Thought I would go for a UA-worthy title. The last few hours have just been ridiculous. I just have to document this even though it's late and no one is up.
So I get an e-mail from a friend earlier today. He is out of the country at the moment and needed help. Because of previous credit problems, this guy lives a cash existence. No bank accounts, no credit cards. I live a "plastic and numbers on the computer monitor" existence so I knew nothing of living in the world of cold hard cash.
So my friend said he forgot to take some of the cash he had for this trip; he said it's sitting in his apartment. He doesn't lie to me, so I have no problem believing him. He said he ran out of cash and needs a few hundred dollars to get him through his trip, so could I send him money via Western Union? No problem, I said.
So I get on the Western Union web site and it looks really easy to send money. So I create an account and start the process of sending money. I get through several pages of forms, and hit the last button to submit. Rejected! I try it a couple of more times but get the same result. There's a cryptic error code but no explanation. A little while later I get a call from Visa Security about a suspicious attempted transaction. Fair enough, I'm actually fine that they are extra cautious about an unusual transaction (I've never done this before) to send cash overseas. So I confirm that it was me doing the transaction, and they said that it will be approved next time I do the transaction.
So I get back on the web site and try again. Rejected! So I call Visa back and tell them that I thought this was cleared up. They said that it wasn't rejected by them, but possibly Western Union was locking me out because of the earlier failed transaction. So I called up Western Union and she asked me what the error code was on the screen, and she confirmed that because of the earlier failed transaction, I was locked out for 24 hours. Gee, they could have actually put the explanation next to the error code, but I guess that was too much to ask!
So now I gotta find a local location to do it in person. And I discover I can't use my credit card, only a debit card (in some locations) or cash. So I can't even get Amazon points for my trouble. So I go back to the Western Union web site and search for nearby locations. There's one real close in a Safeway, open until 9:00 pm. It's getting late but I think I have plenty of time. I get there a little after 8:00 pm, and after waiting for the person in customer service to explain several times to the guy in front of me that you have to BUY 2 items THEN you get the 3rd item free, I finally get up to the counter only to be told that they could only do Western Union transactions until 8:00 pm! What?????!!!!!! I said that the web site said they could do it until 9:00 pm, but she said they couldn't do it after 8:00 pm.
So now I had to go back to my apartment and find another location that's open hopefully until 10 or 11. I noticed in the search that there are many locations in a nearby town, but this is a town that I wouldn't get out of my car at night time, so I look in another direction. I find one location that looked good and was open later, so I call them up and asked if they could do a money transfer (some locations only do a subset of services). The guy seemed confused and wasn't sure if they could do a money transfer, and then a few moments later said that they couldn't do it. So I keep looking, and find another location that's open later, so I call them and ask them if they could to a money transfer, and amazingly, it was another location that couldn't do it!
Finally I find a place that is open late and the guy said they could do it! Yay! Right before I hung up I asked if I could use a debit card. He said no, they can't handle debit cards. OK, I'm glad I asked, now I need to find an ATM nearby. So I google for banks and find two nearby banks, so I hope one of them will have an ATM. I drive to that area, and the first bank I go to does have an ATM, so I get my cash, and I'm all set. So I go over to "Clyde's Liquor and Check Cashing" to do the deed. I step up to the counter and said I need to do a money transfer. Dude says he can't do it. What?????!!!!!! I just called a half hour earlier and the guy on the phone said I could! The guy behind the counter acted like he had just started his shift, and said that I talked to someone else. He said that the computer system was down and he couldn't do it! AAAAaaaarrrrrrrggggggghhhhhh!
So now after a few hours of aggravation—let's see, that's three or four failed attempts on the web site, two calls with Visa Security, one call with Western Union, several calls to Western Union locations, one visit to an ATM, and two failed location visits—I just have to wait until tomorrow.
My friend will survive, but he sounded like he could have really used the cash today (when he sent the first e-mail it was morning for him).