OESC call backlog, vender issues leave Oklahomans waiting hours for unemployment assistance

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission said phones have been ringing off the hook, causing claimants to wait for hours to get help from representatives.

“It’s like a carrot on a string,” said Rita Goode, who has spent hours trying to speak to a representative on the phone. “Each time I reach for the carrot, they pull it back.”

Goode said if she knew how long it would take to get an answer,  she would have done something else.

“In total, about 7-and-a-half hours and several phone calls,” she told News 4. “Had I already been able to get my claim in, I could’ve spent all that time looking for work.”

The Executive Director of the OESC, Shelley Zumwalt, said the call center is overloaded and is working to take care of it.

Zumwalt said the commission sees a spike in calls when there are technical problems with their vendor, who hands out the checks to claimants.

“Earlier in the week, we had an issue with Conduent payment processing, which causes call volumes to spike,” said Zumwalt.  “[Conduent] is a state contract. It’s not one with the OESC. That’s basically something that we utilize on that state contract but we are also required to.”

The OESC said the payment issues from Monday have been fixed, but the calls haven’t stopped.

“We’re seeing people call back in if they can’t get ahold one day It’s trailing on,” said Zumwalt.  

Now, the OESC is bringing over workers with the call center it partners with to handle the uptick in calls.

“They’re trained staff it’s just, we want to make sure we have proper staffing level so we can be good stewards of that taxpayer dollar,” the Executive Director said. “We don’t necessarily scale up fast. We wait to make sure that we need them and those numbers.”

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Even though Goode was able to finally reach a representative, she’s still skeptical.

“I’m keeping my fingers crossed, but not holding my breath,” said the claimant.

The OESC said they’re hoping to put a dent in the call volume on Wednesday but so far, it’s not sure when the calls will start to level off again.

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