Customers run into problems while First Niagara Bank transitions to Northwest


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Joanne Hartman is one of 95 thousand customers whose First Niagara banking information was deactivated, while several branch locations transition to Northwest over the weekend.

“If you didn’t get money out of the bank before 3 or get a deposit done before 3 tough luck on you,” said Joanna Hartman of Buffalo.

Joanne says she had to drive all the way to Erie, Pennsylvania to physically pick up her paycheck from her employers headquarters because it wasn’t direct deposited like it usually is. She believes the transition is partly to blame.

“They didn’t tell you what banks where going to become Keybanks and what banks were going to become Northwest and that’s what they should’ve told us,” said Hartman.

Eighteen First Niagara branches in the Buffalo area are being converted to Northwest, and the remaining are expected to be converted to Keybank in the 4th quarter of 2016. Customers tied to the transition were sent new account numbers and debit cards, but Joanne said when she tried to pay her bills with that information she ran into problems.

“Every time I called somebody today like Netflix, National Grid, National Fuel, Geico, they all said our cards are coming up declined because it wasn’t 3 o’clock,” said Hartman.

Several other customers also took to Facebook to post concerns about their new accounts.Tonight a northwest spokesperson they’re doing the best they can.

“I think it’s natural that when you do a transaction of this size that there’s going to be a few bumps and bruises along the way,” said Shawn Walker, Northwest Chief Marketing Officer.

Northwest branches officially open this Monday at 9 am.


Will people be reimbursed for any late fees they accrue as a result of the transition?

Anyone with an automatic payment from their First Niagara checking account—using the account and routing numbers—won’t have to worry.  They’ll continue without interruption from their Northwest account through November 9.  We encourage customers to update these automatic billers with their new Northwest account information as soon as possible. Customers also don’t have to worry about bills they’ve paid using their First Niagara checks—these checks will continue to be accepted through November 9.

Some customers claim they have not received debit cards, and may now be without one for days. What can customers do about that, if their debit account is the only way they are able to access money?

Customers can use either their Northwest or First Niagara checks until they receive their Northwest debit cards.

What are some of the common concerns of customers?

Call wait times- the current call wait times will be shortened on Monday when additional Call Center staff, dedicated to helping former First Niagara customers through conversion. This added staff will be working for six weeks after conversion.  We’ve also pulled our best and brightest managers and district managers from across our existing footprint to work alongside our new Northwest teams for the next six weeks. We’ve been working with customers to answer their questions and concerns and sincerely appreciate their patience as we work through this conversion.  Questions can be directed to their local Northwest offices or through our customer service center, 1-877-672-5678. Online Banking customers are encouraged to visit our Online Banking Resource Center at for user guides, first-time log in instructions and more.Again, direct deposits and automatic payments—they’ll continue without interruption through November 9.  We encourage customers to update anyone automatically debiting or crediting their accounts with their new Northwest numbers.  First Niagara checks will also continue to be accepted through November 9.


Important Dates- Conversion Weekend
Friday, September 9- Monday, September 12
  • The 18 First Niagara offices transitioning to Northwest will close at 3 p.m. on Friday.  They’ll be closed all weekend and reopen at 9 a.m. on Monday as Northwest offices.  Over the weekend, although otherNorthwest and First Niagara offices will be open, you won’t have access to in-branch banking.  If you have questions, please call us at 1-877-672-5678, weekdays from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from8 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Remember– starting Saturday, September 17, ourSaturday hours will extend to 4 p.m.
  • Activate and begin using your Northwest debit card at 3 p.m. on Friday.  If you try to use your card before this time, it will be declined.
  • Begin using your new Northwest checks on Saturday. If you’re still waiting for your checks at that time, continue using your First Niagara checks until your Northwest checks arrive.
  • Activate your Northwest credit card beginning Sunday.
  • First Niagara Online Banking ends at 7 p.m. on Friday.  You can access Northwest Online Banking starting Monday at 8  For more information about NorthwestOnline Banking, visit our online resource center, where you’ll find user guides, login instructions, systems requirements and more.Be on the lookout, we’ll send you another email Monday morning with more Online Banking instructions.
TIP:  You should have received your new checks and cards.  If you haven’t, we recommend that you have some cash on hand this weekend. Stop by your local First Niagara office or an ATM before 3 p.m. on Friday, September 9.
If you have any questions, please call 1-877-672-5678 during the hours listed above.  Keep in mind, we’re expecting longer-than-usual wait times over the next week as we answer customer questions related to the conversion.  We appreciate your patience as we help you and others through this process. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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