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 customer’s inability to pay bills, not 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 listed below.
Hardship may arise in the following circumstances:
- Loss of employment of you or a family member
- Illness, including physical incapacity, hospitalisation 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 their 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 bill, or you wish to discuss options available to you to minimise your bill, call Comvergence on
- Phone: 1300 550 125 Option 2
Monday – Friday 9am – 5:30pm AEDST
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 a Comvergence and yourself, where an outstanding balance may be broken into smaller repayments that 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.
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.
- 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 Comvergence.
Failure to Honour the Arrangement
If you do not adhere to the terms of the arrangement, and do not contact Comvergence 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 difficulty is experienced, you must immediately notify us so that the arrangement can be reviewed.
After reasonable unsuccessful attempts have been made by Comvergence 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
- 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.
To contact Comvergence please go use any of the contact details located on our website http://www.comvergence.com.au or contact us on our number 1300 550 125
Revision of the Financial Hardship Policy
Comvergence Pty Ltd 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.Comvergence.com.au.