Workers Stiffed on Hundreds in Tips Thanks to Software Glitch

A recent error in Square’s software cost many service industry workers across the U.S. hundreds of dollars in tips.
Updated Dec. 27, 2023
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barista pouring coffee

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This past Saturday, workers in coffee shops, restaurants, and other small businesses across the U.S. — many who struggle to find ways to move beyond living paycheck to paycheck — lost out on hundreds of dollars in tips due to an error in Square’s point-of-sale software.

For most of Saturday morning, Square’s tipping screen disappeared during each transaction, The Washington Post reports. Usually, the tipping screen automatically appears after a customer pays for their purchase. Square’s own incident reports show it took almost three hours to release a fix for the error. It was nearly five hours until Square confirmed the issue was entirely resolved.

The software glitch occurred during the busiest time of the week for the service industry, when many workers rely on the tips they make to supplement their paychecks. Almost half of U.S. service industry workers make a minimum cash wage of under $3 an hour, so the hours of missing tips were a financial blow.

Multiple baristas and other service industry employees reached out to Square via Twitter over the weekend, seemingly frantic to get the issue fixed before they lost more money. Despite many requests for repayment of lost tips, Square’s Twitter account posted no responses.

worker angry at square tweet

worker angry at square tweet

worker angry at square tweet

Cities that experienced issues with their Square systems included D.C., Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Portland, Salt Lake City, and San Diego. Some Square users only had problems with the tipping screen, while others reported Square’s entire system was unresponsive, rebooting their systems multiple times with mixed results.

Trina Perez, owner of Buzzed Coffee Truck in Salt Lake City, told The Post her employee lost out on approximately $150 in tips. Andrew Sinclair, who owns Lab Coffee in Hollywood, says his employee lost between $150 to $250 in tips. Both owners intend to reimburse their employees, but Square has made no mention of whether it plans to reimburse its clients.

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