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Author Topic: My experience with USD  (Read 1417 times)
christop
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March 23, 2013, 04:19:40 AM
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Warning: rant ahead.

For the last few days I've been struggling with transferring USD to a Bitcoin exchange. I opted to go with ZigGap to buy Bitcoins quickly and easily (or so I thought). This is story of what I went through yesterday.

I have Bank of America checking and savings accounts and a Wells Fargo savings account. I needed to liberate my funds from those institutions so I could test the Bitcoin waters with a part of my cash. First I attempted to withdraw cash from my BofA savings account, but I apparently didn't set up a PIN (or forgot it) for my ATM card, so I used my debit card (which is linked to my checking account) instead and then later transferred the money from my savings account to my checking account online. So far so good. I had my cash in hand and was ready to send it off in exchange for Bitcoins.

So with ZigGap I had to "pay a bill" to ZipZap through MoneyGram. I found a V-com kiosk at a 7-Eleven convenience store which supports MoneyGram and followed all the steps on the screen (call the V-com number, wait on hold for a few minutes, speak with a MoneyGram representative, needlessly give a bunch of personal info, put cash in machine), but the kiosk said it was "temporarily unavailable", cancelled my transaction, and said to try again later. I waited about ten minutes (that's how long the MoneyGram person told me to wait) and tried again, but it still didn't work. Then I drove a couple miles to a Speedy Cash which could do MoneyGram. They wanted me to apply for some kind of account there, which even required providing my SSN. I said "no thanks" and found another V-com kiosk at another 7-Eleven. I tried the same stuff there as before but it was still "temporarily unavailable". I tried it a couple more times with the same result, except on the third attempt it didn't even return my cash! I had to call the V-com support line to report this problem. They said they would send out a tech to clear the jam and then call me later with instructions to receive my money.

While I waited for their call I decided to withdraw cash from my Wells Fargo account. I found a WF ATM inside a nearby grocery store but I forgot my PIN. Sad I've never had to use that PIN before, even though I could've sworn I used the same PIN as my BofA card. I called the WF help line and they said that I could reset my PIN only in person at a branch (not even online). I didn't want to wait until tomorrow (branches were already closed), so I was then going to transfer my money to my BofA account online and withdraw cash from a BofA ATM.

A few days prior I setup my BofA savings account as a recipient for sending money from my WF account online. WF said that verifying my BofA account access would take *2-3 days* (they do a "trial deposit verification").

Fast forward back to yesterday. After verifying on Wells Fargo online that I actually do have access to my own account I tried to send my whole savings account ($300) to BofA. Nuh-uh, no can do. They said I could send only $297 because there's a $3 fee to transfer outside the bank, and it would take about *3 business days* to complete. Are they still driving stage coaches across the state to transfer boxes of cash or something? I decided to suck it up and wait until I could visit a branch to reset my ATM card's PIN, or just withdraw my cash there and close my account while I'm at it.

That concludes yesterday (and before).

Today I got a phone call from a MoneyGram (or it could have been V-com) representative, and they gave me a reference number and told me to go to a MoneyGram teller to get my money back that was eaten by the V-com kiosk.

This evening I went to that same Speedy Cash that I went to yesterday and had to open an account with them (providing my SSN and everything--ick), otherwise they charge a 5% fee for receiving cash (cash that was already mine that the stupid V-com machine didn't give back to me). So I did all that, and the teller gave me a MoneyGram check, which I had to endorse and give right back to her so she could give me cash. I did get my cash back, and it took only 15 minutes or so!

I fully expected that trying to pay with cash would be slightly inconvenient, but that would be an understatement!

Let's recap:

- Sending money electronically between banks incurs a fee and a delay of about a week or more.
- Sending money through MoneyGram is relatively fast and free, but on the other hand, ZipZap charges a fee ($3.95 plus a percentage of the amount sent) probably to cover their costs of receiving that money through MoneyGram. On the other other hand, it's inconvenient to have to use a kiosk or talk to a teller and give a bunch of personal information. It's also somewhat inconvenient if you don't already have your money in cash form first (I think MoneyGram charges a fee for paying with a debit card).
- I can perform certain tasks with my bank account(s) only when a bank branch is open.

These types of activities really should be easy, fast, and have minimal or no fees, and in the case of sending cash, should not require any personal information, yet I bet most people think these fees and delays are "normal" and "just the way it is".

I think it's past time to revamp the money system. Bitcoin and similar "virtual" currencies have demonstrated that fast, inexpensive transactions are possible. Maybe it's possible to tack most of Bitcoin's virtues onto fiat currencies, but I somewhat doubt it.

Summary: I am not impressed with the USD. Nobody will take it seriously as a currency until its flaws are fixed (tongue in cheek, of course).



Note: I don't blame ZigGap at all for the troubles I experienced. They are just one of many victims of the red tape associated with fiat currency. I have not yet done a USD-BTC exchange with them yet, but I'm sure it could have been quick and painless if circumstances were different. I think I'm going to use a different exchange after this experience (Bitfloor, for example, appears to have lower overall fees than ZigGap).

I'm also open to suggestions to make an exchange easier on me (or criticism toward my chosen method).

(Also let me know if this thread should be moved. I wasn't sure where a ranting and raving thread should go.)

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March 23, 2013, 04:37:18 AM
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Sooo ... this is a rant about how incompetent you were, and that too in a wrong forum ? Nice! What does this have anything to do with USD again ?

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christop
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March 23, 2013, 02:06:54 PM
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Sooo ... this is a rant about how incompetent you were, and that too in a wrong forum ? Nice! What does this have anything to do with USD again ?
The only incompetence that I see on my part is forgetting my PINs to my ATM cards (and frankly I don't remember ever setting a PIN on my BofA ATM card in the first place). Everything else has to do with the inefficient infrastructure surrounding the USD and other fiat currencies. I mean, do you really think I'm incompetent because of the fees and delays associated with transferring money, either with cash or electronically, both of which are completely out of my own control? Branch hours are also out of my control; does that make me incompetent? Or are you suggesting that a cash machine's malfunction is due to my incompetence?

As I mentioned, I wasn't sure which forum this thread should go in, because it does involve currency exchange but is more about the issues of fiat currencies in general.

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christop
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March 29, 2013, 03:30:26 AM
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I finally have some cash this week, so I deposited it into Bitfloor. I deposited my cash into LocalTill's account at a Bank of America, and within half an hour I got confirmation that the money was in my Bitfloor account. I did two deposits on separate days, and both times the fee was about 2.2-2.4% (lower than ZipZap's 4%+ fee), which isn't too bad. The price on Bitfloor is also about 1% higher than Mt.Gox on average, but so what? I'll easily make up for the fee and higher exchange rate in a few days with Bitcoins Wink. Considering that I've been trying to get verified with Mt.Gox and Dwolla and then funding Dwolla from my savings account for about a week now without much success, I think it's totally worth it. And Dwolla has been down for more than a day, which doesn't exactly leave me with a warm feeling about them right now.

So I just wanted to give praise to Bitfloor for being one of the fastest and easiest (and not too expensive) ways to get Bitcoins.

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