Fact Check: NBC4 Report on Estimated Bills is Unsupported and Misleading
In a story that aired Monday February 9th on NBC4 and posted on their website, LADWP was accused of using a "secret formula" to estimate customer bills.
This assertion is misleading and incorrect in several respects.
First, the headline and broadcast report leaves the impression that LADWP routinely overcharges all customers and that it engages in a conspiracy by using less than transparent billing procedures. This is factually wrong. LADWP is committed to accurate and transparent billing.
Second, the accusations that were made are not supported in either the online or broadcast story. The primary customer featured in story states clearly "'There is no formula. I think they make it up as they go along." This is in direct contradiction to the headline and primary content of the story. The other source used to support the accusation of this conspiracy is an attorney with no direct knowledge of LADWP and its practices.
DWP's process for billing customers, and the challenges we faced implementing a new system, have been communicated openly and directly for the past year. We refer to information published online at www.ladwp.com/BillingInfo , including a letter from our General Manager Marcie Edwards, the Mayor's Dashboard, which tracks our progress in improving the customer experience, etc. LADWP simply does not use secret formulas or engage in dishonest practices in preparing our customer’s bills. We provided reporter Joel Grover with the method used to estimate bills in writing and he referred to it on air. We have also posted this information online at www.ladwp.com/BillingInfo and on our news page at www.ladwpnews.com.
Estimated billing is a common and necessary practice across the utility industry, and LADWP goes to great lengths to ensure that its estimated billing is as accurate as possible. Moreover, estimated billing is always a temporary measure until an accurate meter read can be obtained. Estimated bills are always adjusted to conform to actual water or power usage following a meter read.
We encourage any customer who has a question about their bill to contact us at 800-DIAL-DWP (800-342-5397). Any customer who has tried to have their billing problems addressed without satisfaction are also encouraged to contact General Manager Marcie Edwards directly at www.TellMeDWP.com .
# # #