Woman Who Received $16K Water And Power Bill Insists There’s No Leak

Image courtesy of LA Times

It’s pretty much impossible for one person and one dog to rack up a water and power bill of $16,988.62, but that’s what the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power says one condo owner has done. While she received a shutoff warning, employees didn’t actually believe her when she called to complain about the bill she received. The DWP blames a leak on her property that may or may not actually exist.

Well, okay, but where’s the leak? The department, um, won’t say. She had a plumber check her property for leaks, and nothing turned up. Her outside faucets are off, and her lawn is dead, as is proper when there’s a drought. Her dog probably isn’t taking 25 secret baths every day.

The second five-figure bill sent her to the emergency department with spiking blood pressure, and she took her story to a local TV station and the Los Angeles Times.

She learned that she wasn’t alone in having problems with the utility: residents won a $44 million class action lawsuit, but still haven’t received their settlements.

It turns out that dealing with a government agency that claims it is never wrong and has the power to send your household back to the 19th century is not easy.

A ballot proposal next month would reform the department, but at the price of giving it the power to enter contracts and hike rates without the city government’s approval.

“Ratepayers have long complained that the DWP feels like a Soviet bureaucracy, and the measure would remove even Politburo control,” a representative of Consumer Watchdog told the Times.

Here’s how the DWP is dealing with the case of the retiree with a $16K bill: it refuses to admit any faults with the billing system, and continues to insist that there’s a leak. What leak? Where? Has someone fixed it yet? An an agency representative wouldn’t say.

Her DWP bill sent her to the emergency room [Los Angeles Times]

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