Before we start picking up the torches, let’s just consider why a company might want to block calls to certain 800 numbers. Although 800 number calls are free, some companies try to convert them into for-pay calls. That is of dubious legality but the problem is that most phone companies will happily pass through any charge they receive to the number billed. There have been cases of companies trying to slip small charges onto many customer bills, hoping that few would notice (or complain about) such a small amount, and the phone companies never even try to determine if the charges are really legit.
So let’s say you call an 800 number for a “free” 5-minute chat with your friendly phone psychic, or maybe an attractive sounding person of the opposite sex that you saw on late-night TV. If the company is legit, once the “free” period (which is basically an inducement for you to continue the call) is up they will ask you for billing information (e.g, a credit card). But apparently some companies are not above capturing the number you are calling from (which, perversely, is available to the called party on all 800 calls even if you try to block it with *67) and then simply billing that number for the excess time.
Of course when they try to do this with a VoIP company (especially a wholesaler) the VoIP provider almost always refuses to act as their billing agent. This can lead to accusations and counter-accusations and even threats of lawsuits, so at some point the VoIP provider or wholesaler may simply decide to eliminate the problem by not passing calls through to the numbers that give them problems.
I am NOT saying that Western Union does anything like that, but let us keep in mind that Western Union was a company that used to charge people BY THE WORD (and at an outrageous rate if you take inflation into account) to send a telegram. What would fifteen cents a word be in today’s money? So while I have no knowledge or even suspicions about what may have happened, I might be inclined to suspect that SOMETHING must have happened to cause the provider to block calls to their number.
If the reason is because allowing calls to that number was in some way either costing them money or giving them excessive aggravation, that’s one thing. If, however, it was because Western Union was offering a competitive service and they were blocking access to a competitor, that is quite another. The comment about “high fraud rates” would lead me to suspect something more like the former than the latter, but we just don’t know. I admit that their response to the original poster was far less than satisfying BUT let us keep in mind that they could possibly get into legal hot water if they were to start making specific accusations about Western Union to people outside their company. What they said may have been all they thought they dared say without rattling the cage of WU’s lawyers.
All of the above is just speculation and conjecture; I have NO inside knowledge and I am certainly NOT accusing Western Union of any specific act (other than stating my OPINION that “fifteen cents a word to read, a telegram I didn’t need” was outrageous, and probably a big reason the telephone gained such wide acceptance). But when a provider goes out of their way to block calls to specific numbers, I’d say that it’s safe to assume they didn’t just do it randomly - there must have been some reason.
Oh, and by the way, I believe there have even been cases where government agencies (like the FTC) have asked carriers to block calls to certain numbers for a time, though usually these are numbers that terminate outside the U.S. and are associated with schemes designed to part a fool and his money.