Huntington

The behind the scenes shift to move TCF Bank customers into the Huntington Bank system in October found more than a few glitches along the way, according to customers. 

A temporary Huntington sign covers the old TCF logo at a bank branch at the corner of Crooks Road and Twelve Mile Road in Royal Oak on Oct. 21, 2021. © Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press A temporary Huntington sign covers the old TCF logo at a bank branch at the corner of Crooks Road and Twelve Mile Road in Royal Oak on Oct. 21, 2021.

Individuals and some small business customers expressed frustration that they could not handle their banking online for days after things, they said, should have been up and running. They complained that they couldn't pay their bills online as normal and they couldn't log into their online banking.

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Others reported Thursday that they still had trouble using their debit cards.

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Some upset TCF customers took to social media to call the changeover a "fiasco" and a "disaster." 

After dealing with a frustrating phone service, many felt the need to head into the bank branches, including those in Grosse Pointe Woods, Royal Oak and elsewhere, for help. 

A headache every day

Ken Suwinski, 78, of Berkley, said he has been to the old TCF bank branch in Royal Oak on Crooks Road every day for the last week and a half — every day and twice Thursday — to try to straighten out issues that arose after the move to shift TCF customers into the Huntington system. 

He didn't have online access to his bank accounts at various times, he had trouble with bill payments, and he's unable to use his debit card.

"This is a total mess," Suwinski told me Thursday outside the branch.  "And I doubt it will get fixed tomorrow." 

One point of concern: As part of the switch to the Huntington system, he said, a list of all the companies and people he regularly pays online just vanished. 

"They deleted all my payees," he said. 

Another trouble spot: The debit card he received Thursday morning at home from the bank wouldn't work when he tried to pay for gas for his wife's car that same day. He can use it as a credit card, but not a debit card. 

His debit card also wouldn't work at the ATM.

Suwinski doesn't use cash, just a debit card to pay for items, so it's a bad situation to be in overall. He did get some cash from a teller to deal with the inability to use the card. 

The issue now, he said, is that the bank changed his PIN but he wants to keep the same PIN and they're going to try to work that out. 

"I've never seen a bank in my life as bad as this," he said. "I've had it with Huntington Bank." 

A woman who visited the Royal Oak branch on Crooks Road on Thursday declined to give her name but said she has received three debit cards so far and none work after the merger. She is going to try to wait a while longer to see whether the kinks eventually somehow will be worked out. 

It's not news to hear of glitches with bank mergers. But it's frustrating when consumers who face a long list of other challenges in their lives suddenly must refocus their efforts to fix issues with a bank account. In early 2017, Huntington Bank was hit with a slew of similar complaints about debit cards and online banking after a merger with FirstMerit Bank. 

Huntington apologized for the inconvenience and indicated that debit card issues had been resolved some time ago. 

"The debit card issue impacted less than 1% of TCF customers on Friday night, Oct. 8, and Saturday morning, Oct. 9, and was resolved that same afternoon," according to an emailed statement from Randi Berris, director of external Communications for The Huntington National Bank. 

She noted that customers received welcome kits with step-by-step instructions to access their accounts online.

"Our systems have remained up and running throughout the conversion," she said. "Some customers unfortunately did have difficulty, and many called our customer service centers for additional assistance. We know our customers’ time is valuable, and we worked quickly to resolve any issues."

Burris said all TCF bank branches and systems have now been converted to Huntington. She noted that the branches opened on schedule as Huntington on Oct. 12. 

Huntington announced 188 branch closures or consolidations across the footprint as a result of the merger. The bank said Thursday that 106 branches have closed already and the final 82 will close at the end of the day on Oct. 27.

The only business segment remaining under the TCF name is Inventory Finance, which is part of the Commercial Bank. That conversion will be completed in 2022.

Some customers see hope

Jeremy Bond, 42, of Mount Pleasant, says he's now happy his situation has finally been resolved.

He even bought cookies at the local Meijer and took them into his branch for the people who work there once things got on track.

He understood how stressful everything was for them. And he was thankful that the branch employees did their part to fix the problem. 

At one point, though, he seriously considered moving his money to another bank.

The deal between Huntington and TCF, first announced in December 2020, officially closed in June and set off the efforts to re-brand TCF as Huntington Bancshares. 

In June, it was announced that TCF customer accounts would be converted to Huntington's systems in the fourth quarter.

The new Huntington is to have dual headquarters: its main headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, and a commercial banking headquarters in Detroit, inside the new 20-story downtown tower that is under construction.

Things didn't go as planned for some

Bond applauds the early communication that he received about the merger between Huntington and Detroit-based TCF.

The paperwork seemed to spell things out pretty well, he said, such as telling customers that they'd need to temporarily stop making online bill payments as of Oct. 4 as part of the transition period. The accounts would officially go offline Oct. 8. 

All that was expected, he said, but he was told he could regain access on Oct. 12.

"I was actually in the system for five minutes but those five minutes were fleeting," said Bond, who is director of instructional development for Office of Curriculum and Instructional Support at Central Michigan University. 

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And then everything went haywire when he saw a message stating "Online Banking -- Error."

The father of three ended up spending the next two days trying to resolve an increasingly maddening banking situation. 

Like other upset TCF customers, Bond says he tried to phone the bank for help at a number that was provided. But many of those calls were disconnected after a recording said the bank was experiencing unusually high call volume. At one point, he waited a bit more than an hour on hold. 

And when he did finally get through to talk to a live person, twice, nothing was resolved, either.

Melissa, he said, was kind and positive but not the least bit helpful. 

Kenya, out of Grand Rapids, was pleasant, too, but didn't fix anything.

"The claim that this was an only me thing was very prevalent," Bond said. 

He received advice such as try using a different web browser or try to go into the system later in the evening. The thread seemed to be that too many people were trying to access the system at once.

But Bond, who had worked in IT earlier in his career, knew that such tips are often given but aren't typically useful when addressing a major issue. He joked that he had used those lines in the past himself. He did try those strategies, just in cases, but nothing.

He ultimately went into his branch on Oct. 14 — where he spotted plenty of other frustrated customers facing trouble.

First, the bank employees tried to go through the same steps on the bank computers that he went through at home. Nothing. Later, the branch manager opened a ticket and told him that something could be resolved within "20 minutes to three business days." 

That's when he said that he'd be patient for now but if he could not use his online bank system after the wait suggested, he'd later need to withdraw his money and go elsewhere. He'd give them until Oct. 19 if needed. 

Fortunately, he said, he tested going into the system that evening and it worked. 

What was difficult, of course, is that he was not able to use his online account to pay bills since Oct. 4 — or 10 days. Much of that delay was announced and planned but inability to switch to the new system later wasn't. 

Bond says he normally pays a bill online when he gets the bill.

Ultimately, he figured out a way to pay some bills in reverse — such as going online to the utility and using his checking account information to pay directly there online. But handling each bill this way isn't as simple as paying bills through your online bank account.

Bond, who started out as an Old Kent Bank customer decades ago, saw more than a few mergers and acquisitions along the way to the Huntington deal. 

"You know the drill in banking," he said. "They're constantly being absorbed."

This switchover, he said, was the absolute worst. 

Contact Susan Tompor: [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @ tompor

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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: TCF-Huntington merger leads to debit card, online banking glitches for some

Source : https://www.msn.com/en-us/finance/personalfinance/tcf-huntington-merger-leads-to-debit-card-online-banking-glitches-for-some/ar-AAPPlv0

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