Financial Hardship Assistance & Policy
- Definition of hardship
- Optus F.A.S.T Team
- Identification of financial hardship
- Reaching a financial arrangement
- If you need assistance for financial hardship
The Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code (TCP) defines financial hardship as 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 a Supplier, due to illness, unemployment or other reasonable 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 Telecommunications Products by the Supplier to the Customer are changed.
In times of genuine hardship, you and/or your financial counsellor deserve easy access to empathetic and skilled staff who can promptly address your circumstance or concerns. Optus will provide this service by training all staff in the general credit area to identify you as a financial hardship customer, and refer you to specialised staff. These staff can also be contacted via a specific telephone number made available only to Financial Counsellors.
This team is known as the Financial Advisory Support Team (FAST).
Optus expects its FAST team members to act with compassion and sympathy, yet still manage the situation within our business requirements. FAST Representatives are required to accept reasonable payment arrangements, taking into account your individual circumstances.
For a current list of community financial counselling services consult the Financial Counselling Australia website: www.financialcounsellingaustralia.org.au or if you are experiencing financial difficulty, you can also contact a free and independent financial counsellor on 1800 007 007.
Financial hardship is essentially an inability to pay bills, rather than an unwillingness to pay them. Financial hardship can arise from a variety of situations and can be either of limited duration or long term. Hardship can result from a number of factors for example:
- Loss of employment by the customer or family member.
- Family breakdown.
- Illness including physical incapacity, hospitalisation or mental illness of the customer or family member.
- A death in the family.
- Abuse of the service by customer (eg. from use of 190X numbers, Mobile roaming).
- Abuse of the service by a third party leaving the customer unable to pay the account.
- Natural disaster.
The basic principle of any agreed financial arrangement is that the repayment should be sufficient to cover expected future use of the service (as adjusted to ensure your 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. you should not be going into further debt under the arrangement). To enable this to occur, there are options available to both you and Optus to manage the use of your services. For example, we may agree to restrict access to a service, transfer a Postpaid contract customer onto a Prepaid service or bar access to certain call types. For information on the spend control tools available to assist you, please click here.
To assist us in assessing your application for hardship assistance, we will need you to provide your account details and other personal information so that we can identify you as the account holder of the service. Depending on the circumstances of your application, we may also require documentation in support of the information you provide to us as part of your application (eg. a letter from your doctor if your hardship is due to illness). If we will require such supporting information from you, we will advise you when we discuss your application with you.
Hardship Inquiries: 1800 505 201
Open: Monday - Friday 9.00am - 5.00pm AEST
Optus Financial Advisory Support Team
PO Box 280, Collins Street West
Melbourne VIC 3001