Financial Hardship

V4 Telecom Pty Ltd
Financial Hardship
1. Introduction

This is V4 Telecom’s Financial Hardship Policy. We understand that financial hardship can make it difficult for some customers to pay their bills. This policy is designed:

(a) to alleviate pressures in such cases;
(b) to ensure, as far as possible, that our bills are paid; and
(c) to maintain service, if that is feasible.

  1. TCP Code
    This Financial Hardship Policy acknowledges the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code C628:2012 and we shall comply with the Code in relation to it. We will give you a copy of the Financial Hardship Policy Summary in Schedule B to this Policy:

(a) upon request;
(b) when you indicate to us that you are experiencing Financial Hardship; or
(c) if we consider that you may be eligible for the Policy.

The Summary in Schedule B forms part of this Policy.

  1. Our contact details: You can contact us regarding financial hardship issues as follows:

    Name /Position: Financial Hardship Officer Contact Hours:
    Postal Address: V4 Telecom. PO Box 33097, Melbourne Vic 3004 All hours
    Fax: 03 9826 6832 All hours – Processed during Business Hours.
    Telephone: 1300-843-130 9am to 5pm Monday through Friday
    Email: billing@v4.net.au All hours – processed except Federal & Victorian Holidays

  2. Who can claim financial hardship?

This policy is only available to our:

(a) personal/residential customers; and
(b) small business customers.

You are a personal/residential customer if you are an individual who acquires a telecommunications product for the primary purpose of personal or domestic use and not for resale.

You are a small business customer if you are a business or non-profit organization which acquires from us one or more telecommunications products which are not for resale and, at the time you entered into your customer contract, you:

(c) did have a genuine and reasonable opportunity to negotiate the terms of the customer contract; and
(d) had or would have an annual spend with us which was, or we estimated on reasonable grounds to be, no greater than $20,000 over 12 calendar months.

  1. What counts as financial hardship?

‘Financial hardship’ means a situation where:

(a) you are unable to discharge the financial obligations owed under your customer contract with us or otherwise discharge the financial obligations you owe to us, due to illness, unemployment or other reasonable causes; and

(b) you believe that you are able to discharge those obligations if the relevant payment arrangements or other arrangements relating to the supply of telecommunications products by us to you are changed.

  1. Assessment of applications

We will assess any application you make in a fair and timely manner.

  1. Step 1:

You need to tell us about it. Sometimes, we may become aware that you are experiencing hardship. But usually, we’ll only know if you tell us. The first thing to do to make a hardship claim is contact us and tell us:

(a) who you are;
(b) what V4 Telecom bills you have difficulty with;
(c) what the difficulty is.

  1. Step 2:

We ask for it in writing. Now, there may be some unusual cases where you can’t quickly get us anything in writing. If that seems to be the case, we’ll try to deal with you on the telephone – but you must give us something in writing as soon as you can.

Schedule A is an Application Form you may use to satisfy this requirement, and give us other initial details we almost always need.

You must send any documentation we require to the email address, postal address or fax number in Section 3 above, addressed to ‘The Financial Hardship Officer,’ V4 Telecom’.

Our assessment of an application may be based on the information you provide or other information available to us.

We may cancel any financial hardship arrangement if you have provided false or incomplete information.

  1. Step 3:

We’ll check if there are any disputed amounts. Our financial hardship arrangements are for people who agree they owe money, but can’t pay it for good reason. They don’t apply if you dispute a bill or say you don’t have to pay it. We’ll ask you:

(a) To clearly identify the problem bill/s;
(b) To confirm they are not disputed; and
(c) To confirm that you intend to pay when you reasonably can.

If there is a dispute, we’ll refer you to our Internal Disputes Management policy instead of this Financial Hardship Policy.

  1. Step 4: We’ll decide if it could be considered as financial hardship.

First, we’ll consider if you’re telling us you can’t pay our bill/s. If you’re not saying that, it’s not a case of hardship. Second, we’ll consider whether non-payment is reasonable. For instance, if you cannot pay us because you choose to continue to pay a month-to-month yoga class membership, we might consider it unreasonable to pay that instead of your phone bill. Third, we’ll consider why you’re financially restricted. Relevant reasons may include:

(a) you lost your job;
(b) a dependant of your lost their job and you have to support them;
(c) family breakdown;
(d) illness;
(e) unexpected and unavoidable extra financial commitments e.g. medical bills from an accident.

We won’t try to give a complete list, but these examples are good guidelines for the kinds of reasons we can accept. If your reasons are as serious and good as these ones, we’ll be flexible about accepting them.

Fourth, we’ll consider whether a change of arrangements could help you pay. If there’s nothing we can do under this policy that would make any difference, we can’t make a hardship arrangement with you.

If all the above are satisfied, we’ll accept that you are making a financial hardship claim.

  1. Step 5: We may ask for documentary proof.

We may ask you to provide written evidence that you are telling us the truth. Normally, we’ll ask for documentation if:

(a) It looks like you’ll need a hardship arrangement for a long time
(b) The amount involved is over $100;
(c) You have been our customer for less than six months or have had prior poor payment history;
(d) We consider there is a reasonable possibility of mistake or fraud involved on the Account. But we may ask for documentation in other cases, based on similarly serious reasons. Examples of documents we might require are:

(e) Evidence that you lost employment;
(f) Evidence that you have consulted a financial counselor;
(g) a statutory declaration by you; (h) a statutory declaration by someone familiar with your circumstances; and
(i) a medical certificate.
The purpose of asking for documentation is to help justify your claim, and to help us be flexible about what arrangements may assist in your particular circumstances. We may require evidence of your capacity to pay e.g. a financial statement confirmed by a statutory declaration. As a normal rule, if we ask you for any proof or documentation and you don’t provide it within 10 working days, your hardship application is considered withdrawn. (But we won’t unreasonably refuse to reinstate it if you later ask us to.) If we ask for documentation:

(j) You must send it to the email address, postal address or fax number in Section 3 of this policy, addressed to ‘Financial Hardship Officer, ‘V4 Telecom’; and
(k) We will comply with applicable privacy laws.

Step 6: We will make a decision about whether we accept that you’ve showed financial hardship

We will do that within 14 working days after you have done what is required of you under steps 1 to 5.

If you have an active email address, we will notify you by email. Otherwise, we’ll normally notify you by post or any other method you asked for and we agreed to as on our system

The rest of the steps assume that we have accepted your claim of financial hardship

  1. Step 7: We’ll work with you to agree on a hardship arrangement.

Our notification under step 6 may include a proposal for a hardship arrangement. We will be flexible about arrangements, taking your circumstances into account. But we do have policy guidelines. You must contact our Financial Hardship Officer by telephone, normally within 10 working days after we send the notification or place contact with yourself via phone, email or leave messages via a reasonable medium. If you do not contact the Financial Hardship Officer within the required time, your application will be considered withdrawn (but we will not unreasonably refuse to reinstate it if you contact us within a reasonable time and ask us to). When you contact the Financial Hardship Officer, they (or a delegate they appoint) will discuss the proposed financial hardship arrangement with you, and see if you accept it or whether another arrangement can be agreed.

  1. Our policy guidelines

(a) For existing debts, a deferred payment plan should ensure that the debt is
paid:
(i) at not less than 20% of the amount outstanding a month; and
(ii) in full within six months.

(b) Your debt should not increase after the end of the current billing period or post this arrangement.
(c) We will consider with you whether any changes to your service may help you retain service without increasing your debt e.g. by:

(i) call barring;
(ii) restricted access;
(iii) slower access;
(iv) prepayment;
(v) extended payment period up to 7 days longer than normal, for up to six months; or
(vi) waiving reconnection fees unless we are liable to a third party (e.g. wholesaler) for them.

(d) An arrangement must be one that you can comply with. If no such arrangement appears possible within a reasonably flexible application of the policy, we cannot offer you a hardship arrangement.

  1. We won’t normally take credit management action while we are discussing a possible arrangement with you, or an arrangement is in place

We will suspend credit management action while an arrangement under this Policy is being discussed or is in place unless:

(a) you do not meet your obligations under the arrangement; (In that event, if you do not contact us to discuss a new arrangement, we will take reasonable steps to contact you before taking credit management action.)
(b) we decide it is reasonable to do so given the circumstances, e.g. to prevent a further increase in the debt owed; or
(c) you agree that the arrangement is unable to be completed.

  1. Step 8: If we can reach an arrangement with you …

Sometimes, it may not be possible to agree an arrangement with you within our policy guidelines (applied reasonably flexibly). If we do reach a hardship agreement with you:

(a) we’ll send you a summary of the arrangement by email or post;
(b) the summary will include the amount and frequency of any ‘catch up’ payments you must make;
(c) it will also note any service restrictions that will apply; and
(d) You should contact us without delay if your circumstances change.

  1. During the term of a hardship arrangement:

(a) You and we must comply with it;
(b) we will monitor your compliance;
(c) we will review the arrangement if you notify us that your circumstances have changed and request us to do so; and
(d) we will not sell your debt.

  1. Our dealings with you Our Financial Hardship Officer and delegates:

(a) will treat you with courtesy and respect;
(b) will be understanding in cases of genuine financial hardship;
(c) are entitled to be treated by you with courtesy and respect; and
(d) are entitled to act in our reasonable interests, especially in making sure claims are genuine and we are not disadvantaged without good cause.

19. Costs associated with this policy:

There are no costs to you for making a Financial Hardship Application or otherwise in connection with this policy.

  1. Training: Our Financial Hardship Officer and delegates must:

(a) read this policy in full before commencing duties and at least once each two months after that;
(b) read Chapter 6 of the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code C628: 2012 in full before commencing duties and at least once each six months after that; and
(c) participate in all further training about the policy that we direct.

  1. Where to get more information and assistance

Financial Counselors are trained and accredited to work in the local community to provide remedial, preventative and advocacy services for people in financial distress (or who are in danger of entering financial distress) with a focus on people of low income. They are generally funded by State and Federal Governments and services are provided free of charge. A Financial Counsellor works with you to clarify and analyse your financial situation, explain financial and legal documents and processes, and identify and discuss options for resolving financial problems. While a Financial Counsellor may assist you in negotiating with creditors, you are always in control over what course of action will be taken. In some States, Consumer Advocates offer advice about consumer rights to Customers.

  1. Contacting your local financial counselor or Consumer advocate as below:

Location To Contact With Contact Number
QLD Financial Counselling Services (07) 3257 1957
NSW Credit and Debt Hotline 1800 808 488
ACT Care Financial Counselling (02) 6257 1788
VIC Consumer Credit Legal Service (03) 9602 3800
TAS Anglicare Financial Counselling 1800 243 232
SA Uniting Communities(Financial Counselling) (08) 8202 5180
WA Financial Counsellors(Resource Project) (08) 9221 9411
NT Anglicare Financial Counselling (08) 8985 0000

Your Name:
V4 Telecom Account Name (2)
You Are Our customer / authorized representative
You Are 4a residential customer / a small business customer(5)
V4 Telecom Invoice Details your application relates to(6) V4 Telecom Customer Account Number
Details of financial hardship(7)
Do you have an existing financial hardship arrangement with V4 Telecom?
If `yes` details(9)
Your contact number
Your contact postal address
Your contact email address

I wish to make an application for a financial hardship arrangement with V4 Telecom. Please contact me about this matter.
Signature: _________________________
Date: __________________

1 Note that only a V4 Telecom customer, or their authorized representative, may submit this application.
2 Must be in name of same person as above, unless person above is their authorized representative or account holder on the V4 Account
3 Delete whichever inapplicable.
4 Delete whichever inapplicable.
5 As per V4 Telecom Financial Hardship Policy.
6 Clearly identify each invoice that presents payment difficulties including following as applicable: Name of invoiced party, date, invoice number, amount, service type.
7 Refer to V4 Telecom Financial Hardship Policy for information on qualifying circumstances.
8 Delete whichever inapplicable. 9 Including date of arrangement if known.

Some personal/residential and small business customers who are experiencing financial hardship may be entitled to special arrangements for V4 Telecom bills they cannot immediately afford to pay. Depending on your circumstances, there may be options for helping to manage your financial difficulty e.g. payment plans, service restrictions and spending caps.

Eligibility is set out in V4 Telecom’s Financial Hardship Policy.

Contacting us about financial hardship: You can contact us regarding financial hardship issues as follows:

Name /Position: Financial Hardship Officer Contact Hours:
Telephone: 1300-843-130 9am to 5pm Monday through Friday
Email:billing@v4.net.au All hours –processed during business hours
Postal Address: PO Box 33097, Melbourne Vic 3004 All hours
Fax: 03 9826 6832 All hours – Processed during Business hours

The Financial Hardship Officer can provide more information and a copy of our policy. You can also access it in our web site.

Information we may require

To process a financial hardship enquiry or application, we first ask for an Application (which is attached to this Summary) that identifies you, your account, and other basic information. You must send it, and any other supporting documentation we require, to the email address, postal address or fax number above, addressed to ‘Financial Hardship Officer, V4 Telecom”.

We may require further documentation, depending on the nature and circumstances of your claim eg (if relevant):

  • evidence that you lost employment;
  • evidence that you have consulted a financial counsellor;
  • a statutory declaration by you;
  • a statutory declaration by someone familiar with your circumstances;
  • a medical certificate. Our assessment of an application may be based on the information you provide or other information available to us. If the information you provide is not sufficient for us to make an assessment, we will tell you that, and what other information is required. If you do not provide information as requested, an assessment may not be made.

Provision of false or incomplete information may result in us cancelling any hardship arrangements.

How we assess an application – generally

We try to be flexible, since there are many different possible circumstances. But generally:

  • We will check that the amount involved is not disputed. If it is, our Complaints Policy applies instead.
  • We’ll assess whether the application meets the definition for financial hardship.
  • We’ll consider if non-payment of amounts is reasonable in all the circumstances.
  • Then we’ll consider whether your reason for being unable to pay falls into those relevant under our Financial Hardship Policy.
  • Then we’ll consider whether a financial hardship arrangement could assist you.
  • Then we’ll consider an appropriate arrangement under our Policy and the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code C628:2012 and propose it to you. Where possible and appropriate, we will provide you with flexible repayment options to meet your individual circumstances.
  • We will make an assessment within 7 working days after you provide the last of any information or supporting documentation we reasonably require. A proposed financial hardship arrangement has no effect unless and until you accept it. If you do not accept a proposed arrangement within 10 days, it is no longer open for acceptance. (But if you do not accept in that time for good reason, we will not unreasonably refuse to extend the proposal.) If it becomes clear to us at any time that you do not meet the criteria for arrangement or assistance, we will inform you immediately. Your rights and obligations if we enter a financial hardship arrangement.

9.You, and we, must comply with an agreed financial hardship arrangement.
10.We will give you written details of the arrangement if you ask for them.
12.We will not pursue credit management action over a debt while a financial hardship arrangement covering that debt is in place and you are complying with it.
13.You must promptly advise us if the your circumstances change during the term of the financial hardship arrangement. Contacting your local Financial Counsellor or Consumer Advocate, who may be able to assist or advise QLD for free Financial Counselling (07) 3257 1957

Location To Contact With Contact Number
QLD Financial Counselling Services (07) 3257 1957
NSW Credit and Debt Hotline 1800 808 488
ACT Care Financial Counselling (02) 6257 1788
VIC Consumer Credit Legal Service (03) 9602 3800
TAS Anglicare Financial Counselling 1800 243 232
SA Uniting Communities(Financial Counselling) (08) 8202 5180
WA Financial Counsellors(Resource Project) (08) 9221 9411
NT Anglicare Financial Counselling (08) 8985 0000

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