Where is my Andrew Jackson?

My trial run: The money trafficking from the capital of China to the capital of USA is really easy and fast:
$3,051 was sent 2013-08-22-22.01.47.000000 (Beijing time. Six zeros!! Seriously, I copied it from the confirmation sheet .. Michael Phelp’s race to his nth gold medal or what?) and $3,031 was credit to my kid’s account on 2013-08-23 (Washington DC time, oh well, unfortunately no hour/min showed on her statement tho ..)

Looking close, however there is $20 short. The initiate bank icbc statement clearly stated two charges:

电报费 Cable Charges 70.00元 电汇手续费 Commission 16.00元

(No exchange rate, nor total amount in RMB sent tho – wish they’d provide those two too.)

AT&T billI do not mind paying a fee but I just think that each dollar should be accounted for. And I need to know the $20 is a flat charge or a %, so next time I’ll fraction it in. So Mommy Eng goes to Washington, battle work (at 10:36am on 8/26).

  1. Called Gtown (they still insisted that they do NOT charge a fee for overseas payment, nor their bank PNC). They said that I should check with the banks. (The call lasted 8 minutes)
  2. Called PNC Bank, the guy demanded Gtown tax ID, whcih I don’t know but Google says 53-0196603.  (Why does a bank uses a public info to verify a caller is beyond me.) Then he asked for the a/c # and $ amount. That didn’t work either – he found no such amount in the acct. Then, long holding time, he transfered me somewhere and the women suggested that I should check with my bank in China (The call lasted 30 minutes)
  3. Called ICBC in Beijing, they polite told me that they could only provide info to the on the card holder/sender (call lasted 8 minutes)
  4. Called PNC again. The operator said sorry that she can NOT provide me with Gtown acct info. However, she put me on hold for about 30 minutes then returned with a supervisor named Erin Kate (?) but the line went dead timely. (The call lasted 37 minutes)
  5. Called Gtown again at 12:14pm. Someone picked it up after 7:21 minutes. Maynard (sorry..) took all my frustration and promised me will get back to me before day’s end. Susan is the one who mans the wire transfer. (The call lasted 21 minutes)
  6. Called school again. Susan said for international wire transfer (点汇), there is always a fee fm $12 to $50 charged by the sending bank. (The call lasted 4 minutes)
  7. Called icbc again (8/29, am). Yes, there is a middle man who charges a fee, termed by ICBC as 零扣费 and no they don’t know how the middle charges. How convenient. …  HOW could this is happening?  (the call lasted 25 minutes)
  8. 8/28: 工行答复“ 汇款手续费部分由汇款人承担,由于汇路选择中间代理行可能从汇款金额中扣收手续费.” Google translation: ICBC reply “transfer fee in part by the remitter bears, because the intermediate agency may choose the amount deducted from the remittance fee.”
  9. 8/29: 工行询问, 答复:“对方收款银行有中转行,是中转行收款的。可以让收款人联系其收款银行,查询中转行的收费标准” ICBC’s second reply: “the receiving bank (PNC) has 中转行 intermediary (middleman), which received fund. Have the payee to contact the receiving bank about middleman’s charges.”
  10. Called icbc Beijing at midnight, (8/30, 0:12am).  The lady said there is a warning on the bank site while filling out the wire transfer form about the middle man’s fee but icbc doesn’t specify how much because they don’t know. And each time the intermediary is different. She took my info and will call back. (called lasted 30 minutes)
  11. called icbc New York, had 30 min conversation: trafficking money is a complicated business.  Wire $ fm China to US, always requires a middle man. And no one knows how much does the middle man charges until the transaction concluded. It is the remitting bank’s responsibility to disclose the fees (I initially thought the icbc is the good guy PNC the bad .. ). ICBC has a service/product Full Pay 全额到帐,which charges $25.
  12. ICBC called (8/30): the intermediary for this translation was Deutsche Bank 德意志银行,每笔收费20美元
  13. called ICBC BJ (9/1): they don’t know the middle man’s fee schedule and they don’t usually disclose the middle man. And they use a long list of middle man, so each time can be different bank. 工商银行说他们不知道第三银行的收费标准,每次也可能用不同的银行,所以次次收费都可以不同。不亲身经历一次真的不能相信。不知道其它国家是不是也是这样 "不靠谱"。 (call last 10 min)
  14. called GEorgetwon Universitythe school (9/3): trying to find out who’s their clearing bank in China – maybe I can save my Jackson next time. The female staffer from the school insisted PNC is the clearing bank. She refused to disclose her name and put me on hold for more than 8 minutes and I finally hung up. That is NOT nice. She is giving out wrong information and is arrogant about it.

More than two three+ hours of my time for $20. So NOT worth it  not sure the few hours spent prior to this educational conversation – guess I should take that as my tuition to learn something new -:)

I’m still surprised by the situation that the sending bank doesn’t know for sure how much the middle man charges.

It seems either ICBC or PNC uses an intermediary, and I probably won’t find out the faceless middle man any time soon.

It’s surprising that to reach a live agent in China from New York is so much easy and fast than a bank in USA, in this case PNC. ICBC is truly 24/7, however they provide more help (less common problems) during the normal business hours. The wait time to speak to an icbc agent is about 3 minutes and usually no transfer (means no more wait). For PNC, it is about 6 minutes, than 20+ minutes waiting time for the PNCer to find someone else to transfer me to.

Here are few companies that trafficking money

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