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Western Union Merchant Services 2023: Reviews & Complaints
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Western Union is a money transfer and communications company based in Meridian, Colorado. Founded in 1851, Western Union originally rose to prominence as a widely used telegraph service before adding its money transfer feature in 1871. In the late 1980s, Western Union shifted its primary focus from communications to financial services, eventually doing away with telegram delivery entirely. In 1995, the company was acquired by First Data (now Fiserv), another large, Colorado-based financial services company. First Data spun Western Union off into its own company in 2006, and Western Union now operates as an independent entity.
In 2022, Western Union finalized the sale of Western Union Business Solutions, which did most of its B2B payments, to Goldfinch Partners LLC and The Baupost Group, LLC. The resulting company is now known as Convera.
Western Union Payment Processing
As the inventor of the wire transfer, Western Union is primarily known for its bank transfer, money order, bill payment, and gift card services. However, the company launched a Business Solutions department in 2010 and has recently entered the mobile payments market through a self-branded app. Western Union now offers the ability for businesses to send and accept international ACH payments online through its WU EDGE service, and its app allows users to schedule wire transfers to most Western Union locations. It has also launched a sub-brand called “Speedpay” that offers various billing solutions for small businesses.
Prepaid Cards from Western Union
Western Union offers prepaid cards that can be used to store funds, make purchases, or withdraw cash. These cards provide a convenient and secure alternative to carrying cash and can be easily reloaded at various locations or online.
Western Union Mobile Services
In response to the growing digital trend, Western Union has developed a mobile application that offers most of the features available on their website. With this app, users can send money, track transfers, pay bills, and more, all from the convenience of their mobile device.
Western Union’s Business Solutions
For businesses, Western Union provides solutions designed to simplify the process of international transactions. These services include risk management, currency conversion, international payment options, and cash management solutions.
Western Union’s Money Orders
Another service offered by Western Union is money orders. This tool provides a reliable and convenient way to pay bills and send funds through the mail, offering a safer alternative to sending cash.
Location & Ownership
Western Union is headquartered at 7001 E. Belleview, Denver, CO 80237, although the BBB lists them at 7001 E. Belleview, Denver, CO 80237. Devin McGranahan is the CEO of Western Union.
Table of Contents
- Costs & Contract: Offers variable transfer fees on a large number of transfer types with…
- Complaints & Service: Complaints number over 1,000 on…
- BBB Rating: Has a “B” rating with the Better Business Bureau and has received 884 complaints and 102 reviews in…
- Sales & Marketing: Does not appear to employ independent sales representatives and has received a low number of…
Western Union Customer Reviews
Here's What Their Clients Say
|Total Online Complaints||1,000+|
|Live Customer Support||Yes|
|Most Common Complaint||Fraud|
High Complaint Total
There are thousands of negative Western Union reviews to be found online, and most of these complaints have been posted by people who were scammed through Western Union. However, given the nature of Western Union’s services and its large size and time in business, it is reasonable to expect a large complaint volume. If you have a Western Union review to make, please do so in the comment section below.
Some types of wire transfers sent through Western Union require very little in the way of identification by either the sender or the recipient. By far the most common type of fraud committed through Western Union occurs when a seller requests payment by Western Union, collects this payment at a Western Union location, and then never delivers the agreed-upon service. Since Western Union sometimes requires minimal identification (just the first and last names of both parties, a transaction number, and a security question in some cases), there is no way for the sender to recover his or her lost funds.
Western Union Warnings
Normally, this security flaw would severely damage a provider’s reputation, but Western Union fully discloses the potential hazards of sending an unsecured wire transfer through the company. The company even offers this page to help users protect themselves against fraud and provides support for these situations. For many users, Western Union is the only available option, and its loose transfer requirements can actually be a valuable feature for those who are underbanked.
Western Union Lawsuits and Fines
In January 2017, Western Union agreed to forfeit $586 million and enter into agreements with the Federal Trade Commission, the Justice Department, and the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices of the Middle District of Pennsylvania, the Central District of California, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the Southern District of Florida. As part of the agreement, Western Union admitted to “criminal violations including willfully failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program and aiding and abetting wire fraud.” The FTC’s order “prohibits Western Union from transmitting a money transfer that it knows or reasonably should know is fraud-induced, and requires it to:
- block money transfers sent to any person who is the subject of a fraud report;
- provide clear and conspicuous consumer fraud warnings on its paper and electronic money transfer forms;
- increase the availability of websites and telephone numbers that enable consumers to file fraud complaints; and
- refund a fraudulently induced money transfer if the company failed to comply with its anti-fraud procedures in connection with that transaction.”
Western Union began its first distribution of this forfeiture in an amount of approximately $153 million to over 109,000 victims located in the U.S. and abroad. In September 2020, it began its second distribution of approximately $147 million in funds to 33,000 victims in the U.S and abroad.
Western Union has also been fined a number of times for economic sanction violations, consumer protection violations, and anti-money laundering deficiencies.
Western Union Customer Support Options
As with other large money transfer services with overseas operations, Western Union has received some very severe complaints about its customer service. The company does appear to offer all-hours phone support to its users, but many complainants report difficulty reaching any kind of resolution without escalating their issues to management.
Western Union Customer Service Numbers
- (800) 325-6000 – Toll-Free General Customer Service
- (877) 989-3268 – Website Care
- (800) 877-8973 – For TTY Users
Other Support Options
- Live chat
After considering the full breadth of available complaints about the company, we have awarded Western Union a “C” in this category.
Western Union Online Ratings
Here's How They Rate Online
Note: We have adjusted this company’s BBB rating according to our own standards. To better understand why we adjust BBB ratings, please see our Rating Criteria.
Nearly 900 Complaints
Western Union currently has a “B” rating with the BBB and is not BBB-accredited. The company is showing a total of 884 complaints in the last 36 months. Only 294 of these 884 complaints were resolved by the company to the satisfaction of the merchant. The remaining 590 were resolved to the dissatisfaction of the merchant or received no final response.
What Users Say
Western Union also has 102 informal reviews on its BBB profile, 110 of which are negative while only 1 is positive in tone. The most recent review describes missing funds and poor customer service:
I’ve been using Western Union since 2017. I’ve sent anywhere from 4 transactions a month consisting of 50.00-2000.00. Never a problem until March 30, 2023. Sent my son ******. When he went to pick up, he was told at ****** Supermarket in *********, ** that, “There is a hold on the transaction. A random hold to check for compliance.” My son left and returned the next day and was told the money had been picked up. Immediately he called me to report the situation. I called the ** helpline and was told that my son needed to return to ****** and ask them to call agent services at ** and report the problem. ****** refused. Called ** and filed a complaint. Over 7 phone calls and 30 days later I am told that the case had been investigated. ** refuses to refund my ******. I’ll take suggestions from anyone suggesting how the money was picked up when it wasn’t. Do you think it is an internal problem with ** or ******? How was I scammed? I don’t know.
Business owners can avoid situations like this by working with a top-rated merchant service provider.
An “F” Performance
The BBB cites the 2017 FTC action against Western Union as the primary factor lowering its rating at this time. Taking into account the company’s high complaint volume, we have adjusted our rating to an “F.”
Western Union Fees, Rates & Costs
A Closer Look at The Contract
|Monthly & Annual Fees||N/A|
Western Union offers a wide variety of money transfer services for both business and personal use, and the fees associated with these services can vary depending on the type of transfer, the currency used, and the destination of the transfer. The company provides a price estimation tool that allows users to enter the details of a transaction and see the projected transaction fee, which is a useful resource before sending a payment.
Western Union Pricing Example
Western Union fees for a sample transaction are shown below, but you should note that the prices below should not be considered representative of all possible money transfers. In addition, these Western Union rates may have changed since this review’s publication.
Western Union Fees for a Sample $500 Transfer to New York City
|Payment Method||Delivery Method||Transfer time||Cost||Effective %|
|Credit/debit card, online||In-person cash pickup||Minutes||$45||9%|
|Bank account, online||In-person cash pickup||3 days||$10||2%|
|Bank account through WU Pay online billing||In-person cash pickup||3 days||$10||2%|
|Bank account, online||Bank account deposit||6 days||$5||1%|
|Credit/debit card, online||Bank account deposit||3 days||$25||5%|
|Cash, in person (expedited service)||In-person cash pickup||Minutes||$40||8%|
|Cash, in person (normal service)||In-person cash pickup||1-3 days||$28||5.6%|
|Cash, in person||Bank account deposit||3 days||$28||5.6%|
|Credit/debit card, mobile app||In-person cash pickup||Minutes||$45||9%|
|Bank account, mobile app||In-person cash pickup||3 days||$10||2%|
|Bank account through WU Pay online billing||In-person cash pickup||3 days||$10||2%|
|Bank account, mobile app||Bank account deposit||6 days||$5||1%|
|Credit/debit card, mobile app||Bank account deposit||3 days||$25||5%|
|Credit/debit card, phone call||In-person cash pickup||Minutes||$45||9%|
According to the information above, the transaction fees enforced by Western Union can range from 1% to 9% depending on transfer type and destination.
These fees may not apply to payments sent to or from businesses through Western Union’s Speedpay solution. Western Union’s business services are designed for businesses that process a large number of international transactions, and they will therefore fluctuate in price due to currency conversions and price differences within international supply chains. Western Union creates custom service packages for different business types, so potential clients should be sure to understand all associated costs of processing international payments through Western Union and compare them to other digital invoice payment processors.
Slower and More Expensive Than Competitors
Although the Western Union contract terms are favorable in the sense that it does not enforce long-term contracts or hidden fees (such as early termination fees or PCI compliance fees), the service does not compare favorably to its competitors in the money transfer space. Some mobile apps like Venmo or Square Cash allow users to transmit funds within one business day for no fee whatsoever, which is both faster and cheaper than most of Western Union’s options. Even so, Western Union can be a good choice for people who need to make quick, guaranteed payments that can be picked up in the form of cash at a specified location. It is not an especially affordable solution, though, for digital money transfers. We encourage business owners to check out our list of the providers of the best merchant services.
Western Union Employee Reviews & Sales Tacitcs
Should You Work For Them?
|Uses Independent Resellers||No|
|Discloses All Important Terms||Yes|
An Established Brand
Western Union appears to rely primarily on its widespread name recognition and physical locations across the country to attract business. The company’s agent program allows its agents to establish their own Western Union locations in order to increase the company’s territorial foothold. We have seen some Western Union reviews that accuse the company of nondisclosure or misrepresentation, but these instances appear to be mostly due to user error rather than deceptive tactics by sales agents.
No Deceptive Quotes
There is no evidence at this time that Western Union engages in misleading promotional strategies in its official materials, and we therefore award it an “A” rating. This compares favorably to our list of best credit card processors. For a better understanding of how Western Union’s rates and fees compare to traditional credit card processors, we recommend reading “Fee Sweep“.
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