One of the easiest ways to send to or receive money in Thailand is via Western Union. However, using Western Union’s transfer money services can also be expensive if you don’t read the fine print before you do. A friend in the US recently wanted to send me a few hundred dollars she’d owed me for a while. I wasn’t in need of the money but she insisted on repaying it and doing so by sending it to Thailand via Western Union. As neither of us had ever used Western Union’s services before, we presumed it would be easy and risk-free. Think again. If you don’t read the fine print when you use Western Union’s services to transfer money to Thailand (or anywhere else overseas for that matter), you could be in for a nasty shock and, in some cases, Western Union’s practices border on illegal.
Western Union’s High Fees – First of all, make sure you find out what fees you’ll be paying if you use Western Union to send money to Thailand. Probably one of the most expensive ways to do it, you could be shocked when they hand you your bill. Whereas sending money to a bank account overseas can be as little as $10 for a bank transfer charge, sending money via Western Union is far more expensive.
It’s also difficult to discover what the fees are, as they have this information well hidden on their website. Currently, sending as little as $1,500 via Western Union to most countries will cost you $125 in fees. Ridiculous when you consider the much cheaper price of most other money transfer services.
Hidden Fees – After you have filled in the ‘Send Money’ form on Western Union’s website, you will be asked for a message to the person you’re sending money to and a phone number where they can be reached. This is supposedly to authenticate the money transfer and make sure the correct person gets the money. Again though, Western Union doesn’t tell you if you use these two services, there will be another $7 charge.
Sure, there’s a section saying “Remove these charges” in the fine print but you’ve already decided to use the service by the time you figure out you actually have to pay for them.
Western Union Sells Your information to a Third Party – Also in the fine print, in teeny tiny writing, Western Union informs you they’ll sell your personal information to a third party unless you ask them not to. Now I thought, under US law, this information about selling your information had to be easy to find and understand? Not according to my friend, who said she almost missed the box she had to check telling Western Union not to do it.
Western Union Asks For Social Security Number – Eventually, when my friend went to hit the final button online to send money, she got a message saying the transfer hadn’t been made and to call Western Union.
When she called, among other personal information, she was asked for her social security number. At this point, my friend had already decided she’d had enough of Western Union and hung up the phone. There’s no reason they need to know your social security number when you’re paying by credit card, in fact, in the US, it’s illegal to require it for a credit card purchase or money transfer.
Considering also Western Union has call-centers all over the world, do you really want to hand your social security number to someone you’ve never met in the Philippines or in India?
There have also been allegations that Western Union hands over its customers’ personal information to US military intelligence, a fact most people using the service are probably blissfully unaware of.
Eventually, my friend just put money in my PayPal account,I transfered it to my bank accont in Thailand for a very minimal fee. After hearing of her experiences, I would never use Western Union and she sure as heck wouldn’t either.
If you’re still unsure about sending money to Thailand or anywhere else overseas via Western Union, do a quick search online. You’ll find website after website of unhappy Western Union customers complaining about fees, hidden fees, bad service and scams. Make up your own mind but, for me, I’ll starve before I’ll allow one of my friends or family to do what my friend tried to do last week.
As an addition, I checked Western Union before I wrote this review and, as my friend said, everything she experienced, and more, is on their website.