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Monday, August 6, 2018

Black Customer Says a Utility Company Gave Her the N-Word to Use As Her Online Password

Erica Conway

Erica Conway

Seattle, WA — Erica Conway, an African-American woman from Seattle, says she was shocked and disgusted when her utility company, Puget Sound Energy, sent her a racial slur as a temporary password for her online account. She believes it was a deliberate move, but the company claims it was an unintentional mistake.

Conway was trying to pay for her PSE bill online but she forgot her password for her account. She clicked the ‘forgot password’ button to receive a temporary one to access her account. She should have been given randomly generated characters, but what she got was a password with a capital N-I-G-G-A.

“Just emotions were all over the place. Disgusted, disappointed, angry,” she told King 5 News¬†on what she felt when she saw it.

She contacted the company’s customer service but she got even more upset by how the agent handled her complaint.

“I said, ‘Do you not screen for offensive words?’ And [the customer service agent] said, ‘Yeah we do.’ I said, ‘Do you screen for this word?’ And she said, ‘No, why would we?'” she recounted.

Conway said she cannot believe that the agent wasn’t taking her complaint seriously.

‘We’re in 2018. You mean to tell me you’ve never heard this word before?’ And she said, ‘Yeah, in the movies by African Americans. And I said I think we need to stop this conversation.'”

PSE spokeswoman Janet Kim said regarding the incident, “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.”

Kim also insisted that the passwords are generated automatically and no employee can access it to deliberately discriminate against Conway. Kim added that they will use a new system to screen for offensive words.

Together with Seattle NAACP, Conway, a longtime volunteer for the organization, is seeking to meet with PSE to discuss the incident and what they could do to avoid it from happening again in the future.

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