Experiencing financial difficulties

Struggling to pay a bill?

If you find yourself struggling to pay an energy or water bill the best thing to do is contact your supplier as soon as possible.

They are required to have programs in place to assist customers who are experiencing payment difficulties.

Avoiding the issue will not make it go away, it will only make the situation worse.

While you may find it difficult to discuss your personal circumstances with your supplier, the earlier the issue is addressed the easier it is to manage without having late fees build up, getting into debt, or even having your energy disconnected or water supply restricted.

Before contacting your supplier to ask for an extension of the due date, or to establish a payment arrangement, consider how much and how often you can reasonably afford to pay. It is better to suggest an amount that is manageable to you at regular intervals (say fortnightly or monthly) than an amount that is outside your budget and you’re unlikely to be able to maintain.

What if you cannot pay on time?

If you are unable to pay your bill by the due date, you should contact your retailer as soon as possible. It is preferable to call before the due date.

There are several options that may be available:

  • Extension of due date

Your retailer may grant you an extension on the due date to allow you extra time to pay your bill without incurring late fees. You will need to pay the bill in full by a new agreed date.

Contact your retailer before the due date if you are seeking an extension.

  • Payment arrangement

Your retailer may be able to set up a payment arrangement for you. This can be helpful if you are unable to pay the bill in full and believe that smaller instalments will be more affordable. Before contacting your retailer, think about how much and how often you can afford to pay (e.g. $60 per week, $100 per fortnight).

The retailer will propose a payment arrangement based on your outstanding amounts and your predicted future use. It is important that you do not agree to an arrangement that you cannot afford, because if you break the payment arrangement (including missing any payments) your supply may be disconnected. It is better to suggest an amount that is manageable to you than an amount that is outside your budget and you’re unlikely to be able to maintain.

Your retailer may refuse to offer you another payment arrangement if you have already broken multiple arrangements with them in the past 12 months.

If you and your retailer cannot agree on an amount for your payment arrangement, you can call us between 8.30am and 5.00pm, Monday to Friday on free call 1800 665 565.

Please note call charges may apply on mobile phones. If you are calling from a mobile, let us know and we can call you back.

  • Centrepay payments

Most retailers allow you to pay directly from your Centrelink account. This payment process is called Centrepay and can be a good option if you struggle to maintain a payment arrangement.

Speak with your retailer and Centrelink to arrange deductions.

What if you are experiencing financial difficulties?

Hardship programs

If you are having a hard time paying your bills due to circumstances beyond your control (such as loss of income or illness), a financial hardship program can help you pay off your debt through an affordable payment arrangement.

Hardship programs may also provide help with advice about energy efficiency and reducing usage.

Contact your retailer for further information.

Financial counselling

A financial counsellor can help you manage a short-term financial crisis and to remain in control of your own financial affairs.

They can assist with:

  • budgeting and organising your finances
  • assessing your eligibility for government assistance
  • explaining debt recovery, bankruptcy and other alternatives
  • referring you to other relevant services (legal aid, personal counselling).

You can find a list of financial counsellors at the South Australian Financial Counsellors Association website.

Concessions

Pension concession

Pensioners, SA Government Senior Card holders or other Concession Card holders may be eligible for an energy concession payment. The concession covers both gas and electricity, but is applied to the electricity account only.

Medical concessions

Individuals suffering from specific medical conditions may be able to access the Medical Heating and Cooling Concession, designed to help low-income consumers meet running costs of air conditioners used to regulate body temperature.

Contact the Department of Communities and Social Inclusion Concessions hotline on 1800 307 758 for more information.

Reminder notices & shorter collection cycles

If you have been sent reminder notices or disconnection warnings for non-payment of two bills in a row, your retailer may place you on a shortened collection cycle.

This means that you will not receive reminder notices for future unpaid bills, but will instead receive a disconnection notice without a further reminder.

If you do not make payment by the due date on the disconnection notice, your electricity or gas may be disconnected.

Your retailer must advise you if they are going to place you on a shortened collection cycle and you will have to pay three bills in a row by the due date in order to be returned to a regular collection cycle.