Frustration with NCDES call center persists

People struggling to get answers

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Eight months into the pandemic and unemployment crisis that came with it, North Carolinians are still say they can’t get answers from call center employees that are supposed to help them. While the North Carolina Division of Employment Security says it’s taken steps to improve the quality, customers still call WBTV to complain consistently.

JD Bush heard the automated response of the NCDES hotline so often, but got so few answers he couldn’t take it anymore.

“Most of us now have reached the point where we don’t even call any more,” Bush said.

Bush was furloughed for just a single week in June but his unemployment claim is still pending. He’s called DES at least a dozen times.

“But then they never have an answer for you,” Bush said.

“They just never have any advice to give you on when the claim is going to be paid or if the claim is going to be paid, they just say it’s in process, just wait.”

Bush and others have complained to WBTV that different call center representatives give different answers but sometimes they’re lucky if they even get an answer.

Bush described one instance in which a call center representative told him his HR department needed to contact DES but when they did the DES representative said that Bush needed to call back instead.

“Stayed on the line fifteen minutes with that agent only for her to tell me that she can’t patch me through to a specific agent because they didn’t have that capability and after being on hold for several minutes I got disconnected. So just week after week of that,” Bush said.

WBTV received these complaints so frequently that we filed a records request with DES for the training materials they’re giving to call center representatives. Two months later and we still don’t have those records.

In May DES announced it was adding 1,000 call center agents to the private contractor it was working with but at this point in the pandemic the problem doesn’t appear to be the volume of workers but the quality of the service.

“Somebody should at least be able to tell us here’s why you haven’t been paid,” Bush said.

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