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Friday, January 2, 2015

WalMart MoneyGram -- Waste of Time

Just wasted about an hour of my life dealing with WalMart moneygram with no success.  My daughter needs to pay her rent.  She normally pays her roommate, who pays the landlord.  It is Winter Break so my daughter is not where her roommate is.  Overnighting typically costs $20-30.  Western Union apparently costs over $30.  I googled around and found the WalMart Money Gram solution.  It looked promising.  I could pay over $30 to put it on my credit card, but doing a bank transfer would only cost $11.50.  WalMart would take the money from my bank account, and then my daughter's roommate could pick the money up at any WalMart in her state.

It took a while.  I filled in the name of the person who was to receive the money (my daughter's roommate).  There was a place for me to write a "note" so I wrote my daughter's name and the word "rent."

I then had to put in name, address, my bank account number, routing number, last four digits of social security number.  And maybe more.

The system then asked a bunch of questions -- you know the ones I mean -- which of the following addresses is one you have lived at (where the answer was one I lived at 25 years ago), which kind of car have you owned (where the answer was one I owned 20 years ago), where does my father own property (somehow, they knew my father's name; it's all really spooky).  Anyway, I answered all  the questions correctly.  I then had to select a password, I got the stupid picture, had to pick a caption for that, and had to come up with answers for three more security questions.

I got through all that.  There was a warning screen that told me not to send money to people I didn't know, and that if I've been told that I won a contest, don't send them money, etc.  I acknowledged reading the warning and kept going.  Eventually I got to the place where I could submit.  I did that, and got a message saying that they would email me with the registration code, and that I would then simply have to send that code to the recipient, and then the recipient would just have to give that code when she went to Walmart.  Sounded great.

I checked my email several times for the registration code.  Nothing.  Then I got an email that said:

Thank you for using the Walmart MoneyGram online store!
In order for us to process your transaction, we need some additional information. Please contact the Walmart MoneyGram online store by calling 1-888-988-5726.
Note: when you call, please have your Authorization Number (Auth#) available. To locate your Authorization Number for your transaction, please sign in and view the Recent Activity page, where you'll find the Authorization Number (Auth#).
Again, thank you for using the Walmart MoneyGram online store!
The Walmart MoneyGram online store Team
So I did all that.  I called, put in the authorization code.

A person with a Spanish accent answered and asked me why I was calling.  I have nothing against people with Spanish accents, and have nothing personally against this particular representative -- he was just doing his "job."  But I mention the fact because I got the sense that I was talking to someone in some other country.  Maybe the Philippines.  Who knows.

Anyway, I told him about the email, and then he asked me a bunch of security-type questions -- including name, address, last four of social security number.  He then asked why I had initiated the transaction.  I told him that my daughter needed to get the rent money to her roommate.  He asked me why I didn't send the money directly to my daughter.  I told him that my daughter was in State X, while the roommate was in State Y.  He asked me about the note in which I had put my daughter's name and "rent."  I told him it was my daughter's name.

There were times in all of this that he claimed he couldn't hear me, so I spoke louder.

Anyway, he then told me, in one fast run-on sentence, that I didn't quite hear, something like:  "The security system it not comfortable so it has declined your transaction you will receive a full refund including the service charge."  I tried to interrupt him after the word "decline," but he plowed through the sentence.  I made him say it again, slowly.  I asked him why?  He simply repeated that the security system had declined it.  I asked him what I could do and he said I would get a refund.  I asked if I could speak to a supervisor.

At this point, he seemed to be having more and more trouble hearing me.  He kept asking if I was there, and saying he couldn't hear me.

I got the message through to him about seeing a supervisor.

He said they didn't have any supervisors, but they had an "escalate" or "escalated" team and asked if I wanted to be transferred to that.

I didn't understand the word he used (his pronunciation was not great) and I asked him to repeat it.  he said he couldn't hear me.  I asked louder, and he still couldn't hear me.  I asked to be transferred.  He still couldn't hear me.  Finally he asked if I wanted to be transferred, and I said YES!! just to be done with the useless call with the bad connection.

I was on hold for about two or three minutes, and another persoon with another Spanish accent picked up.  This one asked if I had asked to be transferred to the escalate team.  I told him yes, and explained the situation.  He said  "The security system it not comfortable so it has declined your transaction you will receive a full refund including the service charge" -- i.e. he said essentially what the first person had said.  I told him that's what the first guy had said, but I was hoping there was something I could do with him to change the result.  I explained to him the exact situation, how my daughter needed to pay the rent, how I had spent a good deal of time setting up the account, going back to the website, calling the number, etc. etc. and that I was willing to do anything to prove that I was who I said I was and I needed to send it to the person I said I needed to send it to.  I offered to get my daughter and her roommate on the line, via conference call.  

He listened to all this and said "The security system it not comfortable so it has declined your transaction you will receive a full refund including the service charge."

I.e. essentially exactly what the first guy had said, and what this guy had said before.

I told him yes, yes, I knew that, but I was hoping the escalated team could do an extra check or something to allow this transaction to go through.  He said that there were no supervisors there.  I then said "well, what's the purpose of an escalated team?"  He said that's a very general question, there's no single answer."  I said, "ok, I'll make it a specific question:  If the security system declines a transaction, is there anything the escalated team can do to resolve the problem and let the transaction go through."

He said not in this case, because the transaction had already been declined.

I had more to say, and I started saying it, but the f-word slipped out.  I think they have the "right" to hang up on customers who use the f-word, because that's what he did.

End of conversation.

I am so annoyed that I am going to boycott Walmart for a year or two.  The Waltons have way too much money already, and they have caused way too many US jobs to go overseas (funny how I didn't really care all that much about that issue until just now -- I admit I liked the cheaper prices).

I sure as heck am not going to use their moneygram service.

If you have a similar story about Walmart's moneygram scam ripoff waste of time, please feel free to share.


  1. I had a similar experience--long, frustrating wait times, conversations with someone for whom English was not their first language, and a terrible connection, a rejection and required further inquiry--but was finally able to get the funds through even after the decline by starting all over. Unfortunately, by that time my college student (this was for a rent deposit) had to pick them up the next day and lost the apartment because someone got there first. Lesson learned--I got what I paid for (next time I'll pay the extra money and use Western Union).

    1. That's a good point -- with Walmart, you get what you pay for. Their moneygram service seems to be trying to skim off the low hanging fruit -- the simple transactions where Western Union's prices seem ridiculously high. But if it gets the least bit tricky, you can waste a lot of time with them.

      Although I can understand their approach (simple economics), the whole thing made me sick of Walmart period; still haven't gone back there.