Offline system appears to plague unemployment call center, DEO won’t say why

8 On Your Side

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — 8 On Your Side continues to take your problems with the state’s broken unemployment system straight to Florida’s leaders.

Like a broken record, we keep hearing complaints about unemployment applicants getting nowhere with the state’s call center.

The problem goes beyond sitting on hold for hours.

Those seeking information about their unprocessed claim, like Jay Alley of Land o’ Lakes, say they often are faced with a call center employee who claims to not be able to do anything because the system is offline. These calls are during business hours when the CONNECT system should be online.

Alley’s wife recorded video of one of his encounters this week on the phone with a Department of Economic Opportunity call center employee. You can hear the anguish in his voice as he realizes hours of waiting resulted in no progress.

“Did she just say the entire site is down?” you hear Alley’s wife ask him in the video. “Yeah, and she has access to things I can’t see but she can’t get in” he responds.

“So after seven weeks, she can’t even give you one answer?” she asks.

Like thousands of other out-of-work Floridians, the husband and father applied for unemployment in March only to be rejected and then told to re-apply.

The second claim still has not gone through. As bill collectors keep calling, Alley’s calls to the unemployment office go nowhere.

Just this week, Alley says he spent collectively ten hours on hold.

Two of the three times he managed to actually get someone on the phone, the person on the line told him the system was down and therefore there was nothing they could do.

“As you can see in the video, it’s plain and simple,” Alley told 8 On Your Side. “We’re just being forgotten about.”

Seven weeks of no income means Alley is down to his last 200 dollars.

We know the state’s unemployment site is only online 12 hours a day, five days a week.

The system goes offline overnight from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. for processing and maintenance. DEO has also taken it down entirely over the last couple of weekends.

With 168 hours in a week, that means the CONNECT site is only online 60 hours…or 35 percent of the time.

Given stories like Alley’s, it appears it may be online even less than that.

“When they’re open, they’re not,” he said. “It’s plain and simple.”

As always, 8 On Your Side is demanding answers from DEO including head of unemployment Jonathan Satter.

We asked why the site was going offline during the window of time it’s supposed to be functional, and if that wasn’t what was happening, why call center employees are telling claimants it is?

We are still waiting on a response.

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