Utility company sends Black woman the N-word for her password

Erica Conway. Image: screenshot from YouTube/KIRO7

A Black woman in metro Seattle who forgot her password for the Puget Sound Energy company requested a temporary one. What they sent back as her password was almost like a bomb going off in her hands.

Erica Conway, according to KIRO7 television station, said she received a gut-punch level shock when the password she was sent was the actual N-word. And she believes the sender did it deliberately.

“I clicked forgot password and got a temporary password from PSE and it was capital N-I-G-G-A and I was quite shocked. It was like an emotional roller coaster. Shock, disbelief, disgusted, angry,” she said, still reeling from the episode. “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 I was like this is not normal and this is not what a temporary password is supposed to say.”

The situation was exacerbated when Conway, who took a minute to pick herself up from the canvas after being right-handed with that racist code, contacted customer service for redress and was summarily dismissed.

“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?’ and 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?’ ”

Janet Kim, a spokeswoman for PSE, apologized and defended the company simultaneously.

“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. 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 company says procedures have been implemented to prevent a similar episode from happening again.

But for Conway, the company mopping up after the mess is a case of “too little, too late.”

“This is 2018; we’re still dealing with issues like this,” Conway said “It’s pretty sad. As a society, it’s pretty sad.”

Terry Shropshire
Terry Shropshire

A military veteran and Buckeye State native, I've written for the likes of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta Business Chronicle and the Detroit Free Press. I'm a lover of words, photography, books, travel, animals and The Ohio State Buckeyes. #GoBucks

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required