Established 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?”
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?”
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?