Square is in some hot water over allegations that the company has mistakenly sent private receipts to the wrong people. And unfortunately for users, there isn't much they can do.

In The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, some Square users said that they had personal receipts, including a payment for a divorce attorney and gifts for others, that were mistakenly sent to the wrong people. In the case of the divorce e-mail, it was sent to the person's friend. The gift receipt was sent to the recipient.

According to the Journal, it evaluated a variety of e-mails that were erroneously sent by Square, revealing information from the boring to the personal. In another case, the Journal said, Square mistakenly sent a receipt for a woman's obstetrician appointment to someone else.

"While receipts received by the wrong person are incredibly rare, even one is a really bad experience," a Square spokesperson said in an email. "We've already made a number of changes to the experience, resulting in a more than 50 percent decrease in customer issues in one year, and we have more improvements in the works. Digital receipts are a common, easy, and popular way for buyers to manage their purchases, and we want to make sure they provide continued value to consumers and sellers alike."

But the fact remains: Square's receipt e-mailing is causing problems. And the company has yet to fully address it.

That also underscores a problem all digital payment and receipt companies might face. Sending an e-mail about someone signing up for a website to the wrong person is one thing. But sending information about how people are spending money is another.

And in some cases, companies that rely on Square could be in the hot seat with customers. After all, it might have been Square that mistakenly routed the receipt, but the company that uses Square's technology might be the first to face the customer's wrath.

So, what can the average company do?

Truth be told, Square's woes aren't unique to Square. And in a world where millions of digital receipts are being sent each day, there's plenty of this going on in the digital market.

So for companies hoping to sidestep such a problem, there isn't much to do. It's incumbent on business owners, then, to work with companies that are actually addressing mistaken e-mail sending and not ignoring it.

In that respect, then, perhaps Square is on to something. And although it's not ideal, the company's seeming willingness to address the problem might be a good thing in the long run.

Either way, one thing is clear: the digital receipt business needs a fix. Companies are relying on it.

Note: This column has been updated with a response from Square.

Published on: Jun 5, 2019
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