Updated The government's rebuilt Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) website went titsup last night after failing to cope with demand for its service as thousands of drivers rushed to renew their car tax.
Car owners clogged up the site, after the more-than-90-year-old paper tax disc was retired today.
We are currently experiencing high volumes of traffic to our online vehicle tax service please keep trying. Sorry for the inconvenience.— DVLA (@DVLAgovuk) October 1, 2014
The DVLA site, until recently, had remained on Directgov servers long after the Cabinet Office brought in the web design team behind GOV.UK to rebrand the government's online services as part of its so-called "digital-by-default" policy.
At time of writing, the service was flatlining. Frustrated taxpayers were quick to lash out at GOV.UK, which – it can be argued – remains overly-fixated on design.
@sudoash It's a government agency. There is no load balancing. Or estimation of load. Or planning. Or strategy. Politicians like it though.— Brian North (@brizinorth) October 1, 2014
The GOV.UK bods apologised for the screw up this morning. But the service has in fact been struggling to deal with demand since last night, as Brits rushed to renew their vehicle excise duty discs online.
Unprecedented demand tonight. We built to scale but 6000 a minute is causing slow response. Around 250K have taxed tonight so keep trying— DVLA (@DVLAgovuk) September 30, 2014
Late on Monday, the DVLA said in a series of miserable tweets that its website had collapsed. Embarrassingly, the team was forced to take its web and phone services completely offline in the early hours of this morning to attempt to fix the technical cockup.
But that tactic clearly failed.
Sorry if you are experiencing difficulties with the online car tax service. Follow @DVLAgovuk for updates— GOV UK (@GOVUK) October 1, 2014
Meanwhile, others were complaining that the new site – when not titsup – was yet to begin processing Direct Debit requests.
Clearly, the rebuilt DVLA site wasn't ready for showtime today, so questions have to be asked about why the GOV.UK team waved the wobbly beta website through. ®
A DVLA spokesperson released a statement attributing the snafu to service provider Vodafone: "We can confirm that the unprecedented demand for car tax online temporarily affected the services provided by Vodafone to DVLA.
"Vodafone’s engineers worked hard with us to resolve the issue as quickly as possible and the service has now been restored.
"Vodafone will continue to monitor the service closely and will be carrying out a full investigation into the issue."