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4 months ago

My Kafka-esque Nightmare with Unemployment in Florida : Since ranting and raving on Twitter has gotten me nowhere, and I know several news organizations scroll through here looking for their next story, I thought I would regale you all with my tail of living and dying being on hold with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO). My boss closed his office in early-March. With the nature of the pandemic, the work ground to a halt, he didn't want to pay rent for an empty office, so he closed up shop and decided to do all the work from home, and re-staff once the world woke up again. I got a severance package that ended in mid-March. After that expired, I attempted to file for unemployment. Because I had filed for unemployment in 2009, I apparently still had an existing account with the DEO. In order to reset the PIN to login, I needed to answer security questions I answered 11 years ago. One of the questions was "Where is your favorite vacation spot?" I have no idea what I would have answered that in 2009, so I was forced to call the phone number to reset my PIN. Calling that number was a series of hangups, recorded messages, and being on hold. Numerous times, I'd be on hold for over 30 minutes and the call would drop. Finally, one day in late March, I got through and was told to send a photo of my driver's license and social security card to an e-mail address. While that would appear to be a bad idea for security on multiple levels, I did it, because it was the only way I would make any progress. I received no response. In late-March, paper applications for unemployment were made available. I filled one out, and sent it in. Weeks later, no response. In early-April, a "new" online unemployment system was established for claims. I entered in my information for an online claim. It has been listed as "Pending-Submitted" since then. After weeks of calling, being on hold, and being hung up on, I finally got through to a customer service representative named Omari last Friday (a week ago today). Omari tells me the number I've been calling, which is on the DEO website as the number for pending claims, is the wrong number to call entirely. He gives me a different number to call. That number, again, has busy signals, dropped calls, and messages telling me all lines are busy. I finally got through on the new number on Wednesday. The customer service representative I reached? Was Omari. The same Omari who told me I had called the wrong number. The "new" number he gave me went to the same batch of customer service representatives as the old one. Omari again told me he couldn't help me, and to try again at the number he gave me last week. Wednesday afternoon, I got through to a representative named Jennifer, who told me at the start of the call that her system was down and she can't help any callers. She told me she was still taking callers even though she can't help them because if she doesn't, she doesn't get paid. Thursday morning (yesterday), I finally got through to a representative named Jeremy. Jeremy told me, for the first time, that my claim had been flagged for fraud. He couldn't tell me why. He couldn't tell me when. He couldn't tell me why nobody contacted me asking for more information. I told him I would send whatever was necessary to get this fixed--another photo of my license, my social, blood sample, hair sample, urine sample, photo of me holding today's paper, whatever. He said he couldn't help me. However, he said that he would have a supervisor call me back before the end of the day on Thursday. Shockingly, that never happened. Late Thursday, just before 5:00 PM, I received an automated e-mail from the DEO with a "temporary PIN" to allow me to log into the system. The problem is PIN codes for login are four digits. The "temporary PIN" was three digits. It doesn't work. So now, I have a claim flagged for fraud for unknown reasons. Nobody will tell me why it was flagged, when it was flagged, or what I can do to fix it. I've been sitting at home for nearly three months trying to play by the rules in a system designed to fail the people who need it most. I have a new job offer in place, but can't start until June 15th, when their office re-opens and I can begin the work. I've run through my three months worth of savings, I won't be able to make rent next week, I've had to get extensions on every bill I have. I am aware 95% of the sub won't give a toss about these issues, and that's fine. But the Times, ABC28, WFLA, whoever else lurks this sub for news stories...can I get some help? TLDR: The bureaucratic nightmare of the Florida DEO is draining my will to live. Full Article
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