Financial Hardship

New Financial Hardship Standard

In a rapidly evolving landscape, telecommunications companies (and WISP’s) play a pivotal role in keeping people and businesses connected.

Recognising the challenges faced by consumers during financial hardships, new rules have developed by the ACMA in response to a direction from the Minister for Communications, the Hon Michelle Rowland MP, introduced in the Telecommunications (Financial Hardship) Industry Standard 2024, set to come into force on March 29, 2024.  For more information on the standard see here.

This standard aims to enhance consumer protection and establish guidelines for telecommunications carriers to support customers facing financial difficulties.

WISPAU members are encouraged to review their policies in regards to financial hardship for their customers.

It is important that WISP’s support customers and business as per the framework of the industry standard to make sure those doing it tough are still able to utilise an important and necessary utility in Australia.

Understanding the Telecommunications (Financial Hardship) Industry Standard 2024
  • Comprehensive Financial Hardship Policies – the new standard emphasizes the need for telecommunications carriers to develop and implement comprehensive financial hardship policies. These policies should be transparent, easily accessible, and tailored to address the unique challenges customers may face during financial crises.

  • Customer Communication and Notification – Effective communication is paramount. Telecommunications companies must ensure that customers are informed about their financial obligations, potential service disruptions, and available support programs. Clear and timely notifications will help customers make informed decisions during challenging times.

  • Flexible Payment Plans – The standard encourages telecommunications carriers to offer flexible payment plans and options. This flexibility ensures that customers experiencing financial difficulties can manage their bills without compromising their connectivity. Carriers are expected to work collaboratively with consumers to find solutions that meet their specific needs.

  • Assessment and Verification of Financial Hardship Claims – To ensure fair and consistent treatment, telecommunications companies are required to establish robust processes for assessing and verifying customer claims of financial hardship. This helps in identifying genuine cases and tailoring support accordingly.

  • Training for Customer Service Representatives – With an emphasis on customer-centricity, the standard advocates for thorough training of customer service representatives. This ensures that front line staff are equipped to handle inquiries related to financial hardship with professionalism and empathy.

WISPAU Provides Guidance Document

WISPAU has provided a guidance and checklist document for its members to review and check to make sure that they are aware and implementing the requirements of the new Telecommunications (Financial Hardship) Industry Standard 2024.

The document can be downloaded in the members area after logging in.

The document is for guidance and assistance and WISPAU encourages all of its members to review the new industry standard to ensure that WISP’s have financial policies inn place that assist customers and businesses that are facing financial hardship.

WISPAU has also created a training guide for WISPAU Members to meet the training requirements of the new standard for their employees within their organization to review and complete. The training guide can also be downloaded in the members area.

about WISPAU

WISPAU represents the Wireless Internet Service Providers of Australia, achieving greater coverage, overall competitiveness in the broadband market and offering a local service that delivers economic benefits for the areas they cover.

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