11 June 2021

ChooseCBR to remain offline for another week as businesses pull out of the scheme

| Dominic Giannini
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Tara Cheyne

Business Minister Tara Cheyne has expressed her frustration with the ChooseCBR website crashing and thanked businesses for their takeup of the scheme. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

ChooseCBR will remain offline until next Friday (18 June) as the ACT Government scrambles to fix the system.

The website crashed on day one on Wednesday (9 June), and frustrated customers and businesses were still unable to process vouchers more than 24 hours later.

The scheme was then taken offline yesterday (10 June) and was supposed to be back up this morning, but businesses and customers woke to text messages saying it would remain offline for another week.

Some businesses have pulled out of the scheme entirely, saying ChooseCBR was too unreliable and causing too much distress for staff and customers.

Business Minister Tara Cheyne apologised for the technical difficulties and expressed her frustration that further problems arose after the government dealt with the issues created by high demand.

Fixes for the webpage included having the map only appear on one page instead of two and changing the updating of the ticker from real-time to every five minutes.

ChooseCBR business sign

A sign at the IGA supermarket at Deakin on Thursday (10 June). Photo: Supplied.

Ms Cheyne said the volume of the transactions far exceeded what the government had expected and the database was not able to handle the volume of users.

“It is far beyond what we saw in the trial,” Ms Cheyne said.

About $30,000 worth of vouchers were claimed each day during the trial, but almost $390,000 worth vouchers were claimed before the government took the website offline yesterday.

This exceeded the amount claimed throughout the entire trial in less than two days.

More than 500 of the 767 businesses that signed up have had a voucher redeemed at their business, and more than 77,000 customers have registered for the vouchers.

Ms Cheyne said that given they had doubled the scheme and the value of the vouchers, the government could have anticipated around $60,000 a day, but this was outstripped by actual demand.

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“What we are seeing is $200,000 claimed a day even with those intermittent issues,” she said.

“It is important we work to restore confidence in the system. I would much rather we give that certainty to businesses that we are working on it, and be open and honest that there is a problem we are looking to resolve.”

Ms Cheyne said the government had engaged Amazon Web Services for expert support and greater assurances with testing.

How much this will cost the government remains unknown as work is ongoing, she said.

But people who spent more than they bargained for when their vouchers didn’t work may not be reimbursed for the scheme’s failure after Ms Cheyne said her priority was fixing the website and processing the vouchers that businesses have accepted but have been unable to process.

ChooseCBR administration costs came in at just over $200,000, including marketing and the IT infrastructure.

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The volumes cited don’t strike me as particularly large, maybe 5,000 a day, or a few hundred per hour. If that’s causing problems they must have really skimped on something in their application and/or infrastructure.

Whitepointer10:29 pm 11 Jun 21

Utopia, the series in real life. Keep up the good work team!

Yes, typical of Toy Town. NSW scheme was flawless and they should have just borrowed that but no, this mob had to try to invent their own. No idea whatsoever about running a business.

Couldn’t effectively run a chook raffle!

Tom Worthington4:59 pm 11 Jun 21

The NSW “Dine & Discover” voucher system appears to work well. I watched as restaurant staff scanned a voucher using their smartphone. They seemed very happy with it. Perhaps the ACT could use the NSW system. https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/transaction/apply-dine-discover-nsw-vouchers

Tara – if you genuinely want to help struggling local businesses, just cut their rates and taxes. That would be more effective than failed voucher publicity stunts.

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