Seattle Energy Company Sends Racial Slur to Customer as a Temporary Password

Password entry
Password entry screen on computer screen.
Richard Newstead—Getty Images

A Seattle-area woman received a racial slur as a temporary password from her energy company, Puget Sound Energy (PSE).

The customer, Erica Conway, who is African American, says she believes the slur was intentional. Moreover, when she called PSE to complain, she says a phone representative did not take her complaint seriously.

To see the slur spelled out, “I was quite shocked,” Conway told local CBS affiliate KIRO-TV.

Conway is a longtime volunteer for the Seattle chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Along with her local chapter, she has requested a meeting to discuss the incident.

PSE insists the password was simply a computer-generated mistake. “This was offensive, there was no question about that,” said Puget Sound Energy spokesperson Janet Kim. “We apologize to this customer, the community, for what has happened, and we are trying to do what we can to make it right.”

PSE has said it will do away with temporary passwords altogether by next month. In the meantime, the energy company says it has taken immediate steps to ensure that when customers request a temporary password, that password will be made up of a mix of letters and numbers to avoid this type of issue in the future.

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