove (since the card issuer will check and verify the customer’s signature obtained through your square terminal) and will likely be dismissed (meaning you’ll get the money back), but if it is a customer dispute case, you’ll have to prove the customer did indeed receive your product or service.

      If it was a product, you’ll have to provide proof the customer received it (delivery receipt signed by customer) — I hope you didn’t give the item to the customer in person without signing a receipt that says they received the item — in this case you’ll lose and lose the money as well.

      If it was a service, you’ll have to prove the customer “consumed” your service (tracking logs [hosting companies], odometer statement [taxi/limousine services], before and after pictures [beauticians/hairstylists], etc).

      If you have none of the above, you can basically kiss your money goodbye.

      We live in a world of “zero fraud liability” (“I don’t recognize that charge”, “I didn’t do that transaction, I lost my card.”), and “customer is always right” (“I’m unhappy with the product or service”, “I didn’t receive the product or service”).

      And to accommodate these sometimes erroneous or customer biased policies, guess who’s left to pick up the slack??

      You guessed it! The merchant.

      The credit card issuer earns money from fees and interest on the charges the customer makes, the bank processor makes money of the “float” on your money while they “process” it for submission to your bank account, in addition to whatever discount fees they may charge you. The payment processor makes money on you each month you pay for their services (Authorize.net for example), but in the event of a chargeback, despite you being out that money already, you are still left “holding the bag” when you have to pay chargeback fees on TOP of already having lost money (and product in most cases or having provided services in most cases).

      So the customer gets the product/service and their money back in some cases on top of that, while you’re left holding the bag and being out product/service AND the money for that product/service. Now imagine having that happen with say, 2-3 customers per year (for some businesses the number is even higher).

      Is it any wonder why most (90%) small businesses fail within the 1st year??

      Now some would argue there are a lot of shady businesses out there, and while this is true, it hardly addresses the fact that 95% of small businesses are not shady, but instead honest, hard-working people who want to provide a genuine product or service to the world at large.

      I learned all these things the hard way – a site like this one didn’t exist to educate me on such matters when I opened my first merchant account back in early 2001.

      Now, wiser and charging MUCH more money in transactions each month (my monthly volume is around $20,000 per month compared to around $500 per month in credit card transactions when I first started in 2001), I’ve written up contracts that my clients *MUST* sign before doing business with me, which protect me in times when needed.

      Ironically, since writing up these contracts, my chargeback rate has disappeared completely (I don’t get chargebacks at all anymore), and the majority of my clients do business with me over and over again.

      I went through all the trouble of writing these contracts to protect myself, and yet I have never had to use the contract to prove my case in a chargeback dispute.

      But this doesn’t mean that it can’t happen to anyone who processes credit cards, either through Square or anyone else — protect yourself!

      1) Clearly Define Your Service/Product Offering.

      2) Establish your return/refund policy clearly. This is so that your customers are aware of what their recourse is in the unlikely event they are unhappy with your product/service, or decide they no longer want it. This alone will protect you in a chargeback case. I had a chargeback through PayPal back in 2004, and just providing them with my refund/return policy was enough for the credit card issuer to hold the customer responsible for the charge, since they “didn’t return the product within my defined refund policy period.” The industry is heavily baised towards the consumer, but if you can clearly prove your case, the credit card issuer will side with you and hold the customer responsible for the charge.

      3) After the customer has received, get them to sign something that shows they received said product/service (and are happy with it, and don’t need anything else).

      4) Provide good ‘ole fashioned customer service. In most cases, a customer only disputes a charge with their credit card issuer after having tried to contact you, and getting voicemail, or no response by e-mail, etc and so they do the only thing that is left for them to do; dispute the charge.

      That’s all for now folks! =0)

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      1. Katherine

        And there must be more to yours, too… You must work for Square or be some kind of spokesperson, as my experience is clearly NOT UNIQUE. “nuf said!

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    4. Rick

      I posted previously that I had the same type issue with Square back in May. I called several times a day for a week, I left messages, I sent numerous emails. It has been over 4 months and I have still not received an answer, or for that matter any reply at all from Square. Consequently, I do not use Square any more but I did learn about InTuit’s GoPayment option on this site. I use both QuickBooks and Quicken so I called to ask about the service. GoPayment customer service is actually real. Not a voice message, email or (worse yet) a Twitter. An actual person politely answer all my questions to my complete satisfaction. I signed up and have been using it without ANY issues. GoPayment sent me a swiper for my iPhone, plus I can enter transactions on my Mac screen. GoPayment works better than Square and they even have a Risk Management Department. My first transaction was $2,400 on a corporate card. GoPayment called me to confirm the transaction (they said they only call on the first transaction) and it went right through without holding any funds. The fees are the same as Square but GoPayment actually answers their customer service phone, albeit after spending a minute on their phone tree to reach customer service. Great service! No problems! And GoPayment does not hold on to your money for 30 days to get the interest income. InTuit is a real company. My advice, dump Square and use GoPayment.

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      1. Katherine

        Thank you. I do have clients sign a “NO REFUND” policy. I’ve told SQUARE this in my emails, but still haven’t gotten a response from SQUARE. It’s really awful and feels like I’ve been violated as it’s been 4 days and no response from a real person. I tried a phone number, but the person who answered couldn’t comment on my case and said someone would “hopefully” get back to me soon! HA! I’m fed up!

        Then, I got a second email from squaring saying in quotes:

        “We just initiated a debit in the amount of $377.33 from your SunTrust account. We are debiting your account because you have a negative Square balance. The funds should be withdrawn in 1–3 business days.”

        WHAT THE HECK DOES THIS MEAN? I sent SQUAREUP several emails asking for an explanation and telling them they have no right to take money out of my account without an explanation. No response! I am investigating getting another credit card processing company. This non-response is impossible to deal with.

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        1. Eric Gillette

          Katherine,

          I totally understand your frustration.

          However, in your express agreement with Square, unfortunately you do agree that they can deposit and withdraw funds from your account to cover any outstanding balances you may owe, or to furnish you with any amount they may owe to you as the result of a transaction you may processed.

          The same is true for standard merchant account — I speak from experience as I have both a Square account, and a standard merchant account.

          I have to ask though. . .have you considered going to the source of the problem??

          Your customer??

          Obviously you know how many customer transactions you’ve processed in the last few weeks — now would be a good time to contact your customers and find out which of them charged you back and/or are unhappy with the product/service you provided.

          In the payment card industry, you offering a “No Refunds” agreement means nothing if the product/service you’re selling the customer is egregiously over-stated, or doesn’t deliver on what you promise the customer, and that’s how the customer’s credit card issuer looks at it.

          Would you mind sharing what it is you sold, and what the “No Refunds” policy covers (i.e. how you worded it)??

          It’d be much easier for me to point you in the right direction if you provided a little more information about the transactions you’ve processed.

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    5. Kevin

      Call 415-375-3176

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  6. tony piehowicz

    I am a small vendor who does about six antique and garden show a year. Square has been a Godsend to taking cards in the field. I was very satisfied until two transactions from my last show have yet to be credited to my bank account.. It has been 9 days and I am out over 800.00. Customer help from Square has been very slow and finding a phone number is next to impossible. I am waiting for another email back from them. They say they are investigating. I have verified email from them saying charge was accepted and authorized-but still no payment.

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    1. Phillip Parker

      Thanks for the comment, Tony. Please keep us posted on how this situation resolves.

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    2. Laurel Redd

      The phone number for square customer service is 415-375-3176.
      I’ve had no trouble contacting them on this number.

      Another question – did you go over $1000 in credit card sales in a 7 day period – especially if they were not scans or had no receipts sent electronically? They may have held these – check your square account to see if the money is there even if it hasn’t transferred to your bank account. The worst that would happen in that case is that they would hold for 30 days. There is in the agreement for square information on about this scenario.

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    3. Cristall

      Tony,
      About the $800 two transactions that you have yet to be paid for – did you swipe the cards for those transactions? Or, were those transactions card-not-present transactions? I’m looking into Square and things like this will determine if I go with them or not.
      Thanks!

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