TCP case study 2: Ruth’s bills | ACMA

TCP case study 2: Ruth’s bills

Ruth’s bills totalled almost $5,500 in usage charges and cancellation fees over a six-month period. Ruth’s only source of income was Centrelink payments, making her a vulnerable customer. When Ruth was unable to pay one or more of her bills, her telecommunications provider (telco) cancelled her service and default-listed her with a credit reporting agency. This could affect Ruth’s ability to get a line of credit for goods and services, such as a new phone plan with another telco.

Helping the disadvantaged and vulnerable

For customers having difficulty paying bills, and/or unexpectedly high bills, telcos must make a range of information readily accessible. This includes:

  • access to their financial hardship policy, which must also be explained in any reminder notices for overdue bills

  • information about spend management tools

  • information on options to restrict access to services.

Before listing a former customer’s non-payment with a credit reporting agency, telcos must adopt credit management best practices, including when collecting amounts due from disadvantaged and vulnerable customers. For customers like Ruth, the telco's debt collectors will not be allowed to behave unreasonably when collecting the debt.

Last updated: 15 April 2016