Square outage disrupts business for restaurants nationwide

An outage at Square last week shut down many of the tech vendor’s services, leaving thousands of restaurants and other small businesses unable to log into their accounts or accept non-cash payments for hours.

The problems began around noon Thursday and by Friday afternoon had been mostly resolved. 

Square said Monday the problems began after it made a number of standard updates to its internal software. “The combination of updates prevented our systems from properly communicating with each other, and ultimately caused the disruption,” it wrote on its website

It added that there was no evidence Square had been hacked or that any buyer or seller data was compromised. 

“We apologize for letting you down and for the length of time it took for us to get our systems back up and running,” the company wrote.

Hundreds of thousands of restaurants use Square for things like POS, online ordering and payment processing. For many, the inability to swipe customers’ credit cards or accept digital orders put a major crimp in their business.

Saint Francis Apizza, a pizzeria in Cincinnati, posted on X (formerly known as Twitter) that it had lost at least $651 in sales and nearly $90 in tips as a result of the outage—and that was just what it was able to keep track of.

“My basic math doesn’t account for all the lost business we experienced when our loyal customers tried to place an order online, got confused or frustrated, and didn’t take the time to call us after trying unsuccessfully to pay online again and again,” the restaurant said.  

Some operators simply called it a day. Folklores Coffee House in San Antonio let customers know on X that it was closing early due to the outage. “Thanks Square,” it wrote. The cafe appeared to be back up and running Friday morning.

The Square outage is at least the third widespread tech headache to hit restaurants this year. In April, parts of NCR’s Aloha POS system went down for days after the company was hit with an apparent cyberattack. Just a month earlier, foodservice distributor Ben E. Keith had also been targeted by hackers, which caused it to temporarily halt deliveries.

The incidents highlight the risks involved with becoming an increasingly digitized, tech-dependent industry. Square said Monday it had already taken steps to prevent the issue from happening again, including expanding the ability for businesses to take payments in Offline Mode.

But the company has yet to answer a question likely lingering on many restaurateurs’ minds: Will they be made whole for the sales they lost while Square was down?

“Right now, we’re focused on technical remediation and we don’t yet have an answer for you on this,” Square said in response to a question about compensation on X. “We are working on getting a resolution as soon as we can and are prioritizing this internally.”

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