- Connecticut Attorney General William Tong has called on M&T Bank to resolve hiccups stemming from its conversion of People’s United accounts, accusing the bank of a “serious lack of preparation” following reports that the transition has left some customers unable to access their online accounts.
- The Buffalo, New York-based bank closed its $7.6 billion acquisition of People’s United in April, and began converting Bridgeport, Connecticut-based People’s United accounts to M&T over the Labor Day weekend.
- The incident also spurred Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-CT, to call for federal regulators to investigate the bank’s handling of the conversion, CT Insider reported.
“I share your customers' outrage at the serious lack of preparation for this conversion,” Tong said in a Wednesday letter addressed Michael Keegan, M&T’s executive vice president and head of community markets. “M&T's poor planning cost Connecticut customers timely access to their banking records, their bill pay systems, and their money.”
Connecticut customers have waited hours on hold and at branches while trying to sort out problems that should have been addressed prior to the conversion, Tong wrote in his letter.
The delays have affected real estate closings and automatic payments, Tong added.
“Should Connecticut consumers continue to experience extended gaps in customer service, my office will not hesitate to use the full extent of our authority to protect families and businesses,” he wrote.
In his letter, Tong requested a meeting and “immediate identification of a dedicated high-level individual” at the bank to serve as the attorney general’s contact to expedite a resolution of the complaints.
Bank executives and the attorney general could meet this week, a spokesperson for Tong told CT Insider on Friday.
Blumenthal has also weighed in on the incident, calling for the heads of the Federal Reserve and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to review the bank’s conversion process "and take any necessary enforcement action against M&T Bank to ensure future compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.”
M&T Bank, in a statement, said it will not stop working until all customer issues are solved.
“We are in complete agreement that we must remain laser-focused to serve customers and improve their experience as they interact with a new financial institution for the first time,” M&T said in a statement. “That is why we have been open with our customers before and during the conversion process. While the vast majority of customers had a successful onboarding and log-in experience, we know the experience for others has fallen short of our expectations, and we are not going to rest until every single customer is satisfied.”
The bank said it has taken steps to improve the customer service experience by adding staff to branches in Connecticut, activating digital upgrades and extending call hours.
The bank said it has reduced wait times each day on phone lines over the past week and has proactively reached out to customers to activate cards and accounts.
The bank’s handling of its recent conversion is the latest merger-related issue to draw the attention of the Connecticut attorney general.
Tong wrote M&T Bank last month expressing concern over the bank's notice to the Connecticut Department of Labor of 747 anticipated layoffs as a result of the combination.
In response, the bank committed to maintaining 1,959 Connecticut-based workers, or 72% of People's United's workforce, Tong detailed in his letter last week.
Tong said the bank acknowledged that the 747 employees had been notified that their existing positions could be severed, but that the number could decrease as alternate opportunities at M&T were identified. That number, however, had been tied to potential staff cuts as early as July 2021.
Tong on Friday also said he was “equally” troubled by reports that People's United employees had been “technically ‘retained’ by M&T, but in positions for significantly less pay.
“We have heard that people have been siphoned from other Connecticut locations into Bridgeport to satisfy the Bridgeport employment commitment,” Tong wrote. “Employees have complained that new opportunities are largely based in New York, not Connecticut.”
The attorney general’s office also received complaints that severed bank employees have had difficulty accessing information about COBRA health insurance and severance payments, Tong wrote.