Two would-be customers at an Alpharetta, Georgia Apple Store walked out empty handed last week after the store refused to sell them Apple’s popular iPad and iPhone gadgets because the two customers were speaking Farsi.
According to a report by local TV station WSB-TV, Sahar Sabet and her uncle were speaking with one another in Farsi when a sales representative approached them and said that the store couldn’t sell them any products because Apple’s corporate policy prohibits the sale of any goods to Iran without authorization by the US government. Sabet was attempting to buy the iPad as a gift for her cousin who lives in Iran.
Sabet, who says she left the store in tears, is a US citizen. She called Apple’s customer relations number, where an employee apologized and advised her that she could buy the device online. But Sabet’s case is hardly a case of a misinformed salesperson: Apple stores have done this before.
Zack Jafarzadeh, another Iranian American currently living in Virginia, also spoke with WSB-TV about a similar instance at a different Apple store, where he wasn’t allowed to purchase an iPhone with a friend after a clerk overheard him speaking in Farsi.
Nor does Apple’s history of questionable sales policies extend just to Iranians. In 2010, New York’s then-Attorney General Andrew Cuomo opened an investigation into several claims that New York City’s Apple Stores were discriminating against Asian customers. And in that same year, Apple raised eyebrows after they refused to accept cash as a form of payment for iPads. In all cases, the miscommunications seemed to originate not with overzealous sales representatives but with Apple’s own store policies.
NPR reached out to Apple for a comment, but Apple has thus far remained silent on the case in Georgia.