Financial Hardship Policy
What is financial hardship?
The Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code C628:2019 defines Financial Hardship as a situation where a customer is unable to discharge of the financial obligations in relation to our services due to a reasonable temporary or ongoing cause but where the customer expects to be able to do so over time if payment arrangements are changed.
We are here to help.
We will work with you to help you respond to financial difficulty, whether temporary or long-term. We are committed to helping customers facing financial hardship maintain telecommunications access and working with you to find a sustainable solution. Any help we can give will depend on your individual circumstances, and we provide help on a case-by-case basis.
In times of genuine hardship, customers and/or their financial counsellor or advocate, may contact our accounts team who can promptly address their circumstance or concerns. BINARY NETWORKS will provide this service by training all staff in the general credit area to identify financial hardship customers, and refer these customers to management. To protect the privacy of the customer, management will liaise directly with the customer to address any issues. BINARY NETWORKS will accept reasonable payment arrangements, mutually agreed upon, taking into account each customer’s individual circumstances.
Identification of a Customer Experiencing Financial Hardship
BINARY NETWORKS considers financial hardship a state that involves an inability of the customer to pay bills, rather than an unwillingness to do so. Customer hardship can arise from a variety of situations. Hardship can be either of limited duration or long term. To illustrate, several of the common causes are:
- Loss of employment by the consumer or family member.
- Family breakdown.
- Illness including physical incapacity, hospitalisation, or mental illness of the consumer or family member.
- A death in the family.
- Abuse of the service by customer (e.g. from use of 190X numbers, GPRS).
- Abuse of the service by a third party leaving the customer unable to pay the account.
- Natural Disaster.
Reaching a Financial Arrangement
The basic principle of any agreed financial arrangement is that the repayment should be sufficient to cover expected future use of the service (as adjusted to ensure the customer’s financial position does not worsen over a reasonable period of time) as well as providing continued reduction of debt at a reasonable level (i.e. the customer should not be going into further debt under the arrangement).
To enable this to occur, there are options available to our customers to manage the use of their services. For example, we may agree to restrict access to a service, transfer a post-paid contract customer onto a pre-paid service, or bar access to certain call types.
To assist us in assessing your application for hardship assistance, we will need you to provide your account details and other personal information so that we can identify you as the account holder of the service.
Depending on the circumstances of your application, we may also require documentation in support of the information you provide to us as part of your application (e.g. a letter from your doctor if your hardship is due to illness).
If we will require such supporting information from you, we will advise you when we discuss your application with you. For some business customers, we may ask for copies of financial documents to ensure you have the capability to pay the outstanding debt. We may also perform credit checks or ask for trade references.
We may not be able to make an assessment of your circumstances if you do not provide us with the requested information. We may use the information you provide as well as other information available to us. Once we received all required information, we will let you know within 5 working days whether you are eligible for assistance under our Financial Hardship Policy.
If you are experiencing Financial Hardship, there are a few options that may be available to you depending on your circumstances.
If you wish to stay connected with us, some options may include:
- Spend controls;
- Restriction of service, in respect of overall or specific services;
- Transferring you to a Pre-Paid Service;
- Transferring you to a contract which includes hard caps or Shaping; or
- Low cost interim options until you can continue with original payments.
Some other options for suitable financial arrangements may include:
- Temporarily postponing or deferring payments;
- Agreeing on an alternative arrangement, plan, or contract, including discussing Pre-Paid Services;
- Discounting or waiving of debt;
- Waiving late payment fees;
- Waiving cancellation fees; or
- Incentives for making payments, for example payment matching.
Finding a financial counsellor
You can talk to a phone financial counsellor or a consumer advocate who deals with financial difficulty matters from anywhere in Australia by ringing 1800 007 007 (minimum opening hours are 9.30 am – 4.30 pm Monday to Friday). This number will automatically switch through to the service in the State or Territory closest to you.
Alternatively, you can find the financial counselling service nearest to you by visiting http://www.financialcounsellingaustralia.org.au/Corporate/Find-a-Counsellor.
Information on the Complaints Handling Process
You may wish to make a complaint and request a review if you are not satisfied with the outcome of your Financial Hardship application. Pursuant to the Australian Communications Media Authority (‘ACMA’) Complaints Standard, a complaint does not include an initial call to request information or support or to report a fault or service difficulty unless you advise us that you want that call treated as a complaint and does not include an issue that is the subject of legal action. You can also make a complaint in writing by email or post.
We are required to acknowledge all complaints within two working days, use our best efforts to resolve the complaint on first contact and otherwise resolve the complaint within 15 working days. As an additional safeguard to ensure that your complaint is properly handled, any complaints data that we receive will be provided to the ACMA to allow it to monitor our complaints-handling process in line with the ACMA Record-keeping Rules.
Applying for Financial Hardship
Applications for Financial Hardship should be made in writing where possible. If you are unable to do so, please call us on 1300 246 279 (option 3) during business hours (9:00am -5:00pm Monday to Friday).
Via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
BINARY NETWORKS PTY LTD
PO BOX 647
MOUNT WAVERLEY VIC 3149
(Please allow for postage delivery times if using this method)
Via Fax: 03 8080 0701