Western Union just doesnt care about its customers.
I sent a sum of Chf 1237 (approximately USD $1260) from Switzerland, where I live, to my relative in Bamako, Mali in July 2009. The money never reached its intended recipient. There began my nightmarish experience with Western Union, one that has been dragging on for more than a year.
Western Union argued that the recipient had been identified by the person at the counter through a piece of identity which was validated with the photograph of the bearer. I have sent Western Union all the necessary evidence pointing to the contrary (for example, the number on the identity card of the intended recipient is clearly not the one on the form of receipt. In addition, the expiry date on the identity document presented does not match the date of validity of the identity card of the intended recipient) . This clearly demonstrates that the person who collected the money was not the intended recipient and also that none of the identification documents match that of the intended recipient of the funds.
Western Union claims on its website that its method is foolproof and that not only does the company verify the identity of the recipient at the time of collection of the amount but also that the recipient would need to have full knowledge of the transaction number, name of the sender, the originating country and the correct amount of funds transmitted.
This gets me very very worried.
The person who withdrew the money was aware of the transaction number, the sender name and address, and the exact amount of the transaction. This cannot be a coincidence. If Western Unions system is indeed as foolproof as they claim it is, then logic would suggest that the only entities aware of such intricate details of the nature of transaction could either be the sender, recipient or employees of Western Union who handle the transaction.
I recently read that a network operating this type of fraud in Mali have been dismantled, one of whose members is an employee of BDM, a partner agency of the Western Union in Mali.
Its been an more than year and I have been appalled by the callous attitude of the company. I have repeatedly tried to sort this out with Western Union through phone calls and letters (including one from my lawyer) but they just dont seem to care. They havent bothered to even get back to me. It is really unbecoming of a company this large and one that so many of us rely on to send money back to our loved ones. Till now, Western Union had a solid reputation built through more than a century of reliable service. I used to use it without a second thought. However, after this bitter experience, I will never use it again and will also strongly dissuade others from doing so. At this point, Western Union should do return me my money but the prospect of that happening is bleak. I hope they are reading this and will do the right thing.