Financial Hardship Policy
RT Comms Pty Ltd (ACN 604 815 634) trading as Encore Technology Solutions (“ETS”) is committed to helping our Customers to maintain telecommunications access when facing financial hardship. We recognise that sometimes things don’t go as planned. Situations may arise in your life that may affect your ability to pay us for your ETS services.
We have adopted this Financial Hardship Policy to cover these situations. Please read this policy carefully, to make sure you are aware of and understand your rights.
NOTE: If you would like to nominate an authorised representative/advocate to make any arrangements on your behalf, please authorise them in writing.
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 involves a Customer’s reasonable inability to pay their bills, not their unwillingness to do so. Financial hardship can arise from a variety of situations and might be of a limited or long-term duration.
Examples of Financial Hardship:
Financial hardship may arise from –
loss of employment by you or a family member;
illness, including physical incapacity, mental illness and hospitalisation, of you or a family member;
a death in the family;
other factors resulting in an unforeseen change in a Customer’s capacity to meet their payment obligations, whether through a reduction in income or an increase in non-discretionary expenditure.
If you are having difficulty with paying your bill, or you wish to discuss available options to minimise your bill, please call us as soon as possible.
» PH: 1300 120 449 (Option 4)
» Monday – Friday (9am – 5pm AEDST)
Determination of Financial Hardship
We will assess your application for Financial Hardship assistance by considering your individual situation and financial circumstances. To make this assessment, we will need to ask you some questions about your situation, including whether it is temporary or ongoing. We will also need to ask you some questions about your financial circumstances, including income and expenditure details, and the types of services you need and the outcome you are hoping to achieve.
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 the customer's circumstances (family doctor, clergy, bank officer, etc.);
» Evidence of the customer having consulted with, and/or being accompanied by a recognised financial counsellor, or a booking to see a financial counsellor;
» An income/expenditure assessment from Centrelink; and
» A severance letter from the customer's most recent employer.
Judgment as to whether a customer is experiencing genuine financial hardship rather than simply seeking to defer payment, lies with ETS.
This information will be gathered in accordance with the Australian Privacy Principles outlined in the Privacy Act 1988.
We will then work with you to find a solution that will enable you to manage the payment of an outstanding ETS bill, or one that you may be expecting in the future.
We are able to provide you with a range of payment and service options to assist you in your difficult time.
A payment arrangement may be made, if your claim of financial hardship can be supported by appropriate documentation. If documentation cannot be provided to justify your claim, a payment extension may be offered, providing that the revised due date does not fall within a new billing period.
A “payment arrangement” is an agreement between ETS and yourself, 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 disconnection of your service.
Disconnection of your service is used only as a last resort, a payment arrangement is an agreement between ETS and yourself, 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 disconnection of your service.
Disconnection of your service is used only as a last resort, and we will work with you to avoid this if possible.
Failure to Honour a Payment Arrangement
If you do not adhere to the terms of the arrangement, and do not contact ETS to re-negotiate, we will take reasonable steps to contact you or your authorised representative (e.g. financial counsellor) 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 ETS to contact you (or your representative), or if you refuse to honour the arrangement, the outstanding payable amount may be referred to a third party debt collection agency.
Minimising Your Debt
There are options available for minimising your debts:
» Change to a lower Plan; or
» Temporarily suspend your service so no further invoices are generated.
There are a range of other financial support services available, such as free financial counselling services offered in each state and territory in Australia. For more information on these and other options available please see the ACMA's website.
Translating, Interpreting and Counselling Services
If English is not your first language, the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs provide a translating service.
They can be contacted on 123 14 50.
If you are facing financial difficulty, you may wish to obtain advice from a community financial counsellor. You can talk to a financial counsellor from anywhere in Australia by contacting the National Debt Helpline.
» PH: 1800 007 007
» Monday – Friday (9:30am – 4:30pm)
Revision of Financial Hardship Policy
ETS reserves the right to revise, amend, or modify the Financial Hardship Policy, our Internet Service Agreements and our other policies and agreements at any time and in any manner. Notice of any revision, amendment, or modification will be posted on the Internet at www.encorets.com.au