It doesn't seem like much of an exaggeration to call this one a bureaucratic nightmare. The Boston Herald reported on Monday that a Massachusetts man erroneously received a staggering 54 letters in one day from the state saying he owed nearly $17,000. The cause appears to simply be a system glitch.
The snafu started when Ian Metcalf, a machine worker from Franklin, Mass., lost his job back in September of last year when the company he worked for was purchased by another. Meanwhile, the state unemployment office recently revamped its computer system, which falsely determined that Metcalf had been overpaid by $16,913. The letters started flying, leaving Metcalf to spend hours upon hours on the phone trying to sort out the mess to no avail.
"All my attempts proved to be fruitless," Metcalf said. "I was just banging my head against the wall.”
Metcalf's unemployment benefits were also affected by the glitch. In an effort to start recouping some of the $17,000, Metcalf says the weekly wages he was receiving from the unemployment office were cut in half.
As it turns out, the media attention surrounding Metcalf's story did more than get the word out on this piece of strange news. The Herald got in touch with the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development to find out more, and although the office was unable to give out further details of the case, Metcalf received a phone call from a case worker apologizing for the mistake within a couple of hours.
UPI added that officials cited the new computer system's "data conversion issues" as a possible explanation for the overcharge.