M & T Bank – An Example In Marketing Gone Mad?

Stephen M. FellsEstablished in 1856, M & T Bank (a publically traded company: NYSE MTB) describes itself as “one of the 20 largest independent bank holding companies in the U.S.

I have a personal and business relationship with M&T and have always been happy with the company and their customer service. That all changed recently. The following has to be filed under the ‘Crazy but True’ category. It’s a short tale but one that, in my not so humble opinion, is an example of why the banking industry still has a lot to learn no matter how bad the last few years have been.

I recently received a letter from M&T. It came from one Michael N. Trayder:

I had a question related to the letter so I telephoned M&T and asked to speak to Mr. Trayder. There was a moment of silence on the other end of the phone followed by this conversation:

M&T: “He’s not available.”

Me: “Can I speak to someone is his department then?”

M&T: (after a long pause) “He isn’t actually real.”

Me: (after an even longer pause) “Say that again?”

M&T: “There is no Michael Trayder, he doesn’t really exist.”

Me: (another pause) “Sorry but I’m confused. I have a letter from Michael Trayder and you are telling me he isn’t a real person?”

M&T: “Yes.”

Me: “But the letter is signed. Who signed the letter?”

M&T: “I don’t know, I guess someone in our marketing department.”

Me: “Why would anyone, let alone a bank, send a letter from a fake person?”

M&T: “I can’t answer that.”

Me: “I’m not sure what to say. So Michael Trayder is a figment of someone’s imagination?”

M&T: “Yes.

Wow! I have to admit I was a little confused; it seems Michael Trayder is as real as the “second cousin to Harvey the Rabbit.” With a little more thought I understood the source of the name – Michael N. Trayder is M and T. How creative! (sarcasm intentional).

I’m assuming that some time, in the dark and distant past, several well paid marketing professionals held a meeting where this idea was raised and signed off on? Did no one raise their hand to try and stop the insanity? In a small way I think this personifies just how disconnected the banking industry has been, and clearly still is, from the real world.

One other thought I had: is M & T breaking the law? There are lot’s of laws against signing fake names, many will get you jail time. But do any of them apply in this instance? I’m no attorney so I can’t say but even if it’s not against the law it’s certainly the dumbest marketing decision I’ve ever seen.

That the following tagline features prominently on the M & T Website, also strikes me as tragically ironic:

Am I right to be entertained, confused and a little angry about this?

8 thoughts on “M & T Bank – An Example In Marketing Gone Mad?

  1. That’s crazy. That big of a company and they need to pull this on its customers? I mean your a customer and its not like they are marketing for new customers even.

    Seth Godin would have a field day with this company.

    I would have to say it’s time for new marketing director at M&T.

  2. I just got a letter from Michael N. Trayder as well. Thanks for posting this, I am on hold w/ M&T right now…. What the ****, very professional.

  3. WOW. I can’t believe the rep actually let that information loose. I’m sure the general public isn’t supposed to know that they are playing us like fools. The name they used says exactly that.

    So now who do I ask for since he’s non existent? This is what I call BAD BANKING 10X.

  4. I am so glad I found your blog! I have now received 3 denial letters from this, “Michael N. Trayder”, for a claim I’ve been trying to fight and was always just as confused each time I would call & attempt to reach him! I’d be told I could only speak to whomever happened to answer my call & naturally, my “issues” have still not been resolved (to my satisfaction), yet I continue to receive the denials from this fictitious man! Thank you for posting this!

  5. WOW! I received a letter dated 1/28/14 with Michael N. Trayder’s name on a denial letter for a claim for fraudulent charges from my business account! I got the run-around but didn’t think to speak directly to this fake person…and now that I’m thinking about it, M&T’s principal corporation is Manufacturers and TRADERS trust company. Trayder! I can’t believe this is legal or still ongoing. I’ve filed a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and will be cancelling my account. Lets see if I can get an opinion letter into the Wall Street Journal next!

  6. I just got a letter from Bank of America that Michael N. Trayder tried to access my Bank of America Visa Card account. I’m on hold with fraud prevention now!

  7. I’m on the phone, right now, trying to reach him because I have a letter from him that I have a question about. I was a bit suspicious because this letter is different from the ones I usually get. You confirmed my suspicion.

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