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January 28, 2023

Let’s Relish the City of Los Angeles and PwC Blaming Each Other Over a Massively Screwed Up Billing System

On one side, Los Angeles, the second largest city in the U.S. One the other, PricewaterhouseCoopers, the second largest professional services firm in the world.  Each a behemoth in their respective species, yet, neither especially likeable, what with L.A.'s traffic and PwC's corporate platitudes.

So it is with great amusement that I share with you the following story from today's Los Angeles Times about the city's Department of Water and Power suing the firm for screwing up the implementation of DWP's new billing system:

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power wrote off up to $88 million in commercial billings because it couldn’t figure out what it was owed during a botched rollout of a new computer system, city lawyers said Friday.
That revelation came as City Atty. Mike Feuer announced that a lawsuit had been filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court against Pricewaterhouse Coopers, the consultant hired to help the DWP plan and roll out a system that integrated functions, including operations, service calls and — most disastrously — billings.
After the system was activated in September 2013, DWP customers flooded the utility with complaints about delayed or incorrectly estimated bills and late notices. The telephone call volumes were so high that some customers had to wait on hold for up to 40 minutes. The backlog got so bad that the DWP added a voice message advising customers to try again during off-hours.
The City Attorney says DWP originally spent $70 million on the system and an additional $41 million to "smooth out the problems." DWP couldn't properly bill 40,000 customers for eight months, resulting in a total loss of $88 million. For all that, LADWP says PwC "breached its contract and fraudulently misrepresented how it could help the city implement the new system." 
PwC, never one to take these things lying down, responded through their outside counsel, Dan Tomasch, saying: 
Today's announcement is a transparent attempt by LADWP to shift blame away from the Department for its self-inflicted billing problems. The facts make clear that the announced litigation is meritless: LADWP acknowledged in writing last year that PwC fulfilled each one of its contractual obligations and paid PwC in full. We will defend PwC's excellent work and this case vigorously.  
No need to pick a side here; just revel in the incompetence and bickering. 

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