The Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code C628:2012 defines Financial Hardship as a situation where a customer is unable to discharge of the financial obligations in relation to our services but where the customer expects to be able to do so over time if payment arrangements are changed.
IPC Solutions is legally obliged to enact this policy for its Telecommunications services e.g. IBC Internet and Voice services, but has also chosen to apply this policy to all charged services from IPC Solutions.
2. Our Definition of Financial Hardship
We use a recognised definition of financial hardship. The ACIF Credit Management 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.”
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 listed below.
Hardship can result from a number of factors including:
- 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;
- Heavy use of the service by customer (eg. from use of 190X numbers, GPRS or data roaming);
- Use of the service by a third party leaving the customer unable to pay the account;
- Natural Disaster.
3. Identifying a Customer Experiencing Financial Hardship
We consider financial hardship a state that involves an ongoing real inability of the customer to pay bills, rather than an unwillingness to do so.
In order for us to apply this policy you must satisfy Us that you are experiencing financial hardship in the meaning of the above definition.
When assessing your eligibility for Financial Hardship, we may ask you to provide certain documents such as
- A statutory declaration or official written communication from a person or support group that is familiar with your circumstances,
- Evidence that you consulted a recognised financial counsellor,
- A statement of your financial position.
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 7 working days whether you are eligible for assistance under our Financial Hardship Policy.
The decision of whether you are experiencing financial hardship for the purpose of this policy will be made by Us, in Our sole discretion.
You may ask us to deal with a Financial Counsellor on Your behalf. In order for Us to speak to a Financial Counsellor, the customer must be present, or we must have received prior authority from the customer to speak with the Counsellor on their behalf. Please contact us for further information.
Customers who have chosen to transfer all of their services to another provider but still have an outstanding balance with Us are ineligible for participation in Our Financial Hardship Program.
4. Reaching a Financial Arrangement
Once we agree You are experiencing Financial Hardship, We may at our discretion agree to a temporary financial arrangement which is different to the terms which ordinarily apply to You.
The basic principle of any agreed financial arrangement for Financial Hardship is that the repayment made by You 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).
Where appropriate we will discuss means with you how to limit your spend (this may include barring some service features) during the time of our arrangement and thereafter.
You must inform us if your circumstances change (for better or for worse) during our arrangement. We will not charge you for assessing your Financial Hardship circumstances or for administering the matter.
5. Finding a financial counsellor
You can talk to a phone financial counsellor 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.
6. Contact Us
We encourage you to contact us on the number on our website or sending us an email if you experience any difficulties paying our services.