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VIC Financial Hardship and Energy Bill

Discussion in 'Debt and Bankruptcy Law Forum' started by Dons, 3 July 2015.

  1. Dons

    Dons Member

    3 July 2015
    Likes Received:
    We recently changed Energy companies and upon getting a final bill, which was quite a lot higher than any bill we have ever received before and as my husband recently lost his job, I rang them to organise a payment plan because of financial hardship.

    I told them I am only able to pay a certain amount each fortnight as I am casual and my hours vary week to week from 3 hours to 20 hours, so until my husband gets another job, we will be managing from my wage only and that once my husband does get another job, we would easily be to pay the balance in full.

    I was told the amount I want to pay is not sufficient enough (debt) and that I had to pay their amount by direct debit only. After a lot of discussion, I agreed to their total and said I would try my best to pay the higher agreed amount but said I would pay it manually not via direct debit. They did not want to accept these terms. In the end they finally set up a payment plan for 8 weeks only and after that time has lapsed I will need to pay out the remainder.

    I said to them from the start, "I want to pay the bill but in our current circumstances, I need the payment plan until my husband is employed again," which they were not happy about.

    I just want to know, am I allowed to specify an amount that we can afford to comfortably pay? Do they have to accept this amount? Can the payment plan be continuous with the minimal amount being paid without it stopping in 8 weeks time and us having a huge lump sum at the end?

    I would like to know where we stand in this situation.

    Thank you.
  2. Ivy

    Ivy Well-Known Member

    10 February 2015
    Likes Received:
    Hi there,

    Energy companies are obligated to negotiate payment plans with you (unless you have failed to pay bills on payment plans twice in the last 12 months which I assume doesn't apply to you because you have recently signed up with this energy provider).

    It sounds like this energy company is not meeting their legal obligations in which case you can contact the Victorian Energy and Water Ombudsman to complain (they can also help you resolve the situation): Contact Us

    There are also various government grants and schemes that can help you make the payment.
    For example the Utility Relief Grant from DHS Victoria: Utility Relief Grant and Non-Mains Utility Relief Grant schemes - Department of Human Services, Victoria, Australia

    Have a look at this page on the Money Smart website for more information: Problems paying your utility bills | MoneySmart by ASIC
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