State Mercantile understands that at times our customers experience financial hardship. We recognise the need to deal with people under severe financial difficulties with empathy and understanding. Our Hardship Policy has been developed to assist you to manage your account in a mutually beneficial way.
Basic hardship standards
If a customer informs our company that they are experiencing payment problems, we will assess the customer’s capacity to pay. When undertaking an assessment, we will take into consideration:
- The customer's total disposable income and current financial commitments and any evidence to support their claim
- Evidence of the customer’s financial position – assets (such as properties, vehicles, shares, bank savings and more) and liabilities (for example loan agreements and statements, credit card statements)
- Number of children and/or dependants
- Reasons for a customer’s hardship claim may it be unemployment, illness etc.
- Other issues that will be considered include: previous financial history with State Mercantile, medical condition and documents evidencing it, disability, family circumstances and domestic violence
- Whether the customer is eligible for Government funded concessions (e.g. Health Care Card, Social Security benefit, Pensioner)
- Advice given by an independent financial counsellor or relevant consumer representative organisation
- Other evidences such as a separation statement
Each customer experiencing Financial Hardship will be treated with sensitivity on a case-by-case basis and will have the right to:
- Receive information on our Hardship Policy
- Be advised of the various payment methods available
- Renegotiate the amount of their instalment if there is a demonstrable change in their circumstance
- Be advised of any independent financial and other counselling services that are available to them within their local area
- Be shielded from legal action and additional debt recovery costs, whilst they continue to make payments according to an agreed schedule
- Make a reasonable offer to pay by instalments based on the maximum amount they are able to pay. When assessing the maximum amount to pay, concessions will be made to allow a customer’s income to be apportioned to priority items such as rent, food, utilities, medications and clothing
State Mercantile will ensure its employees are trained to deal sensitively with customers experiencing financial hardship and are informed about the organisation’s legal responsibilities, hardship policy, procedures and work instructions that relate to debt collection practices.