Monday, July 22, 2013

An Online Shopping Solution thanks to Western Union

Have you always wanted to shop at Amazon:


or Net-a-Porter:

but can’t, because: 
  1. You are always close to the brink of going over your credit card limit 
  2. You do not have a credit card
  3. You have a willing accomplice who will shop for you but you do not have a US bank account or Paypal account that you can do online transfers with.
Well, I found a great workaround for you. *wink wink!* 

Thanks to Western Union, who invited me to try out their Send Money Abroad Service, I saw for myself how fast, easy and reliable it is for anyone to shop and pay for purchases abroad even without a credit/debit card or a bank account.

All I needed was: 
  1. A friend who was happy to shop for me, in this case my good friend Me-an 
  2. A valid photo ID and 
  3. some shopping money 
Curious to know how this goes? Here’s what I did.

STEP 1: I emailed Me-an a list of the things I wanted her to buy. To make it easier for her, I sent a screencap of my actual shopping cart.

Here’s a tip: To save your friend some time, after all she is doing you a favor, register for an account and keep everything you want in your cart. Then, give her the password so she can simply check out for you. 

STEP 2: Upon checkout, and receipt of order confirmation, Me-an gave me the total amount charged for my purchase.

STEP 3: I went to my nearest Western Union agent so I can send Me-an my payment:

I filled out an International “Send Money” form:

I submitted the filled-out form along with just one, yes one, ID. In this case, my driver’s license.

You may submit any valid ID such as any one of these. For the full list of acceptable IDs, click HERE

The lady at the counter asked me if I wanted to send dollars or pesos. I chose to have pesos converted to US $, so she gave me the peso conversion of the amount I wanted to send.

Remember to ask how they computed the amount, just so you know.

I was then asked to pay the service fee, which in my case was $14, based on this table:

Yes, given this fee structure, it makes more sense to send bigger amounts to justify the cost of sending

I was asked to take a look at the receipt and to verify the information. Seeing no need for corrections, I signed it. 

The lady encircled the MTCN number, which is the reference number that Me-an needed to mention when picking up the money I sent her. 

I then texted Me-an the MTCN, and gave her the complete name as signed in the 'To Send Money' form, and the amount I sent. 
STEP 4: Me-an messaged me to say she got the money. Woohoo! Easy as pie!

While it took Me-an a few days to claim her money, she actually could have received it minutes after I gave her the MTCN number. Minutes vs 2-4 days if sent via bank? Huge difference. 

Apart from the ease and speed of sending money via Western Union, it is also safe in the sense that you can track the status of your money online or through the customer service hotline. 

It is very convenient to send and receive money too because there are close to 490,000 Western Union locations worldwide, most of which are open 7 days a week vs. a bank which is only open on weekdays and during banking hours. 

Which only means why just shop in the US when you can shop anywhere in the world? For as long as you have friends and family all over who will indulge your shopping requests, there are no holds barred. Which is both good news and bad news, depending on how you look at it. 

Haha and hala!

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