Square Froze Our Account Without Warning or Explanation

Two months ago, we published an article about the new Square Market and how it was the best way to sell merch online. Well… maybe not.

sq_emailOn October 14th, I received an email from Square simply stating that they had reviewed my account, detected “high-risk activity,” and subsequently had permanently canceled my account. I thought maybe it was a mistake or maybe my account had been hacked or something, but I logged into my dashboard, verified there were no odd transactions, and also saw a confirmation message at the top that my account was indeed deactivated. There was no further explanation beyond “high-risk activity” and both the email and the deactivation message contained links to their terms of service and Square seller’s agreement.

We manage several accounts, but this account had only one CD and a used laptop — neither of which would be considered “high-risk.” Immediately we fired off a customer service email asking for some sort of explanation. We also sent a couple tweets about it, and the first we heard from Square was a reply tweet on October 19th (5 days later) saying that an agent was working on the case.

Finally, on October 23rd we received an email that said “We are happy to inform you that a review of your account has been completed and we have reactivated your account. If you have further questions, please respond directly to this email.” That was the expected result, but were hoping for something saying why it happened in the first place. We replied immediately asking for an explanation of what the actual reason was, but again there was no response at the time this was published.

No matter the reason or circumstances, our store was shut down for 9 days without explanation and with nothing we could do about it. For some bands or businesses, that can make quite the significant impact. Doing a Google search reveals this is far from an isolated incident, and it also was a reminder that we were lucky there was no money locked in the frozen account. The reason we said Square Market was the best for physical merch was mainly financial — they only charge a 2.75% transaction fee versus PayPal’s and Google Wallet’s 2.9% + $0.30 (the two main processors for our own store software). In hindsight though, I’d rather pay $0.30 and 0.15% more per transaction and be in full control of my store and not put my sales at risk.

While we would no longer recommend Square Market for selling online, Square is of course still a good option for bands on the road for processing credit card transactions. We would however recommend picking up a PayPal Here reader (2.7% per  transaction) and using one of the services as the primary with the other as a backup in case something like this happens to you.