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Cooling system outage shuts down DWP website, impairs call center

Consumers

A cooling system outage Monday shut down the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power website, crimped the capacity of its customer call center and prevented people from using a new feature to leave their number and get a call back.

Spokesman Joseph Ramallo said the outage forced the agency to shut down computer systems that rely on the cooling system. The problem began after both primary and backup cooling systems went out, he said.

“We’re able to take calls right now. However, the customer information systems that allow us to take payments and resolve customer problems are not available to our customer service representatives,” Ramallo said.

The department said crews are working to fix the problem and estimated that it should be resolved Monday night. Customers were asked to call or contact the agency online Tuesday.

“We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused our customers and appreciate their patience as we work to fix this problem,” the DWP said in a news release Monday.

Improving customer service has become a major focus for the agency. The department has been trying to handle a deluge of calls after a troubled new billing system sent out inflated bills to some customers.

The agency recently started opening some of its customer service centers on Saturdays to help handle billing problems. It has also hired dozens of new workers to take calls. As of the second week of March, phone waits averaged about 27 minutes, according to an agency presentation.

The DWP said it would be posting updates on the problem on Twitter and at its news website, which remained available Monday afternoon.

[Updated March 31, 10:51 p.m.: DWP said its website is back online.]

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Emily.Alpert@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimesemily

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