Last weekend I found myself in a situation where I urgently needed to get some funds across to South Africa. That being the case, a traditional bank transfer wasn’t an option which meant having to turn to a service that avails transfers to recipients within minutes.
I’m not new to using these services as I have in the previously used Western Union to make the transfer. At that point in time it was more a case of walking into an agent, filling out the necessary paperwork, handing over the cash and letting the person on the other end of the transfer know that the money was available for pick up.
They have advanced since then and now have an online option which I have tried a couple of times. On one of those occasions, I did run into issues with the transfer and had to verify my details in person which was a bit of an inconvenience.
One other thing that has happened in this space with the progression of time is that a number of other providers have set up shop. That said, I did a bit of research to see who else provided a similar service and offered competitive rates. I eventually settled on WorldRemit.
As far as rates goes, WorldRemit had pretty good rates when compared to Western Union and MoneyGram where at the time of transfer, one New Zealand Dollar would get you the following:
- Western Union: 0.6187279 (USD) (this didn’t make it very transparent given that the transfer was to South Africa.
- MoneyGram: 7.949415 (ZAR)
- WorldRemit: 8.48795 (ZAR)
Based on the recipient receiving an amount of lets say R2000 (for ease of use), the fees for a cash pick up were are as follows:
- Western Union: NZ$42.00
- MoneyGram: NZ$22.00
- WorldRemit: NZ$9.99 (First transaction free – see end of post for fee free details)
Given the currency conversion rates and fees charged by the different providers, to make a transfer where the recipient receives approximately R2000, the total to pay was as follows:
- Western Union: NZ$292.00
- MoneyGram: NZ$272.00
- WorldRemit: NZ$245.62 – NZ$9.99 = NZ$235.63 (First transaction free)
As far as parting with my money went, I was pretty happy with what WorldRemit had to offer because their rates and fees were significantly better than what was offered by the other providers.
Sign up is pretty simple and straight forward with all thats being required to create an account being your name (with the first and last name being exactly as they are shown on your legal document), email address and password. Address and phone number are required later down the line.
For the transfer process, you are taken to a page where you select the country you would like to send to and the type of service you would like to use. By type of service they mean how you would like the money to be received. The available options are bank deposit, cash pickup, mobile money, mobile airtime top-up and home delivery (Philippines only). The available receiving options vary from country to country but the options that they have available means you pretty much spoilt for choice in a number of locations.
During the transfer process, they send the usual confirmation emails and on top of that, they send a confirmation txt to me the sender and a message to the recipient to inform them that they have some money available to pick up along with a PIN number to present at the pickup location. This is nice and convenient as you don’t have to communicate the details of the transaction to the recipient.
A short while after completing my first transfer, I received an email informing me that in order to process future transactions, I needed to provide them with a valid photo ID. This is a step that I usually find a hassle but with them,
In this case it was a simple and easy process of following a link in the email which takes you through to a page where you supply them with your ID either by uploading images that you have on file of using your webcam or smartphone camera to take a photo of your ID.
This is a process that should have been nice and easy but the point where we ran into a bit of trouble. When the recipient went to pick up their cash, they were told that their name was spelt incorrectly and this needed to be amended.
But, as far as I and the customer service representative I spoke to about the issue was concerned, everything was in order. The CSR then emailed the agent in South Africa to inform them that everything was in order and to release the funds.
This is something that was easier said than done because the agent (or should I say the particular person there at the time) seemed to have some sort of complex because they informed the recipient that they had to wait because of the name change that had been made (when there wasn’t one made) and then all of a sudden their system went offline meaning more of a wait. When it did come back online they for some reason said that they couldn’t complete the transaction. It now happened to conveniently after closing time and they told the recipient who has now been there for an hour that they had to return on the next business day which was Monday.
I sent an email to WorldRemit about the situation and to express my disappointment in the service that was received.
Fast forward a couple of days to the recipient returning to try once more to pickup the cash and they are told that the transaction doesn’t exist. Once again, I had to get on the phone and this time around i requested the CSR to call the agent in SA about the situation.
It is at this point that it became apparent that the agent had some sort of personal issue against the recipient. They told the CSR that they were trying to get a hold of them yet the recipient was in their store and right in front of them. It was also round about this time that I finally got a response to the email that I sent informing me that they had been in touch with the agent and the funds were ready to collect.
So, at the end of the day it was an agent issue that made the pickup more painful than it needed to be. However, that said, even though two different entities were involved in the end to end process, this goes down as a WorldRemit transaction and the actions of their partners has an impact on their reputation.
As far a customer service is concerned, the wait times on the phone were a little lengthy (10 – 25 mins to speak to a human). But, when I did speak to someone they did all that they could have done to resolve the issues. As far as the email went, it was a bit of a while before I got a response. But then again it was sent over the weekend and they would have had to wait for them to start off their working week in SA.
All in all, I would say that I was pretty happy with their service bar the issues faced with the cash pick up. This something that you won’t come across if you select a service option where you will have little or no human interaction such as a bank deposit or mobile money. If you need to send money across borders and you haven’t given WorldRemit a go, i’d say give them a go and see how it works out for you.
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