Western Union Informative - Western Union Asked Me to Solve Their Own Problems in China
I used Western Union to transfer USD500 to a friend on vacation in GuangDong Province in China who was in dire need for some cash. I tried their online payment transfer using my credit card but was declined for some reason (which they would never tell me despite asking them over the phone and emailing them).
OK, so I went to the nearest Western Union physical location near my home to pay in cash. I got their so-called Money Transfer Control Number (MTCN) and they told me all that is needed by my friend halfway around the world would be to quote this number and prove his identity, then she could collect the cash within the next 30 minutes.
DON'T ANYONE EVER BELIEVE WHAT WESTERN UNION TOLD YOU!!! I did and it was miserable! My friend tried collecting the money from a designated Western Union location in China, a branch of China Agricultural Bank, and was given a few pages of forms to fill. The forms?? They are to apply for a local bank card. The reason?? The bank there said that she will have to apply for a local bank card in order to claim any Western Union money from the bank. How in the world can a visitor to a small town fill up a local bank card with a valid local address I wondered... Next after those forms being filled, on the next day she returned to the bank, she was told that the MTCN number did not show any fund availability. She tried another location there, the China Post Office and again was told that the MTCN number showed empty!
She got back to the hotel and contacted me and I called up Western Union's customer service... AND THIS IS WHERE I GOT THE GREATEST SHOCK ABOUT WESTERN UNION'S SERVICE WHICH THEY CHARGE USD14 FOR NEVER MIND THE PROFITS THEY GOT FROM AN UNREASONABLE FOREIGN EXCHANGE RATE!
The customer service officer repeated again and again that the money was available in their system. I said that the China system did not show that to be the case at two separate locations. He replied that if there was a problem, the recipient could call an international help line - some 732 area code number which is clearly a USA number. Asking someone in dire need of fund stranded in an international location to call back to USA on a paying phone? And this is an "international help line"?? This is baffling! And to add, this number is voice prompted in English. My recipient did not know a word of English... I then asked if anything could be done for Western Union in USA to prompt the disbursing locations in China to quickly release the funds. Nothing! Nothing could be done. We are at the mercy of the Western Union's "world-class" network and their screwed up partnerships with the locations there! The customer service person even asked me to tell my friend that she should tell the bank that the money was there! How naive of any customer service representative to even say this when the foreign bank did not see it in their system.
Apparently Western Union customer service officer can only think that anyone can just walk into a bank or anywhere and claim that his or her money is available and should be withdrawn then and there without valid proof! Such is the stupidity of Western Union customer service! I was furious and demanded that they should solve their own problems, and not expect customers to do so. This was when the customer service guy hanged up abruptly refusing to help any further.... I paid Western Union a service fee plus money they make from foreign currency exchange - and this is all I got! Screw them! I am not going to use Western Union anymore!