CREATED Oct. 24, 2013
LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. - Nine days after Florida Department of Economic Opportunities unveiled a new website for claiming unemployment, many in Southwest Florida are still awaiting their checks.
The $63 million website, CONNECT, has been plagued with technical problems since it launched October 15.
"I don't even know where to turn or what to do, what are we supposed to do, how are you supposed to live with no money coming in?" said Dawn Kamedulski, who hasn't received her last two weekly unemployment checks for $223 each.
Jessica Sims, spokeswoman for DEO, said crews are working around the clock to try to fix the problems, admitting the new site has caused delays for many users.
"DEO sincerely regrets any delays or frustration experienced by claimants," Sims said.
Kamedulski has tried numerous times each day to reach a customer service representative to help solve her problems, but can't get through. The call center won't accept incoming calls when it gets overloaded, instead telling callers to try back another time.
"I'm no closer to getting my money today than I was a week and a half ago," she said.
DEO increased call center staff and expanded its hours of operation, but Sims said the call center is still experiencing high call volume and urges callers to be patient and call back.
Kamedulski said she can't afford to wait much longer with rent, bills and car insurance due. She and her roommate have taken matters into their own hands, forming a Facebook group and online petition.
"People should stand up, that's the only way we can correct it," Kamedulski's roommate, Randy Scott said.
The DEO call center will be open from 7 a.m. - 8 p.m. EST Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. Saturdays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. The phone number is 800-204-2418.
To view the petition, visit: http://j.mp/1eGoAw4