Thematic review of our financial hardship complaints 2021-2023
Over the past 12 months, financial hardship complaints increased as a proportion of the overall complaint base. While the volume of these complaints is lower than pre-pandemic levels, financial hardship remains a significant concern for consumers and its impacts can be severe.
In the reporting period, 67 per cent of new complaints about financial hardship involved a mobile service. This means more financial hardship complaints involved debts and charges for mobile services than for every other service type combined.
Other key points include:
- It is becoming increasingly common for consumers to pay for their services using automatic payments debited directly from their bank account, sometimes without receiving a bill before the payment occurs. This can add a layer of difficulty for consumers experiencing financial hardship, as it may reduce their capacity to control their payments.
- Some telcos are moving away from charging fees for excess data usage on broadband internet services, and from charging termination fees if a consumer cancels their plan early. Many telcos now only charge the consumer for the remaining value of any equipment that was tied to their plan.
- Device payout fees can present difficulty for a consumer in hardship if they wish to change their plan or telco to a more affordable option, or if their telco cancels their service for non-payment of charges.