On Friday, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal called on two federal agencies to investigate the disruption of consumer and business accounts during the takeover of People’s United Bank by M&T Bank, further compounding the fallout from a post-Labor Day systems merger. .
In a letter to the Federal Reserve and the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, Blumenthal wrote that the merger of the two banks’ customer accounts over the Labor Day holiday “immediately led to chaos for far too many consumers and of companies”.
Blumenthal noted complaints about loss of access to bank accounts, long wait times without resolving issues, late payments, and lack of customer support. He urged agencies to take all necessary enforcement action.
“To be clear, as a result of M&T Bank’s mishandling of the transition, people have lost access to their own money,” Blumenthal wrote.
Blumenthal’s push for federal investigations comes two days after Connecticut Attorney General William Tong accused the bank of a “serious lack of preparation” for the conversion. Tong is running for re-election in November.
The Federal Reserve, which in March approved M&T’s $8.3 billion acquisition of Bridgeport-based People’s United Bank, said Friday it had received Blumenthal’s letter and “plans to respond.”
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, formed after the financial crisis of the late 2000s to investigate complaints against banks and other financial institutions, confirmed it had received Blumenthal’s request but had no further comment on Friday.
M&T declined to comment on Blumenthal’s letter on Friday.
But in an internal memorandum obtained by the Courant from M&T chief executive Rene Jones to all M&T employees, Jones noted that planning for the conversion was thorough and the vast majority of customers joined successfully, but “we know that the experience of others has been very short. of our expectations. »
Jones wrote that the bank was seeing improvement in areas of customer service. Retail call wait times are down 90% from a week ago, he wrote. Call volume fell about 40% for the same line of business over the same period, he wrote.
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Connecticut banking regulators do not have jurisdiction over M&T, which is based in New York.
On Friday, New York regulators said they had received 31 complaints about the account merger, 21 from Connecticut. Those complaints were being evaluated and addressed, according to the New York State Department of Financial Services, but the department said it could not comment on possible enforcement actions.
The department has a hotline at 800-342-3736 and can be reached by email at [email protected] Complaints can be filed at https://www.dfs.ny.gov/complaint.
The account problems particularly affected Connecticut, where People’s United Bank was one of the largest banks based in the state. The acquisition of M&T was finalized in April. People’s United had hundreds of thousands of home and business customers in Connecticut.
In his letter on Friday, Blumenthal, who is in the midst of a re-election campaign, wrote that quick access to funds “is an essential foundation of our financial system.”
“Any unjustified delay by a bank is unacceptable because such a delay may jeopardize consumers’ ability to access their own funds to pay for food or fuel or to avoid late payments on bills,” Blumenthal wrote.
Kenneth R. Gosselin can be reached at [email protected].