This can happen for lots of reasons: you might have lost your job, had a death in the family or suffered an illness or injury. Every provider has what is known as a "financial hardship policy" that will help you keep your service and pay off your bill over time.
ACCAN's Harship Portal is designed to help consumers by giving them information on how the telcos and other organisations can offer assistance when times get tough. Visit the portal for more information on dealing with hardship.
What you should do:
- If you can't pay your bill, don't panic but don't ignore it.
- Contact your provider to talk through your options – it is often possible to agree to a payment plan or come to another arrangement.
- Ask that the provider not charge you a late payment fee.
- Your provider can disconnect, suspend or restrict your service if you don't pay your bill. In most cases your provider has to warn you in writing at least twice, and at least five working days before it disconnects the service.
- If your service is disconnected, suspended or restricted, you can ask your provider to review the decision.
- If you cannot reach an agreement with your provider about a payment plan, you should contact the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO).
If you often find it's hard to pay your bill, or have other bills which are causing you problems, you might want to talk to a financial counsellor, who can help you manage your money. Call 1800 007 007 or go to the Financial Counselling Australia website to find a free financial counsellor.