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Energy Company Put N-Word in Black Customer’s Password, Customer Service Made it Even Worse


Erica Conway just wanted to pay her energy bill. Instead, because she forgot her account password and had to get a temporary, autogenerated one to sign in, she got one that spelled out the n-word.

According to KING 5, Conway, a board member of the Seattle NAACP, was attempting to pay her Puget Sound Energy bill online and says the computer-generated password she received in her email was outrageous: “NiggaHHJ.”

“Just emotions were all over the place. Disgusted, disappointed, angry,” she told the local outlet. “And I was like ‘You have to take a stand. Someone needs to know.'”

Conway wasn’t just upset about this. She said the company’s response to the situation was problematic. She claimed she asked a customer service agent “Do you screen for this word?” and that agent replied “No, why would we?'”

“We’re in 2018. You mean to tell me you’ve never heard this word before?” Conway said she replied.

“Yeah, in the movies by African-Americans,” she recalled the agent’s response. The company has apologized for offending Conway and also ordered the employee to receive training.

The company also said the software they had been using did not screen for offensive word combinations like the one here, but it will from now on.

“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,” company spokesman Janet Kim told KIRO.

[Images via KING 5 screengrab]

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.