Get Garcia, Get Results: Family Business Disputes $80K DWP Bill

The monthly DWP bill for a Koreatown coin-op laundromat usually runs $7,000. When the owners were charged more than 10 times that, they knew something was wrong.

By Ana Garcia and Robbi Peele
|  Tuesday, Jun 25, 2013  |  Updated 2:55 PM PDT
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A family-owned laundry mat in Koreatown was on the verge of closing because of an outstanding DWP bill for more than 80,000 dollars. It was a pay it now or we shut the water off situation when the Get Garcia team got involved. Ana Garcia reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on October 4, 2012.

Ana Garcia

A family-owned laundry mat in Koreatown was on the verge of closing because of an outstanding DWP bill for more than 80,000 dollars. It was a pay it now or we shut the water off situation when the Get Garcia team got involved. Ana Garcia reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on October 4, 2012.

An outrageous $88,000 bill from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power threatened to shutter a coin-operated Laundromat in Koreatown when the NBC4 I-Team stepped in.

“There’s no way we can pay this without selling the business or going into bankruptcy,” Moon Sun Jee said about his aunt and uncle’s business on Pico Boulevard, which they opened in 2009.

The pair’s bill came in at $88,180.95, and the utility demanded it be paid in full – it was a “pay it now—or we shut off the water” situation.

Jee says their monthly DWP bill averages about $7,000, so they were stunned by the enormous bill.

DWP said it was a “delayed bill” for two years that were never charged because of a broken meter on the street.

Jee reached out to NBC4 News because in April and May of 2011, Garcia uncovered how DWP was back-billing some customers huge sums due to faulty meters with little or no recourse for the customer.

As a result of NBC4’s exposé, DWP hired Sharon Grove to overhaul their customer service department.

Grove, who moved to LA five months ago to serve as DWP assistant general manager, took over Jee’s case.

“Here is a customer that is a very good paying customer,” she said. “This customer never missed a payment.”

Grove reviewed the recordings of eight phone calls made by the family to DWP. She determined the fault was DWP’s for knowing the meter was broken but not fixing it.

DWP and the family agreed the outstanding bill would be reduced to $6,700 to be paid over time – making it the largest monetary result yet for the Get Garcia Team: $80,000.

“It’s very unusual,” she said of the decision. “This is a situation where we dropped the ball.”

“My aunt and uncle feel it’s totally fair,” Jee said, speaking on their behalf.

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