For months now, the debate about the South Carolina Employment Security Commission has raged on. During that time, VUI has held its tongue, so to speak, because, as the Editor, I do not like to write about things that personally affect me.
But, as the debate goes on, perhaps it is time to share the nightmare experience I had with the ESC. Maybe others can identify with what happened to me and my business and join in the demand for reform.
In the summer of 2009, my business received notification from the ESC that a man in Lexington County filed for unemployment benefits from my small business. The man had never been employed by my small business. No one in my business even knew who the man was. I took the form sent to me by the ESC to my local office, along with my forms showing the man never was employed by my business. I signed an appeal and the local people assured me that the matter was concluded and even shared my frustration.
It did not end there. Some weeks later, a letter was sent to my small business telling me that the man in question was approved by the Lexington County office to draw benefits and that my business’s account would be charged. If I challenged such, I was told by the letter to call a Columbia number.
Dutifully, I personally called that number for a better part of a business day. What I got was astounding. The number would ring and ring until it said, without offering voicemail, that no one was available to answer the call. At other times, the number would simply be busy. I grew frustrated and I had things to do. I ended up instructing my secretary to call the number until she got someone and to explain the situation.
Eventually, after a great deal of wasted time, my business reached someone and the problem was remedied. To the ESC’s credit, the money to my small business’s account was restored, and “knock on wood” our rates will not go up.
But, the problem is such a thing happened in the first place. How does the system allow someone who NEVER was employed by a business to draw benefits and drag out setting such right? How can a state agency charged with so much money be so incompetent? How can South Carolina be a friendly place for business when businesses have to spend so much time just trying to correct the government’s mistakes?
So, yes, there is a real problem with the Employment Security Commission. I learned it firsthand.