Spark
Hardship Policy

Financial Hardship Policy

Telecommunications is an essential service and part of everyday life. Our broadband and mobile products allow our customers to operate their businesses, work, learn and stay connected. 

We understand that personal circumstances can change unexpectedly, and when they do this can impact your financial situation. When this occurs, we are committed to doing what we can to support you.

Make sure you get in touch with us to discuss your situation. 

We can provide the following support:

Short-term payment extension

If you can meet future monthly Spark charges but require a short extension to pay your current bill or any outstanding amounts from previous bills, you may be eligible for a short-term payment extension for an agreed amount of time. If you want to apply for this, please do so online via MySpark or call 128 and select the ‘More time to pay’ option.

Sign in to MySpark

Long-term payment extension

If a short-term extension will not meet your needs, you may be eligible for a longer term payment arrangement. To discuss your account and these repayment terms please call our billing team on 128 and select the ‘More time to pay’ option.

Impact of alternative payment options on credit rating

If you enter into a payment arrangement with Spark, it may impact your credit rating (i.e. your ability to seek credit from other providers). More information around the types of payment arrangements and their potential impact on your credit rating is outlined in the table below.
Payment Arrangement types and potential Comprehensive Credit reporting (credit rating) impact:

Type Duration Credit Rating Impact
Short term Credit Extension Short term extension or agreed change to the Due Date for payment of the account Not reported under Comprehensive credit reporting, therefore unlikely to impact credit rating.
Longer term Extended Credit Arrangement (Up to 6 months) Longer term formalised repayment arrangement where customer repays account in agreed instalment and frequency - within a maximum of 6 months Reported under Comprehensive Credit Reporting - Scheme of Arrangements. This information can be viewed and taken into consideration by other Credit Providers and may impact credit rating. (This is effective for new arrangements from 1st July 2021).
Long term Extended Credit Arrangement (where the repayment term is greater than 6 months) as a result of a customer's application for Spark Hardship.

Note: to apply for Hardship with Spark, the repayment term must be greater than 6 months for active accounts i.e. customer still has an existing landline, mobile or broadband account with Spark and greater than 12 months for disconnected accounts i.e. customer’s Spark landline, mobile or broadband accounts have been disconnected.
Longer term formalised repayment arrangement where customer repays account in agreed instalment and frequency - duration of payment agreement is longer than 6 months Account is flagged as under Hardship with Spark and will show in both Account & Payment status and reported as such via Comprehensive credit reporting. This information can be viewed and taken into consideration by other Credit Providers and may impact credit rating. (This is effective for new arrangements from 1st July 2021).

Plan changes / service restrictions

Alternatively, you may find that changing to a different mobile or broadband plan is better suited to your current needs and budget, and we can work with you to find the best solution.  

As early termination fees (if you are ending a fixed term plan early) and/or modem charges (if you need a new modem with your new plan) may apply, please let our team know of your circumstances and we’ll work with you to find the most suitable solution for you.

Or you could consider applying a Service restriction to your plan, to avoid additional charges on your current plan.

For any of the above options please call our billing team on 128 to discuss which option will suit your situation.

Hardship support

If you feel that a payment extension or changing your plan is not enough to address your current situation, hardship support may also be an option. You will need to apply for hardship support, and we will discuss options with you that might help your individual circumstances. Please note that should your application be approved and you enter into a payment arrangement with Spark this may impact your credit score. For further information, please see below.

There are several situations that may make you eligible for hardship support. These include recent changes in circumstances, such as:

  • A natural disaster has adversely affected your income or household situation.
  • You recently experienced an unforeseen significant event that is adversely affecting your finances (such as the COVID-19 pandemic).
  • Your business closed temporarily or permanently or is experiencing significant financial distress due to unforeseen events such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • You or a household member who contributes to the payment of bills has lost their job recently or your income has significantly reduced.
  • You have recently suffered an illness or injury impacting your ability to work.
  • A family member has recently become ill or unable to work, adversely impacting your family income and/or significantly increasing your expenses.
  • A relationship break-up is making it difficult for you to meet your financial commitments.

If any of the above (or similar circumstances) apply, please get in touch with us as soon as possible by submitting a hardship application online or by calling 128 so we can work with you on options to address your situation. 

We can explore options such as:

  • An extended credit arrangement. Call us on 128 to speak to one of our representatives and we will work with you to determine the length of time and frequency of instalments to bring you back up to date as soon as possible. 
  • You may find a different mobile or broadband plan is better suited to your needs and budget right now, and we can work with you to find the best solution. 
  • Service restrictions to avoid additional charges.

It is important to note that Spark will carefully consider all applications for hardship on case by case basis and reserves the right to decline hardship support in some circumstances.

Before applying for a payment extension or hardship support with Spark, we encourage you to consider options you may have available such as, insurance cover under your existing policies (i.e.  income protection, medical insurance if applicable) or Government Assistance. It may be a good idea to get in touch with a budget advisor that can help you deal with your immediate money problems.

If you need to apply for hardship:

To help us assess your application, please fill in the Hardship Application form. Alternatively, you can contact us on 128 to discuss.

View Hardship Application form

Sometimes, we may also require supporting documentation. This can include payslips, bank statements and medical certificates. If this is the case, we’ll let you know. 

Any information that you share in support of your application (as well as Spark’s decision and the reasons for our decision on your application) may be:

  • Used to assess your request for assistance under Spark’s Hardship Policy and any future hardship applications you may submit.
  • Used to inform decisions on future applications for Spark products and services for a period of 12 months after the date you applied for hardship or 12 months after the end date of your hardship arrangement, whichever is the latest.
  • Aggregated with similar data from other applications to develop predictive models and to report internally and externally on usage of the hardship policy (no identifying information will be included in any reports).
  • Used to inform any future credit decisions and debt collection activity on your account.

Any information and documentation that you provide will be securely stored for up of 12 months after the date you applied for hardship or 12 months after the end date of your hardship arrangement, whichever is the latest and will only be accessible by Spark's credit team.

In completing the hardship application, you acknowledge and agree that:

  • In assessing your situation, we may obtain credit checks on you from our NZ credit bureau partners.
  • We may occasionally need to request additional information from other parties, such as your current/previous employer or Government agencies but we will seek your specific consent prior to doing so.
  • If you qualify for hardship, this hardship status will be reported to our credit bureau partners as part of Comprehensive Credit Reporting and they may share this information with other credit providers. This may impact your credit bureau score and your ability to obtain products and services from Spark and/or other credit providers in the future.
  • If we agree to you paying any outstanding debt in instalments, Spark will not commence collections activity as long as you keep to the agreed instalments. However, your account will still be overdue, and the overdue payment status will still be reported to the credit bureaus as part of Comprehensive Credit Reporting.
  • Should you not meet some or all of your payment obligations to Spark under your hardship arrangement, we may refer the debt to a collection agency and we will also disclose the reason and outcome of your assessment to this agency.

We will aim to get in touch within two business days of receiving your application and work with you to determine a suitable option, as outlined in our Hardship Policy.

We encourage you to talk to us as soon as possible. Otherwise, if you are unable to pay on time, and we are not aware of your situation, your services may be suspended or disconnected, and you may incur additional costs to have them reconnected.

If you have an authorised NZ budget authority or WINZ case manager, we encourage you to take steps  to connect us with the relevant person so we can work with them and you to assess and agree on a payment arrangement.

If your hardship application is approved

We will work with you to agree a time period for receiving hardship assistance, which takes into account your individual circumstances and enables you to repay your outstanding debt to Spark as swiftly as possible.  

It is important that you contact us as soon as possible if your situation improves or if you face further unforeseen financial hardship, so that we can discuss the impact of these changes and ensure we update your hardship status in our credit reporting as soon as possible. Please note, you may be required to provide proof that your situation has changed.

If your business is experiencing financial difficulties, please contact us via email at: insolvencies@spark.co.nz