Erica Conway, a longtime volunteer for the Seattle chapter of the NAACP, needed a temporary password when longing in to her Puget Sound energy account.
What they sent her was offensive and a little hard to explain away.
“Erica Conway of Renton said that she logged onto the Puget Sound Energy website on Monday to pay her bill online and that when she forgot her password, she clicked a button to generate a temporary one so she could access her account.
The password, sent by third-party software, was supposed to be a randomly generated combination of letters and numbers.
Conway’s temp password was “NiggaHHJ,” and as a black woman, she said she thinks it was anything but random.
“I was truly in disbelief. Because this is not normal, and this is not what a temporary password is supposed to say,” she told local station KIRO-TV.
(sorry video won’t embed)
PSE spokeswoman Janet Kim told KIRO TV that the site’s automatically generated passwords go straight from the system to customers, “so it’s not able to be accessed by an employee.”
Still, she said, the company recognizes that the randomly selected password sent to Conway was definitely inappropriate.
“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 said.”
I’m sure the utility is not responsible for this outrage, but I smell a rat in this somewhere.
Passwords on sites like this almost universally must contain both capital and small case letters and at least one number as well as a special character. And the chance that a racial slur be sent to a black woman, let alone a member of the NAACP, in the Seattle area is less than one in ten.
I think Pudget Sound Energy IT guys need to do a little more digging.