Saturday, June 21, 2014


On-line business is in serious trouble. The computer-human interface is broken and is getting worse. Businesses executives use webs sites in the interest of saving money at the expense of good customer relations. The bottom line MBA’s will have to start realizing people hate talking to computers. It is hurting their business. Time Warner, AT&T, Western Unions, insurance companies, government offices, banks, etc are nightmares. If I call a number and get a computer answers, I hang up and look for another way to do business. Unfortunately, there is no other way for some businesses, for example, those I just listed. My most recent experience was with Western Union; there is no other way.  

With that in mind, I have received a request from Western Union (WU) to take a survey dealing with my recent inter action with that company. The inducement to take the survey tells me that they will analyze my responses and act accordingly—in other words, my responses will count. My experience with WU has so bad that it indicates the company could not possibly be responding to client complaints because if they did they would have fixed the multiple but simple problems I experienced with their web site. They cover their non-response by saying they will not respond individually to complaints.

Western Union is essentially a monopoly and is a great business modal. They allow people like me to send actual cash money around the country and the world—a needed service.

Let me explain my problem with them: several months ago, over the years, I had the need to send a significant but not large sum of money to Belize Central America. They presented me with two options; I could do this on-line or I could go to a WU agent. I chose on line where the web site presented me with two options; I could pay by debit card or I could have the money drawn out of my bank. If I paid by debit card the receiver could pick up the money immediately, however, if I paid by bank withdrawal the receiver would have to wait for three day. In the process of filling out the online forms, the web page indicated the service fee for sending the money would be $8.00; however, by bank withdrawal it would be much higher. I selected bank withdrawal. The on-line form requested wire transfer numbers and bank account numbers without explaining that I had to have an online banking arranged with the bank. WU refused my request because the bank would not honor my withdrawal request. I had to go to the bank and set up online banking; therefore, I chose debit card and paid the high fee.

The yesterday’s experience was different only because I had setup online banking and chose to pay by bank withdrawal because of the lower fee. The first problem is that I had moved so a change of address was needed on my WU account. I could not complete the request. I called customer support (a nightmare finding the number and another nightmare dealing with the computer menu) and after about two hours trying, I was told how to go back to the original web site and select certain tabs to change the address. With their help, it worked like clockwork. I went back to the bank withdrawal online form and continued; however, the program would not allow me to continue. After an hour or so of finding the number and calling the WU representative, I was told that I had to uncheck the “save data” box because the data had already been saved. After several hours, I completed the transaction. I relieved an e-mail from WU telling me they honored my request and giving me a tracking number. After a short time, I received another e-mail telling my WU rejected my request without explanation. There was not way to find out why. I went through the telephone “nightmare” again. This time the WU representative told me I had to go to a WU “office” to setup bank withdrawals the first time. WU told me the phone calls were recorded so are a matter of record.

I went to three WU agents and they told me I could pay by debit card or cash; it was impossible for them to set up a bank withdrawal. The third one said I had to go to a ‘WU Office” not an agent. Another phone call to WU and was again given the addresses of “agents”, which of course was a dead-end.    

Out of frustration, I called the bank to see if WU had even attempted to withdraw money from my account. The bank clerk told me the amount I was sending was too much so they had to put a release on my account to allow the withdrawal; that was the problem. I went on line and re-did all the previous steps and shortly thereafter, I received a message from WU, the money was available in Belize for the receiver to pick up—after two days of utter frustration.

Dealing with WU was the most difficult online transaction I have ever had. I will fill in their silly little survey knowing it will do not good.  It is just another attempt to make people think they really will try to correct their web site. 
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