Juan Uys

A tale of two money transfers


I use GBP, and my contractor in Italy uses EUR, but we “talk” USD. The first payment came up, and I was recommended TransferWise by my friends in the trenches. I go online to TransferWise and select USD from the dropdown, and go through all the steps. Finally, TransferWise tells me to send them money in Estonia from my Internet banking account, which I do.

But — weird — I thought. Weren’t they supposed to make all this easier for me?

I open up a TransferWise chat with Jorgen in support and ask them if I had done something wrong. Yes, of course — I had to select GBP from the dropdown.

A bit of confusion ensues and my transaction on TransferWise gets cancelled, when instead I meant for them to decline anything coming into their Estonian account from my Barclays UK bank account. I then loose my connection, and end up with another agent called Monica whom I end up repeating the entire story to, and she says she’ll make a note with the payments team to decline my money.

Hang on, I think — why don’t I just phone Barclays and ask them to cancel the international transfer. It’s Sunday, after all. Nothing would’ve gone through yet.

“I don’t see anything, sir.” says Paul, the telephone support guy. Me neither. I little light goes off in my head: I must’ve forgotten the “Confirm” button on the last screen of the transfer. I always do this — pay myself my salary then wonder why it didn’t reach my personal account. (Thank goodness I’m the only employee!)

The problem is resolved. Bless the Barclays phone operator Paul, and bless TransferWise’s Jorgen and Monica.

It was all completely my fault, but still feel that in this day and age of modern online services like Barclays Internet banking and TransferWise, user experience issues should be fully addressed.

“We see you’re using USD. Is the source funds also USD?”. Or have a separate 3-way calculator.

Also, Barclays: that last confirm button is a major call-to-action, and should be high viz.

Now, I just have to remember to pay my contractor :-)

UPDATE 2015-06-16

Oh, bloody hell. An email from TransferWise. Thanks for nothing, Paul@Barclays!

Hi Juan,

Hope this email finds you well.

We have still received a deposit for 500 USD from you.
Please confirm if you wish us to proceed with the payment
#0123456 or we’ll refund it back to you to the originating
bank account.

But please be advised, that if we will issue a refund it will be
through a SWIFT payment, this involve extra cost so you will not
get exactly 500 USD back to the originating account.

- our bank will charge a fee (7 EUR) for the transfer
- intermediate banks will take a fee (anywhere between
10-20 USD each, up to 3 banks)
- your USD dominated bank may charge a fee for accepting an
international bank transfer (fee depends on your bank)

You can read more about SWIFT payments here.

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