LOS ANGELES (CBS) — City officials say they have a plan to crack down on faulty billing practices by the Department of Water and Power and are calling on customers to come forward with complaints.

Councilman Dennis Zine is behind an effort to order the DWP to address the issues, including a request for City Controller Wendy Greuel to report on the feasibility of a potential independent audit of the DWP’s billing and collection practices.

Zine tells KNX 1070 that his constituents in the San Fernando Valley first alerted him to the back-billing that was costing ratepayers thousands of dollars.

“We estimate that over 30,000 customers have been over-billed to the tune of thousands of dollars, so we’re looking into it to find out what the situation is,” Zine said.

Issues involving commercial customers have also come to light after new meters were installed but never getting fully connected to the system a glitch that can delay billing for nearly two years.

While the DWP is set for an extensive billing system upgrade in early 2013, Zine says there is an immediate need to review the department’s current billing and collection systems.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

Comments (12)
  1. TT says:

    How would you really know if there was an error ? The obvious is you paid, they said you didnt, you prove different…. But if the meter is running too fast or they miscalculate – thats not so easy to catch up with …..

  2. Camille says:

    You know there’s an error when you receive a bill for $1800 for water that they say we didn’t pay for because of a supposedly faulty meter. That remained faulty for over 2 years. And I am now expected to pay for their mistakes.

  3. Lei Wagner says:

    I’m one of the people who was sent an astronomical bill of $1,000 for unbilled water usage. I was told they were behind in billing due to staff shortages and that there was a problem with reading the easily accessible meter outisde of my property. I was offered a payment plan of $82.00 per month in additional to my regular bi-monthly bill, as they finally would admit it was there fault. However, I could not be late on either payments or it would cancel out my payment arrangement and my service would be disconnected. I’m still not clear why DWP waited so long, about a year or so after the purchase of my home, unitl a balance of $1,000 was due and then decide to mail me a disconnect notice bill that was due in a matter of days. The extra expense is etremely burdensome. Where do I report this matter?? I’m still furious about this and have been paying for this for several months now.

  4. CAB says:

    This needs to be written off by DWP….here’s why.

    To be fair, this should be handled on a case by case basis. If you recently purchased a home with a faulty meter, it is fair to assume that what you have been billed for and paying is correct. It is very unfair to place such a sudden burden on anyone, even if DWP is offering to spread the payments out.

    On the flip side, if you recently had the new meter installed, and you saw a significant drop in your bill, or the bills stopped coming, it should have been investigated by the homeowner. Shame on you for looking for a free ride.

    Going back to why this should be written off. The COST to DWP to review each case will far exceed the cost of writing it off. This is their error and their burden….DO THE RIGHT THING!!!

  5. Camille says:

    DWP is asking us for $1800. My bill never seemed any different than it has the last 10 years (not counting rate increases) There was nothing missing from the bill. I think they were estimating usage the entire time, and are now trying to go back 2 years and say we owe more. The first time there was ever a note on our bill about the faulty meter was when they sent the bill for $1800. They own the meter. I do not. They pay meter readers to go out and read them every month or two. It is the responsibility of the meter reader to report that, so that it can get fixed. I was told by DWP that they were unable to get the part they needed to fix it. For TWO years??? That’s unacceptable. I have filed a dispute with DWP, and I have reported it to my City Councilmember, Paul Krikorian. We will not be bullied by DWP for their mistake, espcially when it wasn’t important enough for them to remedy it to begin with.

    1. arking says:

      I have the same problem that has been going going on for about 3 years. after I received a bill with no water use, I called and told dwp that It was wrong. they told me that My meter wasnt working. then they told me the meter would be replaced (thats been >2yrs now) so they send estimated bills. but when i pay the bill which avg 250.00 for family of 4 every two months, a month later I get a bill for 600.00 or more like clockwork. btw I dont have a pool or leaks like they claim. and I dont water my lawn. remember water day- drought.

      I would like my bill investigated and also why they wont replace my meter if it is defective and not working like they claim for over 2yrs now.

      1. Camille says:

        Exactly. My bill is actually much higher than yours though, so that what causes our confusion. I live in a 2 bedroom house, and it’s just me and my husband. And I have almost always payed $400 – $500 a month. If water was omitted from my bill, I would have noticed. Nope…never saw that I was getting a “free ride”. They keep saying it’s correct, and we should be happy that they estimated on the low side for us. I am asking for the last 2 years of bills.

  6. renee dujovne says:

    Who is ready for some legal action. I’m tired of being nice, patient, understanding to a company run by inept employees who told me my meter has been defective for over 2 years, yet nothing has been done and now I have a 1800 bill to pay to them….I have always been a loyal customer and citizen but I’m not going to be taken for an idiot. It’s time to start a class law suite and get these people out of there. Why are we paying for their mistake? Why should I trust their estimates of the last 2 years. What are there parameters?? who is in??

  7. Elizabeth says:

    The same problem happens in my case. My electricity bill is very high, for 2 years I have noticed the increase, I think that this is not normal, we live in a one bedroom apartment is not home or even get a mansion. We have no washer, dryer, heaters or air conditioning to justify that this is the reason. Whenever I have informed the DWP customer service, the increase in my service since 2008, when I wanted to make payment arrangements but say the bill is correct because that is what they read on the meter. My bill is past due by $ 586.07, but we have not stopped making payments according to our possibilities, because my husband and my son are unemployed for three years and are not receiving any unemployment check. My husband and son have applied for work in many places but no one hires them, because if you do not have a friend in the place where they apply to that recommended by many applications put nobody will hire, otherwise no be in this situation, suffering from shame and humiliation. When we are updating the account, again received the next bill with an exaggerated value. Just the day May 5 cut the electricity service. All the food we had bought with the sacrifice we had in the refrigerator was damaged. In case of fire, smoke alarms run on electricity. In our desperation that day of the suspension of the service we seek help with a friend lent us $ 300.00 call customer service in the DWP and the 4 people who talk about trying to reach an agreement, not worth my prayers to restore service, as any response was to pay the entire bill, I hung up and called back hoping for better luck with whom I serve and when I repeated the same thing I asked to speak to a supervisor waiting to be more understandable and accept the $ 300.00 but was useless, told me I could make an exception if you paid $ 400.00, otherwise had to pay the full balance. The supervisor said that problems like mine are heard every day and did not serve my pleas, which the company does not care about our problems, the only thing is that the DWP wants consumers to make their payments on time, she definitely could not do anything. Very disappointed with the response from the supervisor and without how to get the money, hang up and still continue in the dark in the apartment for 8 days. We can not disturb our friends to lend us money, because they have their obligations and would be an abuse add ours. We want an investigation by the high price on the bills, that something unusual is happening with the DWP. This has been happening since the beginning of this economic crisis and not for that reason we must allow consumers to alter the bill.

  8. sean abraham says:

    i have proof they didnt read my meter, yet billed me 300 more on my bill

  9. Evie Seifu says:

    I wonder if there is any help from anyone in dealing with DWP. We have had numerous billing problems and are dug into a hole. Something needs to be done about this as this is still going on.

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