Adventures in Customer Service - Western Union

Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Updated 1/21/2010: Western Union has resolved this issue to my satisfaction. Details may be found here.

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As you all know, my friend and fellow UCFer Shawn Powers' house burned out on Sunday.

Of course our AWESOME BLOG CIRCLE wanted to help Shawn and his family, so we immediately activated the UCF Benevolent Fund. As the official Keeper of the Fund, I accepted donations from everyone who wanted to contribute, and then talked to Shawn about how best to get the money to him and his family. We decided that wiring the money would be fastest, as Shawn had an errand to run near the pick-up location nearest his town.

Easy-peasy, right?

Wrong.

CHRIST, what a nightmare.  The entire event left me wanting to hit Western Union's Vice President of Customer Service in the face with a shovel. Repeatedly. And without remorse. Here's what went down:

1. I tried to wire the money via the Western Union website. I've wired money internationally from this site, and found the user experience fairly manageable. Well, I went through all the rigmarole surrounding the transfer, and at the very end of the transaction, I received a notice that my transaction couldn't be completed. Lovely.

2. I called the toll-free number. I went through the IVR prompts for five minutes, then finally got to an agent, who took another 5 minutes gathering the details he needed. While we were waiting for the credit card transaction to go through, the Western Union telephone system dropped my call.

3. I called the toll-free number again. I was unable to "zero out" to an agent, so I got to start over with the process. I finally got to an agent, and after we waited for the transaction to be completed, he discovered that he was "unable to confirm my identity." I guess my Colorado Driver's License and my U.S. Passport number were insufficient proof, but I don't know, as the agent was unable to tell me what the problem was. The agent informed me I would have to complete my transaction in person at an agent location, who would accept either cash or a debit card.

4. I transferred enough money to my checking account to cover the expense, found a local agent location, and hit the road. When I got to the agent location (a local bank, as it turned out), I went through the process to begin my transaction. This consists of using a "hotline" phone to place my order with a Western Union agent. Because I was at an agent location instead of placing my transaction via the web or via phone, the fee increased by 1.5%, even though Western Union's IVR indicated that using an agent usually means the fee decreases. I'm not sure why that was, and again, the agent didn't know shit. At the end of my call, the agent informs me that I should now take my cash to the teller and pay. I ask about the debit option, since the previous agent indicated I could pay that way. The new agent informed me that I could only pay via debit card with a Western Union verified card, and that doing so would increase my fee (AGAIN), which was already at 7% due to the mysterious increase noted above.

5. Seething, I take my transaction number and go to my credit union to withdraw the money to pay for the transfer. Upon returning to the bank, I take the transaction number to the teller. The teller, being a careful kind of gal, verified my details before taking my money, and informs me the Western Union agent had the transfer going to Shawn Howard, rather than Shawn Powers.

Grrr.

6. I used the hotline phone once again and get another agent. I explain my trouble, and being unable to fix the previous transaction, WE START OVER AGAIN, verifying the details carefully. Finally, I'm able to give my cash to the teller and get a confirmation number, which I texted to Shawn so he can finally get the damn money.

Really, Western Union? Really? It took you six fucking tries to get this transaction completed, when essentially all you had to do was move a few electrons around? That's quite the racket - you charged me a 7% transaction fee for making me run around naked with my hair on fire.

I can guaren-fucking-tee you will never get another dollar from me, even if that means I have to drive the fucking money to the recipient myownself rather than use your fucking "service." I can't believe how much you SUCK.

8 comments:

Stacey said...

Janiece that blows! I am so tired of people not capable of doing their job while so many of my friends are sitting around twiddling their thumbs. I feel for you my friend.

Janiece said...

I KNOW!

There are tons of decent, hardworking people who are out of work (or underemployed), and yet this is what I get for CUSTOMER SERVICE.

I don't get it.

Keith Wilson said...

Wow. What the hell is wrong with companies these days, another friend of mine had a nightmare with her wireless network today and told a similar story about her adventures with tech support in the Phillipines. I've had my own issues with our monopolistic telecommunications overlords up here lately. It's funny that Kim is now doing support, and in training they used these idiots as examples of what will get you fired!

If anything, these morons are teaching us all to go back to the age old idea that the customer comes first, the problem is these companies are in the way.

Aileen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aileen said...

Now, Janiece, cut them some slack will ya? Maybe wiring money isn't their core competency? ;-p

Seriously, you can put me on the list of "will never use them EVER". Not on a bus, not on a train, not in a boat, not with a goat ... (oh, I've been reading too many children's books!)

(previous comment had too many typos - I looked like a total ass! Or a Western Union rep ...)

Random Michelle K said...

I want to see the pictures of you running around naked with your hair on fire.

Steve Buchheit said...

Reminds me of the scene in Auntie Mame where she's working the rollerskate counter in Macy's and the Col. wants to make a cash purchase.

See, they only know how to wire money to countries in Latin America and the Far East. You want to send something domestically? Well, I don't know how to fill out the order sheet that way.

::head desk::

WendyB_09 said...

I think that would more correctly be customer no-service...