Definition of Hardship
Financial hardship is defined as: a situation where a Customer is unable, reasonably, because of illness, unemployment, being the victim of domestic or family violence, 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.
In times of genuine hardship, customers and/or their financial counsellor deserve easy access to empathetic and skilled staff who can promptly address their circumstance or concerns. ACN Pacific will provide this service by training all staff in the general credit area to identify financial hardship customers. ACN Pacific expects its credit team members to act with compassion and sympathy, yet still manage the situation within business requirements. Credit staff are required to accept reasonable payment arrangements, taking into account each customer’s individual circumstances.
Identification of a Customer Experiencing Financial Hardship
ACN Pacific considers financial hardship a state that involves an inability of the customer to pay bills, rather than 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 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.
- Being the victim of domestic or family violence
- Abuse of the service by customer (e.g. from use of 190X numbers, GPRS).
- Abuse of the service by a third party leaving the customer unable to pay the account.
- Natural Disaster.
In order to assess financial hardship our Credit staff may request the customer provide an income and expenditure budget.
Consumer access to financial advisers
Financial Counselling is a valuable service that is offered at no cost by community organisations, community legal centres and some government agencies. Find out more information about Financial Counselling here
Reaching a Financial arrangement
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 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). Our Credit staff will discuss with the customer their situation. They will explain to the customer how to minimise the cost of their service by using spend control tools and, where appropriate, suggest alternate plans or services that may better suit the customer’s circumstances. If applicable, we will provide options with regard to restriction of services, extensions of repayment periods; part-payment instalment plans, and; consider waiver of certain service charges. The duration and conditions of arrangements will vary and are subject to review. When Financial hardship arrangement terms are agreed, we confirm this verbally and/or in writing and summarise the customer’s rights, obligations, and the consequences of failing to adhere to the agreed arrangement. An arrangement cannot commence until the customer has agreed to and accepted all of the terms. The Customer is responsible for: acknowledging the debt and their duty to repay it; providing adequate information for an accurate and informed assessment; being willing to moderate their usage to a level they are able to pay and adopt relevant service options to that end; making repayments as agreed; using suitable products, services and access levels, as negotiated with us; and informing us immediately if their contact details and/or financial position changes so that the customer’s arrangement can be reviewed.
Termination of a Financial hardship arrangement
A Financial hardship arrangement will have an agreed end date. This means the arrangement terminates provided the account has then been paid by that date. The customer may also choose to complete all payments and terminate the arrangement prior to this time, should their circumstances change. If a customer does not follow the terms of the arrangement, we may terminate the arrangement. Our Credit team will attempt to contact the customer via phone, SMS or email and if no contact is made they will send a letter. If the customer does not contact the Credit team within 7 days of the date of that letter, the customer’s account will be sent to collections.
How to find out more
Phone: 0508 226 000: 10:00am – 10:00pm Mon to Sun
Post: ACN Pacific Pty Ltd, PO Box 90694, Auckland MSC, Auckland 1142, New Zealand
Webchat: Mon to Friday: 10:00am – 10:00pm NZST – Click here
Enquiry form: Mon to Friday: 10:00am – 10:00pm NZST – Click here
Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org