News & Current Affairs
04 March 2015
'Truly awful': Centrelink, Medicare apps slammed
The federal government's range of Medicare and Centrelink online apps are so bad they are getting claimants kicked off benefits, users have complained.
The Department of Human Services now has 12 applications for smartphones that are supposed to allow clients to conduct their Medicare, child and income support transactions online without having to visit a government office.
But the apps, which are linked to the MyGov portal, have been panned by users with the Express Plus Medicare and Express Plus Job Seekers coming in for the worst of the online ire.
But Human Services defended its apps on Tuesday, saying 3.7 million versions had been downloaded and they had been used to process 36 million Centrelink and Medicare transactions.
The department says the apps are the first of their kind in the world and, despite criticism, were improving all the time.
Express Plus Medicare is described as a "horribly non-functional app", "useless", "horrible" and "truly awful" on iTunes' online user reviews.
Some users reported satisfaction with Express Plus Medicare, which can process Medicare claims straight from a mobile handset, others said it was a good app when it worked, and more users described it as a 50-50 proposition.
But most were scathing.
"I can't believe how bad this app is," one claimant wrote on the iTunes site.
"Loads a blank page most of the time.
"I have no idea if my claim went through and will just have to keep checking my bank account to see."
Another user said Express Plus Medicare was "absolutely useless".
"This really is an example of how not to do an app.
"Slow illogically placed icons, poor overall design.
The problems with Job Seeker App had more serious consequences, with users reporting being told by Centrelink staff to leave the office and use the technology to manage their benefits but then losing money when it did not work.
"Worst App Ever," one user complained.
"My problem is the same as everyone else, this app has cost me the last 4 Centrelink payments because of not being able to report and missing out on payments until they work it all out."
Another claimant reported Express Plus Job Seeker working well, but only some of the time.
"When it works, it works OK for a government app, unfortunately 80 per cent of the time it says 'We are currently experiencing technical issues, please try again later'," the user wrote.
Another Centrelink client condemned the system as "utter rubbish".
"Twice now I'm told by Centrelink to re-install the Job Seekers app, and yet the same problem over and over seems to be continuing...nothing but white screen," they wrote.
"Either fix this app or get rid of this utter rubbish."
But a Centrelink spokeswoman said the apps were making good progress in helping to bring Australia's welfare system into the cyber age.
"These are the first government, authenticated, transactional mobile apps in the world," she said.
"There have been 3.7 million downloads of the apps and more than 36 million transactions have been completed through them.
"The department constantly monitors the performance of the apps, including collecting feedback from user comments on iTunes.
"We treat this review process very seriously, which we use to help inform regular upgrades."