HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Connecticut Attorney General William Tong wants answers from M&T Bank following its contentious merger with People’s United Bank, warning that his office “will not hesitate to use the full extent of our authority to protect families and businesses.”
Customers are running out of patience with the long lines at the branches and longer hold times for the call center.
“I don’t have my debit cards, they haven’t come in the mail, and they said they would by the 20th, no access to my online statements, and I just waited more than a half hour to deposit checks,” said M&T Bank customer Isabella O’Brien.
Some customers are unable to pay their bills because they cannot access their accounts.
“I was on hold so long, Tuesday night. I was like I’m frozen out I need help. That my battery went dead on my landline phone. I’m going to have to deal with the overdraft charges that I got, they return checks that weren’t supposed to be returned, that’s all going to have to be dealt with later,” said customer Jayne Dean of West Hartford.
Tong’s letter to the bank comes after his office has received “numerous complaints” from customers and employees.
“I share your customers’ outrage at the serious lack of preparation for this conversion,” Tong’s letter reads. “M&T’s poor planning cost Connecticut customers timely access to their banking records, their bill pay systems, and their money. Connecticut customers wasted hours of time on hold and in branches trying to sort out problems that should have been addressed prior to the conversion. 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.”
M&T Bank bought People’s United Bank in 2021 for $8.3 billion.
After another letter last year, the bank “made a series of commitments” for jobs in Connecticut, Bridgeport and its regional headquarters in Tarrytown, New York. Tong now wants more in-depth information to see if those promises were kept.
“At that time, I noted that this was an important step forward after a series of mixed messages and confusion,” Tong wrote in the letter. “While I appreciated those commitments, I also noted at that time that I would be watching closely to ensure that your actions matched your written commitments to local jobs and Connecticut communities.”
Tong had previously “noted alarm and consternation over staggering anticipated job losses and potential for economic harm to the City of Bridgeport and the State of Connecticut,” according to his letter.
In response, Tong wrote the bank said it would keep 72% of the People’s United Bank’s Connecticut workforce, equaling 1,959 jobs. That includes a thousand people in Bridgeport. However, about 750 Connecticut employees were warned that their jobs “could be severed.”
Since then, complaints “have not inspired confidence,” with Tong noting that customers can’t access their online accounts, real estate closings might be delayed and customers are facing long wait times in branches and over the phone. Automatic payments have also been impacted. Employees have also seen pay cuts.
The newest letter was sent by email on Wednesday and addressed to Michael Keegan, the bank’s executive vice president and head of community markets. The letter opens with Tong expressing “deep concern” about the Labor Day weekend merger.
“I respectfully request a meeting and immediate identification of a dedicated high-level individual to serve as our contact to expedite resolution of these serious complaints,” Tong wrote.