KCBS TV-2 Los Angeles, CA: Proposed Class-Action Settlement Against DWP May Not Help Certain Customers

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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s flawed billing system overcharged ratepayers thousands of dollars. The agency is now dealing with the fallout in a proposed class-action settlement.

But the settlement will not help certain ratepayers like Bradley Fagerstrom, who said he could not believe it when he got a water bill saying he owed $2,500.

Vanessa Marcil said she was shocked when she saw her bill, too. “I got a bill on Oct. 19th saying I owe over $5,000.”

They are not alone. CBS2/KCAL9’s Randy Paige spoke to at least half a dozen customers who said they have been overcharged for water and power the utility company said they used in 2013 and 2014. That is about the same time frame the DWP was using new software that was causing many billing errors.

A proposed settlement in a class-action lawsuit against the DWP offers help for customers with future bills but leaves out all of the ratepayers like Fagestrom and Marcil who have already received their bills.

“They’re preparing for the next billing failure rather than helping any victims of this billing failure,” said Consumer Watchdog Jamie Court

Fagerstom and Marcil said they have been faithfully making payments. But the DWP claimed they are not paying enough, so they’re getting disconnect notices, according to Fagerstom and Marcil.

“It’s been horrible. Scared the heck out of my wife and my mother-in-law who lives with us … that they’re going to shut off the water, and we’re sitting there going shut it off?” Fagerstom outcried.

Paige asked DWP General Manager Marcie Edwards how she would respond to these customers. “They need to call us. We need to pull their account. We’re certainly not going to disconnect someone for a bad bill,” Edwards said.

Marcil said she has made many calls and is still waiting for answers. “I live with a disabled Iraq War vet. You’re going to turn off his electricity? It doesn’t make any sense.”

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