FINANCIAL HARDSHIP POLICY
Last updated: 1 st May 2020
This financial hardship policy is intended to assist customers who may experience financial hardship in relation to our goods and services. This policy is applicable to current customers and former customers.
We are here to help. We will endeavour to work with you to help you respond to financial difficulty, whether temporary or long-term, in relation to our goods and services. 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.
Should you be experiencing financial hardship in relation to our goods or services, you can contact us in the following ways:
- By calling our customer service team during the hours of 9am to 5:00pm [Sydney time] on 1300 677 406
- By e-mailing us at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- By writing to us at any time at PO Box 147, Terrigal, NSW. 2260.
You can also contact a community financial counsellor or consumer advocate who deal with financial difficulty matters.
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.
The procedures and assistance set out in this policy are provided free of charge to our customers. In this policy, financial hardship means a situation where:
(a) a customer is unable to discharge the financial obligations owed by the customer under their customer contract or otherwise discharge the financial obligations owed by the customer to us, due to illness, unemployment, being the victim of domestic or family violence, or other reasonable temporary or ongoing cause; and
(b) the customer believes that they are able to discharge those obligations if the relevant payment arrangements or other arrangements relating to the supply of our goods or services are changed.
Options for assisting with financial hardship
We make the following options available to assist individual customers in cases of financial hardship. We will choose which option is available to you, depending on what is most appropriate in the circumstances. Options for keeping the customer connected:
(a) spend controls;
(b) restriction of service, in respect of overall or specific services;
(c) transferring the customer to a pre-paid service;
(d) transferring the customer to a contract which includes hard caps or shaping;
(e) low-cost interim options until the customer can continue with original payments;
Options for suitable financial arrangements:
(a) temporarily postponing or deferring payments (for a longer period than would typically be offered to customers requesting an extension outside of financial hardship arrangements);
(b) agreeing on an alternative arrangement, plan, or contract, including discussing pre-paid services;
(c) waiving late payment fees;
(d) waiving cancellation fees;
Information we may require to make an assessment of financial hardship
We may require you to provide certain information so that we can make an assessment of financial hardship, for example;
- income details,
- details regarding the relevant services (e.g. telephone number, broadband) and,
- your most recent contact details.
We will make an assessment of financial hardship having regard to your particular circumstances, the size and duration of the debt owing, how long you have been a customer, and any other circumstances we consider relevant. Where it appears that the financial arrangement will need to be long term, or we consider the amount to be repaid large or significant, or you have not been a customer for very long, or we reasonably believe there is a possibility of fraud, we may need further or more detailed information from you. Such information may include, for example:
- 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; and
- a statement of your financial position.
If we require supporting documentation from you in order to assess your eligibility for assistance under our financial hardship policy, we will tell you where to send it. You should also note that:
(a) the assessment may be based on the information provided by you or other information available to us;
(b) where the requested information is not provided, an assessment may not be made;
(c) the provision of false or incomplete information may result in us cancelling any hardship arrangements; and
(d) if the information provided by you is not sufficient to make an assessment of eligibility under the financial hardship policy, we will tell you what other information is needed to make such an assessment.
Notification of assessment
We will tell you how long it will take to make an assessment for assistance. In any case, this will be within 5 working days after receipt of the final information from you. You may request that we give the details of a financial hardship arrangement to you in writing.
You must promptly inform us if your circumstances change during the term of the financial hardship arrangement. Suspension of credit management action We will suspend credit management action whilst an arrangement under our financial hardship policy is being discussed or is in place unless:
(a) you do not meet your obligations under the financial hardship arrangement. In that event, if you do not contact us to discuss a new arrangement, we will take reasonable steps to contact you before taking credit management action;
(b) we decide it is reasonable to do so given the circumstances (e.g. to prevent a further increase in the debt owed);
(c) you agree that the financial hardship arrangement is unable to be completed.
Restarting Credit Management Action
We will only restart credit management action when:
(a) paragraph (c) immediately above is unable to be completed; or
(b) either paragraph (a) or (b) immediately above is met (as applicable to your individual situation) and we are unable, using reasonable steps, to make contact with you.
Please note that our complaints handling policy may also be applicable, for example, if you wish to seek review of the outcome of a financial hardship application.
- In the event that a bill is disputed by you, you agree to pay to us the entire total amount as indicated on the disputed bill without deduction or set-off and we agree to refund any monies found to be charged incorrectly after reasonable and proper investigation.
- Subject to any law to the contrary, if a billing dispute is not raised within 30 days of the bill issue date, charges will be deemed correct and payable by you and any backdate/credit of these charges if required will not exceed a 30 day period
Our process to deal with the disputed amount, we follow our guidelines on complaint handling with a view to ensuring the dispute is agreed and finalised by the next bill and billing date.
We will acknowledge your complaint immediately (if made in-store or over the telephone), or otherwise within 2 working days of receiving it. We will give you a reference number to track the progress of your complaint.
We will make an initial assessment of a complaint, based on the relevant circumstances. You will need to provide all relevant details applicable to your complaint.
We may resolve a complaint on goodwill or commercial grounds, without a detailed investigation. Otherwise, we will investigate the complaint according to the seriousness, complexity, urgency and particular nature of the complaint.
Where appropriate or where you have requested, we may escalate the complaint, for example to a senior case manager.
Once we have investigated the complaint, we will provide you with a response and a proposed resolution.
We will provide confirmation of a proposed resolution of a complaint, within 15 working days of receiving the complaint.
For urgent complaints, we will provide confirmation of a proposed resolution of the complaint, and if you accept the proposed resolution, implement that resolution, within 2 working days of receiving the complaint.
If we cannot resolve your complaint within the timeframes set out in this policy, we will contact you and explain the reasons for the delay and give you a new proposed timeframe for resolution.
If you agree with our proposed resolution, we will aim to implement it within 10 working days (unless you agree to a different timeframe or we need to take additional steps to resolve the complaint). We will only implement the resolution once it has been accepted by you.
Updated June, 2020
Central Telecoms PTY Ltd is committed to providing you with the best possible customer service experience. Central Telecoms PTY Ltd is bound by the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth), which sets out a number of principles concerning the privacy of individuals.
COLLECTION OF YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION
There are many aspects of the site which can be viewed without providing personal information, however, for access to future Central Telecoms PTY Ltd customer support features you are required to submit personally identifiable information. This may include but not limited to a unique username and password, or provide sensitive information in the recovery of your lost password.
SHARING OF YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION
We may occasionally hire other companies to provide services on our behalf, including but not limited to handling customer support enquiries, processing transactions or customer freight shipping. Those companies will be permitted to obtain only the personal information they need to deliver the service. Central Telecoms PTY Ltd takes reasonable steps to ensure that these organisations are bound by confidentiality and privacy obligations in relation to the protection of your personal information.
USE OF YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION
For each visitor to reach the site, we expressively collect the following non-personally identifiable information, including but not limited to browser type, version and language, operating system, pages viewed while browsing the Site, page access times and referring website address. This collected information is used solely internally for the purpose of gauging visitor traffic, trends and delivering personalized content to you while you are at this Site.
From time to time, we may use customer information for new, unanticipated uses not previously disclosed in our privacy notice. If our information practices change at some time in the future we will use for these new purposes only, data collected from the time of the policy change forward will adhere to our updated practices.
ACCESSING YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION
You have a right to access your personal information, subject to exceptions allowed by law. If you would like to do so, please let us know. You may be required to put your request in writing for security reasons. Central Telecoms PTY Ltd reserves the right to charge a fee for searching for, and providing access to, your information on a per request basis.
Call: 1300 677 406
Central Telecoms PTY Ltd,
Unit 1A/8 Fitzhardinge St Wagga Wagga NSW 2650
1 st May 2020
It is important to us that our customers have a right to make a complaint. This is our complaints handling policy that applies if you are dissatisfied with our products or services or any dealings you have with us. The procedures and assistance set out in this policy are provided free of charge to our customers.
These procedures are used to handle customer complaints and also to assist us to identify, record, report and analyse customer complaints and to determine complaint causes. Terms that have a defined meaning in the Telecommunications (Consumer Complaints Handling) Industry Standard 2018 (the CCH Standard) have the same meaning in this policy. In addition, references in this policy to you, our customer, have the same meaning as “consumer” in the CCH Standard.
Making a complaint
If you have a complaint with our products or services or any dealings you have with us, you can make a complaint by any of the following methods:
by calling our customer service team during the hours of 9am to 5pm Sydney time (Monday to Friday) on 1300 677 406.
- by e-mailing us at any time at email@example.com
- by submitting an online complaint at any time https://centraltelecoms.com.au/complaints
- by writing to us at any time at PO Box 147, Terrigal, NSW. 2260.
If you need special assistance because of special needs or a disability, because you do not speak English, or because of financial hardship, please let us know and we will provide help to formulate, make and progress your complaint.
You may nominate an advocate or authorized representative to make and handle your complaint.
How we handle complaints
In order to handle complaints in a fair and efficient manner, we may classify complaints into different categories according to the seriousness, complexity, urgency and particular nature of the complaint. Where possible, we will aim to resolve your complaint at the time you make it. Otherwise, we aim to resolve your complaint within 15 working days. If your complaint is urgent, we aim to resolve it within 2 working days (or we will notify you of a longer timeframe if it cannot be resolved within 2 working days).
We will aim to resolve complaints about alleged billing errors no later than the end of the billing period immediately following your current billing period. If we cannot meet the above timeframes, we will keep you updated on the progress of your complaint until we have resolved it.
We generally use the following steps to handle complaints:
- We will acknowledge your complaint immediately (if made in-store or over the telephone), or otherwise within 2 working days of receiving it.
- We will give you a reference number to track the progress of your complaint.
- We will make an initial assessment of a complaint, based on the relevant circumstances. You will need to provide all relevant details applicable to your complaint.
- We may resolve a complaint on good-will or commercial grounds, without a detailed investigation. Otherwise, we will investigate the complaint according to the seriousness, complexity, urgency and particular nature of the complaint.
- Where appropriate or where you have requested, we may escalate the complaint, for example to a senior case manager.
- Once we have investigated the complaint, we will provide you with a response and a proposed resolution. We will provide confirmation of a proposed resolution of a complaint, within 15 working days of receiving the complaint.
- For urgent complaints, we will provide confirmation of a proposed resolution of the complaint, and if you accept the proposed resolution, implement that resolution, within 2 working days of receiving the complaint.
- If we cannot resolve your complaint within the timeframes set out in this policy, we will contact you and explain the reasons for the delay and give you a new proposed timeframe for resolution.
If you agree with our proposed resolution, we will aim to implement it within 10 working days (unless you agree to a different timeframe or we need to take additional steps to resolve the complaint). We will only implement the resolution once it has been accepted by you. If you are not satisfied with our proposed resolution, you may further escalate the complaint to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO), at www.tio.com.au. Please note that certain telecommunications matters outside the TIO’s jurisdiction may be handled by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (www.acma.gov.au), or in the case of broader consumer protection matters, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (www.accc.gov.au).
We will provide confirmation that your complaint has been resolved, as soon as practicable after we have completed our investigation of the complaint. Once the above steps have been completed, we will close the complaint. If we are unable to get in contact with you about your complaint, we will write to you at your last known address, and provide details of previous contact attempts and provide you with an invitation to contact us within 10 working days to discuss your complaint. If you do not contact us during this period, we will close the complaint.
We will not cancel your service for the sole reason that you were unable to resolve the complaint directly with us or if you have pursued external dispute resolution. If you have any queries about this policy, please contact us using the above details under the heading, “Making a complaint”.
Our Customer Commitment Policy
- We’ll be open, honest and ethical when dealing with you and we will protect your privacy.
- We’ll provide you with information on products and services that is accurate, relevant and written in plain English.
- We work to resolve disputes quickly and fairly within a reasonable timeframe.
- We promote our products and services in a clear, accurate and honest way.
- We help disadvantaged and vulnerable customers in line with our customer policy of being a real, ethical Telco.
- If we breach the Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code, we will provide you with an effective remedy immediately.
Domestic Violence Policy
At Central Telecoms, we take the misuse of our services by domestic violence extremely seriously and will provide effective and tailored assistance to customers who need our support. Via technology, domestic violence can take many forms. These can include;
- Monitoring phone calls, social media and emails without the knowledge and approval of someone
- Loading spyware onto a computer or mobile phone in order to monitor a person without their knowledge
- Using technology to track the location of someone, for the purposes of monitoring, control or stalking
- Accessing accounts such as email, social media, or messaging to monitor or impersonate someone
- Logging in (without permission) and closing services, thereby cutting someone off from contacts
All conversations are confidential
Your safety and privacy will be our priority. None of the information you give us will be disclosed to anyone else, even if their name is on the account.
We will work with you to find a solution for your individual situation (payment plans etc). For more information on how we can help, have a look at our Financial Hardship Policy.
We will hear you
We will treat you with understanding, empathy and respect, and we will do everything we can to help while also complying with our industry guidelines.
We can put you in touch or refer you to organisations that specialise in working with and supporting people experiencing family violence, for immediate and or more long-term assistance.
National counselling helpline, information and support 24/7
1800 737 732
Support for men with family and relationship issues 24/7
1300 789 978
Telephone and online counselling, referrals and support groups for LGBTQI+ people and their families.
1800 184 527
Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code Information
These safeguards are set out in clear rules that providers like us must follow when communicating and dealing with customers. The rules cover the areas of advertising and point of sale, billing, payment methods, complaint handling, financial hardship and more.
The TCP Code was developed by the Telecommunications Industry following extensive consultation and negotiation with consumer groups, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), and other relevant interest groups. The ACMA regularly monitors compliance with the code.
Aussie Broadband is committed to following the code and its principles, not only because of compliance but also in line with our strong values of “no bullsh*t and “be good to people”. If you would like to talk to us about the code or how we are following it, please contact us by telephone on 1800 659 621 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can find a copy of the code on the Communications Alliance website.