People Who Need People’s

Like many People’s United Bank customers, I’ve dreaded the switchover to M&T Bank.

People’s was founded in 1842. As it grew larger, it gobbled up small banks. So I guess it was inevitable that it was gobbled up in turn by a bigger one (though one that until last year I’d never hear of.

The trickle of emails from People’s about the change has been replaced by a torrent from M&T. They include detailed instructions on how to prepare, with new ways to access services like the app, and a “token” for logging in that always changes.

This morning, I bit the bullet. I waded through all the instructions, logged on for the first time, and —voilà! got the dreaded red exclamation point.

“Incorrect password,” it said — despite using the new password I had just cut-and-pasted from M&T’s email.

Fortunately, the 800 help number was right there. I did not have to click through 6 pages to find it.

I called and — this was a good voilà! — someone picked up on the 2nd ring.

Astonishingly, she spoke perfect English. Quickly, she diagnosed the problem.

Unfortunately, she could not fix it.

Fortunately, she said, someone higher up could. That someone would call back.

You know what that means. “Someone” never does.

Fortunately, someone did — in less than an hour.

Unfortunately, I was driving.

No problem! The woman — who also spoke perfect English — left a callback number.

An hour later, I returned the call. Voilà! A third woman — with an equally adept knowledge of English — answered quickly.

Are you sitting down for this next part?

In what may be a first for customer service in the 21st century, she:

  • Knew beforehand what the problem was, and did not ask me to repeat it.
  • Did not troubleshoot steps already tried in the previous call.
  • Asked which browser I use (Chrome), and immediately walked me through fixes. She told me exactly where to find every dropdown arrow, and where to click next.
  • She never asked me to “hold” (customer service-ese for “I’m helping 3 other customers at the same time”).

And … she never asked a stupid question. Nor did she ever talk down to me, or make me feel stupid.

You know that idiotic line, “Your call is important to us”? I actually felt it was.

She solved the problem in 10 minutes. Then — sounding as if she had all the time in the world — she suggested I log out and log back in, “just to be sure it works.”

The entire experience was like a painless root canal.

I’ve always enjoyed People’s. But — based on this morning — I think I might love M&T.

Until, perhaps, they’re gobbled up by a bigger bank.

No longer fearing the change.

14 responses to “People Who Need People’s

  1. laurie beth crouse

    Dan this is good to hear, I too am getting peppered with mail but I havent tried to log in yet.

  2. Dan, is this an early April fool’s joke. A large corporation with superior customer service. Come now. Where’s Alan Funt?

  3. Vanessa Bradford

    Thank you Dan for the great feedback. My husband and I went to Peoples last week to consolidate some accounts, hoping to avoid the September transition and surprise fees….happy to hear your positive experiences so far!!!!

  4. Very strange. I tried to log on, and like you, it wouldn’t accept my People’s password. I called the 800 number and the lovely woman said I can’t log on until September 6th???????? Did you log onto the M&T mobile app or website? Thanks Dan.

  5. M&T Bank Stadium – without a doubt – is where NFL excitement begins on any given Sunday because the Baltimore Ravens home games are at M&T Bank Stadium! The Ravens will win every game this year at M&T Bank Stadium!

  6. I’ve done business w Peoples for over 30 years. Mortgages on 2 houses.
    The employees at the Peoples I go to are confused. I’ve received nothing in mail from M&T. I’m concerned that the credit line(overdraft) I have on my checking account maybe called in. Should I be?

  7. Trust me! When you start dealing with M&T Bank, you’re going to think you’re in Heaven! If you look up in Webster’s Dictionary the word “perfection,” it says M&T Bank!

  8. Carl Addison Swanson, '66

    People’s had gotten too big. Robin Hood Investments, of which we do not have an account, just went into our checking and took 28K out. Took 2 months to get it back. These days too big to fail, and too big to serve.

  9. The track record of Buffalo-based banks (that’s where M&T lives) in Fairfield County is not encouraging.

    Britain’s HSBC bought Marine Midland of Buffalo, opened a whole slew of fancy Fairfield County branches, and before you could even could say “bailout,” shut them down. (Some literally just a few years after they opened.)

    A handful of those branches were bought by another Buffalo bank that no longer exists: First Niagara. A subset of those branches are now part of Cleveland’s Keycorp.

    People’s was successful because they blanketed the area with branches and ATMs, and was fairly good at mortgage and small business lending.

    If the past mergers are any indication, M&T will slowly whittle down the branch network, do minimal local advertising, and lose the foothold People’s now has. This is good news for Webster and other local banks.

  10. As a Buffalo native, and a long time M+T Bank banking customer, this is a first rate organization with state of the art technology that is a major improvement compared to People’s United. As a former long time Citibank executive, I appreciate the attention to detail and focus on excellent customer service!

  11. In the late 1950’s, my mother opened a Passbook savings account for me at People’s Savings Bank. I learned important habits of thrift using that account for accumulating surplus allowance, earnings from odd jobs and occasional gifts from Grandparents, not to mention stashing the Bar Mitzvah gifts I hoped would help “with my college education.”

    A couple of decades later, I decided to keep the account active in case it might come in handy to have been a loyal, longstanding customer to obtain a mortgage in the community.

    As interest rates cratered in recent decades, I continued to take in my passbook every year or two to keep the account active and post the pennies of interest the account continued to earn.

    But most recently, I noticed that newly applied service charges were accruing as “negative interest” on the account, and decided it was time to close it. To add insult to injury, I was even charged for the check issued to transfer my money elsewhere!

    Good riddance! Perhaps the new owners will have a better notion of “customer service.”

  12. I opened my People’s checking account in July 1983, two months before moving to Westport. I have always been happy with their service, especially the fact that they have a branch located in Stop & Shop.

    But I absolutely cannot understand any of the gobbledy-gook they’ve been sending me lately, and lest you think I’m an uneducated Neanderthal, I will mention that I have an MBA. (Apologies to any Neanderthals I may have offended).

    And since I’ve recently moved to Redding, I expect to close my 39-year-old account, and open one in a Redding bank.

  13. Beware! I just spoke to a forever friend/banking co-worker who was a long time PUB employee, as was I. The transition has been a nightmare for them, legally and professionally. Apparently, People’s tech systems, which they’ve invested $$millions$$ recently, are miles ahead of M&T’s. Yet M& T is rejecting them as such. This from an employee who is deeply involved in the transition. Pay attention – I might consider moving my accounts. I would NEVER say this unless I was convinced.

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