Saturday, 23 June 2012

Apple Store in the US denies sale to customer of Iranian heritage

Imagine walking into an Apple Store, ready to buy an iPhone or an iPad and then turned away because of a language that you speak (other than English). In Alpharetta, a town in the state of Georgia in the United States, a US citizen of Iranian heritage, named Sarah Sabet was denied a sale of an iPad and iPhone that she was ready to buy. According to Mashable, Sabet was a student at the University of Georgia and had walked into the Apple Store which was in a local mall with a friend. Sabet was speaking with her friend in Farsi, and when the Apple Store employees overheard them talking, the employees asked Sabet and her friend which language they were coversing in. They then asked Sabet and her friend where they were from and where the devices would be going. Sabet replied saying that the iPad was a gift for a friend in Iran which led to the Apple Store employees denying her the sale.

Sabet says that the reason provided by the Apple Store employees was that they couldn't sell her the device because the United States and Iran currently do not have good relations. When a local tv station spoke to the manager at the Apple Store, they confirmed that the sale did not happen because of strict limitations on US-Iranian trade relations. Apple's export policy says the "exportation, reexportation, sale or supply" of Apple products "is strictly prohibited without prior authorization by the US government.” Sabet, however, claims that the trade relations between the United States and Iran weren't the primary reason that she was denied the sale, rather it was racial profiling. Eventually she called the Apple Store customer service number and an agent apologized for the treatment that Sabet faced. Sabet was eventually able to order the products off of the Apple Store website.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations has called the Apple Store's treatment of Sabet discriminatory. They released a statement saying, "Apple must revise its policies to ensure that customers do not face discriminatory treatment based on their religion, ethnicity or national origin. If the actions of these Apple employees reflected company policy, that policy must be changed and all employees retrained." Sabet herself said that the situation was very hurtful. What do you think? Was Apple right in turning away Sabet? Or was it an act of discrimination? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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