An African-American woman demanded to know why Puget Sound Energy (PSE) sent her a racial slur as a temporary password, and she wanted assurances that it wouldn’t happen to someone else.
While paying a bill online, Erica Conway, a Seattle resident who’s also a board member of the local NAACP chapter, received the N-word from PSE after clicking “forgot password,” KIRO-TV reported on Wednesday.
Conway was “shocked” that the company gave her the word “NI**A” in capital letters as a password. She believed it was deliberate.
“It was like an emotional roller coaster,” Conway recalled. “Shock, disbelief, disgusted, angry. It was just yeah, even now I’m just kind of like I cannot believe this. I just can’t believe it.”
Adding fuel to the fire, a PSE customer service agent dismissed her complaint. Conway demanded to know if the company screens passwords. The agent replied that PSE does screen passwords but pretended not to know why it would screen out the racial slur.
“What do you mean why would we? This is an offensive word.’ And she stated to me, No one uses that word anymore.’ And I was, like, where are you living, what planet are you living on?” Conway recalled.
PSE promised to retrain the customer service agent and issued an apology: “This was offensive, there was no question about that, we apologize to this customer, the community, for what has happened, and we are trying to do what we can to make it right.”
The company blamed it on software. A third-party software usually generates passwords using random numbers and letters, according to KING-TV. However, the software failed to screen for offensive words. The company vowed that it won’t happen again.
Despite the promise, Conway and the Seattle NAACP want to sit down with a PSE representative.