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Apple Store Refuses to Sell iPad to American Customer Because She Spoke Farsi


Editor in Chief

Now, this story isn't directly related to this forum, but it looks like it might turn into one of the big tech news pieces of the day, so it is worth sharing. As you can see in the video above, according to a local news report in the U.S. State of Georgia, a 19-year-old American teenaged girl was discriminated against by an Apple store because she spoke the language Farsi. Apparently, the Apple store employee refused to sell Sahar Sabet an Apple iPad, because the store employee recognized that she was speaking Farsi to her uncle, which is the language spoken in Iran.

The store employee claimed Apple's policies dictate that Apple products must not be sold for export to Iran, North Korea or other countries that the US has a trade embargo against. The Apple store employee reportedly told her, "I just can't sell this to you. Our countries have such bad relations." When she explained that she was an American citizen and she had no intention of exporting it, the store employee responded with, "This policy relies on the customer being honest," and still refused to sell it to her. Sabet was shocked and dismayed and said the experience was, "Very hurtful, very embarrassing. I actually walked out in tears."

Ironically, the store employee that refused her service was originally from Iran, which is why he knew that she was speaking Farsi.

Update: After doing some more digging, there are conflicting reports as to whether she claimed where she was sending it. Some reports claimed she said she was sending it to Iran, while others indicate exactly the opposite, that she had no intention of sending it to Iran. We will have to wait to see how this story develops.

Sadly, this wasn't an isolated incident either. Here's a quote with more details on a second report of the same nature:

Another customer, Zack Jafarzadeh, told the reporter that a different Apple Store, in an Atlanta mall, had also refused to sell him an iPhone. He was with a friend, a student on a visa from Iran, at the time. Jafarzadeh recommended: “I would say if you’re trying to buy an iPhone, don’t tell them anything about Iran. That would be your best bet.”

What do you guys think? Are these just overzealous employees taking things too far, or has Apple simply crossed the line?

Thanks for the tip, furbearingmammal!

Source: TheRegister.co.uk and WSBTV
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Active Member
One would think if the purchase was for export the buyer would be buying more then one. The employee must have miss-interpreted the rule.


Editor in Chief
That's pretty much my thoughts on it too. We will have to see how Apple responds to this (if they do).


Super Moderator
I am pretty sure this has to be a misinterpretation of policy. It is wise of Apple to take their time and make an appropriate response instead of just shooting off the hip and apologizing before they have examined the situation. Who says they have to respond instantly?


New Member
One would think if the purchase was for export the buyer would be buying more then one. The employee must have miss-interpreted the rule.

Wouldn't have to be for export. According to the report, the govt has said it is illegal to bring these devices into Iran (and other countries) without prior approval. If you are an Iranian/American it is not a stretch to think you might one day visit your homeland. Looks like apple was just following the law.