Metro Bank Harrisburg: A Review

As the first week of Metro Bank Harrisburg (formerly Commerce Bank) draws to a close, I’m still hearing from people who are having trouble with their bank accounts.  If your problems haven’t yet been fixed, or if you experience any strange account “changes”, please follow the complaint information documented above.

A lot of alleged Metro Bank employees have been contributing to this series.  Some good, some bad.  A number of other bloggers, podcasters, journalists, and Tweeps have been linking and re-linking to this site, which has driven my traffic through the roof.  As of 12:30am on Friday 6/19/09, over 4600 hits have come in on the Metro Bank posts alone.  I don’t know Metro Bank’s customer tally, but 4600 customers or potential customers is certainly a noteworhty amount.  So a big “thank you” to everyone who’s been helping to bring attention to this matter!

Here’s what I’ve been able to piece together so far:

TD Bank, who purchased Commerce Bancorp of NJ, wanted to keep the name as “TD Commerce”.  A federal judge said this was too similar to “Commerce Bank & Trust” in MA.  Pennsylvania Bancorp lost the rights to use the “Commerce Bank” trademark, and as they weren’t included in the TD sale, were forced to adopt a whole new name.  In November 2008 (possibly earlier), they announced they would be changing their name to “Metro Bank”.

Metro Bank also lost the rights to use their previous banking software, and switched from Metavante to Fiserv.  Their new website — which looks like something I would’ve designed back in 1996 — may be a result of this.  And the call center which previously handled all of Commerce Bank’s calls no longer services Pennsylvania customers, so a new call center was spawned (apparently subcontracted).

Posters representing themselves as employees are posting mixed reactions ranging from “we’d like to help, but management has forsaken us” to “everybody F off, I’m sure they still have all of their GOOD customers“.  My personal experience with employees at the Jonestown Road store was beyond terrible — the teller was either texting or fiddling with something beneath the counter while I was talking to her — and Metro Bank’s reaction was “I’m sorry to hear that, is there anything else I can help you with today?”  Call center employees are either incompetent or poorly-trained (offering to “call the store” where my direct deposit was made).  And the bank’s management?

They’ve had nothing meaningful to say on the matter.  Metro Bank’s chairman said “For its scale, the project went well“.  Then, almost as an aftertought, he grudgingly added that “there were some glitches”.  If this is what metro bank calls “going well”, I’d hate to see what they consider “an honest mistake”, let alone “a major problem”!

Customers are (still) reporting disabled accounts, double-posts that haven’t yet been corrected (despite promises to do so), and other issues.  My own personal account had all of the errors simply deleted from the ledger (a no-no in accounting; ALWAYS correct, NEVER delete), which makes me glad I printed my account statement daily starting this past weekend.

It seems that Metro Bank took the mid-90s-corporate approach to handling this problem.  Deny everything, admit nothing, and make counter-accusations.  But there’s on big difference these days:  The Internet.  Specifically, the proliferation of social media.  Like them or not, services like Facebook and Twitter — to say nothing of blogging — will propagate information like wildfire.  Case in point:  Since I began typing this, my Metro Bank hit count has risen to just shy of 5,000 reads in about three and a half days.  And if a company doesn’t manage that information, it becomes the only side of the story.

With the exception of a few employees, Metro Bank has remained silent.  Presumably, they’re hoping that if they just keep quiet long enough, everything will go away.  I wouldn’t be at all surprised if an internal email has circulated advising employees to not speak on the matter, and/or to say that they aren’t aware of any problems or media coverage.

And they are partially right — by not saying anything on the matter, a number of customers are most definitely going away.  Judging by the comments section, a large number.  Bearing in mind that the commenters don’t represent the silent majority, I wonder how many customers have already opened other accounts and are waiting for the employer to update direct deposit before closing their Metro Bank account?

But the biggest problem is the circumstances under which this failure was allowed to develop.

This did not happen overnight.  Metro Bank’s failure is a result of poor planning and poor execution.  Where was the load forecasting for the website?  Where was the load testing?  Where was the capacity planning for the call center?  Where was the employee training for the new software?  Where was the error handling?  Where was the backup system?  Where were the contingency plans?  Where were the pre-prepared press releases?  And, most importantly, where the “F” did my money go?

At issue here are the underlying processes and principles that allowed these failures to take root and flourish.  What unsound business practices are in place that led to these circumstances?  More importantly, what other unsound practices might be lurking just beneath the surface?  Metro Bank is exhibiting all the symptoms of a company on the verge of collapse:  Failing systems, poor accounting, absentee management, disgruntled employees, denial of problems … the list goes on.

I loved Commerce Bank.  I was very happy with their customer service and convenience.  While I was midly unnerved by the name change (foreshadowing?), I planned on sticking with them.  But after having my ATM card shut down with no warning, having $300 of my money become unaccounted for, hearing half-baked excuses and explanations from customer service, and encountering apathetic employees at the branches, I’ve changed my mind.

I certainly can’t tell you what to do with your money.  But I can tell you that I no longer trust Metro Bank Harrisburg with my money or my personal information.  I’ve already opened an account at PSECU and will be closing my Metro Bank account as soon as my direct deposit is transferred.

I’ve said pretty much all there is to say, so this is going to be my last post on Metro Bank unless a major development occurs.  I’m leaving the comments open — please feel free to share any stories, complaints, or progress on the issue.  To the employees who have made intelligent comments, thanks for your input.  I know how it feels to work retail and face hordes of furious customers, so I feel your pain.  The fact that you’re disgruntled is a good sign that you should consider taking your career to another employer.

Thanks to Jersey & Sara, The Patriot-News (twice), York Daily Record, WGAL, ABC27The Consumerist, and the countless people who have commented, tweeted, and linked to / on this story.  Who knows if Metro Bank’s management would’ve even bothered fixing anything if we hadn’t all thrown this epic failure into the limelight?

Finally, to Metro Bank employee Shannon:  Yes, I know you work there.  And yes, you do know how I know.  Your comment let all of us know exactly how Metro Bank Harrisburg sees its customers.

13 thoughts on “Metro Bank Harrisburg: A Review”

  1. Thanks Dave for spotlighting this issue with Metro. Your reporting was a valuable asset to customers and non-customers alike.

    I was one of the customers who had my Commerce Bank VISA debit card declined last Friday morning. With no other form of payment available in my wallet, I was forced to leave items on the counter at the 7-11 in Penbrook.

    When I called the phone number (TD Bank/Commerce/Metro hotline), I was given little information.

    It’s definitely of interest how Metro Bank handled this transition. The signage, advertising, and artwork were spot on. The employee knowledge, computer ‘upgrades’, and technical issues were not.

    After being locked out of Metro Bank’s online banking service, I was very close to switching to PSECU. Even though I have two direct deposits with Metro, my mortgage comes out automatically along with my insurance, etc…. I was prepared to make the switch and make those phone calls and fill out the appropriate forms.

    However, I called customer service on Thursday morning at around 7am and a friendly CSR had a positive attitude and helped me gain access within minutes.

    This should be an example to other banks how not to execute a transition. At the Jonestown Road location that you blogged about, I witnessed the manager working at 2:00 A.M. on Saturday morning. He would not have had to if a few people did their job and cared more about the transition and less about having a moving dog JPG pasted on the mymetrobank.com website.

    All in all, I’m staying. I am severely disappointed at the response of the higher ups – but all of the services that Commerce provided will continue. For me, that includes late night drive-in deposits and withdrawals, free notary service (I’ve used at least three times), and 24 hour customer support.

    But, let me tell you – I was pretty close to leaving.

  2. Hi from York, David!

    I’m one of the many, many people who will be jumping ship from Metro very soon due to this debacle. It could not have come at a worse time, especially since my husband and I are trying to plan a vacation around an extremely popular convention in Pittsburgh where, if we don’t make 100% sure the deposit for our hotel (made from our METRO BANK account) went through, we might be driving several hundred miles to find out we don’t have a hotel- and subsequently, neither do the folks rooming with us. So you can understand how concerned we are now.

    I am so frustrated by the timing of this whole mess I have been close to screaming- if it were not for the timing of our direct deposits and how close we are to our vacation, I’d have been out of Metro like a shot today. As it is, we’re planning on trying to use our cards as little as possible, transfer all monies to a stand-by M&T account so Metro can’t mess it up, and once we get back we’ll be closing out our Direct Deposit permanently.

    To Metro Bank’s employees – As a former bank employee and a current worker in the field of finance, I feel your pain, and I sympathize with you greatly.

    To Metro Bank Management – I hope you’ve learned your lesson- pretty artwork, lollipops, doggy treats, and new uniforms DON’T MATTER! What MATTERS is a solid bank with SOLID customer service! All the little extras in the world don’t matter when someone can’t FEED THEIR FAMILY because they have NO MONEY!

  3. Kelley, you’ve said in three sentences what I took several blog posts, a newspaper article, and national media attention to put forth. Well-said! Metro Bank spent entirely too much time, effort, and attention on making sure that dog was wandering around their homepage and nowhere near enough time on important things, like making sure their accounting was accurate.

    I can’t believe that was even ever an option. Banks are nothing if not accounting centers. There are no circumstances under which Metro Bank’s sloppy accounting and terrible customer service are acceptable.

  4. According to the President of Metro Bank, they had some issues but things are fine now. Hmmmm
    Why, then, does my available balance differ from my actual balance by $ 44.+? Metro doesn’t know either. I spent 31 minutes 12 second on hold to be told by the representative that their system was updating and they couldn’t help me. When their system updates, it apparently takes down the web site too because that became unavailable too. A few more days, and some cleared checks, and I’ll be through with Metro. I’m a 15+ year customer and I’ve had more issues with my account in the past week than in the entire 15 years.

  5. What alot of you may not be aware of is that once the name change was “official”, Metro bank has changed thier customer service location and no longer use the same folks that we have all been gettting EXCELLENT customer service from in the past. That makes a BIG difference when you are TRYING to call in and get info on your accnt because your online isnt able to access your accnts.

  6. A quick note, for those who’ve been forced to hold out, or are doing so to try to ‘ride out the storm’.

    I’m Kelley’s (as above) husband, and due to the hotel situation, I’ve been forced to keep an eye on the accounts, rather than simply closing them immediately.

    What I’ve been noticing in my own is that while the credit/debit cards appear to be working again, unlike the old Commerce system that had charges up nearly immediately, the new system seems to take up to a few days simply to post to the online statements as ‘pending’. While the $ amounts seem accurate, before these pending charges show up, you’re completely in the dark as to what the newer charges are for, which can be extremely unsettling, to say the least.

    Part of this can be helped simply by good accounting in the home, if you ARE forced to stay with Metro for any length of time, and keeping accurate totals on your debits. The rest? Well, I’m not sure what the status is on the connection between Metro and the VISA holding companies that handle the data transactions for their site. Somehow though I’m betting the old Commerce had a better connection there, as often my debits would literally show up 5 to 10 minutes after me making the charge.

    Good Luck, all!

  7. Take it easy. Changing a main piece of software like Metavante to Fiserv is a nightmare for the employees. It creates problems and no one will know how to fix them.

    In a week or two all will be OK.

    Metro, get off your duffs and get Fiserv experts into each branch for three or four days. I’ll bet you can find them with Craigslist and have them working in 3 days. How many Fiserve banks have closed or laid off tellers and csrs.

    Customers, be especially nice until the crisis resolves! The poor employees are triply stressed. You have the power to cut that to double stress. Why wouldn’t you.

  8. I have been trying to get on line at Metro for 2 weeks. I went into the bank and also called and was told my account was back and running. This is not true. I can not access my on line accounts. I’m worried that my two direct payments will not work and then these companies will charge me interest. Why was the change over so drastic to us. The way I found out that Commerce changed to Metro is I saw them putting the new sign up while I drove by. You would think they could have sent something by mail or email. Huh? Anyway Metro Bank sucks and I’m taking my money to another bank on Monday.

  9. Am I the only one this happened to? I have a visa card with the Commerce name on it. Visa accounts were sold to TD bank. It disappears one day from the Commerce (Metro) website. But I’m told that I can make payments to the card for FREE thru CommerceMetro Billpay system. At six to eight days interest on my credit balance until the payment is credited, I don’t call that free, but I’m told by more than a few phone lackeys that it is certainly free. Today, I called the number on the TD website. I would like to see my credit card transactions on a website, once a month paper statement two weeks later does not work in this century. To abbreviate, each following call starts with the hype, TD America’s most convenient bank, blah-blah-blah, for several minutes, followed by the ‘This call may be recorded message, followed by a person that may or may not speak English asking my name, account number, and the last four of my social. So the odessy begins, Call 1:Oh, You called the wrong number, you need to talk to customer service, let me transfer you. Call 2: You need to talk to card services, let me transfer you, Call 3: -YES, this really happened- You need to talk to customer service, let me transfer you. Call 4: You need to talk to the internet division, let me transfer you. -At this point I said: PLEASE, do not transfer me, so she didn’t. she simply disconnected my call. Start over, Call 5: Oh, you called the wrong —- I interrupt, Please transfer me to a person that can tell me how I can see my credit card on the internet. – Answer, I’ll have to transfer you to card services. Call 6: Oh, that’s a business card, I’ll have to transfer you to the business card division. Call 7: You can’t access the website unless you have an account with TD bank. 90 minutes spent on the phone to find out this! Back to the website, I’ll start an account just so I can see my credit card online. From the website, Visit your local TD Bank, “America’s Most Convenient Bank” to talk to one of our account specialists. The closest TD Bank is in Downingtown, about 90 minutes away, Wait, that’s how long I was on the phone and all I had to do was drive to Downingtown. Well, my visa card still says Commerce Bank on it, and I live about from a hundred yards from a Building that used to say Commerce on it (now Metro), that’s where I’ll be tomorrow.

  10. As a once very satisfied customer of CommercePC this new MetroBank is very sketchy, and itrs website looks like something designed on a Commodore 64, 15 yeas ago. Unbelievably embarassing, low rent, unprofessional and weak. Postings to the account now take many, many days. Bill pay is barely functioning. The whole thing is a mess, feels like a mess, looks like a mess, and is sad. I’m bailing, heading to a more established and reputable bank. This whole Metro thing feels very fly-by-night. Sad, because in its prime it was a good and successful business model.

  11. Metro Bank is horrible and is not just a “new name” from Commerce, as they claim to be. I gave them a month to fix their issues and they still aren’t fixed entirely. If you truly care about your customers, you’re going to fix their major concerns as soon as possible because you don’t want to lose them. Well Metro Bank, you’ve lost a lot of people already and add another to the stack because I’m going back to a credit union in the coming week. It’s too bad Commerce fell under (apparently, but not according to the news you read from Metro Bank) because they were one of the only good privately owned banks I’ve ever been a member of.

  12. I have always had great experiences with Commerce (both call in support and customer service at the branch locations). My wait time for a representative is always under 4 minutes! That is -amazing- for call centers. The operators are personable and able to answer my questions (including general and “staged” for industry standard reporting. Perhaps others opinions and experiences are based on their method of resolution approach. As a former agent with multiple companies I would fight for what was right regardless of the customer’s demeanor. Those who were patient and calm (and treated my as a fellow human) had their issues resolved quicker than the “others”. Take the body with a grain of salt, heed the wisdom at the end.

    Anonymous

  13. What a dissappointment this bank is. Since i returned home from Iraq I’ve had money problems.I applied for a $600 emergency loan that i could pay back in less than a month. Being a loyal customer for over 4 years they should know I am good for it, being my money is direct deposited into my account. All i got was a sad excuse and a big “F.U.” Wow what a bank huh?? I plan to take my buisness elsewhere very soon.

    -PFC Carter

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