The manager of Sunset Beer Co. in Echo Park got a call last week from the L.A. Department of Water and Power to warn him that power would be shut off to the store in 45 minutes if overdue bills were not paid. The manager passed along the caller’s number and extension to owner John Nugent, who wondered what was up because his bill had been paid automatically for some time:
I was pissed because we’re on auto-pay and have never been late on an payments in the almost three years since we opened. I got the hold music and the “enter your account number”, “federal ID” robot. It eventually fed me to a real person who I laid into for awhile for giving me this absurd 45 minute countdown. He was actually fairly quick and answered a lot of my questions pretty believably. He finally said he needed to transfer me to accounts receivable for payment. But, when accounts receivable picked up after ONE RING, I hung up. When has the LADWP ever been quick to pick up the phone?
Nugent, whose account was never overdue, said he suspected it was a scam. An LADWP spokeswoman agrees. “This is definitely a scam,” said Jane Galbraith via email. “There are all kinds of scammers out there – some of them quite absurd – but we appreciate knowing about this and I will inform our Customer Service and Security folk who keep track of these issues.”
Nugent, who wants to warn fellow business owners of the phony warnings, also tried to inform the agency about the suspicious call. But he gave up after being left on hold for nearly 30 minutes.