If you have received a disconnection notice
If you or your client have received a disconnection notice, it is important to contact the retailer straight away. Retailers can offer payment plans and other hardship assistance to customers who are experiencing payment difficulties. For more information on options, see the Can't pay an electricity or gas bill page.
If you have been disconnected from supply
Under the National Energy Customer Framework (NECF), there are certain steps which retailers must follow prior to disconnecting a customer for non-payment.
Prior to arranging for disconnection, the retailer must:
- Send you a bill setting out the amount you owe, when you must pay this amount by and how you can pay it.
- If you don’t pay in full by the due date, the retailer will send you a reminder notice. Your retailer will also send you a reminder notice if you have agreed to a payment plan and have not made your payments as agreed.
- If you don’t pay within the time period on the reminder notice, your retailer will send you a disconnection warning notice.
- Once your retailer has sent you a disconnection warning notice, your retailer must use their best endeavours to contact the customer by telephone, mail, fax, or email, and offer alternative payment options and information on concessions, rebates or grants to which the customer may be entitled.
Note: If you receive a reminder notice or disconnection warning notice for two consecutive bills, the retailer may place you on a shortened collection cycle. This means that the retailer is not required to send a reminder notice prior to issuing a disconnection warning. From that point, all the standard disconnection processes apply. To be removed from the shortened collection cycle, you must pay three consecutive bills by the due date.
If the customer has not taken steps to rectify the reason for disconnection, or has not accepted an offer of an alternative payment option or taken reasonable steps towards settling the debt before the end of the warning period, the retailer may arrange for their electricity supply to be disconnected. There are, however, some circumstances when they must not arrange disconnection. The National Energy Customer Framewwork (NECF) prohibits a retailer from arranging disconnection:
- For non-payment of an outstanding balance which is less than a threshold amount (currently $300), where the customer has agreed to repay the outstanding amount.
- At particular times, including on a Friday, weekend, public holiday or the day before a public holiday, between 20 and 31 December, and before 8:00am or after 3:00pm on a business day.
- Where the retailer has been provided with confirmation from a medical practitioner or hospital that a person residing at the premises is dependent on life support equipment.
- When the customer has an application for assistance from agencies administering relevant concessions, rebates and grants under consideration.
- When the customer has an unresolved complaint lodged with the Energy and Water Ombudsman Queensland, which is directly related to the reason for disconnection.
- For non-payment of charges relating to goods and services other than the sale of electricity to the premises.
Retailers may also arrange for disconnection of electricity if the customer has not allowed access to their meter for three consecutive scheduled meter readings, has used electricity illegally, has refused to pay a security deposit, or has refused or failed to provide acceptable identification when requested by the retailer. Except for circumstances where electricity has been consumed illegally, the retailer is required to provide a written warning giving at least five business days notice of disconnection.
If a customer’s electricity is disconnected and the required disconnection procedure has not been followed, they may be eligible for a payment for wrongful disconnection under the guaranteed service levels (GSL) provisions. There is no guaranteed service level scheme for gas.
If you have been disconnected for non-payment and want to reconnected, you must contact your retailer within 10 business days of the disconnection and make arrangements to pay the outstanding amount on your bill. There may also be a fee charged for reconnecting your service. If you are unable to pay the full amount owing, you may enter into a payment plan or access other assistance available to customer's experiencing financial difficulties. See Can't pay an electricity or gas bill for more information.
QCOSS has a number of energy fact sheets available to download from our website. You can print these fact sheets to hand out to clients.