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BJ Runkle had five separate accounts with Metro Bank before it became First National Bank recently, and she's considering switching every one of them to another bank due to an issue she experienced after the merger.

Runkle, of West Manchester Township, said one of her accounts is a joint account with her friend who was moving to South Carolina. But when the merger was finalized during the weekend of Feb.12, her friend's name was removed from the account and replaced with her fiance's name.

"Thankfully it was my fiance and not just a random person," she said. "But I thought if they messed that up, what else might they have messed up?"

Runkle posted about her difficulties on Facebook and got an overwhelming number of responses indicating other former Metro customers were having difficulties, including missing money and being locked out of online accounts, she said.

Pittsburgh-based FNB Corp. and central Pennsylvania-based Metro Bancorp first announced plans for the $474 million acquisition in August, and both companies' shareholders approved the terms in early January, according to a joint announcement.

FNB spokeswoman Jennifer Reel said the bank brought over approximately 300,000 new customers in the merger, and the "vast majority" of those customers experienced no issues.

Any issues she has heard about relate to online banking, which Reel said is a fairly common source of customer difficulties during large transitions.

Reel said FNB sent out letters indicating that Metro customers' online accounts would be inaccessible for a short amount of time along with specific login information prior to the merger.

"Unfortunately, sometimes customers can miss that information," she said, "but we have customer service representatives who were available to help walk customers through that process."

Renkle said she had trouble getting through FNB's customer service line, waiting at least an hour every time she called. She added that she wasn't truly helped until she went into her local branch.

Reel said FNB's customer service line did experience longer than average wait times in the days following the merger, as is typical in such circumstances.

Kay Comer, of Lower Windsor Township, said she also grew frustrated with the long wait times after she called to report an issue with foreign ATM fees.

Comer said she had been assured by FNB customer service representatives that the bank's $2.50 charge for using out-of-network ATMs would not apply until Feb. 16, but her transaction on Feb. 14 showed up on her statement with the fee.

Comer, who had been with the bank since before it switched from Commerce Bank to Metro, said she was planning on switching to Member's 1st Federal Credit Union eventually, but her frustration with the fee moved that process up to earlier this week.

Reel said FNB has plenty of experience with mergers, as Metro served as the bank's 13th acquisition since 2005.

"This was definitely one of our most successful mergers," she said. "We're very pleased with the high caliber of employees we've inherited from Metro. We do our best to make it seamless for those customers and apologize for any disruptions in their online accounts."

Renkle said it's going to be difficult to move all five of her accounts, but the experience has made her question the safety of keeping her money with FNB.

"This needs to be brought to people's attention because most people don't watch their accounts as closely as I do," she said.

— Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com.

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