Square for Retail Overview

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Square’s Hardware and Software Suite for Retailers

Square for Retail (squareup.com/us/en/point-of-sale/retail) is a (POS) application offered by Square. Square for Retail uses the same hardware as Square Register and shares many of the same features. However, Square for Retail is a paid monthly service that bundles additional retail-specific services along with the Square Register app so as to better serve conventional brick-and-mortar retailers.

Not to Be Confused With Square Register or Square Terminal

“Square for Retail” refers to Square’s original iPad-plus-stand payment terminal plus a whole host of hardware and software products, including a bar code scanner, receipt printer, and cash drawer. “Square Register” is a newer all-in-one POS product that represents the future of Square’s POS strategy. “Square Terminal” is a cordless, portable payment processing terminal that connects to Wi-Fi or Ethernet. One notable difference between the traditional Square Register app and Square for Retail is that Square for Retail’s checkout flow is based on a smart search feature rather than selecting items from a prebuilt inventory display. Square for Retail is only available for the iPad.

Square for Retail Review Table of Contents

  • Costs & Contract: Square for Retail offers a month-to-month contract with fixed per-transaction pricing and no early termination fee.
  • Complaints & Service: Square has received more than 2,000 public complaints.
  • BBB Rating: Square currently has an “A+” rating with the Better Business Bureau and has received 2,001 complaints in the last three years.
  • Sales & Marketing: Square for Retail does not hire independent sales agents and displays its pricing for anyone to view.
  • Rates & Fees: How Merchants Got The Best Rates With Square for Retail

Square for Retail Statement Analyzer

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Products & Services Offered

  • Multi-location inventory management
  • Cost Of Goods Sold and profit projections
  • Purchase orders and vendor lists
  • Employee accounts and permissions
  • Advanced customer outreach
  • Tabs, check splitting, and tips

Types of Businesses Served

  • Retail
  • Quick service

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Square for Retail Rates, Fees, and Costs

Key Points

Swiped Rate 2.5% + $0.10
Keyed-in Rate 3.5% + $0.15
eCommerce Rate 2.9% + $0.30
Online Invoice Rate 2.9% + $0.30
Square Marketing $15/mo
Loyalty Programs $45/mo
Payroll $5/mo
Square Stand Kit $676
Early Termination Fee $0
Monthly Fee $60
Additional POS $20/mo

Cheaper Rates Than Square App

Square for Retail offers simple, straightforward pricing of 2.5% plus $0.10 per tap, dip, or swipe and 3.5% plus $0.15 per keyed-in transaction with a monthly fee of $60 and no long-term contracts or termination fees.  eCommerce transactions and online invoices are charged a rate of 2.9% + $0.30. The $60 monthly fee per register is more expensive than Square’s standard POS app, which is available as a free download and only charges per-transaction fees. Square also offers custom pricing plans for retailers with annual revenues over $250,000 and average ticket sizes over $15.

Square Hardware Costs

Square offers a countertop stand for iPads for $169, an NFC/EMV chip card reader for $49, and a number of optional hardware add-ons like a cash drawer ($109), a barcode scanner ($119), and a receipt printer ($229). It also has prepackaged bundles for retailers who use routers at their businesses and those who do not. In general, credit card processing contracts don’t come with less transparency or lower commitment than Square’s, even among the top-rated payment processors for retail merchants.

Lack of Underwriting

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 Square for Retail.

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Response from Square for Retail

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Square for Retail Complaints & Customer Reviews

Key Points

Total Online Complaints 2,000+
Live Customer Support Active Merchants Only
Most Common Complaint Fund Holds

Low Complaint Total

Square for Retail is still a relatively new product family at Square, so there aren’t many Square for Retail complaints at this time. For the purpose of this review, our data reflects complaints made against Square as a whole. The most common of those complaints concern merchants experiencing fund holds.

For mid-size retailers who already use Square, the service offers a variety of services that should prove useful with no real tradeoffs in function. New users should be pleasantly surprised by the enhanced inventory options, employee management tools, and accounting integrations. 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 Stand and the EMV/NFC reader dock remains a simple way for Square merchants to offer a more traditional checkout counter setup on their iPads that is less likely to confuse or inconvenience employees and customers.

Square Lawsuits

In 2018, Square settled a class action lawsuit filed against its food delivery service “Caviar”. The company was alleged to have withheld money from delivery workers left by customers as gratuities from 2012 to 2015 and agreed to pay $2.2 million dollars under the settlement.

Square for Retail Customer Support Options

On the negative side, Square offers only limited live customer support to merchants. Active Square users can contact Square by phone from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PST, but they will first need to obtain their customer code (see: How to Contact Square). 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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Response from Square for Retail

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Square for Retail BBB Rating Summary

Key Points - BBB

Product & Service Complaints 1,323
Billing & Collection Complaints 528
Advertising & Sales Complaints 65
Guarantee & Warranty Complaints 10
Delivery Complaints 75

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.

No Dedicated BBB Profile

The Better Business Bureau does not have a designated profile for Square for Retail. BBB does maintain a profile for Square, which contemplates its merchant accounts across all of its services. As of this update, the Better Business Bureau is reporting an “A+” rating for Square despite 2,001 complaints filed in the last 36 months. This complaint total is up from the company’s total at the time of our last update, 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.

Square Complaint Breakdown

Of the complaint total, 1,323 are regarding problems with service, 528 with billing and collection disputes, 75 with delivery problems, 65 with advertising and sales issues, and 10 due to a guarantee or warranty issue. The BBB has also added a note stating that it has received many complaints regarding Square’s fund withholding procedure. Square has responded by quoting its Terms of Use policies and referring to the help section of its website. The company has successfully resolved 289 complaints, while the remaining 1,712 either were resolved to the dissatisfaction of the merchant or did not receive a final assessment from the merchant.

What Merchants Say

Square has also received 357 informal reviews to its profile, most of which are negative in tone. The most recent complaint describes poor customer service:

The worse customer support I have ever experienced in my entire life!! That’s because they don’t have live customer support. I was shut down this year after 3.5 years of being with them. They didn’t even have the courtesy to email or call or anything at all they just shut you off!! very upset with this company. I will never recommend this company. They are big enough that they don’t really care about the small business even though thats what their business model is suppose to be.

Merchants who value a responsive support department may be better served by a top-rated payment processor for great customer service.

A “C” Performance

Due to the company’s high complaint count, rapid growth, and comparatively brief time in business, we have adjusted the BBB’s rating to a “C” for the purposes of this review.

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Response from Square for Retail

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Truth In Marketing & Advertising

Key Points

Employs Independent Resellers No
Advertises Deceptive Rates No
Discloses All Important Terms No

Transparent Pricing

As a product offered by Square, Square for Retail 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 for Retail hardware and software additions is clear.

Unexpected Policy Drawbacks

However, Square does have two major shortcomings: its restricted live customer support and its fraud management 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 fund holds by Square. 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 for Retail product itself, they will not count against the company in this review.

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Response from Square for Retail

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Square for Retail Marketing Example

Square for Retail Logo

Our Opinion of Square for Retail

A Solid Option for Most Retailers

Square for Retail rates as a solid cloud POS solution for brick-and-mortar retailers. The service marks a clear upgrade from the base Square app due to its features targeted toward mid-size and larger retail locations, but each merchant will need to determine if the improvements are worth $60 per month. Square offers a free thirty-day trial (excluding per-transaction fees) for Square for Retail that should be a simple way for existing Square users to test the service. Merchants are encouraged to test Square’s performance against other top-rated iPad POS systems.

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2 Reviews Leave Your Review for Square for Retail Below

  1. Barbie says:

    Customer service needs considerable improvement. After a confusing and complicated process to get a code to even call in to customer service and the 20 minute wait time, we finally reached Victoria. She was rude throughout the conversation with snide little remarks stating she needed to speak to the account owner (I’m the manager and authorized representative), which I said was fine, would she mind calling him. At first said she would call him, and asked for his number, I asked her to hold for me to text him first so he would answer, to which she said yes. I texted and while we waited I asked why if I’m authorized representative why I could not verify the account (we had a fraudulent attack, which rerouted our funds to another bank account). She responded that she didn’t like how I was speaking to her so he would have to call in and wait on hold for another representative. I told her that was not fair and he was expecting her call and I wanted to speak to a manager, she said there was no phone management support, then she hung up on me!

    This post will help: Best Payment Processors for Great Customer Service


  2. OMG. Square gets an F rating from me. I applied for Square Merchant’s account in May of 2018 or or around May 18 – May 23, 2018. When I got my bank statement in June I was billed for a Merchant’s Account for March, April, May and June. I could not find a phone number or e-mail complaint line for Square but I did find someone who tried to sell my associate the same service. Sadly my bank said it was a legal charge. IT WAS LEGAL TO CHARGE ME FOR A SERVICE THREE MONTHS BEFORE I RECEIVED THE SERVICE. !!!!i I called the website provider and told them to remove my merchant’s account. They were kind enough to verify the web site start up date. My e-mails verified when I added Square. It was three months later! I would continue to encourage my associates to avoid Square. It cost $24.90 per month for an account that I did not have and $24.90 per month for an account I only used once when I set it up to test it’s activation with a $1.00 charge. I have searched the internet and have yet to find a number to recover my money from SQUARE. One dishonest merchant to another my own bank called it a legal charge by way of a form letter with no name or signature. Sounds pretty shady. YOU KNOW IT. I don’t know how in the heck Square could get a B from BBB. I read the complaints. I am going to continue to complain about Square in writing and to everyone that will hear me until they return my four months of payments that they charged me for an account I never used and was charged three months before I actually set up and activated Square. Theft or Fraud it certainly isn’t honest!

    From The Editor
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