Squares Are Forever
By Tom Wyrick. July 25, 2012, 9:00 AM CDT
Like many people I know with small businesses, I signed up for an account with SquareUp (though back when I first used the service, the card reader was free). The payment system works well for me, but a recent Consumerist article warns of some surprising details hidden in the membership agreement. Not only does Square, Inc. reserve the right to inspect a user’s place of business at any time, but it also keeps signup information on file permanently. The company’s refusal to delete one user’s account, despite repeated requests, revealed Square merely promises the information is securely stored in an encrypted fashion.
This prompted me to take a closer look at the user agreement, where I learned several other potential catches to processing cards through the service.
- Square reserves the right to temporarily suspend or delay payments to you or to designate a certain amount of money you must keep in reserve in the Square account. (While this is most likely a clause protecting the company from excessive chargebacks, it’s disturbing to think you could potentially sell an expensive item and wind up unable to access the money because someone at Square deemed the transaction suspicious.)
- Failure to notify Square of a processing error within 30 days of when it first appears on an electronic transaction history will be deemed a waiver of any right to amounts owed. (Fair enough, in my opinion, but this is probably one of those details most users aren’t aware of.)
- Square accounts with two consecutive years of inactivity become dormant. If such an account retains a balance, Square agrees to contact the account owner via the email address registered with the service. Failure to respond in 30 days means Square closes the account and where permitted by law, keeps the money left in it.
- You must make a written receipt available to your customers for all signed card transactions over $15. The electronic receipt option built into the Square app does not count as a substitute.
All of this serves as a reminder that however convenient the alternatives, there’s nothing simpler than cash payments.
About Tom Wyrick
Tom Wyrick is network manager for a steel fabrication company by day, and owner of Wyrick Consulting, an on-site PC and Mac service business. He's recently been told he "has more computer power than some 3rd. world countries" at home.