By Sunana Batra | Colorado Watchdog
More than half of the unemployed who rely on the Colorado Department of Labor for help expressed extreme frustration with the agency for poor performance, according to the department’s internal survey, obtained by Colorado Watchdog under the state’s open records act.
The survey measured customer satisfaction with CDLE’s handling of unemployment insurance claims in terms of promptness, courtesy, responsiveness, knowledge of claimant’s problems, and the CDLE website.
“Process my claim!! Unemployment is supposed to be a safety net, but for me there is no net,” wrote a respondent. “My claim is pending review, but I can’t get any information. It is almost impossible to call into your office. The only time I didn’t get automatically hung up on was when I called right at 7:30 am. And even then I was on hold for an hour before I talked to a live person. She was very nice, but told me that calling was a waste of time as there was nothing she could do. That the claim needed to be reviewed, and that that could take up to 8 weeks. That’s crazy!! I am searching for a new job, I have creditors calling me. I’m just very frustrated.”
Several survey respondents noted the irony of an unemployment benefits office that might be understaffed. “Maybe hire some of us unemployed people and it would solve some of the problems,” said one.
Eighty percent of people completing the survey identified themselves as unemployment insurance claimants. Nearly 20 percent said they were job seekers.
An astounding 81 percent said they “strongly disagree” or “somewhat disagree” that unemployment insurance staff delivered service and support in a timely manner. A mere 9 percent of respondents report any level of satisfaction with the delivery of service and timeliness of support they received.
Just 7.5 percent of respondents “strongly agreed” or “somewhat agreed” that unemployment insurance staff provides assistance and is helpful in resolving problems. Nearly half — 46.3 percent — “strongly disagreed” with the statement.
More than 36 percent of respondents “strongly disagreed” or “somewhat disagreed” that staff consistently acted in a courteous and professional manner. Only 14 percent said they “strongly agree” or “somewhat agree” that staff acted courteously and professionally.
Getting direct answers to questions also proved difficult for many. Forty percent of respondents “strongly disagreed” or “somewhat disagreed” in response to whether CDLE staff had the knowledge to answer questions; less than 13 percent of people said they “strongly agreed” or “somewhat agreed” that staff was knowledgeable enough to answer questions posed by claimants.
Interestingly, individuals who opted to use the department website to apply for unemployment, check their eligibility status or seek jobs fared slightly better than those who spoke with an actual employee.
Still, a clear majority, 65.5 percent, said they were dissatisfied with their ability to find the information they needed on the website. Almost 22 percent found the website helpful.
In an essay section, 95 percent of respondents mentioned frustration with the near-impossibility of speaking to an actual customer service representative in a timely manner. That swamped all other concerns — including long hold times on the phone, a lack of customer service, and lack of web support.
Phone wait times have long been an issue for the CDLE, as this May 2011 report from CBS 4 in Denver shows. ”Colorado’s unemployment benefits system is “overwhelmed” according to its new director, with some claimants waiting on hold for as long as 3 hours to get questions answered,” the story leads.
Colorado Watchdog contacted the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment for comment, and were told to call back later: the individual responsible for addressing such inquiries was unavailable until July 2.
The following are additional comments left by survey respondents:
- I have called over 200 times in the last two weeks, most times I just get the we are very sorry, there is no one available to help you. The one time I did get through I waited on hold for two hours and then was given no information other than we are backed up, and it will be another two weeks or more before your claim is handled or even looked at. Hiring more people or training more staff would be helpful. Working within the six weeks that all your paperwork says you will would work too. Even the handbook that you sent says 6 weeks, My claim is over two months old now and I still have heard nothing on it. There is no where to leave a message either by phone , by email or another way. I can be contacted at 719-3XX-4XXX. Yes I am frustrated because things are not happening the way that the websites states or the way the handbook states.
- I cannot get through to speak to a human. I called on Tuesday, May 22 and was hold for 45 minutes and got disconnect. I called today, Thursday, May 24 and keep getting directed to do the self help line, which gives me the information I am already seeing on line. I would like to talk to someone regarding my claim and the timeframe of a “pending approval” statement. I really need money for bills and am getting a bit stressed from LXXX corporation not paying me properly upon seperation, which is going through Department of Labor currently and now they are holding up my unemployment benefits. I am getting stressed and need some answers. Changes: More operators to talk to people who are stressed and need someone to talk to for answers. Maybe hire some of us unemployed people and it would solve some of the problems.
- The wait time for call is ridiculous. I understand there are a lot of people that need to be helped, but I’ve been on hold for currently 2 hours and 49 minutes (still counting) and that was AFTER I called every 5 minutes for over 4 hours. I was finally put on hold and although I was warned my wait might exceed 120 minutes, its very very nerve wrecking to not be able to get your issues solved before bills or rent are due. Its now after 4:30pm MST but the line still has me on hold…I don’t know what to do. This whole processes for a simple claim reopening shouldn’t be this difficult.
- telephone system, takes a week to get thru to someone and seem to be on the phone the whole day and its very frustrating, its like having a job and it takes away from time that i’m searching for a job!
- Colorado Unemployment is the most ridiculous service ever! You advise people to call in and you can never reach a live person! I had to contact NEWS4 just to get a call back, and when I did get a call back the woman who called me was clueless it wasn’t even my case manager! MY BENEFITS ARE ON HOLD FOR REVIEW and have been OVER 10 weeks now! THIS IS LUDICROUS!! HIRE some more people or do something! NO ONE CAN GET THROUGH! You must take about 5 calls a day! It’s a shame that the people are suffering and no one is doing a DAMN thing about it!!