Thousands of customers were overcharged on their monthly bills after a new Los Angeles Department of Water and Power billing system used meter estimates instead of actual readings.
The new system introduced in September has affected about 3 percent of the utility’s 1.5 million customers. Many of those customers are still dealing with the fallout of the error, which overcharged some by thousands of dollars.
Customer Pete Flores said a $415 bill he received is much higher than he usually pays.
"I can’t pay that amount of money," Flores said. “I don’t have that kind of money."
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The utility has since been flooded by complaints, and customers reported up to an hour wait on the phone to fix their bill.
Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Kreokorian said he also waited on the phone with the LADWP. Krekorian said that while the billing system needed to be upgraded, the LADWP did a poor job warning customers that there would be hiccups along the way.
"I didnt even know that this was coming and I’m a member of the City Council,” Krekorian said. ”So certainly the general public did not know."
Krekorian said customers looking to fix the mistake could wait for a refund, ask to be re-billed, or read their own meters to make sure they are charged accurately in the future.
Meanwhile, the LADWP promises that in time the bugs will be worked out of the new system.
"The system will get better every day, every week, every month as we continue to optimize this system," LADWP spokesman Campbell Hawkins said.
Some customers said that they have been threatened with disconnect, but the LADWP said they are reviewing each case and promised no one would lose their service unless they have a history of non-payment.
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