BP Claims Center still has unlisted phone; “Tucked away” in strip mall, “small white sign stuck in the grass” not visible from street


For BP, buck stops in Naples, Ft. Myers News Press, July 6, 2010

Tucked away in a strip center called Patriot Square in Naples, sharing a building with Victoria's Nail & Spa, Mangrove Outfitters and others, is Southwest Florida's only BP Claims Center.

The lone identifying mark is a small white sign stuck in the grass out front. The office and sign aren't visible from U.S. 41. Three signs with information about hours and more are taped to the front door.

"We're not the easiest place to find," office manager Tom Wiley said.

This is where people hurt by the oil disaster come seeking assistance.

People such as St. Pete Beach charter captain Dave Katamay, who drove three hours one way to pick up a check. It's where Fort Lauderdale shrimper Mike Brown drove to seek help and left unhappy. ...

Brown... referred to the experience as a paper chase.

"We sent in a three-year registry to their fax number," Brown said, standing in front of the office before returning to Fort Lauderdale 90 miles away.

When Brown visited Thursday, the center still didn't have a listed local phone number. This was his second effort at filing a claim. He had previously visited a BP claims center in Marathon, but was sent home for paperwork.

"They gave us a list of things to bring," Brown said. "They wanted three years tax returns. They wanted profit and loss statements. They wanted all kinds of paperwork that fishermen don't normally do. At the end of the year, we either made money or lost money." Brown often works the Gulf of Mexico but his boat remains on the east coast.

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