- The Washington Times - Monday, June 5, 2000

Operations at the newly converted SunTrust Bank branches in the area now should be running smoothly after computer glitches affected systems last week, a company spokesman said.

Some customers at the former Crestar Bank had trouble accessing funds because computers were not inputting updated deposit information, said Barry Koling, a SunTrust spokesman. But he reported nearly all glitches were worked out by the weekend.

Mr. Koling said that customers should be able to access their accounts through their bank cards, and should have no trouble with their personal identification numbers (PINs), as published reports said last week.

The problems came as SunTrust Banks Inc. of Atlanta posted its name on the former Crestar Financial Corp. of Richmond, which it bought in late 1998 for $8 billion.

SunTrust now has the biggest market share in the Washington metropolitan area, with 16 percent of the market and $10.1 billion in deposits. It is followed by Bank of America, which has 14.8 percent market share and $9.4 billion in deposits.

Rozzie Bell, a D.C. resident who went to the SunTrust branch at 2 Massachusetts Ave. NW, said she could not get a "quick statement" from the automated teller machine because the menu had been changed.

She had to ask a teller for help, and that woman did provide the information. Ms. Bell, a federal employee and Crestar customer for over 30 years, said she doesn't intend to switch banks.

"Now if this is happening next month …" she said.

Another federal worker, Deborah Osborne, said she had not experienced any problems with computer glitches, but she was unhappy with some of the new bank policies including a higher minimum balance on her accounts. She said she plans to cut down her number of accounts at the bank.

"The account features are as good or better than they were under Crestar, but they're clearly different," Mr. Koling of SunTrust said.

He said the only remaining technical issue on Friday was a bad connection between the bank's branch and mainframe computers. That meant tellers had to call the main office to get balances for customers rather than accessing the number by computer.

But that issue seemed resolved at the Massachusetts Avenue branch, since Ms. Bell received her quick statement via the teller's computer.

Mr. Koling said that all of Crestar's 2 million accounts have been converted to SunTrust, a process that began Memorial Day weekend. The bank waited so long for the name change in order to introduce the SunTrust brand over time, he said. He added that fears over the year-2000 computer bug led the bank to wait for the change.

"These are really the final stages of a merger integration process that has been under way since January 1999," Mr. Koling said.

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