Payment Difficulties

Helping you help yourself.

Our aim is to help you to keep your energy connected!

Click Energy recognises that financial hardship may be suffered occasionally, and in some cases on a permanent basis, by residential customers who purchase energy principally for personal, household or domestic use. If you should find yourself in financial hardship, Click Energy will strive to keep you connected so that you do not lose what is, for all households in Australia, an essential service.

Our Contact Detail:

Click Energy
Level 1, 90 Collins St,
Melbourne VIC 3000
Telephone: 1800 77 59 29
Email: service@clickenergy.com.au

What is ‘Financial Hardship’?

Financial hardship is very difficult to define but it is real and affects many of us from time to time. You should not hesitate to contact Click Energy if you believe that you are in financial hardship, whatever your circumstances, and have the intention but not the financial capacity to pay. We have trained staff that are able to help you.

Are you a residential customer in Financial Hardship?

You may be in financial hardship if you have the intention but not the financial capacity to pay your energy account. In order to give you some guidance, we have set out a number of typical events that may cause financial hardship. Of course, these are only examples and everyone’s precise circumstances are different. Even so, there is a chance that you will be in financial hardship if you identify with these examples:

You are in short-term financial hardship due to short-term reduction in income
  • Your income has suddenly been reduced but you expect it to return to normal within the next 12 months.
You are in short term financial hardship due to high bills
  • You have recently received an unexpected bill or a bill that is significantly higher than usual. This bill does not necessarily have to be an energy bill.
You are in long term financial hardship and you are renting
  • You are avoiding paying your bills in order to prevent being evicted from your home, or
  • You have been placed in bankruptcy, or
  • You are unemployed and have been so for the last 26 weeks, or
  • You are receiving Commonwealth Government income support payments and have been doing so for the last 26 weeks, or
  • You have been referred to a financial advisor regarding your situation, or
  • Your income is insufficient to pay your reasonable living expenses (which would include normal living expenses, such as groceries, electricity, rent and phone; expenses for medical supplies for a condition you or a dependant family member may be suffering; and school fees, books, or other costs related to education of school-aged children).
You are in long-term financial hardship and you are a homeowner
  • You are avoiding paying your bills in order to prevent foreclosure on your mortgage, or
  • Your income is insufficient to pay your reasonable living expenses (which would include normal living expenses, such as groceries, electricity, rent and phone; expenses for medical supplies for a condition you or a dependant family member may be suffering; and school fees, books, or other costs related to education of school-aged children). If your circumstances are different but you believe that you are in financial hardship or you have been identified by an independent accredited financial counsellor as having the intention but not the financial capacity to pay you should contact us as soon as possible. Together we can ‘help you help yourself’.

We may contact you if we believe you are in Financial Hardship

Click Energy will attempt to identify those customers that are experiencing payment difficulties due to hardship and that may benefit from being in our financial hardship program. We will do this by looking at any signals of financial difficulties that our customers may have by, amongst other things, regularly monitoring our payments reports. This may show an excessive use of energy or consistently overdue accounts.

We will act on such information as soon as practicable by discretely and sensitively contacting these customers, initially by email, to establish whether they may be suffering financial hardship.

Of course, everyone’s circumstances are different. In some cases it may be necessary to refer you to an independent financial counselling service. Our staff will make a decision about this based on their training and their discussions with you.

The financial counselling service will be able to review your situation in greater detail and help you to better plan your budget. Click Energy can then work with you or the counselling service to provide you with a payment plan that works for you.

Is your energy plan appropriate in your circumstances?

If you call us about financial hardship, one of the very first things our trained staff members will do is to establish if your current Click Energy plan is still appropriate for your circumstances.

Some of our energy plans require payment in advance (Click Early), others in arrears (Click Easy). Some offer basic electricity, others solar (Click Solar) or GreenPower electricity (Click Natural). Most offer a pay-on-time discount, some don’t. You can find and compare all of our energy plans at: clickenergy.com.au/sign-up/.

Usually, a change of energy plan is not sufficient, or even appropriate, for those in financial hardship so we will ask you a number of questions. Understanding your financial position means that we can take it into account to establish how you can best meet your obligations under any financial hardship program. That, after all, should be our mutual objective.

In order to better understand your financial position, we may ask you:

  • Has your energy usage changed recently?
  • What is the best payment method for you?
  • Would you prefer to pay the account a bit at a time?
  • How much can you afford to pay now?
  • What frequency of payment (e.g., weekly, fortnightly) would best suit you?
  • What would be more helpful: paying in arrears or paying in advance?

Flexible payment options based on your individual circumstances

Click Energy will work with you or your financial counsellor to find the best payment option for you having regard to your individual circumstances including your capacity to pay, any arrears owing and your usage needs.

We will provide our residential customers in financial hardship with flexible payment options including a personalised payment plan appropriate for your own individual circumstances (and access to Centrepay if you are receiving Centrelink benefits).

If you are in short term financial hardship due to an unexpected event (i.e., a high bill or illness) resulting in an inability to pay your bill on time or in full, Click Energy is able to:

  • Offer you extended payment terms;
  • Review your usage pattern to try and identify any changes in usage and their cause;
  • Offer you flexible or smoothed payment options to reflect your individual circumstances (i.e., instalments).
  • If you are in long-term financial hardship due to chronic and longterm financial over-commitment (i.e., your essential living expenses are greater than your income), Click Energy is able to:

  • Offer you flexible or smoothed payment options to reflect your individual circumstances (i.e., instalments);
  • Refer you and assist you to obtain access to relevant Government utility assistance programs (i.e., Utility Relief Grant Scheme) and other community assistance agencies;
  • Offer you telephone information about energy efficiency as well as advice on the availability of independent financial counsellors;
  • Offer you financial assistance to reduce energy usage including field audits and replacement appliances.

Click Energy will spend as much time as necessary with you and take you through your rights and obligations under the Financial Hardship program.

After we come to an agreement we will set out in writing, usually by way of email, all the details of any payment plan, including:

  • the duration of the plan;
  • the instalment amounts to be paid, the frequency of those instalment payments and their payment dates;
  • the number of instalments if you are in arrears, or the basis of the instalments if you are to pay in advance; and
  • any other relevant information Click Energy will then monitor and review your payment plan over time and do as much as we can to help you.

If your circumstances should change during the period of the payment plan, you should contact us as soon as possible and together we can review your payment plan. You can rest assured that Click Energy will be there with you every step of the way, happy to discuss your circumstances, monitor your progress and assist you meet your goals with privacy, dignity and respect.

Click Energy will not necessarily offer all of the options covered by this Financial Hardship Policy to all of its residential customers in financial hardship.

Ceasing to be in Financial Hardship

This is our mutual objective. And when an objective like this is achieved it should be celebrated! To assist with this celebration Click Energy will credit your energy account with $25.00 following the completion of a 12-month period of on-time payments.

Removal from the Financial Hardship Policy Program

You show your intention to pay by continuing to make all the agreed instalments in the payment plan and by contacting us as soon as possible if there is a problem in doing so. If a residential customer has entered into an agreement under the terms of this Financial Hardship Policy and does not make the required payments or fails to contact Click Energy when required the customer will be removed from the financial hardship program.

Disconnection

Click Energy will not disconnect the supply of electricity to a residential customer if that customer has entered into an agreement under the terms of this Financial Hardship Policy and is complying with the terms and conditions of that agreement.

Government and community assistance programs

Click Energy will advise customers in financial hardship of all appropriate government concession programs. We may refer you to a government concession or assistance program, such as the Utility Relief Grant Scheme (Victoria) or the Home Energy Emergency Assistance Scheme (Qld), if you have missed payments continuously or are accumulating a high arrears amount.

Centrepay - the easy way to pay your bills and expenses Centrepay is a voluntary bill-paying service that is free for Centrelink customers. Use Centrepay to arrange regular Deductions from your Centrelink payment. You can start or change a Deduction at any time. The quickest way to do it is through your Centrelink account online.

Programs we may use to assist customers in financial hardship

If you are in financial hardship, we want to work with you to help you achieve the solution that is best for you. Government and the community are also prepared to help you stay connected.

While Click Energy will monitor your account and refer you to the right government concession or assistance program or the appropriate financial counselling service, you should take the time to visit these websites to find out more about what further assistance they may be able to provide to you:

Energy efficiency programs

Click Energy will propose a field audit where the benefits of the audit would likely, in our opinion, be significant and the residential customer provides their express consent to the terms and costs of the audit.

We will discuss the matter in detail with hardship customers giving an honest outline of the experience of other customers who have had audits and an indication of the savings that they have achieved in dollar terms.

Meaningful benefits may, for example, be achieved by those with excessive energy usage relative to the number of rooms in the premises and the number of people living there.

In certain circumstances, Click Energy will pay for field audits if the residential customer’s circumstances would be excessively and unfairly affected by any further expenses.

If after a field audit it is clear that the customer requires replacement appliances, Click Energy will provide financial assistance to those customers who have no ability to act on the advice in the audit. In these circumstances Click Energy will nominate a third party to provide the appliances on its behalf.

What you can do to help us

As your energy provider, Click Energy has many ways it can help you with your energy bills. In order for us to provide you with the best possible service, we need you to help us. this means;

Contacting us as soon as possible. In this way we don’t continue with unnecessary credit and collection processes where we incur expenses, such as debt collection fees, by referring you to a debt collector. We would rather use this money to positively help you.

Staying in touch. If you have entered into a payment plan under this Financial Hardship Policy and your circumstances change we can talk to you about adapting your payment obligations. The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can help you.

Receiving bills and communicating by email. Click Energy is an online energy retailer which means that emails are the most efficient way of communicating with you. If you do not already have an email address you will find that having an email address will actual save you money on your Click Energy account!

It usually does not cost any money to get an email address.

To get a free email address, visit:

You should also contact your State Government and your local community agencies to see how they can help you.

Access our financial hardship program is free

There are no fees or charges to access the Click Energy hardship program. Click Energy will never charge late payment or termination fees to any customer on this Financial Hardship Policy nor will we require them to provide a security deposit.

Complaints and Dispute Resolution

If a residential customer in financial hardship has a complaint Click Energy will resolve the matter in accordance with its complaints and dispute resolution policy.

View Click Energy's Complaints Process

Language Difficulty

If Click Energy reasonably believes that a residential customer in financial hardship has a language difficulty, it will arrange for an interpreter to contact the customer directly.

Staff

Click Energy will ensure that all staff involved in the administration of the financial hardship program are aware of this Financial Hardship Policy and have the necessary skills to sensitively engage with residential customers about payment difficulties and the provision of instalment plans and other options.

Privacy

A financial counselling service may also contact Click Energy directly on your behalf. We will ensure that we respect your privacy and only discuss your circumstances if we have your authority to do so.

View Click Energy's Privacy Policy

Website

The Click Energy Financial Hardship Policy will be available on the Click Energy website. It will be also provided to any customer or financial counsellor on request.

Changes to Hardship Policy

Click Energy will periodically review this Financial Hardship Policy in accordance with normal business practice and as specified by the Australian Energy Regulator.

What is ‘Financial Hardship’?

Financial hardship is very difficult to define but it is real and affects many of us from time to time. You should not hesitate to contact Click Energy if you believe that you are in financial hardship, whatever your circumstances, and have the intention but not the financial ability to pay. We have trained staff that are able to assist residential customers anticipating or facing payment difficulties.

Below are some examples that may trigger or cause financial hardship. Of course, these are only examples and everyone’s circumstances are different.

  • Your family income has suddenly been reduced
  • You or a member of your family has fallen ill and you have unexpected medical bills
  • You have recently received an unexpected bill or a bill that is significantly higher than usual. This bill does not necessarily have to be an energy bill
  • You have recently lost your job and are unemployed
  • Your income is insufficient to pay your reasonable living expenses (which would include normal living expenses, such as groceries, utility bills, rent or mortgage repayments, child support, etc)
  • You have been placed in bankruptcy

If you are in short term payment difficulty resulting in an inability to pay your current bill on time or in full, we may be able to offer you standard assistance.

If you believe you are experiencing financial hardship and have a current arrears amount you may be eligible for tailored assistance.

Standard Assistance

Click Energy will provide customers with the following forms of standard assistance to avoid customers going into arrears:

  • the ability to make payments of an equal amount over a specified period;
  • options for making payments at different intervals;
  • the ability to extend the due date of an invoice for at least one billing cycle in any 12 month period;
  • the ability to pay for energy use in advance.

Where standard assistance is made available, we will provide you at least 3 of the above options.

Minimum Assistance (Tailored assistance)

At a minimum, if you are in financial hardship and your account is in arrears of greater than $55 (incl GST), Click Energy will provide you with the following forms of tailored assistance.

Tailored assistance consists of the following measures:

  1. repayment of arrears over not more than 2 years by payments at regular intervals of up to one month;
  2. advice from the us about payment options that would enable you to repay any arrears amount over not more than 2 years;
  3. specific advice about the likely cost of your future energy use and how this cost may be lowered;
  4. specific advice about any government and non-government assistance (including Utility Relief Grants and energy concessions) available to help you meet your energy costs;
  5. practical assistance to help you lower your energy costs including, but not limited to:
    1. the tariff that is most likely to minimise your energy costs, based on our knowledge of your pattern of energy use and payment history; and
    2. practical assistance to help you reduce your use of energy, based on your pattern of energy use and on the circumstances of where you live, provided there is scope for action to be taken for that purpose; and
  6. information about how you are progressing towards lowering your energy costs given at sufficient intervals for you to be able to adequately assess that progress;
  7. an initial period of at least 6 months during which:
    1. repayment of your arrears is put on hold; and
    2. you may pay less than the full cost of your on-going energy use while working to lower that cost;
  8. any other assistance consistent with the objective of this section.

You are entitled, at the very least, to the assistance mentioned in subclauses (a) to (d), while continuing to pay the full cost of your on-going energy use and the assistance measures in subclauses (c) to (f) if you cannot pay the full cost of your on-going energy use. We may extend the assistance mentioned in subclause (f) for a further period or periods if the extension would assist you to continue to lower the cost of your energy use.

If you have exercised an entitlement to the assistance mentioned in subclause (f) you may, at the end of the period during which that assistance is provided (including that period as extended), exercise an entitlement mentioned in the paragraph above.

Information about assistance available?

If you have not paid a bill by its pay-by date and contact us, you are entitled to be given information about the assistance to which you are entitled under this Policy and how to access it.

If you have not paid a bill by its pay-by date and are in arrears of more than $55 (inclusive of GST), we will contact you within 21 business days after that pay-by-date, and give you information about the assistance to which the you are entitled under this Policy and how to access it.

We will give you no less than 6 business days to consider the information provided and request further information, and put forward a payment proposal as detailed under the “Payments Arrangements” section of this Policy.

Payment Arrangements

This section applies to a residential customer whose repayment of arrears is not on hold under the “Minimum Assistance” provisions above.   

We will accept a payment proposal or revised proposal put forward by you under this section  that complies with the following:

  • provides for the making of payments of equal amounts at regular intervals of up to one month; and
  • would result in any arrears being fully paid in no more than 2 years after the first payment; and
  • provides for payments for energy use being made together with payments to reduce arrears; and
  • is based on a reasonable forecast of energy use over the next 12 months.

We may accept a payment proposal or revised proposal that does any or all of the following:

  • provides for payments of different amounts at different intervals;
  • would result in the arrears being fully paid by a date later than 2 years after the first payment;
  • provide for payments for energy use being made separately from payments for arrears.

On accepting a payment proposal or a revised proposal, the we will provide you with a written schedule of payments showing:

  • the total number of payments to be made to pay the arrears; and
  • the period over which the payments are to be made; and
  • the date by which each payment must be made; and
  • the amount of each payment.

If you are receiving assistance under this section and fail to make a payment by the date on which it was payable, we will contact you to discuss a revised proposal as put forward by us.

Non-payment of amounts towards on-going energy use

This section applies where repayment of arrears is not on hold under the Minimum Assistance provisions.

If you fail to make a payment towards the cost of your on-going energy use by the date on which it was payable, we will contact you to discuss varying the amount payable, or the frequency of those payments, or both, to give the you more time to lower your energy costs.

If you are not meeting your responsibility to implement practical assistance referred to in the Minimum Assistance provided by the us, we will contact you and work with you to identify an implementation timeframe.

We may add any amount unpaid for energy use to your arrears.

Continued provision of assistance

We will continue to provide assistance under this section unless:

(a) after we have complied with the Payment Arrangement section of the Energy Retail Code – Sub Clause 6 (ie. we have contacted you after you have failed to meet a payment) You refuse or fail to take reasonable action towards paying for your on-going energy use and repaying your arrears; or

(b) after we have complied with the Non-payment of amounts towards on-going energy use section of the Energy Retail Code – Sub Clause 2, (ie. we have contacted you after you have failed to meet a payment, to discuss varying the amount payable, or the frequency of those payments, or both) and you refuse or fail to take reasonable action towards making payments towards the cost of your on-going energy use; or

(c) you are not facing payment difficulties.

Providing an Early Response

Click Energy will provide an early response once you have been identified as in financial hardship. Our response process is as follows:

  • you will be referred to the Hardship Assistance team by Credit Management, either after we have contacted you directly or you have been referred by our Contact Centre, or a third party such as a financial counsellor or welfare agency;
  • a member of the Hardship Assistance team will speak with you after the call is transferred to the team. If you are unable to wait for the call to be transferred, we will call you within the next 2 business days or at a time suggested by you.
  • a member of the Hardship Assistance team will review the appropriateness of your current energy plan; and
  • organise to manage your hardship case in accordance with this policy.

Where a payment plan is established, you will be sent a letter confirming the terms of those repayments.

Communicating between us and you under this policy

Any written communication by a us to you under, or in connection with, this section will be:

  • expressed in plain language; and
  • legible; and
  • presented clearly and appropriately having regard to its nature.

We will send by post, any written communication required or permitted to be given or sent under, or in connection with, this section unless the you have given explicit informed consent to receiving it in another way.

Information sent by post or registered to you will be taken to be delivered at the time at which it would be delivered in the ordinary course of post or registered post.

We will not impose a charge on you for any written communication sent in connection with this Policy.

Contact us as soon as possible. In this way we don’t continue with unnecessary credit and collection processes where we incur expenses. We would rather use this money to positively help you. If you have entered into a payment plan under this Financial Hardship Policy and your circumstances change we can talk to you about adapting your payment obligations. The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can help you.

Click Energy is an online energy retailer which means that emails can be a very efficient way of communicating.

Some free email account services available include:

You may also like to contact your State Government and your local community agencies to see how they can help you.

Supply Capacity Control

Supply capacity control products are not offered for credit management purposes. 

Is your energy plan appropriate in your circumstances?

If you call us about financial hardship, one of the very first things our trained staff members will do is to establish if your current Click Energy plan is still appropriate for your circumstances.

Usually, a change of energy plan is not sufficient, or even appropriate, for those in financial hardship so we will ask you a number of questions. Understanding your financial position means that we can take it into account to establish how you can best meet your obligations under any financial hardship program. That, after all, should be our mutual objective.

In order to better understand your financial position, we may ask you:

  • Has your energy usage changed recently?
  • What is the best payment method for you?
  • Would you prefer to pay the account a bit at a time?
  • How much can you afford to pay now?
  • What frequency of payment (e.g., weekly, fortnightly) would best suit you?
  • What would be more helpful: paying in arrears or paying in advance?

If your circumstances should change during the period of the payment plan, you should contact us as soon as possible and together we can review your payment plan. You can rest assured that Click Energy will be there with you every step of the way, happy to discuss your circumstances, monitor your progress and assist you meet your goals with privacy, dignity and respect.

Click Energy will not necessarily offer all of the options covered by this Financial Hardship Policy to all of its residential customers in financial hardship, but will always provide standard and minimum levels of assistance.

Disconnection

Click Energy will not disconnect the supply of energy to a residential customer if that customer has entered into an agreement under the terms of this Financial Hardship Policy and is complying with the terms and conditions of that agreement.

Government and community assistance programs

Click Energy will advise customers in financial hardship of all appropriate government concession programs. We may refer you to a government concession or assistance program, such as the Utility Relief Grant Scheme (Victoria), if you have missed payments continuously or are accumulating a high arrears amount.

Centrepay – the easy way to pay your bills and expenses.
Centrepay is a voluntary bill-paying service that is free for Centrelink customers. Use Centrepay to arrange regular Deductions from your Centrelink payment. You can start or change a Deduction at any time. The quickest way to do it is through your Centrelink account online.

Programs we may use to assist customers in financial hardship

If you are in financial hardship, we want to work with you to help you achieve the solution that is best for you. Government and the community are also prepared to help you stay connected.

While Click Energy will monitor your account and refer you to the right government concession or assistance program or the appropriate financial counselling service, you should take the time to visit these websites to find out more about what further assistance they may be able to provide to you:

Energy efficiency programs

Click Energy will propose a field audit where the benefits of the audit would likely, in our opinion, be significant and you express consent to the terms and costs of the audit.

We will discuss the matter in detail with hardship customers giving an honest outline of the experience of other customers who have had audits and an indication of the savings that they have achieved in dollar terms.

Meaningful benefits may, for example, be achieved by those with excessive energy usage relative to the number of rooms in the premises and the number of people living there.

In certain circumstances, Click Energy will pay for field audits if your circumstances would be excessively and unfairly affected by any further expenses.

If after a field audit it is clear that you require replacement appliances, Click Energy will provide financial assistance to those customers who have no ability to act on the advice in the audit. In these circumstances Click Energy will nominate a third party to provide the appliances on its behalf.

Accessing our financial hardship program is free

There are no fees or charges to access the Click Energy hardship program. Click Energy will never charge late payment or termination fees to any customer on this Financial Hardship Policy. Nor will we require them to provide a security deposit. We will not commence or continue with proceedings for the recovery of arrears while you are receiving assistance under this Policy.

Complaints and Dispute Resolution

If you are in financial hardship and have a complaint, we will resolve the matter in accordance with our complaints and dispute resolution policy.

View Click Energy's Complaints Process

Language Difficulty

If Click Energy reasonably believes that a residential customer in financial hardship has a language difficulty, it will arrange for an interpreter to contact the customer directly.

Staff

Click Energy will ensure that all staff involved in the administration of the financial hardship program are aware of this Financial Hardship Policy and have the necessary skills to sensitively engage with residential customers about payment difficulties and the provision of instalment plans and other options.

Privacy

A financial counselling service may also contact Click Energy directly on your behalf. We will ensure that we respect your privacy and only discuss your circumstances if we have your authority to do so.

Website

This Financial Hardship Policy will be available on the Click Energy website. It will be also provided to any customer or financial counsellor on request.

Changes to Hardship Policy

Click Energy will periodically review this Financial Hardship Policy in accordance with normal business practice and as specified by various regulatory bodies.