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New customer support rules for Aussie telcos

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From next month, telcos like Telstra and Optus must work proactively to identify customers experiencing financial hardships.
new customer support telcos

The Federal Government has announced new customer support rules for telecommunications providers (telcos), requiring them to give more support to customers struggling to pay their bills.

From next month, telcos like Telstra and Optus must work proactively to support a customer experiencing financial hardships. Disconnecting those customers will become a “measure of last resort”.

Victim-survivors of domestic violence won’t need to give evidence to seek financial hardship support from their telco.

New customer support rules

Under the code, telcos must develop a financial hardship policy.

Policies must be written in clear language that’s accurate, easy to use and accessible to diverse customers.

The specifics of these policies will be up to the telcos, but they must prioritise keeping customers connected.

Telcos

Providers must take “all reasonable steps” to identify and support customers believed to be facing financial hardship.

This includes speaking with customers with either more than two consecutive overdue bills or a total of three overdue bills in the last six months.

Telcos will also be required to speak with those who owe more than $200, to find customers who may be struggling to repay their debt.

Support processes

Telcos must share their hardship policy with customers found to be facing financial difficulties.

The policies could include leniency applications to negotiate a flexible timeline for repayments or a payment plan.

Telcos should complete an assessment within a week of receiving an application, and share that outcome with the customer within the next two business days.

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