Fear and Loathing at Western Union
If I had known what minefield, what destruction, what mayhem was in store for me when I asked my mom to wire me $200.00 because I was stranded in St. Louis (due to Greyhound) I would have run for the hills.
A phone call from a man who clearly was in India said, "Come pick up your money, here's your control number etc." Standard procedure.
I walk 9 miles to a grocery store and I am denied because my license expired a month ago. I offer to produce any variety of seemingly acceptable documents, but the woman is nothing but cold. It's over.
A driver's license, expired or not, proves who somebody is when you punch in the DL#. End of story. I don't drive a car.
I call Western Union and navigate their idiotic voice recognition system by saying "operator, operator, operator, operator". Another Indian man tells me (I have no problem with India, but it's clear to me they've outsourced all of their support services) tells me that I must call my sender, mom, and have her add a "security question". It is my mom's wedding day and I am trying to receive this money to get thirty miles south to the wedding. Little did I know I would never make the wedding. I would never receive the money and I would end up that night sleeping in the grass by a college campus and have my laptop stolen.
I called Western Union again and after some severe resistance, managed to reach a supervisor, whose coldness was more pronounced and defiant than the underlings. She told me that not only was there no conceivable way to collect the money with my expired license. The sender would not be able to add a security question and all there was to do was to refund the money back to the sender, minus the $30.00 fee. I said, "So that's the solution, everybody loses?" "Yes," She said.
And this is how Western Union makes their money.
The wedding was already taking place by this time and I called my mom to tell her the tale of woe, and it caused her great distress.
I tried to stay awake wandering around St. Louis with no money with 4 large bags and eventually I crashed by a tree near a technical school. When I awoke my laptop bag was gone and someone had opened my gym bag but didn't find anything useful.
I awoke in the morning and began to wonder what sort of hell I had plunged into.
I began at this point to know very terrible thoughts. I began thinking of nothing but revenge against Western Union, and how I could make them suffer and pay for ruining everything. I called them again and demanded that when my mom call them to get her refund, that the $30.00 fee be included. The man agreed and said it would be done.
My mom called the next day, during her honeymoon and was not only hassled with a million confirmation questions, but DENIED THE TRANSFER FEE as part of the refund.
At this point my mom became so agitated she refused to speak to me, and refused to send any money by any other means. She simply didn't know whom to blame.
My anger at this point reached terrible heights. I wanted to knock someone's teeth out. Unfortunately, Western Union seems to have no accountable persons anywhere in physical form. This time, I told the person on the phone that they were to call my mother and refund her the $30.00 per a previous conversation, and no other option would be acceptable. The person seemed amused by this audacity. When they would not connect me to a supervisor and kept repeating a denial phrase I asked them where the nearest Western Union administrative office was, because I was going to go there. And I was going to take more than my money back. This call eventually culminated in me absolutely shredding this person on the phone to pieces. I felt bad about it for a minute, but then I realized there are reasons why explosions happen, because change is needed.
Of all the companies that have screwed me over time, this one really hit home. The frustration and violent rage and powerlessness and resulting damage and endangerment and loss of seeing my mom's wedding and now she won't speak to me have caused me to designate Western Union as an Enemy of the People.
Their cold, pathetic, paranoid protectionism to cover their own selves at the expense of their own customers lives makes them a cold, heartless, inflexible company.
Do not let anyone you know and love ever, for any reason, use Western Union.