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New Contributor SimSim
New Contributor

Financial Hardship - appropriate management

What procedures do you have in place with regards to training and monitoring of your billing/credit management staff?  Do you follow the guidelines set by consumer law, ACMA and the TIO?  

 

What are the policies and procedures you put in place, setting out how they deal with outstanding accounts, numerous requests for extensions to pay, suspensions of service and how to identify and deal with appropriately, those customers who may be in a position of financial hardship so as to refer them to the dedicated department or provide them with appropriate information, as required by you?  

 

I am especially interested in how they are directed to deal with those who advise that the reason they are having ongoing difficulties in paying their outstanding accounts, is because they are currenly unemployed by no choice of their own, and having only just commenced receiving  Newstart Allowance (after two months of no income whatsoever)?  

 

Is it your usual practice to threaten disconnecction because an extension had already been requested and force the customer to pay $300 out of their first Centrelink payment (first payment of any type in two months)?  That this is what is required of them in order to stop the service from being suspended or restricted, even though it was disclosed that the customer required access to a phone in order to find employment as a contractor whilst looking for full time employment, so as not to rely on benefits and to obtain the means to pay his ever increasing phone bill? 

 

Are they encouraged to act in this way by management? To refuse further extensions and assistance because they defaulted on their previous request for an extention to pay and had not paid the outstanding balance in full by an unrealistic set date?  Are they encouraged to ignore obvious signs of severe financial hardship instead of identifying same and taking the appropriate steps as set out by relevant code and legislation? 

 

Is it your culture to coerce customers into making payments that they cannot afford and leave them without any ability to feed themselves or afford fuel to get to job interviews for the next fortnight?   Is this considered the more appropriate course of action to take rather than putting the customer in touch with your dedicated financial hardship team to conduct an assessment and make suitable arrangements to enable some form of ongoing payment schedule to assist the long term, loyal customer until they got back on their feet.

 

I am very interested in how your organisation combats such unfortunate situations faced by your customers, and would love to hear your views on how your current policies allign with the requirements imposed upon your organisation by law and to ensure your compliance with the Telco Consume Protection Code.

 

It certainly does not appear to be your practice to recommend customers with no current contractual obligations. to perhaps sign up for one of your new whiz bang sim only plans (or even one which includes a new flashy handset!) offering a very generous 40gb of data for the same price as what this vulnerable customer is currently paying for a a quarter of the data.  How would that be appropriate...? Your loyal customer is only chewing through  in their current plan (probably due to those 20 jobs per month they have to apply for to satisfy mutual obligation requirements)...and this does not appear to concern you, does it?  No... your organisation feels the most appropriate action to take is to add 12 data packs on top of the monthly charge for a mere $163 extra and had the month not ended, from what I have read on your website, you are prepared to add a lot more than 12! 

 

Why would you offer a better deal to a customer, when that money could go towards those hefty annual bonuses for the Board of Directors, hey?

 

Good work, Optus!  You keep valuing those long term customers of yours.

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RetiredModerator Toomey
RetiredModerator

Re: Financial Hardship - appropriate management

Hey @SimSim, sorry to hear you've had these troubles. I will do my best to answer your questions.

 

Check out this article for Financial Hardship policies and information → Financial Hardship Assistance & Policy. If you submit an application, a Counsellor will be in touch directly to provide further support.

 

Disconnection letters may still be sent with a payment extension. Your account must be suspended manually and they will check for any extensions before proceeding. The letters will still get sent out automatically though. If you are disconnected in error, jump into Live Chat to have someone fix this asap.

 

In terms of your mobile deal, these can only be assessed case by case. Promotions come and go all the time, if you jump into Live Chat with a Sales Agent, they will look at your account and provide the available solutions for you to choose from.


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