Western Union agents shortchange customers



BY REBECCA DEARDEN
LONDON

Western Union money transfer agents in Zimbabwe could be pocketing billions of Zimbabwean dollars-worth of small change every month, The Zimbabwean on Sunday has learned.

Customers tipped off the paper that agents were shortchanging on some transactions where amounts included coins. Although agents did not carry foreign currency coins, they should have paid out any remaining amounts in local currency.

In one example, £100 was paid in at a London branch. The amount reaching the branch in Harare was US$168.33, but the amount paid out to the client was US$168.

This shows that 33 cents were stolen. Personnel in the branch said they had no US coins, but they did not pay the remaining amount in Zimbabwean dollars either, said a customer.

Assuming that there are around 200,000 transactions a month from abroad to Zimbabwe and assuming further that the average amount stolen is 30 cents, the total amount Western Union clients are deprived of is US$60,000 a month. Quite a nice tip!

Western Union said their agents in Zimbabwe did not carry US coins, but were required to pay out any remaining US cents value in local currency in compliance with the law and regulations and, therefore, at the official rate.

At Western Union we conduct ourselves with the highest level of integrity in order to earn and keep the trust of our customers. We take any inference of misconduct in Zimbabwe on the part of one of our agents very seriously, said a statement from the company. We would advise the customer to direct any complaints regarding agent misconduct directly to Western Union to investigate in more detail.

A press spokesperson, Poppy Nagra, added that Western Union agents in the money transfer offices were not employed by the c

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