Wedding Planning Service owner struggles to fix errors on Florida’s unemployment website

The website claims he had no earnings for his primary employment

A Central Florida self-employed business owner says he was told his prior income was $0 while trying to apply for unemployment.

DEBARY, Fla. – Shortly after April’s stay-at-home orders prompted Chris Cummings to temporarily close L’Amour.

L’Amour is his wedding and events company, the self-employed business owner filed an application seeking unemployment benefits.

Cummings later returned to Florida’s unemployment website to check on the application status and he discovered a big error.

“It said my income was not sufficient to file for unemployment benefits,” Cummings told News 6. “[The website indicated] I made a whopping zero dollars for L’Amour.”

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s unemployment benefits website, called CONNECT, accurately displayed the income Cummings received from a part-time internship.

But it displayed no earnings for his primary employment.

Although Cummings insists he properly entered all required financial information on the application for federal for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, he must now correct the error before he can potentially receive benefits.

The online application suggests users might be able to edit erroneous information themselves, but Cummings was unable to do so.

"[The website] says to edit any added employment information, select 'update'," Cummings told News 6.

But there was no place on CONNECT where Cummings could click his computer cursor to alter his income information.

"There is effectively no way for me to edit my application on the DEO website because their [website] buttons don’t work," he said.

When Cummings first attempted to call DEO, he said he was unable to get through on the phone lines.

"I’m on the phone waiting and a recording comes on and says, 'We’re not able to answer questions in regards to this, and the call volume is so high we cannot give you a call back'," Cummings told News 6.

When he eventually reached DEO by phone, Cummings said the call center worker could not alter the income information on his application.

"I did get a live human, but they were unable to answer my questions in regards to the update," said Cummings. "They seemed to have no idea their website was broken."

News 6 contacted DEO’s communications department to inquire how Cummings should proceed with his unemployment benefits application.

A representative could not immediately address the business owner’s issue but promised to look into the matter.

“With no income coming in from my business or the state, it’s a struggle,” said Cummings, a full-time UCF student who needs money to pay for his education. " If it wasn’t for News 6’s help, I don’t think I would have any contact with DEO."

About the Author:

Emmy Award-winning investigative reporter Mike DeForest has been covering Central Florida news for more than two decades.