Need help to pay your electricity or gas bills?

You have rights.

Stronger protections are now available to households having trouble paying their energy bills.

The Australian Energy Regulator has taken action to assist vulnerable customers experiencing payment difficulties by introducing an enforceable Customer Hardship Policy Guideline.

Energy retailers have important responsibilities in helping vulnerable customers. The Guideline requires energy retailers to provide consistent minimum standards of assistance, ensure hardship programs are easily accessible and put processes in place to identify customers who may need help.

Customers participating in a hardship program will get access to different payment options, help finding a better energy plan, tips on energy efficiency, and information about government concessions, relief schemes, energy rebates and financial counselling services.

Other help may also be available – All energy providers have a hardship policy that tells you how they can assist you if you are having trouble paying your energy bills due to hardship. You can find it on their website or ask them to post you copy.

If you are in a hardship program and meetings its conditions your energy provider cannot disconnect you.

When life is tough call your energy retailer and talk to them about your situation.

For more information, visit the Australian Energy Regulator’s website at http://www.aer.gov.au/consumers/my-energy-bill/help-for-customers-in-hardship.

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