Huntington Bank hit with complaints after First Merit merger

Posted at 5:24 PM, Feb 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-23 17:24:34-05

They're the things we usually take for granted — using a debit card and paying bills online.

But some people in Northeast Ohio are struggling to do those simple, daily tasks right now, as two Ohio-based banks become one.

News 5 looked into transition troubles for former First Merit customers and the list is long.

They’ve been welcomed by Huntington Bank, which purchased First Merit, with slow-moving lines at branches, long hold times on the phone and complications accessing their cash.

"I tried to put my card in somewhere and it wouldn't work," said Alan Haines, former First Merit customer.

Haines' debit card was declined unexpectedly while trying to make an online purchase on Thursday. Confused, he hit up his new bank Huntington.

"I called them and I sat on the phone a half hour, 45 minutes,” said Haines. “Nobody ever came on, so I hung up."

Haines is one of several hundred thousand former First Merit customers dealing with money madness as accounts change over to Huntington.

“I'm without a debit card for about 7-10 days," said Haines.

Take a quick glance at Huntington's Facebook page and you can clearly see Haines isn't the only one dealing with issues.

One new Huntington customer wrote: "The switch from First Merit has been a nightmare. I followed all of the steps like I was supposed to, but can't see any account activity from over the weekend. I am so, so very disappointed in this."

"The online issue and the phoning in issue was the most complicated issues to me," said Frank DeArman, former First Merit customer.

Like Haines, DeArman was forced to go to a bank branch to get answers and access to his money after attempts to do it online and over the phone failed.

"A slow, ongoing complicated process," said DeArman, “You shouldn't have to wait so long to speak with a teller."

While some people struggled, Rich Gugar told News 5 it was smooth sailing getting his new debit/credit card switched over.

“It was real simple and it only took a couple of seconds to activate the card," said Gugar.

With no working debit card for the time being, Haines can see a silver lining in this bumpy banking transition.

"Won't spend no money for 7-10 days, so I guess that's a savings," said Haines.

News 5 asked Huntington Bank for an on-camera interview regarding customers' concerns, but instead they sent us a brief statement via e-mail:

The data conversion went well.  The preparation and planning that went into this was extensive and we increased staff accordingly.  With a conversion of this size, we anticipated that customers would have questions in these first couple days.  We have worked quickly to answer them by phone, online and in our Branches and we will continue to do so until all customers are comfortable.  We communicated with customers in advance and offered several ways for them to access their accounts.  We have heard very positive comments about the transition.  Huntington continually strives to look out for our customers and do the right thing. We are excited to welcome FirstMerit customers to the Bank and will continue to make every effort for a smooth transition.