Update: After 4 grueling months and having filed a formal complaint with Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the payment was reissued and I was able to claim the money. I have briefly mentioned about it here.
As for whatever happened with Western Union, I have no idea. To date, I still keep on getting emails that this is still going on. Apparently, Western Union has done nothing to eradicate this fraud and inside job that has been going on within their system.
It was Tuesday last week when my husband accompanied me to GMA7 Compound to forward my case against Western Union to the radio station. Specifically, Aksyon Oro Mismo with Gani Oro. It was last April when I first had an appointment with them but when my lawyer served Western Union a demand letter (via email), we thought we would give them time to respond.
It was only recently that we learned that Western Union, especially the supposedly head of the investigation team, Cyrus Valmadrid with Operator No. 472 blatantly lied to me and my lawyer about Western Union not having a local office. I repeatedly told him that no business can operate if it does not have a local office. I don’t need to finish law to know this. I had Business Law subject in Commerce. They gave me all the excuses they can get. Even said that it is only through email that they correspond with clients. In itself, that lie was an insult to the common people.
For those of you who are not in the know, my mom blogged about it last week. Yes, she spared me the pain of enumerating the things I went through because of this inside job in Western Union. This is her post published via InMySolitude.info.
That’s one of the television ads in the Philippines of Western Union, the giant international money transfer facility that many people have learned to trust in sending money to their loved ones and one that is also being used by many individuals all over the world for their money transfer transactions.
The Western Union Mission Statement says: “We do business each day with absolute integrity, honesty and passion, partnering as a team to meet our consumers’ needs.“
So, is your money safe with Western Union? Are you sure it is a reliable money transfer facility? Please read on.
My daughters have received wedding cash gifts from friends and relatives in other countries using the Western Union money transfer facility, and because of that, I have so much trust in the facility. What’s more, I also heard about people receiving remittances through this facility and they have expressed their satisfaction.
But more than three months ago, something very devastating happened that resulted in the erosion of my trust in Western Union. My eldest daughter was cheated out of her payout which she used to receive regularly through this facility. My daughter is a work from home mom and she earns by working using the internet. Every month, she would receive a notice from Google Adsense informing her that her payout was already sent to Western Union, and she then would go straight to the facility to claim the exact amount without any problem.
But three months ago, when Google sent her payout through Western Union, my daughter was out of the country (March 26-April 3, 2012). The amount of US$6,267.97 was sent to her through Western Union on March 27, 2012, and it would be available for pick up on March 28, 2012. So hours after she returned to the Philippines on April 3, 2012, she went straight to Western Union to pick up her money, but to her dismay, she was told by the teller that someone picked it up on March 30, 2012. She was in Cambodia on that day and there was no way that she could have claimed the payment.
Google uses a security feature that when my daughter would access her account, a security code is sent to her mobile device and that security code should be entered for access to be allowed. She would need to enter her security code whenever she logged in to her account. Having received no security code all the time that she was overseas because her phone was on roaming mode, it was not possible that her account was hacked. So it is a big possibility that there was some kind of an inside job within the Western Union branch here in the Philippines that apparently released her payout.
Even the Western Union representatives were convinced that my daughter was the rightful recipient because of all her proofs. But they insisted that that they could not give her the money because they are only answerable to Google because of the privity of contract issue.
Western Union representatives did not act immediately after my daughter told them about her case, but after she told them that she would make it her advocacy to reveal to the public her issue with them, it was only then that they promised to make an investigation.
Later, after a thorough investigation, Western Union admitted that they made a mistake in releasing the money to someone who was not the real Jennifer Aspacio, and that they had already returned the money to Google, and that my daughter should communicate with Google to resend the payout to her.
My daughter asked Western Union to provide her with a proof that they really returned the money to Google, but Western Union refused to give a proof, claiming that it was against their policy. My daughter has suffered much inconvenience, damage and prejudice, apart from mental anguish and serious anxiety. The amount that she was supposed to receive was not all for her indulgence. Much of that amount would go to pay for advertising campaign expenses as an internet marketer.
My daughter is the one who is supposed to write this blog, but she told me that she does not want to go through the mental anguish that she had gone through three months ago that resulted in many sleepless nights for her, and so I am compelled to do this for her.
The refusal of Western Union to give the money to my daughter in spite of the fact that it was already established that my daughter is the true legitimate recipient is an IMMORAL ACT. Why did they have to return the money to Google, when they could just simply give it to my daughter, and that would solve the problem? And what’s more, Western Union refuses to give a proof that they indeed had returned the money to Google.
My daughter is a hard-working wife and mother, wanting only the best for her family. She doesn’t deserve this kind of treatment from a giant company like Western Union.
The hubby was able to record from the car speaker my interview with Gani Oro. Sorry for the muffled audio quality. Western Union not wanting to go on air with us that day tells us a lot. Here are the audio clips from my Aksyon Oro Mismo with Gani Oro visit.
Thanks to Aksyon Oro Mismo and Mr. Gani Oro for accommodating me and my case. I met with a few other ladies who went there to ask for help as well and most of them left with their case having a hopeful ending. Mine was a more complex case though. But they did not leave me hanging. They handed me a referral letter addressed to the deputy director of BSP. May this also serve as a warning to people who are abroad who use Western Union for their remittances.
But for now, as I have already forwarded my case to BSP and filed a formal complaint against Western Union, we will see if Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) will have enough teeth to do something about this financial insitution which they are supposed to regulate. We will keep you posted. For now, Western Union is given 10 banking days to respond. It is easy to see that this is a modern day case of David vs. Goliath.
My beef with WU is simple:
1. After the investigation and Western Union has proven that I am the rightful recipient and has admitted their erroneous payment, why did they not release the money to me?
2. And whoever that person is who stole my identity, I think I have the right to know the details as it was my identity that was stolen and I was the person ROBBED of that money. Is that so difficult to understand, Western Union? If it was not because of the inside job that your people have admitted to having happened in that 24 hour branch in Quezon City, I would have gotten hold of my money the day I went there to claim it.
3. Why vehemently LIE about not having a LOCAL OFFICE? The BSP officers themselves told us upfront that this is a LIE. No business can operate in this country if a local office does not exist. Do you really think so low of common people like us?
Western Union is obviously still very arrogant to this day regardless of the shame campaign. It is short of them saying, “people will still use our facility whatever you say we did.” Western Union, just like Goliath, your arrogance will put you right down where you belong. If I don’t find justice here on earth where corruption presides, I have a God that will eventually balance the scales.
Thank you again, Gani Oro of Aksyon Oro Mismo for empowering common people like us to fight for our rights and speak up for those who can’t.