Business Out $33K After Payment Processing Company Deactivates Its Account

A suburban medical business is out more than $33,000 after a popular payment processing system deactivated its account. 

Square Inc., a payment processing company based out of San Francisco, recently locked the accounts of Chicago Liposuction. Now, the company is trying to figure out how to pay its employees on time, and they’re having difficulty figuring out its next steps.

“I was in tears because it was just scary,” COO Jeanne Shockey said. “The staff trusts us to budget well and to be able to take care of them as well as they take care of our patients. They (Square) told us that it was turned off. They just turned us off.”

The payment processing system comes in several forms. A popular model enables businesses to accept credit cards by plugging a small white cube into a phone, then swiping credit cards through the device.

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On Wednesday, Shockey received an email saying that Square had deactivated the medical company’s account, and will hold its funds, more than $33,000 in all, until Christmas Eve.

“I can’t even bring in some money right now because I don’t have a way to take it,” she said.

Shockey has tried emailing and calling the company, but hasn’t been able to reach a live person for an answer.

According to an automated recording, Square gives three possible reasons for the sudden deactivation of an account: a pattern of high risk activity, terms of service violations, or risk of charge backs to the account.

An internet search reveals hundreds of similar complaints against the company, and the Better Business Bureau, which says Square Inc. is not an accredited company, has given Square a D-minus rating.

“When you have a D-minus rating, that means you’re ignoring customer complaints,” Steve Bernas, CEO of the BBB’s Chicago chapter, said.

Bernas says the Bureau has received more than 2,400 complaints about Square over the last three years. He cautions users of payment software products to examine the fine print of their contracts carefully before agreeing to use them.

“The big print giveth, but the little print taketh away in the contract,” he said.

For now, Shockey is left to try to figure out a way to pay her employees, and may have to take out a loan to cover the thousands in payroll expenses that she’s suddenly faced with.

“It’s just scary to even wonder if I’m ever going to see that money,” she said.

As of 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Shockey says she has not been able to reach a live person on the phone with Square. In an email, a Square spokesperson says they are looking into the case, but are unable to give information about specific sellers.

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