M&T Bank merger sparks complaints from customers

Published: Sep. 12, 2022 at 11:43 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - From being locked out of online banking, to receiving messages that their account does not exist at all, customers of the former People’s United Bank are dealing with a variety of issues since the entity was acquired by M&T Bank.

“We are currently experiencing a high volume of calls,” is the message man M&T Bank customers are getting when they call for help.

“I feel very badly let down,” said Michael Ryan, a former People’s United Bank customer. “I don’t have the confidence anymore that they do a thorough job of making sure that the payments that are due to me are coming in or payments that are due from me, are going out. It’s terrible. I don’t know how they think they can get away with it.”

Customers say their problems began over Labor Day weekend when M&T bank, which acquired People’s United in April, transferred their accounts into a combined banking system.

“We were not being told that there was going to be a problem. We were being reassured that there wouldn’t be a problem,” Ryan said.

Customers say when they try and reach out to M&T for help, they’re met with long wait times and a recorded message that their call will be returned within 24 to 48 hours.

“They want to pass on the responsibility for doing the work to the customer,” Ryan said.

“Most customers had a smooth experience during the integration and have been able to use their banking services with us as normal,” M&T Bank’s Max Reiss said in a statement Monday. “For those that had issues with online and mobile banking, the problems are easing. M&T Bank is committed to providing our customers with the best possible experience, which will continue throughout our branches and online long after this integration of systems is complete.”

Vt. DFR Commissioner Kevin Gaffney says the state is aware of the issues people are facing. “We’re not just being passive in this process. We actually did reach out today to M&T Bank. We have not yet gotten a response.” He says the department has received a number of complaints about the merger but cannot do much because they only regulate only state-chartered banks with Vermont headquarters. Gaffney offered customers this advice: “I would say just, what they can do is just keep records have their current accounts, you know, whatever they have access in the past just keep goes and hold those until they can access their accounts online. But I would say reach out to the bank. And if they are not getting any response, then I would first reach out to the primary regulator in New York.”

The transition will continue for the next few weeks. M&T says it will continue trying to improve customers’ experience and will allow them to use their existing People’s United cards until September 20th.