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New Flagstar customers report transition problems

December 3, 2018

The transition for many customers from Wells Fargo to Michigan-based Flagstar Bancorp didn’t go smoothly.

Instead, many of Flagstar’s new customers - some in Fort Wayne - lined up at branches and took to social media on Monday to express frustration with problems ranging from not being able to access online banking services to accounts showing zero balances.

“I am very upset and tried to get in to talk to them today about many problems,” Jeff Lawson said in an email. ”(The) branch on Dupont and Coldwater was standing-room-only full of other upset customers. I left and went across the driveway to PNC and signed up there.”

Joe Hansbarger, a customer from Angola, said he tried unsuccessfully for hours to access his online account. Each time he tried to log in, Hansbarger said, he received an error message directing him to call a customer service phone number.

The number led to a recording acknowledging “technical difficulties” and alerted customers some deposits made over the weekend might not be available until today. The call then disconnected, and callers were not able to leave messages.

“As a (video) gamer, I am used to seeing roll-out issues on the day of a big release,” Hansbarger said. “The difference, however, is people’s lives are in limbo waiting to access funds they need to survive and, unlike (video game company) EA, who runs the risk of customers demanding their money back for an unplayable game, Flagstar already has all of our money.”

Wells Fargo announced in June it would reduce the number of its retail bank branches, and Flagstar took over 52 locations - including 11 local branches. The deal included 130 million in loans.

Todd McLaughlin, Flagstar’s senior vice president and director of branch banking, told The Journal Gazette last month his bank would work to ensure a smooth transition “with as little disruption as possible for the Wells Fargo customers.”

The bank acknowledged problems in a statement Monday, but officials said “the vast majority” of the nearly 200,000 customers making the transition in Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio experienced no issues.

Flagstar spokeswoman Susan Cherry-Bergeson said late Monday afternoon she expected the problems to soon be resolved but declined to answer specific questions.

mleblanc@jg.net

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