M&T Bank to compensate customers hurt by computer snafu

 M&T Bank has agreed to compensate former People’s United Bank customers for any financial setbacks they may have suffered as a result of converting their accounts to a new computer system over Labor Day weekend.

News of the M&T’s commitment came Thursday as U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal and four of his New England colleagues issued a joint statement praising the bank’s written commitment to compensated customers. Blumenthal – as well as Sens. Patrick Lahey and Bernie Sanders of Vermont along with Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey of Massachusetts – called the Buffalo, N.Y.-based bank’s commitment to offer compensation “a welcome step to making things right” following disruption for some customers.

Their statement was in response to a letter from Rene Jones, M&T’s chairman and chief executive officer,  committing to compensate customers that was sent to the Senators on Monday.

“We are encouraged by M&T Bank’s prompt action in response to our letter, but will continue monitoring the situation to make sure M&T follows through with their promises,” the statement from the lawmakers said in part. “Consumers need swift relief and remedy now for the hardships and stress the conversion failures caused.”

Blumenthal and the other Senators on Friday raised the issue of compensating former People’s United customers who suffered financial losses as result of problems associated with bringing them onto the M&T Bank network. Many customers reported being unable to access their funds and accounts during the conversion and as a result, incurred fees because of missed credit card, utility, or other payments.

In his letter to the Senators, Jones said M&T “came up short for those who experienced issues.”

“In light of this, through the end of October, we are waiving M&T consumer checking and savings fees and are not assessing late fees for consumer and mortgage loan payments,” Jones’ letter said in part. “Front line branch and call center employees have also been authorized to waive other fees as appropriate. We have already begun to reimburse customers who incurred fees as a result of late credit card, utility and other payments.”

The conversion involved nearly 1 million customers with over 1.7 million accounts. Jones said in his letter that as of Monday, 0.6 percent of the customers whose accounts were converted had made complaints to M&T about accessing their accounts.

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