Now a story you'll see only on 7: When you call a state agency it's a no brainer, you expect someone to answer the phone. But Hank found one critical state office where people who need help the most can rarely get through! Now changes are in the works! Hank investigates.
You know what Leia does day after day?
She calls the state's unemployment office. Problem is--she can never get through to a real person...
Leia: "It's a huge waste of time."
This woman wants to stay anonymous--but know what "Jane" does day after day?
She does the same thing. But she's never talked to a real person either.
“Jane”: “The system is not working for us.”
Both women are desperately need someone from the state’s call center to help them with their unemployment benefits since their layoffs, that money is all they're living on. But instead of information and assistance all they get is this recorded message:
"We will not be able to answer your call at this time. Your call is important to us. Please try your call again later.”
It’s true. Many frantic callers dialing the state’s call center about their state unemployment benefits don’t get put on hold, they can’t leave a message and forget about someone answering the phone. We tried the unemployment info line over and over, different days, different times for several weeks, we followed the recorded instructions but like these women we never ever got to talk to anyone.
“Please try your call again later.”
What's going on here? Michele Amanta is in charge of the call centers.
Hank: “Everyone who is calling really needs an answer!”
Michelle Amante, Massachusetts Division of Unemployment Assistance: “Sure.”
Hank: “And often they don't get it!”
Michelle Amante, Massachusetts Division of Unemployment Assistance: “They will get it eventually. Unfortunately, it’s not necessarily the day they want it.”
Clearly there aren’t enough people to answer these phones, but Amante explains its tough time for everyone.
Michelle Amante, Massachusetts Division of Unemployment Assistance: "We're a government agency, and I cannot hire 200 people at the drop of a dime to handle the calls."
But now after our inquiries the state is adding some new call center employees and expanding their hours. Will that solve the problem? They hope so.
Hank: “You know how angry people are about this, don't you?”
Michelle Amante, Massachusetts Division of Unemployment Assistance: “This is not something we're happy about, we are frustrated with them.”
So now--some good news for frustrated callers –soon you won’t have to call at all! 7News has learned a new online system is in the works. Starting July 1, you’ll be able to apply for benefits and check your status from your computer. For more information click here: http://www.mass.gov/lwd/unemployment-insur/
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