Published: Jun 29, 2010 3:34 AM EDT
Updated: Jun 29, 2010 12:34 AM EDT

SANIBEL, Fla. - A new BP claims office is already handing out checks in Naples, but many Southwest Florida business owners are still trying to figure out the complicated process to get paid.

"Phone stopped ringing.  Emailers stopped writing, and we wondering, you know, they've heard (about the oil)," said Dru Doyle, manager of Ocean's Reach Gulf Front Condominium Resort in Sanibel.  Even though no oil has reached Sanibel's shores, Ocean's Reach has lost customers because of perception.  The business filed its first claim with BP four weeks ago.

"Immediately I received an autoresponse that said BP would be contacting me in 3-4 days," Doyle said.  She still hasn't seen a check.

After seven days with no answer she called BP, and was sent a long list of details she needed to provide.

"A lot of financial information that only a bank or an owner or management company would have access to.  So it's going to be very time consuming," Doyle said.

She and other sanibel business owners met with lawyers and accountants Monday, learning more about the records and details they need to claim lost income.

Adding to the confusion: the claims process will soon be turned over to the government.

"How they process the claims, I think that's going to change," said attorney Aaron Pruss of Becker & Poliakoff.  "I think they're going to be stricter requirements placed on payment."

Attorneys say business owners can't expect to just walk into that new BP claims office in Naples and get paid right away.  Filers need to have a claims number already, by filing already either online or by phone.

The Sanibel-Captiva Chamber of Commerce will host another informational meeting about filing BP claims on Tuesday, June 29th at 9am at the Big Arts Center on Dunlop Road.