SC residents applying for unemployment complain about website, wait times

SC residents applying for unemployment complain about website, wait times

COLUMBIA, S.C. — People in North Carolina aren’t the only ones having trouble trying to apply for unemployment benefits.

Displaced workers in South Carolina said they’re having problems with their state’s website and getting a real person on the phone, too.

Ashley Chiluck said she was a travel agent, that her last day was March 18, and that she’s been applying for unemployment ever since.

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She told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke it looked like she was approved April 1, but then it looked like there was a problem with her account. So she’s been calling. She sent Stoogenke her call history and it shows one call lasted 3 hours and 59 minutes.

“I was on hold for almost four hours and it sounded like somebody picked up the phone, but then they, it disconnected me,” she told Stoogenke.

Chiluck said she did get through a few times, but that each time, the person who answered had to transfer her. “So I was on hold again and then it just totally disconnected me,” she said. “Very frustrated. I can’t get any answers.”

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“Thankfully, we’re OK probably compared to some people. But that’s not going to last forever, you know, we still have bills to pay. And when you drop from two salaries to one, it’s very stressful,” she said.

South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce said the state went from historically low unemployment to historically high unemployment in a matter of weeks. DEW said it answered 62,000 calls in just five days.

So Stoogenke asked DEW what it’s doing to address concerns. It said:

  • It extended its call center hours.
  • Employees are working nights and weekends to call people back.
  • It increased customer service representatives from 46 to – possibly -- 500 this week.
  • It launched a “chatbot” feature this week to answer common questions.

Plus, things may be looking up for people trying to get through. DEW told Stoogenke fewer people are filing claims. It said it just had its first week with a decrease and that hopefully, that continues.

Many out of work still having problems filing for unemployment in NC