National City brand to disappear


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The familiar green-and-white National City brand is set to disappear from the Pittsburgh area in just over a week when PNC Financial Services Group converts customer accounts to the PNC system, a move that joins the No. 1 and No. 2 financial institutions in the region.

PNC will close about 80 National City branches in the Pittsburgh market at 4 p.m. next Friday and reopen them at 8 a.m. the following Monday under the PNC banner.

It will be the first wave of conversions since PNC completed the takeover of Cleveland-based National City on Dec. 31. Besides Pittsburgh, about 160 National City offices in the Erie region, Florida and eastern Ohio, are part of the first wave. All markets are set to be converted by the end of June.

New ATM/debit cards for Pittsburgh customers were mailed Wednesday. Customers should be receiving them today and tomorrow.

As part of the merger, PNC is permanently closing 12 branches in the Pittsburgh market where National City and PNC offices overlapped. Seven are National City branches and five are PNC offices. Those offices will shut down at 2 p.m. next Friday. For a list of those locations visit http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09265/999749-28.stm.

PNC has done eight other conversions in the last five years, but this one will be the biggest. The bank isn't allowing retail employees to take vacation during a four-week period surrounding the conversion, so there will be extra staff manning the customer service lines. PNC also will be deploying staff to stand outside National City offices Friday evening and Saturday to redirect customers to the nearest PNC branch.

Here are some highlights of the changes and restrictions National City customers can expect during the conversion Nov. 6-9: (None apply to existing PNC customers).

• Customers can activate their new PNC ATM/debit cards, which were mailed Wednesday, as soon as 8 a.m. Friday, Nov. 6, by calling the number on the sticker or by visiting a branch. Personal identification numbers remain the same. Once new cards are activated, the old ones stop working. Customers have until Dec. 7 to make the switch to their new cards.

• Online and mobile banking will be unavailable starting 3 p.m. Friday until 8 a.m. Monday. Automated telephone banking will be down from 3 p.m. Friday until 6 a.m. Monday. When online banking resumes, passwords and PINs will remain the same. Scheduled payments and transfers will resume automatically.

• Customers can use automated teller machines to get cash throughout the conversion, but balances won't be available until Saturday afternoon.

• Most account numbers will change, except for National City credit cards. Cardholders won't get their new credit cards with the PNC logo until their existing cards expire.

• Customers in the Pittsburgh market already should have received new account numbers and a personalized account information package.

• Although checking account numbers are changing, customers can use their existing supply of National City checks before ordering new ones from PNC. "We had a [business] customer who just ordered four years worth of [National City] checks," said PNC retail market executive Jim Balouris. "They were panicky, but we just said continue to use them. We will continue to process those checks, and they will clear."

• Customers with National City mortgages should continue to mail payments to the same address. Effective Nov. 7, checks should be made payable to PNC Mortgage.

• To handle questions, PNC's customer service line, 877-762-5570, will be open until 9 p.m. Friday and from 8. a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

PNC's share of deposits in the Pittsburgh region zoomed to 46 percent after taking over National City, up from 36 percent. PNC's market share would have been even higher, but the bank was required to divest 61 branches in Western Pennsylvania with about $4 billion in deposits. New York-based First Niagara Financial purchased 57 of those offices, giving it its first presence in Pennsylvania.


Patricia Sabatini: psabatini@post-gazette.com ; 412-263-3066.


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