Sunday, November 7, 2010

How I learned to love Western Union

My wife is in Australia and enjoying her time with our new grandson and my daughter. Before she left, she went to the credit union to get some Australian money to help pay for a holiday for Danielle when we were going down in February. The Credit Union said they would have to order  it in; we talked it over and I said, lets increase your line of credit and you can use your debit card for cash. Great idea, I thought.
On the morning after Colleen arrived in Australia--the trip took over 33 hours and is another post--I received a phone call from the Vancity saying that Colleens Debit card had been cancelled due to skimming, at one of the stores in Canada she had visited before she left.

So how to solve the problem. I asked the Credit Union and they gave me a couple of solutions. The first was that they would send me a new card and pin for Colleen and I would send it to her in Australia. The manager of the Credit Union I talked to said the new card would arrive in a couple of days. I thought this might work. The second solution would be for Colleen to phone the Credit Union and they would activate her card for 30 minutes. As Colleen is in a small community (Sawmill Settlement) and getting to a bank machine meant travelling for an hour, this would not work.

We had another solution, I thought, which was to use her Sears MasterCard to get cash. Colleen had just activated her new card and had phoned Sears MasterCard to let them know that she would be in Australia. The woman she talked to said to Colleen, you don't have to tell us that, to which Colleen said she thought it was a good idea. The woman at Sears MasterCard said she would make a note on the card. Well she forgot, or didn't want to be bothered to make the  note. So, in Australia, Colleen goes to use her MasterCard, since she had just received a new pin, she was slow in entering the numbers, to make sure she was using the correct ones. She received a message that she was not authorized.

After a bit of investigation and some phone calls we discovered that her Sears MasterCard had been cancelled because their security that there was fraud on her card as it was being used in Australia. Colleen had bought her ticket to Australia using her Sears MasterCard, she had phoned and asked that a travel notice be put on her card, to prevent this from happening. So no access to cash through MasterCard. Security is good at Sears MasterCard, too bad the rest of the customer service was bad. I would say incompetent, but that might be too harsh.

We are back to option A, send a new Debit card to Australia, however, when I received the new card today it was a replacement card for me, not Colleen. I talked to Damian at Vancity and he said human error, apologized and suggested I use Western Union to wire some cash to Colleen and he gave me a small credit to help pay some of the cost of doing that.

Western Union here I come. Colleen will be discussing the lack of service with Sears MasterCard when she returns from Australia, I am sure the conversation will be interesting.

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