This guidance note was published on 28 October 2020.
Guidance note 5 (2020): Contacting customers receiving tailored assistance to discuss revising their plan, clause 81(6)
An energy retail industry pulse check was issued to retailers on 4 May 2020 to understand the practices retailers have in place to support customers experiencing payment difficulties and family violence in line with protections in the Energy Retail Code.
The pulse check found retailers sought to comply with clause 81(6) using a variety of approaches. A key issue was – how to engage customers who have not met their payment plan?
Having regard to the variety of approaches by retailers, the commission considered the requirements of clause 81(6) and provides the following guidance.
Clause 81(6) provides:
81 Payment arrangements
(6) If a residential customer receiving assistance under this Division fails to make a payment by the date on which it was payable, the retailer must contact the customer to discuss their putting forward a revised proposal under this clause.
The pulse check found most retailers’ written communications to customers who are receiving tailored assistance and who miss a payment, asked these customers to contact the retailer to ‘discuss their options’. Some retailers also attempted to contact these customers by phone, but customers did not answer. Guidance on these issues is provided below.
What if a customer does not answer a phone call?
Although contact with a customer for the purpose of clause 81(6) can be made by phone, an unanswered phone call does not meet the requirement to contact the customer. If a customer does not answer the phone, it will be necessary for the retailer to contact the customer by other means, such as sending written communication.
What must a written notice contain?
Any written communication for the purpose of clause 81(6) must clearly notify the customer of their entitlement to put forward a revised payment proposal.
In the absence of a discussion between the customer and their retailer about revising the customer’s payment arrangement, a written notification that requests the customer to contact the retailer to ‘discuss their options’ will not meet the requirement of clause 81(6).
Got a question?
Contact us for more information.
View the code
View the latest version of the Energy Retail Code.