“Cash App” from Square fails the basic competence test

By | September 1, 2018

TL;DR After less than 24 hours of using the “Cash App” from Square, I conclude that the people who built, maintain, and support the app are incompetent, and it has therefore earned on my list of apps and services I will never use again. I have removed the app from my phone, and if anyone asks me if I have it in the future, I will respond that I do not use it because I don’t trust its security. Congratulations, Cash! Good job!

Yesterday, I asked someone to send me a bit of cash through Venmo or PayPal, and they replied by asking me if I had the Cash App. “Oh, boy,” I said to myself. “Yet another application I’m going to have to install on my phone for sending and receiving cash.” Then, with a resigned sigh, I downloaded and installed the app and started to set it up.

The first thing the app does when you launch it is ask you to enter a cell phone number or email address to link your Cash account to. I prefer not to link accounts to my phone, so I entered my email address, and it told me to enter the code they had just emailed to my address.

Except they had not emailed a code to my email address. I waited a few minutes for the code email to arrive, and I checked my spam folder and mail server logs to confirm that it hadn’t. Then I tapped “HELP” in the app and asked it to resend the code, which it claimed to do, with the same results: I received no code in email.

At this point I went ahead and linked the app to my phone number instead, then I tweeted my frustration to the app’s support account:

You can click on the timestamp in the tweet to read the entire exchange I had with their support people. The important points:

  1. There is no question that the problem was on their end, not mine, yet after first acknowledging that their code emails were currently “a tad delayed,” they then sent a followup tweet attempting to blame my email configuration for the problem (again, my email configuration was not the problem).
  2. I tried repeatedly for hours to get a code email without it being delayed so long that the code was invalid by the time I received the email containing it. Alas, all attempts failed, until finally I went to sleep and tried again in the morning. Whatever the problem was, it took them many hours to resolve.
  3. Throughout the time this problem was ongoing — and to be clear here, while this problem was ongoing, people whose Cash accounts are linked to their email addresses could not log into the app — their status page showed nothing about the problem. Even now, half a day after the problem was resolved, they haven’t documented on the status page that there was ever a problem.

Today, I ran into yet another problem with their app that falls squarely in the realm of basic incompetence:

I couldn’t explain the precise details of the problem in a public tweet since that would involve publishing my postal mailing address on Twitter, something I’d rather not do for obvious reasons (though, frankly, my address is easily available on the internet to anyone who bothers to go looking for it), but I sent them via direct message a video demonstrating the issue I was experiencing.

They responded by suggesting that I contact their support team through their web site, because “we’re unable to see your account information via Twitter.”

That’s a terrible response. None of my “account information” is required to understand the bug I reported to them. I described the bug to them and sent them a video demonstrating it in case my verbal description was inadequate for them to understand it. Telling me to report the issue through their web site is telling me to waste even more of my time coping with their incompetence. That’s unacceptable.

I did finally manage to figure out how to workaround this issue and enter my address successfully in the app (Note: I figured out the workaround; Cash’s support team on Twitter was no help):

  1. Start entering your address.
  2. When the pop-up menu with a list of matching addresses appears, keep entering your address until one of the matching addresses is yours.
  3. Tap on it.
  4. Two separate fields will appear for your street address and city, state, and ZIP, but (if you encounter the same problem I did) they will be filled in incorrectly.
  5. Tap in the street-address field and start entering the missing information. If/when the pop-up menu appears again, tap somewhere on the screen that isn’t in the menu to make it go away. Continue doing this until you’ve managed to enter the correct street address.
  6. Do the same thing to correct your city, state, and/or ZIP if the app auto-filled them incorrectly.

So, the Cash app has a stupid bug in it when entering an address, as far as I can tell the bug is quite easy to stumble over when using the app, and yet their support people on Twitter either don’t know about the bug, don’t know how to work around it, or didn’t think it was worth the effort to tell me how to do so.

Despite the fact that Cash’s Twitter support people shouldn’t have demanded that I waste my time reporting the problem through their web site when I’d already provided them with all the details they needed about the bug, I decided to go ahead and report the problem through their web site anyway. I maintain software for a living, so I’m sympathetic to others who maintain software and need to hear about bugs from users to be able to fix them. So I submitted a support request through their web site, describing the bug in detail and also explaining the workaround described above. Here’s how they responded:

Hi ,

Thanks for contacting us, sorry to hear you’re having issues. So that we can better assist you, please provide as much of the following information as you can (if applicable):

– Description of your issue (please be as detailed as possible)

– Your Cashtag & phone number

– Sender’s phone number and email address

– Recipient’s phone number and email address

– Identifier of the transaction (which can be found in your app activity)

– Date of the transaction you’re inquiring about

Once we receive this information, we’ll be able to investigate.

Thanks,

Cash Support

Hey, look, more incompetence! First, they couldn’t handle filling in my name at the beginning of the email, so instead of saying “Hi Jonathan,” as it should, it says “Hi ,”. Awesome! Then, they asked for me to provide a description of the issue even though I already did that. Then, despite the fact that I submitted the support request from inside their app, which means that it should be linked to my account and they should already know my cashtag and phone number, they asked for it again. And finally, the rest of the questions they asked have nothing to do with my support request since I wasn’t writing to them about a transaction issue.

Amazing.

There is no reason to believe that people who are incompetent about developing, maintaining, and supporting the functionality of their app are any more competent about support. Therefore, I will not entrust the Cash App with my bank account or debit card information or with sending or receiving money on my behalf.

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