Four months later M&T BankThe People’s United Bank account transfer crisis – and nearly 400 complaints later – Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said he remains dissatisfied with the Buffalo bank.
“Honestly, my frustration is still high,” said Tong in an interview with the Courant. “We are working on this every day, and, of course, the bank crisis continues.”
Tong said he thinks the 399 complaints filed in his office since Labor Day when the conversion was made is a large number. A portion of Tong’s staff is assigned to work with M&T to resolve sales issues, Tong said.
“For a large organization, with the resources that M&T has and the ongoing and unresolved issues are unsatisfactory and unacceptable,” said Tong.
Of the 399 complaints received by Tong’s office as of last week, all 20 have been resolved, according to four Tong’s statement.
Tong praised M&T for its responsiveness in working to resolve complaints that come to the attorney general’s office on a case-by-case basis. But Tong said, he remains concerned about issues such as consumers who have difficulty obtaining information when they have a power of attorney for an account holder or guardian or trustee.
“They can’t do that,” Tong said. “And that’s not good. And, now we see a real increase, which has always been there, in people who find their money was deposited in the wrong account.
M&T, which acquired Bridgeport-based People’s United last spring for $8.3 billion, has been in turmoil since the Labor Day turnover of former People’s United customers, some of whom are unable to get their money. The problems were quickly highlighted by Tong and other elected representatives, including US Sen. Richard Blumenthal, and an apology from M&T and a promise to cancel the account or refund late fees for the customers who were disturbed.
“We have worked diligently to support every customer and regain their trust, including canceling customer checking and deposit charges, and late payments for customers and mortgage loans,” the statement said. M&T spokesperson, in a statement. “While the loss of even one customer is too much, we are confident in the strong retention rates of People’s United’s first customers, and the focused on the future in Connecticut.”
Tong said he has never met with M&T CEO Rene F. Jones, despite repeated requests. But M&T said the bank has had 23 meetings with the attorney general’s office since the change. Those meetings, M&T said, included a group of special leadership from M&T who met with the Attorney General’s senior staff, as recently as last month.
In the bank’s count, M&T said there were less than 10 customer service cases, as of January 4, that were issued by the attorney general’s office. All complaints receive a response within 10 days, as required by Tong’s office, so no one is late, M&T said. In addition, M&T insists that the level of complaints against the bank and its management is normal.
M&T did not provide details on how many fees were waived or returned to delinquent customers.
M&T also said the number of complaints filed by Tong’s office was small — less than 0.1% of all M&T customers in Connecticut after the merger.
Among the customers, who faced difficulties in the conversion, it seemed that this week there is an improvement in their frustration.
“It was very upsetting,” said Paul Altieri, a longtime People’s United customer in New England. said, recalling the incident after the workday. “It was difficult and, you know, I thought it was going to be a problem, but I was willing to give them time to fix this.”
It took a week but Altieri said he was able to gain access to his accounts and checking accounts. Those stories remain at M&T, though Altieri said he was tempted to close and is still in a “wait-and-see” period to determine whether that will stick. be a long time customer.
However, Altieri’s problems with a third story ran deeper, one tied to his role as executor for his late brother’s estate. He couldn’t access the internet and the only way he could get a sense of the activity in the account was if he went to a branch and got a printout. The problem with that is that the printout won’t work the next day, Altieri said.
“The story was there, I couldn’t find it,” Altieri said. “I didn’t know what was cleared, what was coming in, what was going out. I couldn’t know unless I physically went to the bank to find out. hey.”
Altieri said he gave M&T a month to resolve the issue, but eventually moved the account to another bank.
“The whole thing was crazy, and it shouldn’t have been like that,” Altieri said. “I gave them a whole month, but they still couldn’t do it. And that’s a real problem.”
In Glastonbury, Donald Kray was a banker in People’s United and a string of former banks for many years.
The conversion caused headaches for Kray, a retired Aetna employee who worked in the insurance company’s IT operations. The main problem was that M&T connected Kray’s Quicken software on its desktop computer with other banks where Kray did business.
Kray said he spoke with an M&T employee in Buffalo about the issue. As a result of many discussions that also provided Kray’s background in IT, the bank was able to solve the problem.
Kray praised those efforts—even calling the employee a friend now—but overall, Kray said, the conversion process was poorly handled. In Aetna, Kray said the insurance company took over the payment of claims from other companies.
“And it wasn’t easy,” Kray said. “Those were more like unique activities. It shouldn’t be – big banks take over small banks all the time.
Kray said he is staying at M&T, but he will continue to monitor the daily online presence of his comments, something he used to do even at M&T.
“I will keep a close eye on them,” Kray said.
Kenneth R. Gosselin can be reached at email@example.com.