3.14. Financial Hardship Policy – Australia
What is financial hardship?
The Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code defines financial hardship as:
“A situation where a Customer is unable, reasonably, because of illness, unemployment or other reasonable cause, to discharge their financial obligations under their contract with the Supplier, and the Customer reasonably expects to be able to discharge those obligations if payment and/or Service arrangements were changed. Financial hardship can be of limited or long-term duration.”
Financial hardship basically involves a Client’s inability to pay bills, not an unwillingness to do so. Client 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 listed below.
If You are a Client of XSTRA and are an individual or small business then this policy applies to You.
Hardship may arise in the following circumstances:
- If You or a family member experiences a loss of employment or
- Illness, including physical incapacity, hospitalization or mental illness of You or a family member
- Family breakdown
- A death in the family
- Other factors resulting in an unforeseen change in Your capacity to meet Your payment obligations, whether through a reduction in income or through an increase in non-discretionary expenditure.
The earlier You contact us, the better. Discussing Your concerns gives us the opportunity to help You manage your bills. If You are having a problem paying Your invoice, or you wish to discuss options available to You to minimize your invoice, call XSTRA at any of the numbers listed on the Global Contact Information page at any time. We operate 24/7 for your convenience.
A payment arrangement may be made if evidence of a hardship claim, can be supported with appropriate documentation. If documentation cannot be delivered to justify the claim, a payment extension may be offered providing the revised due date does not fall into a new billing period. A payment arrangement is an agreement between XSTRA and You, where an outstanding balance may be broken into smaller repayments which are more manageable for You. If You require time to pay an outstanding amount, agreeing to a payment plan and sticking to it will help prevent the disconnection of your Equipment and services. Disconnection of Your Equipment and services is used only as a last resort, and we will work with You to avoid this if possible.
To assist us in establishing the level of support You require, dependent on Your individual circumstance, we may request supporting evidence, including, but not limited to:
- A statutory declaration from a person familiar with Your circumstances (family doctor, clergy, bank officer, etc.).
- Evidence of You having consulted with, and/or being accompanied by a recognized financial counselor, or a booking to see a financial counselor.
- An income/expenditure assessment from Your accountant.
- A severance letter from Your most recent employer.
Judgment as to whether a customer is experiencing genuine financial hardship rather than simply seeking to defer payment lies with XSTRA.
Failure to honor the arrangement
If You do not adhere to the terms of the arrangement and do not contact XSTRA to re-negotiate, we will take reasonable steps to contact You or Your authorized representative (e.g. financial counselor) before taking further action. If any further financial difficulties are experienced, You must immediately notify us so that the arrangement can be reviewed. After reasonable unsuccessful attempts have been made by XSTRA to contact You (or Your representative), or if You refuse to honor the arrangement, the outstanding payable amount will be referred to a third party debt collection agency.
Minimising Your Debt
There are options available for minimizing Your debts:
- Change to a lower Plan
- Temporarily suspend Your service so no further invoices are generated
There is a range of other financial support services available such as free financial counseling services offered in most areas. XSTRA recommends You make contact with any of these services to assist with Your position.
Translating, Interpreting and Counseling Services
If English is not Your first language, The Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs in Australia provides a translating and interpreting service. They can be contacted on:
- 131 181 if calling from within Australia and
- +61 2 6196 0196 if calling from outside Australia
If You are in Australia You can talk to a phone-based financial counselor from anywhere in Australia by visiting www.financialcounsellingaustralia.org.au or calling 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.
To contact XSTRA please call us on any of the numbers listed on our Global Contact Information page. We operate 24/7 for your convenience.
*Revision of the Financial Hardship Policy *
XSTRA Group Pty Ltd reserves the right to revise, amend, or modify this Financial Hardship Policy, our other policies, and agreements at any time and in any manner. You will always find the latest versions of our policies on our website at http://x.direct