Tag Archives: People’s United Bank

[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.)

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.

Roundup: WTC, RTM, Y …


A crowd of 100 people gathered in the cold yesterday evening at Town Hall, for a candlelight vigil to support Ukraine. Mark Yurkiw reports:

“I was surprised to learn how many Ukrainians and non- Ukrainians showed up. and how concerned so many were for their friends and family in Ukraine.

“They told stories of intermittent conversations between scrambles to bomb shelters, and children sleeping on thin mats on concrete. An invisible yet potent bond wove through the crowd.

“It took me by surprise, and made me realize how cathartic it is for a crowd of strangers to feel almost instantly connected.”

A rally in Westport is set for this Saturday (March 5), at 11 a.m. on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge downtown.

Ukraine rally at Weston Town Hall (Photo/Mark Yurkiw)


February 26 marked the 29th anniversary of the first World Trade Center bombing — the one in 1993.

There’s a new memorial on the site, built after the 2001 terrorist attack. For almost a decade, RTM member Andrew Colabella has gone there on that date, to pay respects and join the survivors who gather there.

His cousin was one of 6 people killed in the 1993 attack.

This year, Andrew met Daniel Geraghty there. In November, the former Staples High School English teacher published Cast Away Stones: An Eyewitness Account of 9/11 and Memoir of a Survivor, Soldier Citizen, a gripping account of his 20-year battle to overcome PTSD.

Andrew Colabella (left) and Daniel Geraghty, at the 9/11 Memorial.


Speaking of the RTM: Sure, you hear about it all the time. (Like in the item just above this one.)

But admit it: Do your know what it does? Or even what the acronym stands for?

On March 23 (7 p.m., Westport Library in-person and Zoom), Westport’s League of Women Voters presents “Know Your Town: The RTM.”

Former moderator (what’s that?!) Velma Heller will discuss its history. Current member Matthew Mandell will explain what it can do — and what it can’t. Current moderator Jeff Wieser will offer his insights too.

Click here for more information, and registration.

Okay, okay: RTM stands for “Representative Town Meeting.” Impress your friends!


The other day, “06880” published Carl Addison Swanson’s “Kvetch of the Week.” He noted that an 80+ North Avenue neighbor was afraid to get her mail, for fear of being hit by a speeding car.

Carl noted his frustration at trying to get blinking lights or other traffic control devices on the heavily traveled road, home to 4 of Westport’s 8 schools.

Fast (ho ho) forward a few days. There’s now a sign showing “Your Speed” at the base of the hill, near the Bedford Middle School entrance.

Congrats, Carl — and everyone else who lived in the area. And let’s hope there are more such solutions to come.

“Your Speed” sign on North Avenue. (Photo/Carl Addison Swanson)


The new manager and vice president of People’s United Bank’s Westport office is … Matthew Cummings.

It’s a homecoming of sorts. He’s a 1986 graduate of Staples High School, where he captained the ski team and played football and baseball. He lifeguarded in the summers, then graduated from the University of Colorado.

Matt’s (very proud) mother is Betty Lou Cummings, former 2nd selectwoman, Apple Festival co-founder, and volunteer with countless other organizations and projects.

She’s also a former Michigan State University cheerleader. And Betty Lou never stops cheering for her son.

Matthew Cummings


After 34 years leading the Westport Weston Family Y’s gymnastics program, Sally Silverstein has retired.

But she won’t be forgotten.

This Friday (6:30 p.m.), the Y, hosts a naming ceremony for the Gymnastics Center’s new Sally Silverstein Viewing Area. Many of the program’s 500 gymnasts will be there. Of course, Sally’s many friends — and all her former athletes, and their families — are invited.

Sally Silverstein


Speaking of plants: Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo shows some nice basil, flowering in Molly Alger’s windowsill:

(Photo/Molly Alger)


And finally …  it’s March 1. It’s the month that comes in like a — well, you know:

Unsung Hero #226

I don’t know Fran’s last name.

I don’t know where she lives, though I detected a slight Southern drawl.

All I know is that both times we’ve chatted, she’s been incredibly helpful.

Which is not what I usually say about a call center employee.

Fran works for People’s United Bank (or whoever they outsource their help center to). What are the odds that out of the hundreds (okay, tens) of folks answering calls (eventually), that I’d reach the same woman twice?

And what are the odds she’d remember me?

But Fran did. I started the second call — it was about People’s inability to play nice with QuickBooks — with, “I’m incredibly frustrated.”

“Didn’t I talk to you last week?” she asked. She remembered (I sure didn’t) that I’d said the same thing the first time (for a different issue). Which was actually more than 2 weeks earlier.

Calmly, rationally, and (this is huge) efficiently, Fran walked me through everything I needed to know. She solved the problem. And she did it in perfectly understandable English.

I’ve never met Fran. She probably has no idea where Westport is.

But because she (sort of) works for a local bank, she qualifies as this week’s Unsung Hero.

I hope I never have to call People’s help line again. But if I do, I sure hope Fran answers.

UPDATE: People’s United Bank Closing — But It’s The One Across The Street

People’s United Bank customers: Rest easy. Your branch is not closing.

If you’re a United Bank customer, however: Your branch is.

“06880” reported this morning that People’s United Bank is closing 18 branches — among them, the one at the corner of Post Road and North Compo. It’s been a bank for years. Before that, it was the original site of Ed Mitchells (now Mitchells of Westport).

In fact, the bank they’re closing is the redundant one across the street — in Compo Acres Shopping Center, off South Compo.

The United Bank branch — now owned by People’s United Bank — that will close.

The branch was formerly a Patriot Bank outlet. Then it became a United Bank branch. It’s completely different — at least, it was until July, when People’s United acquired United Bank. Confusing, to be sure.

So now People’s United has 2 branches across the street from each other. The long-standing one near Planet Pizza remains. The one near SoulCycle is closing — sometime between December and April.

“06880” regrets the error. But the confusion could have been avoided if, several years ago, the bank owner had not changed its name from People’s Savings Bank to People’s United.


One Less Bank In Westport

Normally, the opening or (more rarely) closing of a bank branch in Westport is not big news.

But when People’s United shuts its location on the corner of the Post Road and North Compo — part of 18 closings in the state, between December and April —  we’ll lose more than one of our town’s squintillion banks.

A bit of history is going too.

That branch has been there for decades. It’s seen the addition of “United” to “People’s Bank,” and the reorientation of its entrance from the front to the back.

Most importantly, it’s a link to one of Westport’s longest-lived, best-known and well-respected businesses.

In 1958, Ed and Norma Mitchell took over what had been a heating and plumbing company office. With a few suits, a coffee pot, and tons of grit and hope, they founded a store that — 61 years later — thrives.

The original Ed Mitchell’s.

Mitchells moved twice — once to Colonial Green, then to its present location next to Sakura. From their Westport headquarters, the 3rd generation of Mitchell family members now oversee stores in Greenwich, Long Island and on the West Coast.

That’s a storied past for the unassuming building near Planet Pizza and Compo Barber Shop.

Let’s hope the new tenant stays as long as People’s Bank, and is as successful as Mitchells became.

But I bet it will just be a nail salon.

(Hat tips: Dick Lowenstein and Dan Vener)

Our Long Wait For United Bank Is Over

Patriot Bank recently relocated, from the South Compo end of Compo Acres Shopping Center. It’s now across the street near Gold’s, giving new meaning to the words “drive-thru banking.”

But fear not! Westport’s motto — “A Bank in Every Strip Mall — is still true. United Bank opens soon next to Jersey Mike’s — just a few doors down from the old Patriot Bank site.

(Photo/Molly Alger)

Which raises 2 important questions:

  • What’s the difference between this “United Bank” and “People’s United Bank,” which (surprise!) is also across the street (corner of Post Road and North Compo)?
  • When did Compo Acres Shopping Center change its name — dating back to the 1950s — to the bland-as-United Bank-sounding “Regency Centers”?

Here’s Why They Call It A “Snow Bank”

It’s 43 degrees today, and people are as giddy as the first day of spring.

But that doesn’t change the fact that — nearly a week after our big snowstorm — this is the scene at People’s Bank:

An alert — and frustrated — reader writes:

I was coming back from town, and had to walk IN TRAFFIC on the Post Road to get by the bank.

I went in immediately and asked to see the manager. The person at the counter wanted to know what for, so I told her. The manager came out with some excuse or other. I was so upset I didn’t listen closely, having just had my life on the line on the street.

Another guy who was there admonished me for my angry tone of voice. Oh yeah, make ME the bad guy.

By my count the snow storm was five days ago. They should be fined at the least. Hope nobody gets killed on the Post Road.

The People’s Tree Goes

Rev. Alison Patton has been here just over a year.

A tree at the corner of the Post Road and North Compo Road has been here a lot longer.

It’s been here through a couple of decades of People’s Savings Bank. It was here, shading the original home of Ed Mitchell’s. It was here before that too, when the building housed a heating contractor.

Now it’s gone. But as it was being cut, Rev. Patton snapped a photo.

Peoples Bank treeI’m not sure why it’s gone. Maybe it was diseased. Maybe the bank worried it would fall during the next storm. Or maybe someone just didn’t like it there.

Whatever the reason, there’s one less tree on the Post Road.

And, as Rev. Patton says, it’s on a corner that “could use more, not less green.”

Best Of The Rest

Last week, “06880” lamented the lack of respect for Westport restaurants in Fairfield County Weekly’s annual readers’ poll.

The 2nd part of the survey is out — covering stores, banks, even doctors — and we’ve fared a bit better.

Winners include:

The incomparable Sally White.

Sally’s Place for “Best Independent CD/Vinyl Store.”  Such shops are fading faster than Donald Trump’s presidential hopes, but as the Weekly notes, owner Sally White is “one of a kind…. Die-hard music fans love Sally’s, and because White’s operation is so nimble, she can accommodate the special orders bigger stores can’t.”  The Weekly‘s readers nailed this one — as Sally’s fan Keith Richards also attests.

Plumed Serpent wins “Best Bridal Salon.”  I know as much about this category as Pakistan claims to have known about bin Laden, but here goes:  “Plumed Serpent, a multiple-year winner, is renowned for its selection of tasteful, stylish, higher-end dresses and excellent customer service.”  That’s almost enough to make me want to walk down the aisle, in a gown.

But a guy’s gotta look good too.  Fortunately, Men’s Wearhouse (4 locations, including Westport) wins for “Best Place for Tuxedos.”  The Weekly cites the chain’s “broad selection of styles and prices and oodles of shops.”  Sweet.

Bonnie and Rick, the great team at Great Cakes.

Speaking of sweet — and weddings — the “Best Place to Buy Your Wedding Cake” is Great Cakes.  I’m more into the  early-morning coffee — and the chance to see everyone from builder Bill Kashetta to surgeon Alan Meinke — but the crew in the back turn out awesome wedding cakes, all from scratch.  Owner Rick Dickinson is often told that his creations taste as good as they look — and how often do you say that about a wedding cake?

Another entry in the okay-I-believe-you department is Soleil Toile (“Best Lingerie Store [Non-Chain]”).  The Weekly praises the store’s attention to proper fit, and “very broad array of sizes and body types.”  O-kay…

Moving quickly along, the “Best Bank” is People’s United.  Ours shares the honor with other locations in the county, but New England’s largest bank earns props for their many locations, community service, and “expert bankers who can do loans and investments.”  (Um, isn’t that what bankers are supposed to do?)

Westport’s final winner is Dr. Mark Oestreicher.  He’s Fairfield County’s “Best Dermatologist.”  Once again, the Weekly voters have made a thoughtful, inspired decision.  Nothing rash about this one at all.