You may get behind on your telco bills because of the bushfires. There are steps you can take to make repayment arrangements and avoid disconnection.
Is your business still viable?
Can your business recover?
You may need to work out whether your business is still viable. You can do this by:
Talking to your accountant
Can’t pay my business telcos
Step 1 Work out what you can afford to pay
If you’re struggling to make the required payment on your telco bill, the first thing to do is work out what, if anything, you can actually afford to pay.
If you can afford to pay something
Start paying the amount you can afford and contact the telco to make a repayment arrangement.
If you can’t afford to pay anything
Call us for advice on 1800 413 828.
Step 2 Contact your telco
Call your telco and let them know you have been affected by the bushfires and cannot afford to pay your usual bill. Do not be afraid to make that phone call. The telco will be aware of the bushfire crisis and staff should respond compassionately. For example, Telstra has an assistance package for customers affected by bushfires. You can find out if you eligible by calling Telstra on 13 22 00.
Ask about any special assistance your service provider is giving as a result of the bushfires.
Keep details of how and when you told the service provider you were in financial hardship.
Specifically ask for an assurance that your phone will not be disconnected while you are in financial hardship.
Consider asking to change plans or move to a prepaid service while you are in financial hardship. This will keep a cap on costs.
Ask the telco about waiving late payment fees and cancellation fees.
Step 3 The telco must work with you when you are in financial hardship
The Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code says that every telco has to offer a range of protections to customers.
These include that the telco must:
- have a financial hardship policy;
- offer a range of options to keep you connected; and
- work with you on possible repayment arrangements.
Step 4 If you make a repayment arrangement stick to it
If you offer a way to repay your bill and the telco agrees to it, do your best to stick to the payments.
- Make the agreed payments on the agreed date
- If you start struggling to make the payments contact the telco again to talk about your situation and ask for more time to pay
Step 5 If the telco will not agree you can dispute it for free
There is a free national dispute resolution scheme that hears complaints about telecommunication companies. This is the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.
The contact details are www.tio.com.au or 1800 062 058.
The TIO also has a natural disaster line (1800 046 686), which is for customers who have been affected by the bushfires and have phone and internet issues that have not been sorted out.
Step 6 Speak to one of our financial counsellors
If your problem still hasn’t been solved, or you’re feeling overwhelmed, call us on 1800 413 828 to speak with one of our small business financial counsellors.
Warning: This is for information only. Do not rely on it as legal advice. It is recommended that you seek specific advice on your own situation.