An American energy company has been accused of racism after they sent an African-American woman a password containing a racial slur.
Erica Conway of Renton, Washington was trying to access her online account with Puget Sound Energy but had to request a temporary password after she forgot her original one.
According toKING-TV, she clicked on the necessary button to receive a new password but the new one contained the n-word, reading 'N***aHHJ.'
Speaking to Kiro 7Erica told of the distress that the password initially caused her:
It was like an emotional roller coaster. 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.
I was truly in disbelief. Because this is not normal, and this is not what a temporary password is supposed to say.
When she attempted to complain about the password that had been sent to her, she found that her concerns were not being taken seriously by the member of customer service, who is said to be called Lydia.
I had said, ‘Do you guys screen out certain words?’ and Lydia was, like, ‘Yes we do.’
And I said, ‘Well, you guys didn’t screen out this word.’ And she said, ‘Why would we?
I said, ‘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?
Although a spokesperson from PSE was adamant that password was a computer error and not the fault of the staff they did still offer an apology.
Janet Kim told KIRO:
This was offensive, there was no question about that. We apologise to this customer, the community, for what has happened, and we are trying to do what we can to make it right.
These passwords are generated automatically so they go straight from the system straight to the customers. So, it’s not able to be accessed by an employee.
The New York Post reports that PSE has said that they will be launching a new system next month, that removes temporary passwords but in the meantime have taken measures to make sure their passwords will now be a random mix of numbers and letters.
Erica, who is a member of the Seattle chapter of the NAACP, now wants to have a meeting with representatives from PSE to make sure that something like this doesn't happen again.
This is 2018; we’re still dealing with issues like this. It’s pretty sad. As a society, it’s pretty sad.