Hurricane Sandy: MCU's Direct Deposit Debacle Continues, 14,000 Members Hit
As millions of New Yorkers continued Monday to struggle to recover from Hurricane Sandy’s devastation, members of the $1.8 billion Municipal Credit Union have had to contend with another problem – no cash and no funds in their accounts to pay their bills.
MCU now reports 14,000 members’ accounts have not been credited with their direct deposits. On Friday, the credit union reported only 1,600 members did not have their direct deposit funds posted to their accounts.
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Based in New York City, MCU serves about 340,000 members and operates 18 branches throughout New York’s boroughs.
Since last week, dozens of MCU members have been posting complaints after reading Credit Union Times articles about MCU issues with failing to credit direct deposit checks to members’ accounts, no phone customer services, inoperable ATMs and problems with online banking.
However, as of Monday morning, some MCU members reported that their direct deposit checks were posted at 9 a.m.
Michael Mattone, corporate communications manager for MCU, said Friday that members should have their deposits posted by Friday evening.
But Friday evening came and went, and some MCU members reported their direct deposit checks had not been credited to their accounts.
“They stated "Friday Evening" that the deposits should be available. I checked and nothing. I even tried to use my card earlier and it was declined. How embarrassing is this!” wrote MCU member Stef Delvalle.
“It is now Saturday night and my money still hasn't posted!” wrote Vniles100
“The storm has passed and we are all trying to pick up the pieces and move forward. That becomes more difficult when your paycheck and other deposits are not available,” Wkniven commented.
MCU’s vice president of marketing, Steve Kibitel, told Credit Union Times on Sunday night that the credit union found that 14,000 member accounts had not yet been credited with their direct deposit accounts that should have been posted at the end of the month.
However, Kibitel said because of Hurricane Sandy that caused widespread power outages, MCU did not receive the direct deposit information from other entities in order to post those direct deposits to members’ accounts last week.
“There are still a number of direct deposits we have not received from various agencies because they were closed for the week after Hurricane Sandy,” said Kibitel. “We were expecting (direct deposit) files to come in and they didn’t come in. When we looked at the number (of members affected) again, there was more than what it was (originally) thought to be.”
Now that the power has been fully restored in New York, Kibitel said MCU will be able to resolve the direct deposit issue more quickly on Monday. He also said members will not be charged overdraft fees or insufficient fund fees that were trigged by the direct deposit issue.
Typically, for direct deposits to be posted to accounts on the 1st and 15th of every month, the direct deposit information is sent electronically from payers to payees’ accounts a day or two before the 1st or 15th.
Hurricane Sandy caused massive power outages on Oct. 29. In many areas across New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, power was lost for days. Lower Manhattan where MCU has its headquarters and main IT servers didn’t have its power restored until Friday night/Saturday morning. Before that, MCU used a backup generator to power its servers and had employees manually process direct deposits.
MCU also said its backup servers in Carteret, N.J. still worked but were not accessed by MCU employees until Wednesday, Oct. 31. Kibitel said those servers primarily helped operate the credit union’s website and IT support for its branches throughout New York.
However, MCU’s phone system is still not operating and no telephone customer service is available for members.
“Once Verizon has our lines up, we will have our contact center up full time,” said Kibitel. “But we have received no assessment from Verizon as to when the phone lines will be back up.”
All of the credit union’s branches are open except for three, the Coney Island, Oceanside and East 70th Street locations, which were heavily damaged by the storm, said Kibitel. MCU said its ATMs are working.
“I know it’s really frustrating for members who have been unable to contact us, who haven’t gotten money,” he said. “We totally empathize with them. We want to get everyone back to 100%.”