If you’re thinking on using Western Union for sending money, BEWARE! It may well turn into a very frustrating and outrageous trap. Actually, a sharply deviced swindle.
Say, for instance, you want to send 300 $ to Someone, who lives Countryland. You go to Western Union website and click on the “send money online” link. You find Countryland under the “country” select box and you place your order for the “money in minutes” service. You fill the form with your credit/debit card numbers and submit the information. Here’s where the fun starts.
First and foremost of anything else, W.U. charges your card for the sent amount (300 $) plus the service fee; and only then, in the second place, they do some TOP SECRET verifications… after which they come up with a funny message like: Your transfer was not authorized, and then they suggest you to try and send your money again. Don’t do it!: They’ll sure charge your card again, but the transfer will fail again.
As no information is provided to the customer-victim about why the transfer was unauthorized, I called their support number, only to hear from the employee that: we’re sorry, but we don’t provide the ‘money in minutes’ service for Countryland. But then, if their web tool lets you place an order for a service they don’t provide, this is called robbery. Western Union should absolutely make the ‘money in minutes’ option unavailable for the countries where such service is not provided; instead, they inform you only AFTER they charge your card (and only if you call their support service). But charging your card is the only thing they want, as you’ll see if you keep reading.
So, I asked the support guy: “Then, how can I send money to my friend Someone, who lives in Countryland?” You can make a Western Union transfer online to his bank account, he replies. “Are you sure it will work?” Totally sure, sir; a transfer to a bank account will be authorized. “And what happens to the charge you’ve already made to my card?” Oh, don’t worry, sir: you’ll get a full refund after 3-5 labour days.
Hence, the ingenous customer-victim repeats the process, except this time you pick the “transfer to a bank account” option. And what happens? Western Union charges again your card and they take you again to the “unauthorized transfer” situation, suggesting you once more to try to send the money for a third time.
Now is when you start feeling like killing someone. You call their customer support for a second time, you complain and ask them why the transfer was not authorized this time, but now they’ll give you the most insulting reply ever invented: Sorry, sir, but for security reasons we can’t ‘divulge’ this information. What the hell?! You’re not asking them to “divulge” anything. You just want to know why your card has been charged 600+ $ and Western Union is not going to send a single cent to the addressee. But if you insist in your query, the employee will start acting like an automat, and keep repeating the same sentence over and over: for security reasons we can’t divulge this information; and you give up, realizing there’s no point in talking to a robot.
No information at all will ever be provided to you about the reasons why they didn’t authorize the transfer; and what’s yet more important, they’ll never explain why they verify-unauthorize the transfer AFTER charging your card, instead of BEFORE. Why on earth don’t they check whatever they need to chek prior to charging your card, instead of afterwards? I can’t even fantasize a reason for not performing their damned Top Secret security verifications in advance. But, as you’ll read soon, here is precisely where their scam lies.
After this happened to me, I posted a complain in Western Union’s Facebook wall. Their community manager answered promptly to my post, but this answer was as unhelpful as it was polite. Along the thread that followed, I asked them up to three times to provide a sensible, not intelligence-offensive reason why they don’t make their verifications BEFORE charging the victims’ cards? But, for three times, they totally ignored my question, as if I didn’t write it. Soon afterwards, they erased the whole thread, for nobody to ever be able read it.
I also emailed them with three quests:
Q 1: Why are those transfers unauthorized?
A 1: For security reasons, blah, blah, blah…
Q 2: Why don’t you verify before taking the customers’ money? No reply. Question ignored.
Q 3: When will my funds be released?
A 3: Oh!, ask your card issuer. You should get a full refund in ten labour days.
One month after charging 600 $ from my card, Western Union has neither done the transfer nor returned the money.
This is how the fraud works: Western Union charges the victim’s card, then “unauthorizes” the transfer. Your card’s bank issuer holds your money for as long as they want, thus getting maybe a few millions’ free credit, and Western Union gets a commission for doing this “little favour” to the banks. (Just think: they may unauthorize thousands of transfers worldwide every day, which may mean a few million US$ free credit.)
Besides, when you ask Western Union about your refund, they forward you to your card’s issuer bank, thus dodging the problem: it’s not a contract between the customer and the bank; it’s a contract between the customer and Western Union. This company is the one charging your card, therefore they’re legally liable to have you get the money back inmediately after they unauthorize the operation (for reasons they only know and won’t even tell you).
And here’s how finally Western Union ices the cake: Once you realize this blatant fraud, you may think of denouncing or suing them. But when you try to find out who they actually are, and where’s their head office, it turns out they’re at PO Box 7850, Athens, Greece.
Greece! Western Union has its head office in Greece! No way taking any legal actions against them in Greece. The customer-victim is utterly helpless.
Such is Western Union: a dishonest company. A fraud. An unpunisable rip-off.