No iPads Or iPhones For You, Apple Store Clerk Tells Iranians

Jun 20, 2012
Originally published on June 20, 2012 12:51 pm

Sahar Sabet of Alpharetta, Ga., says that when she was in an Apple store at the local North Pointe Mall last week to buy an iPad and an iPhone, she and her uncle were overheard by a clerk.

The sales rep asked what language they were speaking and where they were from. When they said they were speaking Farsi and originally from Iran, Sabet tells Atlanta's WSB-TV, the clerk's response was a shock:

"I can't sell this to you."

Though 19-year-old Sabet is a U.S. citizen, the clerk cited Apple's "export compliance" policy, which says in part that:

"The U.S. holds complete embargoes against Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria.

"The exportation, reexportation, sale or supply, directly or indirectly, from the United States, or by a U.S. person wherever located, of any Apple goods, software, technology (including technical data), or services to any of these countries is strictly prohibited without prior authorization by the U.S. Government. This prohibition also applies to any Apple owned subsidiary or any subsidiary employee worldwide."

WSB-TV sent a reporter back to the store, and "obtained iPhone video of the same employee repeating the policy." It also heard from another Iranian-American that he too had been turned away at an Apple store in Georgia.

Sabet, the station adds, later got an apology from an Apple customer relations representative and was told that she could buy the iPad online. Still, the Council on American-Islamic Relations has "called on Apple to change its policy following reports of Farsi-speaking customers being denied service."

We, like several other news outlets, have asked Apple to comment on all this. So far, we haven't found any response from the company. We'll report back if it does comment. WSB-TV says Apple declined to respond to its requests, but did point to the corporate policy.

Update at 2:55 p.m. ET. No Comment, Apple Says:

Apple spokesman Steve Dowling just returned our call. He said the company is not commenting on the record about this case.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.