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Checking your ability to pay before selling you services

Our view

Before offering you a post-paid service, providers should take reasonable steps to check whether you can afford the service.

A provider should:

  • If you have already have a service with the provider, check your payment history and number of services
  • Ask you about your income and employment
  • Ask for evidence of your income (such as a pay slip).

We expect you to provide accurate information to the provider. A provider should be able to rely on what you tell it to assess whether you can pay for a service.

What happens if your financial situation changes

If your ability to pay your bills changes after you start a contract (for example, you lose your job or become ill), you should tell your provider and ask it to consider providing hardship assistance. 

Possible outcomes

If your provider:

  • did not take reasonable steps to check whether you could pay for services or equipment before selling them to you, and
  • sold you services it should have known you could not pay for (either at all, or in full)

we could decide the provider should fix the problem by:

  • waiving some or all charges
  • changing the contract to one you can afford
  • cancelling the contract
  • giving you a payment arrangement.

If we decide a plan or contract should be cancelled, we would usually expect you to return any handset or other equipment to the provider.

Here's how other cases were managed

Complaint
A consumer was transferring his service from one provider to another, and lost his number in the process.
Outcome
Both the new and the old service providers managed to solve the issue and the new service provider gave the consumer a credit on their account.
Complaint
Consumers signed a "no-lock in contract" and then were charged for the devices upon leaving the contract. They were not advised that payment for the device could not continue as separate from the service contract.
Outcome
Consumers were allowed to continue to pay off the devices, and marketing materials for the plans was amended.

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This page was last updated on
29th Oct 2019
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