Problems paying your utility bills
Help is out there
Electricity, gas, water and phone bills can be difficult to pay
if you don't have spare money in the bank. These types of bills can
be hard to budget for as you don't always know how big they'll be
until they appear in your letterbox.
Here are the steps you can take if you are struggling to pay
your utility bills.
Contact your provider
Talk to your provider about your bills rather than putting
them on your credit card and running up a big debt.
If you're having trouble paying a utility bill the first thing
you should do is contact your provider. Most companies have
hardship officers who can help you work out a plan to pay the bill
in instalments. They can also help you apply for emergency utility
bill vouchers that you can use to meet minimum payments.
If your utility provider is not helpful, you can make a complaint to one of the state-based
utility ombudsman schemes.
Apply for a rebate or
Rebates and vouchers can help you pay your utility bills. This
list shows you what vouchers are available and where to go to apply
Australian Capital Territory
New South Wales
See a financial
Financial counsellors offer a free, confidential service to help
you sort out your money problems. They may help you approach your
utility bill provider to work out a payment plan or apply for
vouchers. Find out more about financial counsellors and what
If you're in a crisis and need emergency relief or emotional
support see our urgent money
Smooth out your bills
Companies such as AGL offer 'bill smoothing' where you can make
fortnightly or monthly payments towards your future utility bill so
it is not so painful when the big bill comes. Ask your provider if
they offer this service and how it is set up.
Centrepay is a voluntary bill-paying service which is free for
Centrelink customers. Use Centrepay to arrange regular deductions
from your Centrelink payment for ongoing expenses like rent,
childcare, electricity and water as well as other household costs.
To find out more see Department of
Human Services' Centrepay.
Find out more about smoothing your bills.
Make a complaint
If your utility provider won't help you, you can complain to one
of the ombudsman schemes below.
Energy and Water Ombudsman Services in each state provide advice
and conciliation services for consumers with complaints about
energy or water providers.
ACT - ACT Civil &
Administrative Tribunal 02 6207 7740
NSW - Energy & Water
Ombudsman NSW 1800 246 545
Northern Territory - Ombudsman NT 1800 806 380
Queensland - Energy Ombudsman
Queensland 1800 662 837
South Australia - Energy Industry Ombudsman
SA 1800 665 565
Tasmania - Energy Ombudsman Tasmania
1800 001 170
Victoria - Energy and Water
Ombudsman (Victoria) 1800 500 509
Western Australia - Energy Ombudsman Western
Australia 1800 754 004
Industry Ombudsman (1800 062 058) is a free, national
independent dispute resolution scheme for complaints about phone or
Reduce your usage
If your utility bills are bigger than they should be perhaps you
can look at ways to reduce your usage. See our simple ways to save on your
power and water bills.
Take action before your bills pile up and
remember that it is in your utility provider's interest to help you
with any bill problems.
Last updated: 15 Jul 2015