Western Union’s Horrible Website (and Useless Customer Service)

closePlease note: This post was published over a year ago, so please be aware that its content may not be quite so accurate anymore. Also, the format of the site has changed since it was published, so please excuse any formatting issues.

Before you start reading this, be forewarned that it’s not a very nice post and has some less than polite language peppered throughout it.

Just so you have a baseline, go take a look at westernunion.com. I’ll wait.

It’s not a bad looking site, is it? I mean sure, it takes a while to load, but it’s clean, attractive, and the prospect of sending money seems easy, right?

It isn’t.

I tried to send money a couple of times and the site kept timing out. What was I doing that caused the site to time out, you ask? Perhaps I walked away from the computer for a while, or took a call in the middle of filling out the form, or did something that caused enough time to elapse for the session to end. Nope. The only thing I did while filling out the form was fill out the form.

After those couple of failed attempts, I noticed that it seemed to time out while creating my account (which I needed to create, since I had never used Western Union before). I thought, “I’ll create an account first, and surely that will fix my problem.” It took four tries to create the account. The site timed out each time until it finally went through.

WTF? Could the site seriously be this bogged down? What the hell is going on?

“No matter,” I thought, “I have my login info, so now everything should run smoothly.” But you’re reading this, so obviously it didn’t.

It took a further SIX FUCKING TRIES – each time doing the entire process over again from the beginning – before I said, “fuck it,” and decided to just go send the damn money order in person (unfortunately, I still had to use Western Union for the sake of the recipient).

So what the hell happened?

I initiated a chat session via their website and explained that, despite answering the identity-confirming security questions (you know, those ones they ask you when you’re applying for a credit card. Stuff like, “You have previously or currently live on one of the following streets,” and then list off 4 street names), I kept getting an error. I gave him the error number, but all he could tell me was verbatim what the error message said. Yeah thanks, guy. By the way, how’s the weather in fucking Bangalore? Yeah, I can tell that English isn’t your first language.

I also mentioned to him that the site kept timing out. He asked, “what browser are you using.”

No. Fuck no. I’m going to tell you Firefox and you’re going to tell me I need to use Internet Explorer.

“Firefox,” I replied, “On a Mac.” I wanted to make sure he knew that Internet Explorer wasn’t an option. Here’s his reply, copied directly from the chat window: “We recommend you to use Internet Explorer 6.0 or above. Other browsers may be problematic. Mozilla Firefox and Safari are not currently compatible with our site. We apologize for any inconvenience.”

Fuck. That.

You know what, Western Union? I’m a web developer, so I know a bit about this sort of thing. This is two-thousand-fucking-nine. It’s no longer acceptable for a website to work in a single browser, especially if you’re a huge company. Yet strangely, it seems like only big companies have websites that are “IE-only” sites. In fact, not only is it not acceptable to cut out all other browsers, but it’s easy to make a site that works with them – often easier than it is to make the site work with IE!

Here’s the problem: I have a Mac. Yes, I also have 5 Windows-based machines, but not everyone does. So what are people with Apple computers supposed to do? Obviously you don’t want our money. Also, for a company that purports to care about the security of its users, you don’t seem terribly concerned with IE’s plethora of security flaws.

I’ve talked here about the reservoir of goodwill before, and the entire process was so frustrating that mine quickly ran out, which is when I threw up my hands, said, “fuck it,” and quit altogether. It just wasn’t worth it. Your lousy customer service only exacerbated the situation, especially when the conversation started with, “I can help you with that,” and ended with, “we apologize for any inconvenience.” The cherry on top of this entire shit pile came when I found out that I would have paid $9 more by using Western Union’s own website than I ended up paying by just sending the money at a mini Western Union location in a RiteAid (where my credit still didn’t work, despite it having worked between trying it online and trying it in the store).

In the end the money made it, but the whole experience was enough for me to vow to never use Western Union again, to write this blog post describing my horrible experience, and to evangelize against Western Union from now on.

However, to be entirely fair, I will give Western Union two positive notes. First, because I was so mad at them and vowed never to use them again, I sent an e-mail requesting my account be deleted (there’s no way to do it from within their site - at least, not that I could find). Within 24 hours they replied that it had been done (which appears to be the case). Second, the issue with the credit card wasn’t their fault, it was Chase’s.

I really should write a separate post about how I also hate Chase and wish they would quit buying the things I love (both my Amazon.com credit card and WaMu didn’t used to be owned by Chase, but now they are). Seriously, Chase? I answered the identity-confirming security questions SIX TIMES and you still wouldn’t let the purchase go through? You know what, Chase? Go suck a dick. I can’t wait until I’m no longer tied to you in any way.

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  1. I had problems with Western Union timing out on me when I would send them at Safeway. I hated doing them. And I hated calling to make changes when my co-workers screwed up the money amount.

  2. Thomas, it’s all just telling you that you shouldn’t be wiring money to Nigeria, see.

  3. Mike

    I run into problems with WU’s website all the time. I then have to call and enter all my info then speak to some foreigner and give them all my info all over again.

    I wish I could get my hands on someone there. I would let out some serious frustration.

    I wouldn’t use them if it wasn’t that they are the only ones that send to this certain country.

  4. Cris

    I just went through hell and beyind yesterday from 6pm until 12am with Western Union. They are very ignorant and treated me as if I was some kind of fucking criminal. After the googled what company I owned they started to slack up some and returned my money. Needless to say I was called all types of racial names, told I would not get my money back and also hung up on several times and still did not receive a refund of all of my money. needless to say guess who is getting sued thanks to my business phones recording each and every call. Assholes.

  5. John

    Wow. chris. Sorry to hear that. I was told by one of them assholes that I can not say FUCKING when talking to them. And the shithead had the gall to “warn” me.

    I also have had TERRIBLE experiences recently trying to use their service… Seems absolutely unfathomable that a company would treat their PAYING customers in such a way… But they do.

    To ANYONE reading this: Dont use Western Union. EVER. PLEASE.

    They do not deserve our business… Even when it does work, it works like shit and is such a hassle that it makes you wanna strangle somebody. And they have NO respect for their customers! How can a business survive like that? Lets all stop them from surviving ASAP.

  6. Edward Boothe

    Last night I sent $500, through Western Union, to a family in Mexico that I have been supporting for 10 years. The fucking site kept rejecting the same data that I always send, but after about an hour I finally got it sent. Customer support was useless as tits on a boar hog. This morning when I checked my bank account I discovered that they had withdrawn two amounts of $508. I called customer support five times. Each time they said they had to transfer me to another number and 5 times I was cut off. I finally got so fucking mad that they were hanging up on me because of my language. Later I finally found a website where I could send them a message, it kept rejecting my data. but I finally got through to them that I was going to go to my bank and charge them with theft of $508. I think that got someone’s attention for at least they acknowledged that they received the email. These are the biggest bunch of assholes I have ever dealt with in my life and have the most fucked up web site on the internet, with possibly the exception of paypal. I would advise anyone needing to send money to Mexico to try to find a different company if at all possible.

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