Square Register (squareup.com/register) is a free point-of-sale (POS) application offered by Square, a rapidly growing credit card processor founded by Twitter’s Jack Dorsey. Designed as a cloud-based replacement for traditional cash registers, Square Register should be thought of as a much more robust version of the company’s mobile app. Like the free Square app, Square Register can be downloaded to iPhone, iPad, or Android devices, although it is optimized for use with the iPad. The service also uses the standard Square card reader to accept swiped payments and has recently added an attachment for EMV card acceptance.
Square Register Products and Services
- Offline payment processing
- Customizable item descriptions and layout
- Real-time inventory tracking
- Advanced analytics with QuickBooks and Xero integration
- Real-time sales tracking and reporting
- Limited hardware compatibility (for receipt printers, kitchen ticket printers, cash drawers, bar code scanners, etc.)
- Multiple users for the same account
- Customizable rewards and loyalty programs
- An optional Square Stand that allows swiping and is compatible with the company’s EMV reader
Sales & Marketing
Key Points - Sales & Marketing
|Employs Independent Resellers||No|
|Advertises Deceptive Rates||No|
|Discloses All Important Terms||No|
As a product offered by Square, Square Register is advertised in the same way that Square credit card processing is advertised. When it comes to transaction fees, contract terms, equipment costs, and add-on services, Square is exceptionally transparent. The company maintains a very simple pricing structure and does not bury hidden costs in a complicated contract. Its quoted pricing for Square Register hardware and software additions is clear.
However, Square does have two major shortcomings: its restricted live customer support and its fund holding policies. These two aspects of Square’s service are not fully addressed in its promotional materials, and thousands of merchants have reported that they were blindsided by problems related to these two specific issues. This can be described as either a marketing issue or a service issue. Since customer support and fund holds are generally unrelated to the Square Register product itself, they will not count against the company in this review.
Square Register Marketing Example
Costs & Contract
Key Points - Costs & Contract
|Keyed-in Rate||3.5% + $0.15|
|Early Termination Fee||None|
Square offers simple, straightforward pricing of 2.75% per swiped transaction and 3.5% plus $0.15 per keyed-in transaction with no monthly fees, long-term contracts, or termination fees. Square offers a countertop stand for iPads for $99 and an NFC/EMV chip card reader for $49. It also has a number of additional software modules that can be integrated with Square Register for variable monthly costs. In general, credit card processing contracts don’t get much lower-commitment or transparent than Square’s.
Although Square’s pricing may be attractive to a number of business owners, the company has one major contractual drawback that appears to be responsible for many of its online complaints. Square’s easy signup is made possible by omitting a thorough underwriting process. This means that Square’s primary means of protecting itself against fraud is to place sudden fund holds on large or suspicious transactions, often without providing any advance notice to merchants. This policy, which is the topic of hundreds of public complaints, is unfortunately part of the processing service that comes bundled with the Square Register.
Complaints & Service
Key Points - Complaints & Service
|Total Online Complaints||1,600+|
|Live Customer Support||Active Merchants Only|
|Most Common Complaint||Fund Holds|
According to multiple professional and user reviews, Square Register receives praise for its sleek design, ease of use, and low cost. For smaller merchants who are already planning on using Square, the Register provides a number of helpful services for no additional charge. The data tracking and reporting offered through the app is helpful for merchants trying to grow their businesses, and the accounting integration saves businesses the trouble of manually entering payment information into QuickBooks or Xero. Hardware compatibility (for receipt printers, etc.) is also a big plus for merchants who seek a gentle transition from traditional registers to a cloud-based service like Square. To that end, the iPad app coupled with the Square Register Stand enables Square merchants to offer a more traditional checkout counter setup on their iPads that is less likely to confuse or inconvenience employees and customers.
On the negative side, Square offers only limited live customer support to merchants. Active Square users can contact Square at 1-855-700-6000 from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PST, but they will first need to obtain their customer code at square.com/code. Deactivated users cannot obtain a customer code. This means that their fund holds and other account issues may go unresolved for very long periods of time, leaving deactivated merchants without a solution of any kind during operating hours. This is the most consistent issue cited by Square merchants who have filed public complaints. For merchants lucky enough to avoid fund holds or service issues, Square is a great option. For those who encounter problems, there is hardly ever a swift and effective resolution.
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Key Points - BBB
|Product & Service Complaints||542|
|Billing & Collection Complaints||269|
|Advertising & Sales Complaints||463|
|Guarantee & Warranty Complaints||34|
Note: We have adjusted this company’s BBB rating according to our own standards. To better understand why we adjust BBB ratings, please see our Rating Criteria.
As of this update, the Better Business Bureau is reporting an “A+” rating for Square despite 1,371 complaints filed in the last 36 months. This complaint total is up from the company’s total at the time of our last update (1,185), which may indicate that Square’s BBB complaint total could increase further. The number 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.
Due to the company’s high complaint count, rapid growth, and short time in business, we have adjusted the BBB’s rating to a “C” for the purposes of this review.
About 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. Schedule a Consultation with PhillipSchedule a Consultation with Phillip