Have you ever used MoneyGram?
I needed to pay some money to a friend in Moldova for services he’s provided to one of my businesses. Watch this bit carefully: the services have already been provided and I want to pay for those services that have already been provided. This is a genuine transaction.
Why have I stated that so clearly?
MoneyGram doesn’t seem to be able to get its head around it.
Sending money to Moldova is difficult because of the criminal cretins who enjoy ripping off non Moldavians. You know the types, Moldavian men who make lonely women fall in love with them then ask them for money; and Moldavian women (usually men disguised as women) who tell lonely men they will marry them and have their babies but they need money for food and airfare.
Most Moldavians are regular people like you and I. But the fraudsters have spoiled it for the good, honest people of Moldova. Indeed, I met the lad I’m trying to pay through a priest, Vasile Filat, for whom I built a website many years ago. I received timely payment. I trust the lad I’m trying to pay.
Sadly, PayPal and many online payment options are closed to Moldavians or there usage is severely restricted in Moldova.
Bank transfers are available but the processing fees are ridiculous.
But I digress…
I chose to use MoneyGram. What a mistake!
MoneyGram currency transfers should take 30 minutes to succeed. That’s what the writing on the MoneyGram website says.
This one has taken 5 days, 1 email and 4 phone calls.
When the lad I employed went to collect his money – an hour after I’d sent it – he was told the payment had not been processed so was unavailable. Talk about dangling the juicy red carrot in front of his nose.
I immediately emailed MoneyGram.
The next day, the lad tried to pickup his money again. This time he was told the transfer had been blocked by MoneyGram.
Now this is my money that I’m sending to someone for services already rendered. Understand how peeved I was at this point.
I phoned MoneyGram to find out more. I was told MoneGram didn’t feel comfortable about the transaction because “it is a business transaction.” Granted, I’d listed the reason for the payment as “Payment for software development.”
To help MoneyGram feel a little more comfortable about the transaction I said, “I put it down as a business transaction so I could put the payment against my tax. The payment is actually a donation in recognition and gratitude for help received with one of my websites.” This worked. Transaction unblocked…
… 10 minutes later, MoneyGram phoned me to tell me they had received an email from me and that they could not process the transaction because it is a business transaction. I seethed with frustration. I do not like not paying for good service and I especially hate paying for the lack of service currently being received from MoneyGram.
Vexed, I told the MoneyGram rep that I’d resolved this matter less than 20 minutes earlier. A few “putting you on holds” later and the rep agreed to process the transaction.
The following day…
RING RING, RING RING… Another MoneyGram rep on the line to follow up my email. Again I was told the transaction would not be going through. Another 30 minutes of me bollocking them and not accepting apologies and being put on hold, and MoneyGram again agreed to let me transfer the money. My money. My payment to my ‘friend’.
Today, my ‘friend’ went again to collect my ‘donation’ to him.
Transaction not allowed.
I’d gotten his name back-to-front. I’d put his surname where his forename should be. I knew I had. I couldn’t believe it.
A fourth call to MoneyGram and I canceled the payment. I’d had enough of explaining and arguing. Will receive a refund for the full amount I paid (including processing fee). Now I need to find an alternative payment route to Moldova.
We would use a bank wire but the process goes through a middle country that takes a huge chunk out of the transfer.
My newly opened MoneyBookers account needs to be verified before I can load funds to it. I wish I could transfer from PayPal to MoneyBookers then to Moldova.
what else can I use that’s trustworthy and quick. Maybe the Post office (and risk it getting ‘lost’) or perhaps I’ll fly over and hand deliver it (need a holiday after all this). However I pay it, I’ll pay my friend extra to make up for the trouble he has suffered while trying to collect it
It’s been fun.
Things I’ve learned from This Cockup
When sending money though MoneyGram:
- Never, ever, ever say it’s a business transaction. Always list it as a ‘donation’.
- Never admit you don’t know the recipient personally. Tell them you’re related and have met.
- Never email to complain about a transaction not going through on time.
- Always make sure the recipient’s name is correct.
- Use your real details as the sender in case you need to cancel the transaction (I did use my real details).
- MoneyGram is stressful. Very stressful. Very, very, very STRESSFUL.
- Use a different payment method if available.
Please don’t be shy. Let loose and tell me your adventures with MoneyGram and other payment gateways to Moldova, the Ukraine or elsewhere. I’d be delighted to see how mad they make you.