Frustrations surrounding the Colo. unemployment phone lines has many worried they won't get paid

Colo. labor investing $72 million on new system

DENVER - For months, people trying to collect an unemployment check in Colorado have faced a slew of problems. The director admits to CALL7 Investigators the system is “broken.”

Callers have reported busy signals, unreturned calls and being put on hold for a long period of time.

Clint Taylor, 31, was laid off from his mortgage broker job earlier this year.

He told CALL7 that he tried calling the CUBline, the state’s benefit line, which he is required to call to get benefits, but always ran into problems with the system.

“I want money that is deserved to be paid out,” said Taylor.

He isn’t alone, CALL7 received numerous calls and emails about the problems with the system. Many are frustrated and worried they wouldn’t get money to pay their bills on time.

Ellen Golombeck, the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Labor, said the system the state uses is more than 20 years old.

"It's just not putting a Microsoft patch on it, putting an app on your phone, that we're so used to," said Golombeck.

She told CALL7 the state system uses COBOL programming and there are only a handful of programmers employed who know the coding language.

Golombeck said the state has approved a $72 million system, paid for through a federal grant, that will replace the antiquated system, but that won’t happen for another four years.

Colorado will share the new system with Wyoming, North Dakota and Arizona.

Golombeck said she has also hired new employees to help answer the phones, but because of training it is delaying getting all the calls answered quickly.

The state told CALL7 that since we began asking questions it has seen some improvements. They said payment processing times are reduced and they are now meeting some of the federal standards on which they were previously rated poor.

The Colorado Division of Labor has also added more staff to the customer contact center. 

A spokewoman for the CDOL added, "by addressing the issues that create the need to call and providing claimants with more information on their claim through online tools, we hope to reduce volume to an overwhelmed phone system and alleviate customer frustration." 

 

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