UPDATE 11 June, 9:45 am: The ACT Government has announced that the ChooseCBR scheme has been paused for seven days “to address ongoing technical issues”.
Consumers and businesses were informed of the decision early this morning (11 June).
“As you are aware, we took the ChooseCBR website offline yesterday to address the technical issues that were being experienced,” the Choose CBR said.
“We had hoped taking the site down would allow us to fully resolve these issues and prevent further frustrations for businesses and customers.
“Unfortunately, we have not yet been able to fully resolve the issues. Out of an abundance of caution — and so as to not cause further disruption and uncertainty — we have made the difficult decision to pause the program for a further seven days.”
More to come.
UPDATE 10 June, 4:00 pm: The ChooseCBR voucher scheme has been taken offline due to ongoing technical difficulties.
The announcement was made at 3:55 pm this afternoon by Business Minister Tara Cheyne.
It will remain offline until 7:00 am on Friday (11 June) to address issues that have plagued the ChooseCBR website since it launched on Wednesday.
“We have made the difficult decision to take the ChooseCBR site offline until 7:00 am on Friday, 11 June to address outstanding issues and ensure reliability,” Ms Cheyne said.
“However, despite applying a number of significant fixes overnight, a new issue has emerged today with the database.”
The decision to take the site offline has been communicated to all businesses and customers. More than $300,000 worth of vouchers have been claimed since the scheme went live.
“Where businesses have accepted vouchers from customers but not yet been able to redeem them, we will be honouring these, and instructions on how to be reimbursed will be sent to businesses via email.
Ms Cheyne said the ongoing technical issues were regrettable.
“The popularity of the program has far exceeded expectations, and the total amount that was claimed during the trial has nearly been reached less than two days in.
“We know this news is incredibly disappointing. We appreciate Canberrans continuing to treat local businesses and their staff with respect and kindness,” Ms Cheyne said.
1:30 pm: Teething problems continue for the ChooseCBR scheme which launched yesterday (9 June). The website crashed on day one and frustrated customers and businesses are reporting they are still unable to process vouchers more than 24 hours later.
The website was still having problems at 1:00 pm this afternoon.
The IGA Supermarket at Deakin went as far as putting a sign in its front window telling customers the ChooseCBR vouchers would not be accepted.
“We are no longer accepting ChooseCBR vouchers. The system is unreliable and causes too much distress for our staff and customers. We apologise for trying to participate in this program. Please understand this is out of our control,” the sign said.
Region Media understands other IGA supermarkets in Canberra are also declining the vouchers.
A cafe owner from Manuka also contacted Region Media to say questions needed to be asked why people could not access an ACT Government scheme worth $2 million.
“I don’t have time to contact the government and ask what is going on while I’ve got customers waiting more than 10 minutes during the small window I could process the vouchers yesterday,” said the cafe owner who preferred not to be named.
While Minister for Business and Better Regulation Tara Cheyne encouraged more than 50,000 customers to jump online to discover the huge variety of participating businesses, the reality was that discounts from the $2 million worth of digital vouchers could not be passed on.
Each day, customers who have signed up for the program can claim $80 worth of vouchers:
- $10 off when they spend $20 or more
- $20 off when they spend $40 or more
- $50 off when they spend $100 or more.
One of those who tried to access the vouchers was David from Wanniassa. He took his family to the Star Buffet at the Burns Club in Kambah to use the vouchers on dinner for his family of four.
“Our bill was just over $100 and we wanted to use the $50 voucher,” he told Region Media.
“When the cashier tried to apply our discount, they were unable to process it, so we were left to pay the full amount. After our meal, the cashier tried again, but it still didn’t work.
“Basically, we’re out of pocket $50 and we weren’t the only ones. Lots of people in the queue tried to use the vouchers and everyone missed out.”
Problems were evident soon after its launch yesterday (9 June) when the site first crashed, leaving many people wondering how to access the scheme.
Alan Gibson contacted Region Media to say he tried to use a digital voucher for lunch and could only get a web page saying the site was ‘under maintenance’.
“I couldn’t use the vouchers,” he said.
“Although it worked when I checked this morning, and it worked at about 2:30 pm yesterday, it failed at the time it was needed. I’m not going to rely on vouchers again.”
I just rang a local business to order takeaway and was informed that I could not use the #ChooseCBR vouchers as the website is too unreliable and keeps crashing.
— Jessicah Mullins (@JesMullins) June 9, 2021
Many businesses and customers also took to social media to vent their frustration at using the scheme which was trialled last year with $500,000 worth of vouchers.
Minister Tara Cheyne was left to respond to many on social media, sympathising with Canberrans trying to access the scheme.
“I know it’s been frustrating,” she said. “The support we have seen has outstripped what we had during the trial 3-1 and it’s caused new issues for the website. We are doing everything we can to give a better experience.”
ChooseCBR will run until the $2 million in funding is expended.
Anyone aged 18 or over, from Canberra or interstate, can sign up to get their vouchers on the ChooseCBR website.
Shadow Business Minister Leanne Castley said the ACT Government’s much-hyped improvements to the scheme were “unacceptable”.
“Let’s not forget this is the second attempt at launching the ChooseCBR program and on both occasions, there have been significant problems,” Ms Castley said.
“The Labor-Greens Government has had more than enough time since the COVID-19 pandemic began to support small businesses in the ACT and to this point, they have failed.
“Now I fear the ChooseCBR program is going the same way. If this program does not help small business, it is a $2 million waste of money.”