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LADWP billing glitches anger customers

Thousands of DWP customers have been inaccurately charged huge amounts of money or threatened with cancelation.
November 27, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Thousands of L.A. Department of Water and Power customers have been inaccurately charged huge amounts of money or threatened with cancelation of utilities. The Los Angeles City Council has now stepped in to deal with the problem.

Matthew Kallis received a DWP bill of $1,600, triple the amount of what he says he normally pays. He called DWP to correct the figure and thought he was clear, but then received a disconnection notice.

"I was panic-stricken because it actually said I was going to be disconnected the next day," said Kallis.

And Kallis isn't the only one. Multiply his nightmare 70,000 times: that's DWP's estimated number of customers who have been stung by an excessive bill.

L.A. Councilman Mitchell Englander says the hardest hit are those whose bills are automatically deducted from their bank accounts.

"And suddenly their savings is sucked out of their account and they can't pay their bills or they're bouncing checks," said Englander.

Wednesday, the council passed an emergency moratorium for DWP to halt disconnect notices and shut-offs. Department officials say the glitches are caused as a 37-year-old computer system is being replaced.

DWP says it has implemented a phone system that will call customers back instead of keeping them on hold.

"I was greeted with another message saying 'Due to excessive call volumes, we can't take a call-back number at this time,'" said Kallis.

"We did plan and have added representatives but we underestimated how many representatives we would need," said Sharon Grove, vice president of the LADWP. "That is something that we have now taken action on."

DWP says it will not be disconnecting any of the impacted customers until the glitches are resolved, but if you did receive a cut-off notice, you must still call in to determine what you actually owe.


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