Friday, December 31, 2010

western union

So, today I tried to send money to a friend via the online Western Union process. Let me see if I can list some appropriate words that would all fit into a description of my experience:


I could go on.

So, this is what happened:

I went on the Western Union website to see how to send funds to someone. My first step was to set up a profile. When it asked for my phone number, I entered my cell phone number, because that is the number I use for everything.

I then set up the payment, entering my friend's name and the city. Then I entered my bank account information. When I clicked on the button to complete the transaction, I got a new screen that instructed me to call their customer service number.

I called the number provided and spoke with a woman who was very difficult to understand. She was speaking very fast and I don't think English was her native language. I tried to understand what she was telling me. It had to do with my phone number. They needed to call me to verify that I was really me. I told her that we were speaking on the phone that she would need to call me on, so I didn't see how that would verify my identity. She explained, but I couldn't understand. I asked her to slow down and pronounce each word carefully, but she made no change to her speech. Finally, I asked to speak with a supervisor. She put me on hold and I waited. There was no hold music or anything else to confirm that I was on hold. I kept looking at my phone to be sure I was still connected. Then there was a click and when I looked at the phone, I saw I was disconnected.

I called the number again and got a different person. I gave her the transaction number and she looked it up and told me that the transaction had been canceled because my identity could not be identified. I asked her if there was any way to re-activate the transaction. She told me no, that I would have to start over again. I thanked her and hung up.

Back on the website, I entered a new transaction. This time, when I clicked on the button to finalize the transaction, I got an error message. I called customer service again. This time, I got a third agent. I explained what was going on. She indicated that my phone number needed to be a land line that was listed in my name at the address I had indicated for myself in the transaction. I gave her my land line. She asked me to hold. When she came back, she indicated that their third party verifier could not verify my phone number. I asked what that meant. She said either my number was not listed OR the address was different. While still keeping Western Union on the line on my cell phone, I called 411 on my home phone and asked for a listing for myself. Information had no trouble confirming that my name and address matched.

I asked the Western Union agent for a supervisor. The supervisor explained to me that because their third party verifier could not verify my phone number, that they could not allow my transaction to go through. I explained that I had no trouble verifying my phone number by dialing 411 and wondered if he could do the same so we could complete the transaction. He indicated that he could not do this. So, once again, I was told that my transaction would be canceled. We ended the call.

At this point, I decided to go out on my bank's website and just create a check to mail to my friend. I was shocked to find B-O-T-H Western Union transactions posted as debits to my account. The total was just under $1000. I almost fainted. I called the Western Union customer service number and explained my situation. I was told that I would have my money back in 1-2 weeks. I explained that this was totally unacceptable. I asked for a supervisor.

The supervisor indicated that she would call my bank and take care of the issue. While I stayed on the line, she called my bank. She explained to the customer service agent at my bank that the transactions had been canceled and asked him to take the authorizations off my account. My bank's customer service agent said he could not do that at her request. The request needed to come from me (the bank customer). I spoke up and said I was on the line and that I was making the request. My bank's customer service agent indicated that I would need to call back and enter my identifying information, then ask to speak to an agent. The Western Union agent disconnected us from the bank agent.

She dialed the bank again. This time, I entered my SSN. The bank's automated voice began to repeat my SSN back to me and the Western Union agent. I interrupted before the whole number was repeated. I indicated the the Western Union agent that I did not think that this was a very secure way to handle the situation. I told her I would call the bank directly. I ended the call.

I called my bank, got through to an agent and explained the situation. The agent indicated that I could not request that the authorization be removed, that only Western Union could do that. I explained that another agent had indicated the opposite. I asked for a supervisor. I was placed on hold until once again, I was disconnected.

At this point, I have almost $1000 being held from my account and my friend still has no money from me. I decided that I should wait a bit before I call anyone again. I might have a stroke if I allow myself to get any more upset than I am at this moment.

Suffice it to say that I will NEVER use the Western Union online site again and I will tell everyone I know to avoid it like the plague.

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