The Useful Duck!

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Monday, April 29, 2024

Oregon's New Unemployment Program has a clever name but doesn't work. Frances is a slow learner or just more administrative dysfunction

My unemployment misadventure is becoming less entertaining.

I have collected zero unemployment benefits. This is not the end of the world for me as I don't pay rent and I have a freezer full of beef. However, there are people in Oregon losing their homes because of the failure of Frances.

Frances is the clever acronym for the new Oregon Unemployment Insurance benefits website. It went online March 1st of 2024. It was not a complete failure, only a partial failure.

I expect any new software to have some bugs but the problem with glitches in the Frances website are compounded by the structure of the State of Oregon administrative state. 

If something goes wrong with your claim, there is no reliable way to fix it. Sure, the spokesman will say there are several options for help built into the system. That is true. But they actually solve the problems people are having.

There is an online chat icon. I think it is an owl. It bounces with enthusiasm when you ask it a question. I found that despite the nice graphic, it is mostly programmed with stock answers to imagined questions. There is supposedly a live chat also but I have very mixed results with that option.

There is a phone number to call for help. The phone number is always busy. If you get past the first busy signal then you get a second busy signal and it hangs up on you.

There is a message feature that is a little hard to find. This is NOT email or text messaging as you might imagine. You write a message in the Frances website and you are assigned a number. You may or may not get a speedy reply. You must use that number with all correspondence. 

I found it is best to list only one problem at a time and include your phone number. At first there was a really good chance of getting help. I spoke on the phone with a couple people and they really helped me. However, they called me as I had included my phone number in my message. Now they don't even answer my messages.

The live helpers are limited in what they can do. This is also the problem with going in to a WorkSource Oregon location. The live people I talked to were very helpful. They could all look at my account and see possible problems, but they could not fix the problems,. Apparently there are caseworkers behind the scenes who make the decisions and they are separated from the real world by a wall of bureaucracy.

Also, I suspect those caseworkers are actually contract workers in India.

My problems with Frances started March 1st. 

Suddenly, my password would no longer work. I could not prove my identity but I was in the system. It took a month but I found someone who helped me. I can't really talk about that made a promise. I was lucky.

I can now log in. And whhile I missed the March unemployment because I couldn't record my job search, I was eligible in February and April forward.

Every week I log my job search and every week I get declined. 

The letter states that since I worked at an educational institution Oregon law requires that I verify that I am not on spring break. (I swear I am not making this up) I have filled out questionnaires asking me this question. I have written messages stating that I worked in facilities and we work during spring and summer breaks, I went as far as to point out that even if they didn't want to pay me for the week of spring break, there were no Schools that had a three month spring break!

I have written messages online. I tried to file and appeal online. I even wrote an actual letter and sent it though the US Postal Service.

Last Thursday I went to WorkSource Oregon location (again) and I bought my letters and I ask for help. The fellow was a little grumpy which I don't mind. I actually prefer grumpy and effective to happy and a bit dim. He dives in to my file.

After a lot of muttering behind his computer he comes up with this diagnosis. Someone keeps denying me benefits because they think I am on spring break. My former employer may be objecting to my collection. of benefits but he can't tell if that is the case. He didn't think they had responded yet.

So I went home and email the head of the University HR and asked her. I got a very nice and very quick reply. They were not objecting and she was going to log into Frances from her end and see if she could fix the problem. 

We shall see...

In other news:

I have been working like a dog! Unfortunately for me, I cannot charge for my work as I must not have any income or I will have serious insurance problems. I have been helping out neighbors and building a sprayer. As long as my diesel tank is full and someone helps me load bags, I am good.

I no-tilled oats in a little valley that I never knew existed

I am building a sprayer for the Gator. Since I have no income I have been using up all the parts I bought on sale and buckets of leftovers from other projects. It is going to be interesting. A seven nozzle sprayer with a five section auto rate controller, gps speed control, and output for my FarmerGPS guidance system. Pretty much overkill for a 15 foot RTV sprayer and a 50 gallon tank!

Friends from Church invited us to an Alabama tribute band concert. It was absolutely entertaining. There were old folks dancing in the aisles. Plus they totally rocked. They also ROCKED really black wigs. Our friends said they have been going to tribute band concerts. They saw a Eagles cover band and a Led Zeppelin cover band. This might be a good plan. They tribute bands are fans and they love the music. They were not bored with playing the same songs. It is also cheap. You are not paying $150 and up to see a group of 80 year olds mumble through the words. Of course the bonus real bands is might get to see Bono have a heart attack on stage. This is also the bonus when you watch Joe Biden eat an ice cream.. But I digress...

1 comment:

  1. You might want to apply to be a customer service rep for the unemployment system. You appear to have as much experience with the system as anyone; that would allow you to solve your own issues.


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