Florida's unemployment call center as frustrating as website

CREATED Dec. 5, 2013

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LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. - Over the last two months, dozens of viewers have reached out to FOX 4 for help with Florida's new unemployment system.  Since the $63 million system, CONNECT, launched October 15, it's been plagued with technical issues that have prevented some users from being able to claim their benefits.  

Janice Cataldi, of Lehigh Acres, is waiting on more than $1,000 in unemployment benefits she hasn't been able to receive. 

"It's a nightmare, a holy nightmare," she said. "You can't go out and look for a job, you have to have gas money." 

When we asked Governor Rick Scott about the unemployment system and the people who can't get their checks, his response was for those individuals to call the Department of Economic Oppotunity's call center. 

Cataldi estimated she's made more than 200 calls to the call center, but her issue still isn't resolved.
 During the interview, we called the call center eight times and got the same automated response that it's experiencing high call volumes and to call back later. 

"It's so frustrating," she said. "I don't wish this upon anyone."

On the ninth call, Cataldi got through to a part allowing her to hold for a representative.  After an hour and 15 minutes, a DEO representative told her he couldn't help her situation and she has to wait. 

Meanwhile, Fox 4 confirmed US Department of Labor officials are in communication with DEO officials and are "monitoring" the website and how the technical problems are being handled.