As Experienced, Written By K.B. Elonge – Wednesday February 27, 2019.
I am very angry; partly because of the unfairness of life. The fact that a child would be born, lose both parents, become a victim of rape by her guardian from the age of eight and then is diagnosed with cancer and waist trauma and passes away after a painful medical process at age ten.
This makes me angry. But when you add to this, the madness called Western Union, then my reasons for being very angry to become so complete, my anger materializes into something tangible.
For a while now, I have made use of other money transfer agencies because Western Union seems to constantly redefine what it means to be ridiculous, pedantic and snobbish.
Their services are always unnecessarily bureaucratic and particular about very little, almost insignificant details. And then there is the staff; good lord – a more pathetic group has never been assembled under one umbrella in Cameroon.
Here I am in Makepe, Douala; the economic capital of Cameroon; a town where putrid gutters meet stinky armpits, reckless bike riders, traffic jams, boisterous car hoots, thieves and rude hawkers. It is a nightmare that has been geographically defined.
And here too, Western Union just so happens to be littered all over. I walk into one of its empty offices and meet a girl seated behind a wall of glass, focused on her phone.
I greet and it takes her a moment to raise her head, grudgingly toss her phone to her side and give me a rather unsettling smile. Then she hands me a form.
After filling the form and attaching my ID and its photocopy, she looks back at me and directs me to another Western Union branch because she did not have the complete amount of money needed.
The only place this type of insanity is tolerable is with call box operators who provide mobile money services. But coming from Western Union, I felt stunned.
So I board a taxi and got to the next branch and presented the form as directed by the previous lady. There are two customers in this branch; they both look quiet and laden with frustration like they were at a funeral service.
The lady behind the glass wall is fat and toothy, her nose wrinkled mid-air like she smelled a fart and since I was standing in front of her, I could not help but feel like a fart.
She bore an instantly vexing disposition; the type that fits the profile of rude people. This one was not buying my story that I had been directed by a different Western Union agent, so she called the number on the Western Union form and got her confirmation.
I could sense, she hoped I was lying. A few seconds later, she shoves the form through a square opening in the glass separating us and tells me my reference number is wrong.
It turned out a few minutes later, after a tedious back and forth, that she had in fact entered the numbers wrong. Then as if to prove that she would get the last laugh in this exercise of withholding money from its beneficiary, she told me my ID card did not contain a “first name” even though all the names corresponded to what she had in her machine.
In a nutshell, I had to call the sender to indicate that I have no “first name”. Note that the order of my name was correct, the spellings correct, I had the reference correct and a security question correct too. However, since it was not indicated from overseas that the receiver has no “first name”, I could not be paid.
Which got me to ask what she meant by “first name”? In which case, this lady, tells me without blinking that “first name is English name or Christian name. An example of a Christian name is Michael.”
I take out time to explain to her that I am neither English nor is Michael a Christian name. It is, in fact, a Hebrew name. Thirdly, by her definition therefore, I could not use Western Union services because I had all Bafaw names, no adulteration. Well, she refused to pay.
I choose to end the nightmare by traveling to Buea the next day, hoping that maybe I will experience saner people. Well, I got to the Western Union office at Mile 17 and meet a woman who looks like she is in her late forties; you know the type that age has rendered very cynical and suspicious about the humanity and humans.
This one is not bothered about my name or lack of the
This lady’s problem is with the sender’s name. The sender has foreign names, she says. Of which I confirmed that the sender was American. She then tells me that it is a matter of policy that I have to pay charges because the sender has a foreign name.
I hardly ever dream, yet here I am thinking I am in a long trance in which the world has been re-calibrated into a new default setting based on stupid utterances and illogical people.
I tell her the sender paid
However, if I were to be paid the full amount, I would need to show proof of the type of
Secondly, I was curious to know how deducting money from beneficiaries stemmed scamming. It is itself a scam. It is also fascinating that they don’t see how offensive it is that their default position as a business is to treat all customers as scammers.
More importantly, it means Western Union cannot serve persons involved in the international business since their partners would have foreign names or maybe they would use it as a means of stealing from beneficiaries.