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Contacting Centrelink
Anyone had trouble getting through lately?

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17 replies to this topic

#1 katbalou

Posted 31 January 2013 - 07:57 PM

I have been trying to get through to Centrelink (13 61 50) for weeks now.   I keep getting an engaged tone.  I can't even get to the point where you find out you have to wait for 'in excess of 40 minutes' or get the option of a call back.  And I do know that you can call up to 8pm, and I have tried but still get the engaged tone.

I am not calling about the school kids bonus.  I have questions about why my FTB A has been reduced.  So after two weeks of not being able to get through, I thought I would go to my nearest Centrelink office (I live in a rural area - only get to town once a week or fortnight) and I would be able to get the information I needed.  When I arrived, a customer service officer greeted me to ask what I needed, to which she replied "OK, well we don't really have any experts in FTB here, but we'll see what we can do."   And I must admit that at the time I thought "WTF, if you aren't experts in FTB, who is?"    So I had to sit and wait for a while because it was pretty busy, during which time I thought, OK Centrelink does cover a wide range of services, so maybe they all don't know about all areas, but I thought that FTB was a pretty general area.

When I did get to sit with a customer service officer, she reiterated that she wasn't an FTB expert, but she would try to help with my question.  Well to be honest, while she was really conscientious, she couldn't help me, and didn't seem to know as much about the thresholds/income limits as I did from reading the Centrelink website.  (OK, so I'm pretty well versed, because I'm trying to make sure I don't get overpaid).  She tried to ring through, but was on hold the entire time I sat with her (approximately 40 mins) and eventually hang up and said "well we aren't going to have any luck there).  At the same time she was on the website trying to get answers - but she didn't seem to be able to access any 'inside information IYKWIM, only looking at stuff I had already looked at - general information available to all.

I did express some surprise (in a nice way) that there wasn't anyone with expertise in the FTB area in the Family Assistance Office, and she said "oh no, people think that, but we are only access points".  In that, there are phones to ring the Family Assistance Office, and internet access points.  But the phones don't get through, and there are many things you cannot do online, like ask why your payment has been reduced.

So after being in the Centrelink office for over an hour, I left quite frustrated.  She apologised for not being able to help and I felt bad for her, that she hadn't been adequately prepared for what she was expected to do.

So are there any Centrelink/FAO officers on here that know how it all works?  I thought since I couldn't get any joy on the phones, I would go "straight to the source", but it seems this is not the case.

#2 sandgropergirl

Posted 31 January 2013 - 08:01 PM

I suspect it is tough at the moment due to the changes to single parent payments. Very irritating that th office can't help! Geez, what's it there do if it can't help!

#3 Charli73

Posted 31 January 2013 - 08:06 PM

They are useless at the offices.. Last time I went in they put me on a computer and told me to do it online... But every time I try and log on it won't let me.. Useless.

I have a few friends that work there and they agree..

#4 SlightlyLeftFeral

Posted 31 January 2013 - 08:14 PM

I have given up trying to call them, I just go to their office now.

Although I must be lucky and I have always found the staff at my local office knowledgable, friendly AND helpful.

#5 gadfly271

Posted 31 January 2013 - 08:15 PM

I've had heaps of trouble getting through on that number this week too, always getting the engaged tone. Apparently it's because of the floods.

I can't help you with FTB but I did manage to get through today by just spending 5 minutes of so constantly hitting redial on my phone. This was at about 1pm. Maybe just keep trying?

#6 katbalou

Posted 31 January 2013 - 08:15 PM

I can access online from home, but there is some stuff you can't do online.  I have tried the phones at all hours of the day, to no avail.  I can't believe that they are setting their officers up for failure at these offices - she was such a lovely girl with a genuine desire to help, but didn't have the training or the resources.

#7 katbalou

Posted 31 January 2013 - 08:18 PM

QUOTE (gadfly271 @ 31/01/2013, 08:15 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I've had heaps of trouble getting through on that number this week too, always getting the engaged tone. Apparently it's because of the floods.

No, I've been trying since well before the floods. I'm sure it hasn't helped though.

#8 Tobias'smum

Posted 31 January 2013 - 08:31 PM

its also busy due to the floods in qld for emergency payments

#9 GreenEgg

Posted 31 January 2013 - 08:31 PM

Has any of your circumstances changed?  Some ideas....
Have  you recently lodged last years tax return which may have auto increased your income estimate if you earned more than you current estimate?
Are you single and your rate of child support has changed?
Were you receiving rent assistance and not lodged a rent certificate?
Have any of your children recently had a birthday? I think rates change at 5?

Just some of the possible reasons I can think of off the top of my head.  Hope you manage to get through soon.  Otherwise contact the Customer relations unit and make a complaint about not being able to get through and they may be able to follow it up for you.

Edited because I have horrible grammar.

Edited by GreenEggJimmyJamma, 31 January 2013 - 08:36 PM.

#10 Another one

Posted 31 January 2013 - 08:51 PM


OP, if you can answer some of these questions and give some details maybe someone could help you.

Not with the information you have given though.

#11 babychacha

Posted 31 January 2013 - 08:54 PM

I had been trying for the last two days.....constantly engaged. Got through this afternoon with a 45 min wait.....damn just forgot they were meant to transfer me through to somewhere so I could get a pin.

If you get a pin number, you can dial a different number and basically 'log your call' and they will call you back.

#12 The Old Feral

Posted 31 January 2013 - 08:57 PM

Is there a Medicare office near you?  They will also have FAO trained staff (if they haven't already been amalgamated with the Centrelink office).

Also, you can leave a message through online services to ask someone to call you.

Failing that, since you've tried every other avenue and your payment is affected, I think it's reasonable to escalate to the complaint stage.  1800 132468.

#13 HerringToMarmalade

Posted 31 January 2013 - 09:08 PM

I always go to the office, the wait time is so much shorter than on the phone. I was there yesterday (had to wait 30 minutes - longest wait yet) and there were people sitting on the phones they have there for far longer than I was there, and, like in your situation, the staff member at the desk next to me was just sitting on the phone. I think escalating is the only way you're going to get a response.

#14 happywith1

Posted 31 January 2013 - 09:14 PM

as a former Centrelink officer in the call centre the best advice is be ready to call at 7:59am by 8:30 there is over 650 calls in the queue on average and this is peak season as calls are coming in for new students and many new claims hence the delays. In terms of why your payment may be reduced in general- if any of your children have recently had a birthday they may have moved into the next pay bracket which is lower, the system may have picked up that you could possibly be overpaid and so has automatically reduced your payment to avoid that. You can also request that centrelink contact you- many people dont know this feature if you go onto the clink website and then click contact us it will say write,email or fax click that and then click message centrelink and finally click request contact- fill in the form and some one will call you within 2 business days

hope that helps original.gif sorry the access point couldn't help you they are a limited service

#15 Tammy Swanson

Posted 31 January 2013 - 09:16 PM

yeah totally hear you OP. I recently got sent a overpayment debt that was not correct I tried for two weeks to get it sorted and yeah the family assistance section is useless if you have a problem they are only great for lodging paperwork. You did well to get the lady to try and ring from the office I have never had that offer! We have a great govt benefits system that is very generous compared to other countries but their systems and infrastructure has a lot to be desired.
All I can say is that if had been reduced it might have something to do with your last tax return and your estimation for last year under estimated. Good luck though as it is so frustrating!

#16 GeminiSix

Posted 01 February 2013 - 09:47 AM

You can also request that centrelink contact you- many people dont know this feature if you go onto the clink website and then click contact us it will say write,email or fax click that and then click message centrelink and finally click request contact- fill in the form and some one will call you within 2 business days

I did this back on 10 January, I have just had to send a second one as no-one has contacted me, either by phone or email.  I am trying find out DD3's CRN, even though I get FTB for her not one piece of correspondence has her CRN on it.  So frustrating!

#17 Stacey*

Posted 01 February 2013 - 10:18 AM

QUOTE (GeminiSix @ 01/02/2013, 10:47 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I am trying find out DD3's CRN, even though I get FTB for her not one piece of correspondence has her CRN on it.  So frustrating!

Do you have online services? It lists the CRNs for my children in the the childcare bit even my 3rd who has never been to childcare.

#18 GeminiSix

Posted 01 February 2013 - 10:31 AM

Oh thank you Stacey!!  

I've just gone in there and yes - it is there!  That is about the only part of the website I didn't check.

She is listed as "not receiving child care benefit" (my other children are listed as "receiving child care benefit") and the online application to apply for childcare benefit says that it can only be used to apply once the child has started - not before!  

Does anybody know how I get it all set up so it is ready to go for her first day?  Do I actually need to make an formal application for childcare benefit for her, or, now that I have her CRN, and my other children are receiving it, will my percentages automatically be updated to include her once the child care provider puts her into their system?

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