JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Thousands of Floridians are slowly climbing their way out of the unemployment maze. That means making sure paperwork is correct and any overpayments are dealt with.
However, the maze keeps winding when claimants report they can’t even reach Department of Employment of Opportunity.
People on the Navigating Florida's Unemployment Maze Facebook group say they wait for hours and never reach anyone. Some are calling because they’re owed benefits. Others are trying to clear their account of an overpayment.
The call center gets 9,278 calls on average per day, according to DEO.
“It’s not just a wait time. It’s a waste of time," Vanessa Brito said. "You call and you stay on hold for two hours. You get to a call center rep who doesn’t have enough privileges to handle your case. Then it has to escalate and you’re basically back to calling every day just to make yourself feel better until someone actually deals with your case.”
Brito has been helping thousands of Floridians navigate the unemployment system. She talks to dozens who are stuck because they can’t reach someone at the call center.
People like Josh Glunt who says he has been trying for weeks. Ashley Lembert who says she waited 2 hours on the phone and no one answered. Another woman told First Coast News she was afraid if she doesn't reach someone soon, she'll be forced to pay the overpayment that she says is incorrect.
DEO claims wait time for the Reemployment Assistance Contact Center at 1-833-352-7759 is an hour.
“Why the lack of transparency?" Brito wants to know. "Just be honest and let people know ‘hey if you’re going to call be prepared to wait for 2 hours.”
She says the data doesn't add up.
DEO data obtained by First Coast News shows the call center gets on average 9,278 calls a day with an average of 129 people taking the calls. DEO did not specify if 129 people work at the same time, but if they did that means each would take about 71 calls a day to talk to everyone.
In an 8 hour work day, that would require each phone call to last less than 7 minutes.
Over the last few years, Brito has developed shortcuts to help you reach a live person. Her telephone directory can be found here.
She also advises you to document every time you call by taking screenshots.
Then if you can’t get a hold of anyone, report it to the Department of Labor at US Department of Labor Regional Office for Complaints RO3-RA-ATL@dol.gov.
She says that’ll put a 48 hour deadline on DEO to get back to you.