The city of Los Angeles has already paid out $1.25 million in refunds to apartment and condo residents who were overcharged on their DWP bills, and millions more could be refunded.
If you think you’ve been overbilled, you have just one more week to file a claim to receive a refund from the city.
“I feel like the city cheated me. Like they ripped me off,” said April Rimer, who lives in a condo in West LA. Rimersays the LA Department of Water and Power wrongly charged her about $3,000 over ten years for city trash collection she never got.
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Rimer’s condo association pays for private trash collection, and by law, the city can't charge building residents with private contracts for city pick-up.
Rimer discovered she’d been overbilled after watching an NBC4 I-Team investigation in March 2011. The I-Team exposed how the LA DWP was illegally charging many residents of apartments and condos up to $50 a bill for city trash collection, even though their buildings paid for private service.
“It’s a database problem,” Enrique Zaldivar, head of LA Sanitation, told NBC4 last year. He promised to refund every dollar that had been wrongly charged. “Whatever we owe, we’re going to pay,” Zaldivar said last year.
The city was hit with a class action lawsuit over the wrongful trash billings, and in August 2011 agreed to settle that suit.
Earlier this year, the city sent out 750,000 claim forms, so apartment and condo residents who might have been overbilled for trash pick-up could request refunds. To be considered for a refund, your claim form has to be postmarked by next Thursday, September 6. Here is the url for the claim form.
But as part of the settlement, the city agreed only to refund overbillings back to October 2007. Timothy Blood, the consumer attorney who sued the city told NBC4, “It’s the best we can do. And for those folks, it’s a partial victory.”
That ‘partial victory’ means residents like April Rimer won’t get back all the money they were overbilled. “I think I got screwed,” Rimer told NBC4. “I think they (the city of LA) are being a bunch of crooks. They should give a person back everything that was taken illegally,” says Rimer.
And as part of the settlement, the city of LA agreed to install new computer billing software so residents would no longer get wrongly billed for trash pick-up. A statement to NBC4 from the Department of Public Works says the “billing replacement system is scheduled to be online sometime in April 2013.”
Consumer attorney Tim Blood is urging apartment and condo dwellers to send in those claim forms, because he said it’s likely the city owes millions of dollars in refunds for trash overbillings. He said if you’re a current DWP customer, you’ll receive the refund as a credit on a future DWP bill. If you’re no longer a DWP customer, you’ll get a refund check.
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