The state's beleaguered unemployment insurance system suffered yet another setback this week, with users unable to file for benefits online or through the automated phone line just as holiday bills are piling up.

The state's beleaguered unemployment insurance system suffered yet another setback this week, with users unable to file for benefits online or through the automated phone line just as holiday bills are piling up.

Visitors to the website on Sunday and Monday were greeted with a note in red type: "We are experiencing intermittent technical problems." Those who turned to the automated phone line got a busy signal.

The new $46 million unemployment system has been plagued with problems since it was rolled out July 1, ranging from claimants being denied benefits for weeks to jobless people improperly receiving bills saying they owed the state thousands of dollars.

During an October state Senate hearing about problems with the service, a principal with Deloitte Consulting, which built the computer system, said that there have been 100 to 300 claims issues a week related to the conversion to the new system. Some people waited months to receive benefits.

David Goldstein, an unemployed electrical engineer from Groton, spent about 14 hours on Sunday and Monday trying to process his weekly claim. At times, the site wouldn't let him log on. When it did, it moved slowly, pages freezing and hourglasses spinning. Once, he spent two hours and got almost all the way to the end, only to have the system kick him back to the beginning when he hit the "submit" button.

Getting through on the phone proved equally impossible. The automated system was down, and calls to the help center staffed by live workers went to a recorded "neverland," Goldstein said.

By Monday afternoon, he was finally able to complete the process, although he never did get a confirmation.

''If I was working someplace and they had this sort of problem, I'd be in the IT department saying, 'Is anybody still alive?'"‰" he said.

Rebecca Tanguay, a social worker who was laid off from a Fall River substance abuse clinic in April, submitted a complaint to the state after spending all day Sunday trying to access the system. She received an e-mail response stating that the difficulties were "most likely because of our need to reprogram the system due to the end of the federal extension."

More than 1.3 million jobless workers across the country, including Tanguay and nearly 60,000 others in Massachusetts, lost unemployment benefits last weekend when the federal extension program ended after Congress adjourned without reauthorizing it. Tanguay's next payment will be her final one.

''I have bills and now I'm going to incur all these late fees," said Tanguay, noting that without the roughly $200 the state deposits every Tuesday after she files her claim, she wouldn't have enough money in her bank account to cover payments due this week.

''I'm just disgusted at the whole system," Tanguay said.

The unemployment office finally processed Tanguay's claim over the phone Monday afternoon, but said the money could be deposited as late as next week.

Tanguay later received another e-mail saying the technical issues were not related to the federal extension.

The state Department of Unemployment Assistance declined to say whether the extension cutoff was part of the problem.

The unemployment department said it was working on the issues and extending call center hours to help people trying to file for benefits. The department said that the call center had received and was "in the process of answering" nearly 9,400 calls as of noon Monday.

''These temporary issues have no impact on a claimant's eligibility for benefits," the department said in a statement. "We are working diligently to quickly resolve this issue, and sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this may be causing claimants."