Aussie Telcos Can’t Just Switch Your Service off if You Have a Financial Hardship Arrangement in Place

Aussie Telcos Can’t Just Switch Your Service off if You Have a Financial Hardship Arrangement in Place

In Australia, it’s enshrined into a code that telcos have to offer arrangements to customers who are experiencing financial hardship. This means your provider can’t just cut your service off if you’ve had a chat to them about why can’t pay your bill, and that reason fits the criteria for an arrangement to be in place.

The initiative falls under the Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code and every telco that operates in Australia, when a financial hardship arrangement/payment plan is in place, must suspend credit management action, which can include service suspensions, disconnections, or debt collection.

You might know this, but a report that came out today from the ACMA tells us that only 51 per cent of Aussies are aware they can contact their telco for help managing bills.

The info came from the latest Financial hardship in the telco sector report from the ACMA. There’s a lot of doom in the report. During the year spanning December 2021-2022, the ACMA said housing costs rose 10.7 per cent, food and booze went up 9.2 per cent, utility costs shot up 5.3 per cent, petrol went up 13.2 per cent, and communications costs increased by 1.3 per cent. It also said 25 per cent of Australians had experienced payment difficulty or concerns in the previous 12 months for at least one of their essential services bills (telco, energy, water) and 48 per cent of those had difficulty with their telco bills.

The ACMA said out of the 11 telcos it probed while compiling its report all had financial hardship arrangements available to customers, only one was easy to find. We’ve done some digging and found the following (please note, all links in the rest of this article link to the specific telco being spoken about at that time and the ACMA did not disclose which 11 telcos it probed).

How to apply for a financial hardship arrangement

Telstra has its information packaged nicely on this page, linking you to its financial hardship policy, as well as an FAQ tab, the offer to drop down to a smaller plan, get a payment extension, suspend your service until you’re comfortable paying again, or chat about long-term payment options.

Optus also has an information landing page on its website, but it encourages you to arm yourself with a bit of knowledge around its process, then call 1300 308 839, Monday through Saturday 9:00 am to 8:30 pm AEST.

Vodafone has a page titled ‘Support for customers facing long-term financial hardship’, which can be found here. You can call the Vodafone team on 1800 185 289, Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm AEST. Alternatively you can send an email to for assistance.

Aussie Broadband has a four-page form it would like you to fill out if you’re seeking a financial hardship arrangement. Once that’s done, you can email it to and the telco will have someone call you. The Aussie Broadband financial hardship policy can be found here.

TPG Telecom has this page set up for financial hardship concerns. The form is a webform, which can be found here. TPG says to wait up to five days before you’ll hear from them.

iiNet, part of the TPG Telecom family, also has a dedicated page containing an FAQ section and more links to navigate. The online form for iiNet can be found here.

Exetel has a PDF of its financial hardship policy (here) which says to call its billing department on 1300 788 141 to discuss your options.

Spintel offers a few options, with this blog post on the telco’s website answering some FAQs. The policy itself (which can be found here) encourages customers to contact the team on 1300 303 375.

Amaysim’s financial hardship policy is located here, but you need to email or call the telco via or 07 3063 4574 (567 if you’re on an Amaysim service) Monday to Friday 9 am to 5 pm AEST to get an application form. That form can be returned via email (or post or fax), however.

Southern Phone has some advice on paying bills here and its financial hardship policy is over here. At the bottom of that page, you’ll see a form to fill out if you want to apply for an arrangement, alternatively, you can give 1800 356 227 a call Monday to Friday 8 am to 5 pm AEST.

While online is much better than calling, if your bill is overdue or your service is about to be impacted, give them a call. Similarly, if your telco isn’t listed above and you’re having a hard time finding the arrangements on their website, it’s best to just give the telco a call.

If there’s one key message to take away from the ACMA report, it’s that financial hardship arrangements are open to anyone experiencing financial hardship. If you aren’t being treated fairly by your telco, you can make a complaint here with The Telecommunications Ombudsman, and take a read through the ACMA’s advice over here.

If you need more assistance, you can call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 to get free and independent advice from a financial counsellor over the phone. They are available Monday to Friday 9:30 am to 4:30 pm AEST. You can also find a financial counsellor in your local area online via this link. LifeLine Australia is also available on 13 11 14.

If life is in danger, call 000.

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