Name changes should be easy

I renewed my ACS membership today, and, as I have done every year for several years in a row, I tried to update my title through the ACS Membership My Account page. No luck. Only a link to contact customer service.

In previous years I have decided that emailing customer service is too much hassle, and so, year after year, my membership card, mailings, and email newsletters are addressed to Mrs. Haas, rather than Dr. Haas. I have been Dr. Haas for 5 years. It is past time to get this stuff right. It is also way past time for the ACS to get with the 21st century and realize that names change. It's ridiculous to build a system that assumes otherwise.

As I said on Twitter: It's a good bet that any system that makes name changes difficult was designed or chosen by people who have never changed their names. It reflects a lack of diversity among decision-makers.

So I got a little angry, and I got a little busy, and I sent the letter below (with salutation and signature -- I'm mad, but I don't want to be rude) to ACS customer service. I'm curious if I'll get a response.

I am unable to change my name (specifically, my title) on my ACS account page. I can change my work and home address, my email, and my phone number on the site, but not my name. When I became an ACS member, I was Mrs. Haas. Five years ago I earned a PhD and became Dr. Haas, but there is no apparent way for me to change that information without contacting customer service.

I find it concerning that ACS members cannot change their names through the My Account page. Names are not immutable. Upon marriage or divorce, women often change their names. People transitioning genders often change their names. According to the NSF, about 2,500 people earn doctorates in chemistry each year – thus changing their titles to “Dr." A person should be able to change their name (including their title) with the same ease that they can change their address or email or phone. That this issue has not already been addressed speaks to a lack of diversity in the decision-making process.

In closing, please update my title in all of my membership materials, please include a way for members to change their own names without needing to contact customer service, and, most importantly, please consider the needs of all your members by including a diversity of perspectives when making decisions – even seemingly small ones, like the design of the membership account page.