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, ABC27, The 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.