For TTY assistance, please use one of the following 24 hour relay call numbers:
If you do not speak English and need help with this document, call the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) on 13 14 50 for assistance by an interpreter.
Obtaining a copy of this Hardship Policy
We send our customers a copy off our Hardship Policy in our welcome packs. We can also send you a free copy of our Hardship Policy in accordance with your preferred method of receiving written communication. Other ways we provide access to this policy include
This policy applies to all residential customers living in QLD, NSW, TAS, SA, VIC and ACT who find it hard to pay their energy bills due to hardship.
You might experience hardship because of factors like:
Falling on times of financial difficulty can happen to anyone. We understand that sometimes our customers need extra flexibility to pay their energy bills, and we care about assisting them to find ways to manage their energy account.
Whether it’s providing minimum forms of assistance to all residential customers to help them avoid getting into debt, or for residential customers who have an outstanding balance, Electricity in a Box can provide options that suits each customer’s needs.
This policy explains:
Electricity in a Box has systems in place to enable us to meet our obligations with respect to customer hardship in:
1.1. Third party/Support Person
You can ask a support person to contact us, such as:
We need your permission to talk to your support person. Where you have elected a representative to act on your behalf, Electricity in a Box will engage with the representative according to the level of authorisation you’ve consented to. To authorise a support person, contact our Customer Relations Team on 1300 933 039.
1.2. What we will do to help you
Our plan is to work with you to set up an arrangement that fits your circumstance and assists you to:
While you are on the Hardship Program, we’ll also:
Although we want our customers to feel comfortable approaching us, we understand that starting a conversation about money troubles can be tough. For this reason, we may also look out for early warning signs or triggers that our customers may need support.
The following steps will be followed to identify a customer that may be experiencing hardship
If a customer is flagged as a potential hardship customer, we will provide them with information on the following assistance options:
We will tell you about our Hardship Program if:
Meaningful and timely communication sits at the heart of the Hardship Assistance Program. If you are facing or expecting hardship or payment difficulties, we encourage you to contact us personally, or through a support person
We’re eager to give you information about the Hardship Assistance Program and provide assistance to get you back on track as soon as possible. We understand that this is a sensitive matter, we will make contact with you within 5 business days using your preferred contact method.
We will recommend you speak to a staff member to help you join our Hardship Program if you have:
We can also support you to join our Hardship Program if you tell us:
You may have trouble paying your bills for different reasons. Please contact us so we can discuss your individual situation.
Our staff are specially trained to help you with hardship. Staff will:
We will assess your application for hardship assistance by three business days.
We will let you know if you are accepted into our Hardship Program within five business days from receipt of the application.
If you are accepted into our Hardship Program, we will:
If you have any questions about our Hardship Assistance Program, call us on 03 9007 0977 (Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm AEST) and we’ll be happy to help. To access our Financial Hardship Policy, visit electricityinabox.com.au/hardship-policy
2.1. What we will do
There are different payment options available to hardship customers, including:
Regular Payment Plans
Our Regular Payment Plans are designed to assist our customers manage their payments in regular instalments. These instalments can be made weekly, fortnightly or monthly. We will work with you to arrange a payment plan that suits your needs.
When you are in our hardship program, we will offer you flexible payment options to suit your individual situation.
We will see if another energy plan may be better for you. If you agree, we can transfer you to a better energy plan for free.
Depending on the rules in our hardship policy, we may be able to remove some debt, fees or charges you owe.
Working with you we will consider:
This will help us figure out a payment plan that is right for you.
We will offer a payment plan to suit your situation. This will include payments to cover:
Once we agree to a payment plan, we will send you information including
You can choose to use Centrepay, if you are eligible.
Centrepay is a free service you can use to help pay your bills. Centrepay can automatically take an amount of money from your Centrelink payments to go toward energy bills and expenses.
Alternatively, if you aren’t eligible for CentrePay, we will be happy to give you more information on our other payment options.
Monitoring and reviewing our customer’s energy plan and Regular Payment Plan
If at any point, our customers fail to make a payment by the date payable and they’re having difficulty keeping up with their payments, we ask that our customers contact us so we can discuss their options.
The Hardship Assistance team will check to see whether a customer’s energy plan is the best fit for their needs and will let them know if there might be a more suitable energy plan.
We also recognise that not all customers will contact us if they experience further financial difficulties, so we’ll periodically review Regular Payment Plans to ensure customers are on track with their payments and if anything changes, we will make contact.
If you miss a payment, we will contact you to see if you need help. We will contact you by your preferred method of contact on at least two occasions in order to allow you to respond. These contacts will be
2.2. What you must do
Tell us if your situation changes and you can no longer make the payments in your plan. We can then review your payment arrangements.
Tell us if your contact details change
Where customers are facing changes in their circumstances or are unable to propose a suitable payment arrangement, we will work together to determine how best to adjust the arrangement so that it’s achievable. This might include accepting payments of different amounts at different time periods, extending the repayment period, or increasing the time a customer has to reduce their energy usage if appropriate
Any decision to stop hardship assistance is a difficult one, and one that we don’t take lightly.
We may stop helping you if you:
If you have had two payment plans cancelled in the last 12 months because you did not follow your plan:
Depending on the state or territory you live in, there are other supports to help you pay your energy bills.
3.1. What we will do
We will tell you about other ways you can get help to pay your energy bill, such as:
3.2. What we need you to do
If you find out you are eligible for these programs, let us know as soon as possible so we can help you.
4.1 Determining Eligibility for the Hardship Assistance Program
When you enter the Hardship Assistance program you can expect to go through the following steps, which are designed to help you navigate the program and get back on track with your energy costs.
Step 1: Assessment
Step 2: Payment Plans
Step 3: Monitoring and energy efficiency advice
For those customers who can pay for their ongoing energy usage, but perhaps need assistance paying off their debt, we can work together to design a payment arrangement.
We can give our customers information about their pattern of energy use, what this is likely to cost in the future, and how this cost may be lowered. We will provide advice on government or non-government
assistance that may be available and will suggest suitable repayment options based on our customer’s situation for them to consider.
4.2 What we will do
We will consider your individual situation to find the right programs (e.g. concession programs) or services that meet your needs.
Our Hardship Team will provide our customers with timely information and advice about any assistance they may be eligible for and support them through the application process including any paperwork.
If any customer is deemed ineligible for the hardship policy. Electricity in a Box will provide the reason for the ineligibility to the customer.
4.3 Following are the grant and rebates programs you can access:
For more information visit - www.qld.gov.au/community/cost-of-living-support/concessions/energy- concessions
For more information visit - www.resourcesandenergy.nsw.gov.au/energyconsumers/financial- assistance/rebates
For more information visit - http://www.concessions.tas.gov.au/concessions/electricity_and_heating
For more information visit – https://www.sa.gov.au/topics/care-and-support/financial-support/concessions
You can contact the following financial counselling services for further assistance.
New South Wales
4.1. Financial counselling services
Financial counsellors can support customers to better manage their finances and can represent the customer in discussions with Electricity in a Box. We can refer customers to accredited financial counselling agencies who offer their services at no cost to the customer.
Financial counsellors can contact the Hardship Team directly on behalf on their clients on 03 9007 0977 (Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm AEST).
5.1. What we will do
When you join our Hardship Program, we will talk to you about your energy use and whether you are on the right plan.
As a hardship customer, you can access a range of programs and services to help you.
If we think there is a better energy plan for you, we will:
We will only talk to you about energy plans we can offer.
Using less energy can save you money.
6.1. What we will do
When you join our Hardship Program, we can give you tips to use less energy. This can be different depending on the state or territory you live in.
We will also provide practical assistance to customers on how they can become more energy efficient and to understand how they are tracking towards lowering those costs.
6.2. Energy efficiency information
A key step in taking control of an energy account is by understanding energy use, energy costs and how to use energy more efficiently. To help, we monitor the energy usage patterns of our Hardship Assistance Program customers to ensure they are on the energy plan most likely to minimise their energy costs and provide assistance and information to help reduce those costs. Hardship Assistance Program customers can receive advice on how their energy usage and home appliances impact their energy bills. In some cases, this will be done through phone consultation or in-home energy efficiency visits, completed by our community partners at no cost to the customer.
6.3. Putting debt on hold
It can take time to put into action ways to reduce our customer’s energy usage. To manage this, Hardship Assistance Program customers who cannot pay for their ongoing energy usage can have the repayment of their debt put on hold for an initial period of six months. This gives us time to work with our customers to lower their energy costs and let them implement the recommended measures while also making payments towards their on-going energy usage. While unpaid usage amounts are added to our customer’s outstanding balance, we’ll be working with our customers to try and help reduce their usage costs.
If you have joined our Hardship Program, we will not:
We want customers on our Hardship Assistance Program to feel supported. That’s why they aren’t charged paper bill fees, merchant fees or asked for security deposits.
Also, customers on the Hardship Assistance Program will not lose any pay-on-time discounts if they miss the due date of their bill or Regular Payment Plan instalments.
The ultimate goal of our Hardship Assistance Program is to set our customers up so that they can independently and effectively manage their energy costs and get things back on track.
To assist a Hardship customer to graduate from the Hardship Assistance Program we will
Once a customer is no longer in a position of hardship or financial difficulty, they will graduate from the program and return to our standard billing and collection terms.
Electricity in a Box is committed to make it easier for our customers to stay on track and in control of their energy bills.
In addition to our commitment above when dealing with a customer who is experiencing payment difficulties Electricity in a Box will
Whenever Electricity in a Box staff suspect that a customer may be affected by family violence, they will refer them to the Hardship Team to offer the support outlined in this document if needed. We understand that these circumstances are sensitive and complex, which is why our Hardship Team undertakes ongoing training in this area and handles information in accordance with the relevant privacy requirements.
We want to do everything we can to make this program work for our customers and we will do what we can to resolve their concerns. If a customer has a complaint about the Hardship Assistance Program, we will work with them to resolve the complaint.
Customers can lodge a complaint using any of the following methods
Upon receipt of your complaint we will follow these steps
If you are unsatisfied with how we have handled your complaint then you have the right to contact the Energy Ombudsman Scheme in your state, they may be able to assist with your complaint. However, Electricity in a Box would prefer that you contact us first.
Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW
Energy and Water Ombudsman Queensland
Energy and Water Ombudsman SA
ACT Civil & Administrative Tribunal
ACT Civil & Administrative Tribunal
Electricity in a Box is fully committed to respecting our customer’s privacy. We protect the personal information of our customers in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988 (Commonwealth) and the National Privacy Principles.
Electricity in a Box regularly reviews and updates our customer hardship training. All staff (including the Hardship Team) receive access to refresher training when Electricity in a Box updates its hardship policy or hardship training materials.
You can contact us through any of the following methods;