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Thread: Western Union
11-26-07, 11:24 PM #1
ARMED with Morse code and the hot technology of the age, Western Union set out in 1851 to build an empire. In 10 years, it linked the United States from coast to coast.
But by 1992, the Internet age had arrived, and telegrams were as relevant as stagecoaches. The company sought protection in bankruptcy court. Western Union emerged from insolvency two years later to focus on its money transfer service, and it’s anything but bankrupt now, as Jason DeParle of the New York Times outlined recently.
From 320,000 locations worldwide, Western Union cultivates and caters to the world’s migrants, legal and illegal, helping them safely send money home.
In doing so, the company has become a mighty force again. It earns almost $1 billion a year.
“With five times as many locations worldwide as McDonalds, Starbucks, Burger King and Wal-Mart combined, Western Union is the lone behemoth among hundreds of money transfer companies,” DeParle wrote.
“Little noticed by the public and seldom studied by scholars, these businesses form the infrastructure of global migration, a force remaking economics, politics and cultures across the world.
“Last year, migrants from poor countries sent home $300 billion,” DeParle wrote, “nearly three times the world’s foreign aid budgets combined.”
The Inter-American Development Bank found in 2006 that 41 percent of the Latin Americans in the United States who used money transfer companies were here illegally.
Accordingly, Western Union develops its business without regard to the legal status of its customers. It has put money into groups that lobby for legalizing those who entered the United States illegally.
Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., who represents the district where the company’s headquarters are located, said Western Union’s activities fall into “a gray area” between excellent marketing and “aiding and abetting illegal immigration.”
That seems a fair observation.
Its unparalleled reach gives millions of migrants a safe way to transmit money, and may even increase the amounts sent. But critics have long complained about its fees, which can run from about 4 percent to 20 percent or more. And the company's lobbying for immigrant-friendly laws has raised the ire of people who say it profits from, or even promotes, illegal immigration.
Western Union tracks migrants so closely that it has made pitches to illegal immigrants just released from detention camps.
After settling a damaging lawsuit that accused it of hiding large fees, Western Union set out to recast its image, portraying itself as the migrants' trusted friend. Over the past four years, it has spent more than $1 billion on marketing, selectively cut prices and charged into American politics, donating to immigrants' rights groups and advocating a path to legalization for illegal immigrants.
Obviously, the debate over illegal immigration is more complicated than many Americans knew, and powerful forces are with the illegals. "Western Union wants to encourage illegal immigration in order to expand the number of people in their market."
11-27-07, 12:37 AM #2PeterJasonMN Guest
How else are homies and illegals' families supposed to get $$???
If I had my way there would be unannounced days were all international wire transfers such as this would get mega-taxed.
11-27-07, 01:18 AM #3
They don't give a damn about illegals as long as it turns a dollar.Do not war for peace. If you must war, war for justice. For without justice there is no peace. -me
We are who we choose to be.
R.I.P. Arielle. 08/20/2010-09/16/2012
11-27-07, 09:09 AM #4
STOP — Telegram era over, Western Union says
Instant-messaging of its day made obsolete by telephone, Internet
A Western Union driver heads to his car to deliver a message in an unknown city sometime in the 1910s. The company, formed in 1856, transmitted its final telegram last week.
DENVER - For more than 150 years, messages of joy, sorrow and success came in signature yellow envelopes hand-delivered by a courier. Now the Western Union telegram is officially a thing of the past.
The company formed in April 1856 to exploit the hot technology of the telegraph to send cross-country messages in less than a day. It is now focusing its attention on money transfers and other financial services, and delivered its final telegram on Friday.
“The decision was a hard decision because we’re fully aware of our heritage,” said Victor Chayet, a spokesman for the Greenwood Village, Colo.-based company. “But it’s the final transition from a communications company to a financial services company.”
Several telegraph companies that eventually combined to become Western Union were founded in 1851. Western Union built its first transcontinental telegraph line in 1861.
“At the time it was as incredible and astonishing as the computer when it first came out,” said Tom Noel, a history professor at the University of Colorado at Denver. “For people who could barely understand it, here you had the magic of the electric force traveling by wire across the country.”
In 1994, Western Union Financial Services was acquired by First Financial Management Corp. which First Data Corp. bought for $7 billion the following year. Last week, First Data said it would spin Western Union off as a separate company.
Telegrams reached their peak popularity in the 1920s and 1930s when it was cheaper to send a telegram than to place a long-distance telephone call. People would save money by using the word “stop” instead of periods to end sentences because punctuation was extra while the four character word was free.
Telegrams were used to announce the first flight in 1903 and the start of World War I. During World War II, the sight of a Western Union courier was feared because the War Department, the precursor to the Department of Defense, used the company to notify families of the death of their loved ones serving in the military, Chayet said.
With long-distance rates dropping and different technologies for communicating evolving — including the Internet — Western Union phased out couriers in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
By last year, only 20,000 telegrams were sent at about $10 a message, mostly from companies using the service for formal notifications, Chayet said.Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.
[George Washington (1732 - 1799)]
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