Have you ever tried to send money using Western Union? Until yesterday I hadn't. Actually, the day before yesterday. Let me tell you how fun it is.
By agreement, our facilitator, Oleg, required $2,000 to be wired to him when they received our dossier for submission and its subsequent translation to Russian and notarizing. This is reasonable, since we have been working with him and Dima since about last July and they had received nothing from us for all of their efforts.
So, a couple of days ago I needed to wire the money. Since Western Union has a website, you would think you could do this with a couple of clicks of the mouse. So I went to the website, navigated the various screens, and got to the place where you send money. Can't do it, have to register with WU first. OK, did that, went to the screens again, now it lets me send. But wait, there's an error message of some kind, the request is rejected. Please see an agent. Hmmm. I'll try again later.
A couple hours later, I try again. Same message. OK so I'll see an agent. Where? There is a handy link on their website to find an agent. Gave it a try, but I get some other obscure error message. Guess I'll try later.
Gave it a try later from work, was able to find that there are four places here in Mitchell. The closest one is the grocery store, Coborn's. So I leave work for an "errand" and head down there, about 2 min. from where I work, to try it that way. Uh oh. Did you know that Western Union does not accept checks or credit cards? Guess I need to go to the bank tomorrow. The lady says I'll need enough to cover the WU fee as well.
Tomorrow comes and I withdraw $2,124. "Will 100's be OK?" the teller asks me. I head home so I can take a picture of it, then down to Coborn's again. So they have this dedicated phone there with a hotline to WU where this person with a heavy accent asks you about the transaction, etc., and gives you a number. The conversation goes something like this: "No, PRE - TRE. Papa Romeo Echo Tango Romeo Echo." You get the idea. Then you hang up and give the number to the person at the counter, who asks you for all the same information again. Whatever. Anyway it was fun to see her expression when I handed her $2,124 in cash. If you're doing the math, it turns out WU's cut is about 6%. Once you give the info to the lady, she sticks a receipt slip in a machine* and enters a bunch of numbers. Guess what, it won't accept the numbers. After several attempts, she mentions that she's never done this before. She's the manager. So she hands me the money again and runs off to get another employee that knows how to do it. And I'm standing there with a wad of cash with all these other people waiting in line. How fun. Well anyway, the other gal gets it to go through, but in all it took about ½ hr. just at the WU counter.
Dr. David has a humorous post about his experience with WU.
*Alan adds: I forgot to mention, you know, there are 4 ways you can feed the slip of paper into the machine, only one of which is correct, and, well, let's just say one was wasted. Hehe