Strengthening protections for customers in Hardship Consultation Paper Alternative formats available on request to PIAC - Contact PIAC
PIAC responded to the AEMC’s Strengthening protections for customers in hardship rule change consultation paper.
PIAC supports the proposed rule change but considers the proposal’s intended benefits will be limited if the use of the term ‘hardship’ is not changed. PIAC recommends the proposed changes be amended to define the term hardship such that it applies to all consumers facing payment difficulty, facilitating the implementation of guidelines consistent with the Victorian Payment Difficulties Framework, that provide an entitlement to minimum protections and assistance to all consumers according to their individual circumstances.
PIAC contends the current structures put the onus on consumers to understand their entitlement to support, identify themselves as ‘being in hardship’ and convince retail staff that their circumstances qualify them. This fundamentally disadvantages consumers, particularly those who are more likely to be in need of support.
As well as recommending a change to the definition of hardship, PIAC recommends a number of additional measures be included in the rule change.