In an attempt to repair its battered image after over billing tens of thousands of customers, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is opening four offices on Saturdays for the next two months for what it’s calling “Bill Resolution Saturdays.”
“Our effort is really to apologize to the customer for an inconvenience that has happened,” said DWP Assistant Director Nance Walker-Bonnelli. “This is an attempt based upon the feedback that we have currently received that they need us to be more accessible, they need us to be able to explain things to them, to make things make sense, for us to be able to ensure them that we are billing them correctly.”
The DWP switched over to a new billing system in September, resulting in many customers being charged double or even triple what they had been before. When customers called to complain, they had to wait on hold for up to two hours.
At one customer service center in West Los Angeles on Saturday, there was no wait to speak to a representative. In fact, there was a ratio of more than a dozen DWP workers to every one customer, resulting in a level of gold-plated customer service rarely seen from a city bureaucracy.
“I felt like a rock star,” said Mar Vista resident Jocelyn Topolski. “I was thrilled there was no one here, and I was just able to walk up.”
Topolski said she was overcharged by $110 on her water bill as a result of the new billing system. She waited an hour trying to get through on the phone to a DWP representative, and that didn’t solve the problem.
“It was a nightmare,” she said.
After making the short drive to the customer service center, Topolski spent about ten minutes going over her bill with a DWP representative and the problem was solved.
The DWP plans to evaluate the open houses over the next few weeks to determine if they should be expanded or scaled back.
“As we go through these next eight weeks I’m sure we’re going to get additional feedback,” said Walker-Bonnelli.
The Saturday locations open from 9AM to 3PM are:
- Crenshaw Customer Service Center, 4030 Crenshaw Blvd.
- Van Nuys Customer Service Center, 6550 Van Nuys Blvd.
- Watts Customer Service Center, 1686 E. 103rd St.
- West Los Angeles Customer Service Center, 1394 S. Sepulveda Blvd.
DWP customers can also visit the web or call 1-800-DIAL-DWP (1-800-342-5397) to get help.