Under the Retail Law, all authorised retailers must develop, maintain and implement customer hardship policies for their residential customers. The purpose of a retailer’s customer hardship policy is prescribed in the Retail Law—to identify customers experiencing payment difficulties due to hardship and to assist those customers to better manage their energy bills on an ongoing basis.
In November 2018, new obligations were introduced to the National Energy Retail Rules (Retail Rules) to strengthen requirements on retailers to implement and maintain a customer hardship policy (hardship policy).
Hardship policies must now be developed and approved by the AER in line with the AER Customer Hardship Policy Guideline, which was released in April 2019. The Guideline creates binding, enforceable obligations on retailers to strengthen protections for customers experiencing payment difficulties due to hardship.