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WI Unemployment Drops 86% Of Its Calls

From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

Wisconsin unemployment phone line dropped 86% of calls

The voices taunt thousands of Wisconsin’s unemployed.

By Ellen Gabler of the Journal Sentinel

Posted: Sept. 6, 2009

Here’s what happens: Unemployed people call a hotline run by the Department of Workforce Development to check on their claims for unemployment benefits or to answer agency questions about their application.

The calm, recorded voice of a woman says: "To speak with the next available claims specialist, press 0."

But about 86% of the time, the caller is soon disconnected with a simple "Goodbye" from the calm, recorded voice of a man.

The callers still don’t know why their unemployment checks haven’t hit their bank account, and they can’t ask a live person any questions.

"Those checks were my lifeline to pay my bills," said Jeff Sohns, a laid-off wholesale mortgage broker from Wauwatosa, whose unemployment insurance checks were held up for four weeks in August while he waited for the agency to sort out questions about his job search.

The worst part, Sohns said, was he tried to call the inquiry line at least a dozen times but still had no idea why his checks weren’t coming or how to fix the situation.

"This whole month, it’s been a nightmare," said Sohns, who finally received his weekly checks last week after he got through to a claims specialist and discovered information was missing from his file.

Officials with the Department of Workforce Development said the phone system drops calls so people don’t sit in a queue for too long.

State employees and unemployed workers say frustration levels have been boiling over because of the situation.

[The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s] Public Investigator reviewed eight months of call center data after hearing that laid-off workers were unable to find out what was happening with their checks.

The review shows that on average, about 62,000 calls made to the unemployment inquiry line were dropped during each week of August – more than 86% of all calls that came in. That includes people redialing multiple times after they were disconnected.

Officials said they have tried to address the problem by adding staff, phone lines and server capacity to handle more claims online.

The unemployment insurance division has about 100 more employees than the staff of 550 people a year ago, said Dick Jones, agency liaison for the Department of Workforce Development. Of those 650, a total of 142 are in the call center. The agency is hiring 38 more employees to answer calls…

Public Investigator found that the number of dropped calls is continuing to rise from a low point of 59% in early May

There are more than three times as many claims awaiting appeal compared with one year ago. Agency officials said they have recently hired more staff to address the backlog of 2,500-plus appeals…

Last month, Steve Hansen considered driving from his Kenosha home to the agency’s Madison headquarters to find out why his checks were stopped. Hansen was laid off in July and received two checks soon after. Then the checks stopped, and he tried to call the inquiry line to find out why…

Hansen’s plan wouldn’t have likely worked. People can’t stop in at an actual office to ask about their claims.

The agency did away with local offices in the mid-1990s and is able to handle more cases by using the online system, said Allan Alt, chief of the systems and processing section for the Division of Unemployment Insurance…

Hey, if you think this is fun now, just wait until the calls are about whether you will get your cancer operation or not.

(Thanks to BillK for the heads up.)

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, September 8th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

7 Responses to “WI Unemployment Drops 86% Of Its Calls”

  1. BillK says:

    Remember, these people want to run health care.

    From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

    Wisconsin unemployment phone line dropped 86% of calls

    By Ellen Gabler

    The voices taunt thousands of Wisconsin’s unemployed.

    Here’s what happens: Unemployed people call a hotline run by the Department of Workforce Development to check on their claims for unemployment benefits or to answer agency questions about their application.

    The calm, recorded voice of a woman says: “To speak with the next available claims specialist, press 0.”

    But about 86% of the time, the caller is soon disconnected with a simple “Goodbye” from the calm, recorded voice of a man.

    The callers still don’t know why their unemployment checks haven’t hit their bank account, and they can’t ask a live person any questions.

    “Those checks were my lifeline to pay my bills,” said Jeff Sohns, a laid-off wholesale mortgage broker from Wauwatosa, whose unemployment insurance checks were held up for four weeks in August while he waited for the agency to sort out questions about his job search.

    The worst part, Sohns said, was he tried to call the inquiry line at least a dozen times but still had no idea why his checks weren’t coming or how to fix the situation.

    “This whole month, it’s been a nightmare,” said Sohns, who finally received his weekly checks last week after he got through to a claims specialist and discovered information was missing from his file.

    Officials with the Department of Workforce Development said the phone system drops calls so people don’t sit in a queue for too long.

    State employees and unemployed workers say frustration levels have been boiling over because of the situation.

    Public Investigator reviewed eight months of call center data after hearing that laid-off workers were unable to find out what was happening with their checks.

    The review shows that on average, about 62,000 calls made to the unemployment inquiry line were dropped during each week of August – more than 86% of all calls that came in. That includes people redialing multiple times after they were disconnected. …

    http://www.jsonline.com/watchdog/pi/57617432.html

    What a wonderful design – if the wait for an agent is too long, simply drop the call.

    Sounds like Government to me.

    Coming soon – imposition of a nice long delay for medical treatment, as that way the really sick will die off first.

    Same principle.

  2. Confucius says:

    Press 666 for Hope & Change.

  3. proreason says:

    A microcosm of life under Obamy style fascism.

  4. MinnesotaRush says:

    The state notified me that my vehicles license plates have been revoked and if I am stopped by law enforcement, the plates would be removed from my car and it would be towed and impounded.

    I called the phone number provided to correct the obvious mistake on their part .. I purchased the vehicle and transfered title/registration in May when my lease expired .. and got a recorded message that informed callers that they were working on vehicle registrations up to Feb 2, 2009.

    So because they are 7 months behind in their work, my vehicle licenses are revoked. And these are the same folks who wanna run health care?!?

    Good luck wid dat!!!

  5. Zilla says:

    It’s bad in Texas also. It took my son’s girlfriend over 200 calls to actually get a person on the line. Alot of the time, you get a recording saying they are not taking calls.

  6. Right of the People says:

    What a great place for some new gubmint jobs creation. What is the phone number; 1-800-USUCKER?

  7. Liberals Demise says:

    Press 1 for English …

    Good-Bye!!


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