Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, who has accomplished customer disruptions after M&T Bank merged its account system with People’s United Bank, will get daily updates from the bank, including specifics on how account holders who have complained to his office are getting their troubles resolved.
Tong met Monday with M&T Bank Executive Vice President Michael Keegan, who heads community markets for the Buffalo-based bank that Bridgeport-based People’s United acquired in April.
M&T merged the account systems of the two banks over the Labor Day weekend, with some customers finding limited or no access to their accounts.
Tong said Monday his office fielded nearly 50 complaints this past weekend alone and he took aim at wait times that were unacceptably long.
“They are appointing a president for the Connecticut portion of the bank and that person would be personally responsible for responding to me and my staff, specific customer-by customer complaints for as long as it takes,” Tong said.
US Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who is running for re-election, called Friday for federal investigations into the matter.
Keegan, in an interview Monday night, said the situation surrounding the account conversion has improved significantly from last week.
“We’re in a vastly different place,” Keegan said. “Branches are not as crowded. People are experiencing more normal times in terms of their branch interactions. Customers are being addressed one-by-one where there was any kind of disruption for them. And you’re seeing call center times returning to pre-merger levels. We’re very encouraged by it.”
Tong, also in a re-election bid, said he demanded that M&T make customers whole, covering late fees and other charges if payments were delayed because of problems on the M&T’s end.
Keegan said M&T is still trying to determine the extent customers may have been harmed by any disruption — and how that is resolved will be on a customer-by-customer basis.
“The reality is, that we’ve seen so far, people who experienced some disruption may have not incurred any financial situation like a bounced check or a returned check fee or something like that,” Keegan said.
Keegan said, “If we did something wrong, and there is a cost, we’ve got to make that right.”
Tong said there were definitely enforcement actions under state consumer protection and banking statutes as well as federal laws. Those could include fines, Tong said.
But Tong said his main goal is to ensure the success of M&T and establish confidence in a new banking name to Connecticut that by acquiring People’s United became one of the state’s largest banks. People’s United had hundreds of thousands of consumer and business accounts in Connecticut.”
“So, the spirit of the meeting was firm and I said in no uncertain terms that I was going to hold them accountable,” Tong said. “At the same time, I said that in the spirit of helping to make this situation better.”
Kenneth R. Gosselin can be reached at [email protected].
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