Getting “Square” at Buster’s


“Latte tree” by Mary Wholey

A ginger scone and organic coffee would taste delicious, I thought, rushing to meet a friend at 8 am a couple weeks ago at Busters in South Pasadena, a favorite local cafe for Fosselman’s handmade ice cream. But I’d forgotten that they didn’t take debit cards and I didn’t have enough cash on hand. Then they pulled out an iPad and rang me up.

“What’s that?” I asked, pointing at the screen.

“Square,” the barista said. “You’ll get an email receipt.

Square’s logo

I didn’t inquire further about this newfangled service since a long line of customers awaited their coffee. It must be part of Foursquare, I assumed. Impressed, but a bit overwhelmed with yet another in an endless spate of apps, start-ups and seamless purchasing. The receipt arrived in my email with an image of my signature:  Re: Receipt from Busters Ice Cream and Coffee Shop for $9.18. I wondered.

At the bottom of the email it asked if I wanted to “start accepting credit cards today.” I thought of a few friends who could use this reader gizmo on their smartphone for their business and filed away a mental note. It returned to my radar tonight.

A story on 60 Minutes featured an interview with Square’s creator Jack Dorsey, the guy who co-founded Twitter. That got my attention. It’s got low fees and could transform payments for customers and vendors. I read a comment about complaints and flashed on Groupon. A further search revealed it can hold funds up to 30 days for large transactions and there’s a robo response in lieu of customer support. But it’s fast-growing and should leap overnight after this story: Jack Dorsey of Square on “60 Minutes”.

Would you use it?  Sign up as a customer and the favorite shops will know who you are: and/or register for your free credit card reader:


About Roberta Cruger

"I'm a writer, but then nobody's perfect." - Billy Wilder Roberta Cruger, a journalist for more than 15 years, has contributed to an array of publications including Smithsonian, The Believer, HOW, Robb Report, and the Los Angeles Times magazine, websites such as Salon and Treehugger, and has written for National Geographic Traveler and in-flight magazines from Alaska Airlines to U.S. Airways. She was the founding editor of the media section at Creem magazine and worked in programming at MTV from 1981-'88. Her beats cover arts/culture and entertainment, the environment, design, food, and travel, and her books include the "Hungry? Seattle" guidebook and a chapter in the "Rock, She Wrote" anthology.
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