If you have ever planned and paid for a wedding you already know the responsibilities can become overwhelming. Now imagine you are a family member tasked with designing and buying the bride’s dress.
Maheen Raja of Willowbrook took on that duty for her future sister-in-law in 2015. She said Pakistani tradition often calls for the groom’s side to gift the bride’s wedding dress. In this case, the bride-to-be was Raja’s husband’s brother’s wife.
“In the Pakistani-Indian culture, what winds up happening is you give like ten outfits to the bride and then to her family and then just our own family had to get clothes made,” Raja said.
And because she had experience buying clothes directly from Pakistan, Raja worked with a tailor in Karachi to gather material and create the bride’s dress. The cost for the dress would be close to $1,000. So Raja transferred the money to the tailor’s bank via Western Union in August, 2015.
Raja said the tailor called several days later to explain that the money never arrived. So Raja wired yet another payment directly to a Western Union facility in Pakistan so the tailor could begin creating the dress.
The second transfer arrived without a glitch. The tailor designed the wedding dress. And the gown arrived in plenty of time for a beautiful wedding in Oak Brook.
But getting a refund from Western Union for Raja’s first transfer attempt proved more stressful than planning a wedding.
“Even now whenever I have to think about wiring money overseas I’m like, oh God, I really don’t ever want to have to go through that again,” Raja said.
She said she spent hours on the phone with the company trying to get information about a refund.
“Each time it would be like, ‘someone will call you back within a day’, and no one would call back,” Raja said. “It was just frustrating on that end.”
Raja said she was eventually told her refund had been processed in 2015. But Raja said she and her husband looked through their bank statements and saw no record of a refund.
Then, Raja said she saw a sign in the form of NBC 5 Responds.
“I was driving down 294 and I saw the big billboard that said, ‘do you have consumer problems?’ Raja recalled.
NBC 5 Responds contacted Western Union and Raja soon received an email from the company that said the before-mentioned refund in 2015 had been rejected by a bank in Pakistan. The funds, according to the email, were reintegrated to Western Union.
A company spokesperson could not comment due to privacy obligations. Still, Western Union processed a $947 refund and Raja later picked up her cash at a Chicago area location.
“It’s definitely a weight off of our shoulders,” Raja said.