[OPINION] Teed Off By M&T

Next weekend, People’s United Bank becomes part of M&T Bank.

Longtime Westporter (and People’s customer) Peter Blau read a recent “06880” story on my very positive experience with M&T’s customer service department with interest.

And with a high degree of skepticism. He writes:

You published a [mostly] complimentary piece about M&T customer service. But I just got an email demonstrates what a shit show these bank mergers really are.  If you read carefully, you find out:

1) You will lose access to all online banking from September 1 (when Peoples.com turns off) until September 6, when the M&T app becomes active (assuming all goes as planned).

2) Also: “a minimum of 90 days of your People’s United transaction history will be available initially. We are working to provide additional transaction history as soon as possible.”

#1 is a minor inconvenience for most; a major inconvenience for a few, like someone who needs to transfer emergency money into their kid’s account (remember, this is over Labor Day weekend.)

Next weekend, People’s United Bank becomes M&T.

#2 is the bigger deal for people who rely on online data for their taxes, as the bank promises to only give access to 90 days of history initially, while we’re used to getting 18 months. You need to download all the past transaction activity you need before the old platform shuts down next Thursday, September 1.

A couple of questions left unanswered here, but which I checked on via their answer line:

3A)  Will you be able to continue to use your old People’s checks?,

“Yes.” You can continue to use the old checks, as routing and account numbers stay the same.

3B) And will M&T give you a free supply of new checks with their bank name on it?

“No.” Could you imagine a bank actually giving you checks when they could make a few bucks selling them to you?

4) Will M&T be giving any kind of incentive for keeping your accounts there?  After all, other banks give you bonuses to switch your accounts to them. Chase right now offers $600 for switching just one checking and one savings account.

“No.” However, the M&T rep told me that like other banks, M&T periodically offers these incentives for people who open new accounts (these typically exclude anyone who has an existing account with the bank). Consider that a “disloyalty” program.

There you have it. If you think there’s anything new in the retail banking business in the last 30 years, you’re mistaken!

(No matter what, you can always “bank” on “06880.” Please click here to help support your local blog.)

18 responses to “[OPINION] Teed Off By M&T

  1. Carl Addison Swanson, '66

    People’s United had 365 million$ in deposits and could not properly service their customers. We were ripped off twice. Now, M&T has 155.1 BILLION$ in assets. Too big to fail and too big to take care of their customers. Find a decent credit union.

    • There’s a new credit union opening up in Westport- “The Backiel, Swanson Credit Union.” I guarantee it will be the best in the country!

      • Jack Backiel BS CEO

        Nicknamed the BS Credit Union

      • Carl Addison Swanson, '66

        Super. You put the first 5 million$ in and I will wire Cayman for my share for after the 2008 debacle and being part of the S&L crisis with Treasury, my money is offshore.

    • Carl, actually the size difference between the two banks isn’t so dramatic: about $60B assets for People’s and $150B for M&T. Which means there are plenty of much bigger banks out there to buy the merged institution, probably sooner rather than later.

      • Carl Addison Swanson, '66

        It is the amount of deposits not assets which determine,often, the level of customer service. People’s was small compared to M&T.

  2. I’m not downplaying at all the inconvenience that former PB customers will endure, but there is a solution. Go online now and get ALL information that you might need for the upcoming tax season. Then take your money, and your business, elsewhere sometime before the middle of next week. There are options for all of us out there.

  3. This is a major merger. So far I’m pretty impressed with how it will happen. The only thing that everyone must do is download their prior transactions so they have the records. I have my “personal” banker from a specific Peoples branch and will continue to have her terrific customer service once the transition occurs. I’ve been with Peoples since I delivered newspapers over a half century ago. I will proudly continue with the new parent company: M&T.

  4. I opened my Peoples account in July 1983, just before moving to Westport. Yesterday, I transferred my account to TD.

  5. Ellen Greenberg

    Not impressed. I went in to close an account last week. The service desk was closed. I was told to get in the long teller line.. When it was my turn the senior teller told me they could only close accounts at the service desk and please come back another day. When I came back the next day the service desk was still closed but the teller told me that of course she could close an account. Also, deposit endorsement stamps with the people bank name on it will no longer work and I will need to buy a new one. The teller did say that a generic deposit only stamp is as good as a personalized one.

  6. Years ago when the bank I was using was purchased by a large bank I changed to First County Bank. The tellers are very friendly and when I telephone the bank a person answers the telephone.

  7. Sorry — I’ve received many email and snail mails from M&T over the past few weeks and found them all totally confusing. Lest you think I’m a Total Bimbo, may I inform you that I have an MBA.

  8. “CR”, I think what you’re saying is that the inconvenience and extra work imposed on People’s retail customers is S.O.P. for bank mergers in general. Maybe true.

    But it’s still MY inconvenience and extra work for someone else’s benefit: the shareholders and key executives. Why should I have to “Take action today to be prepared for Transition Weekend,” as the latest email breathlessly proclaims? It’s their party, not mine.

    Do you think, say, the bank’s trading desk (assuming banks in Buffalo even have such a thing) would stand for any interruption in their realtime transaction systems, let alone an indefinite wait to access their data older than 90 days?

    So I say, take the incentive for switching your accounts to a bank that offers the biggest one. The service may not be any better, but at least you’re making a few extra bucks, and making a statement (but not the same kind of statement you need to download by Sept 1!)

  9. Sorry, it’s CH. And BTW, I thought we were supposed to use our whole names here?

  10. As someone who has witnessed and supported many bank mergers, this one is actually going extremely well so far. I have seen complete clusters, chaos, and disaster. We shall see how things go post Sept 6th but again, impressive thus far. As another poster said, instead of complaining, go download your data now. I can tell you that banks that try to make it seamless usually have major issues, at least M&T is setting expectations. Lets see if they can keep things smooth!

  11. Barbara Railton-Jones

    As far as I can tell, I can’t use the same People’s checks-today we got a letter advising us of our new routing and account numbers and several new starter checks. So that’s a lot of companies and services I’ll need to inform. Definitely not ooking forward to this, especially around the start of school.

  12. I’m not sure what Peter is expecting here… downtime of a few days, and a limited amount of access to the previous company’s website/data is pretty standard for large company mergers where they have thousands/millions of customer accounts, especially given that it’s banking websites with the security necessary for that. Website/account transitions take time.

    I should also note that they are doing this over a long weekend, because they probably want to minimize the downtime for their corporate customers who are the majority of their business. Face it, they literally just do not care about individuals.

    As for #3 and #4, when has ANY company given people an incentive for retaining their account after a merger?

    Nothing unusual to see here, this is just capitalism at it’s finest/worst. If you can find another bank with better incentives, customer service, and free checks, take your money out and open an account with them instead, that’s how the free market works.

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