While no one in Iran can order a computer from a U.S. Apple store — and there are limitations on these electronics being brought into Iran — there is no legal reason a U.S. citizen should be barred from buying an iPad just because she speaks Farsi. And yet customers at Apple stores in Georgia are being told they can’t shop there because the government won’t allow it.
Atlanta’s WSB-TV recently investigated claims by area residents who said their efforts to buy iPhones or iPads were blocked by store staffers who don’t understand what a trade embargo is.
One customer, a 19-year-old college student and U.S. citizen, says she went with her uncle to the Apple store to buy an iPad, where a store employee overheard them speaking a non-English language and asked them about it.
“When we said ‘Farsi, I’m from Iran,’ he said, ‘I just can’t sell this to you. Our countries have bad relations,’” the woman tells WSB.
Another man from Virginia says he went with his friend, an Iranian in the U.S. on a student visa, to buy an iPhone at a different Apple store and got a similar story.
“We never talked about him going back to Iran or anything like that,” he tells the TV station. “He was just speaking full-fledged Farsi and the representative came back and denied our sale.”
A reporter went to the Apple store with the female customer. There, both an employee and a manager confirmed it’s against Apple policy to sell to anyone from Iran.
In the second case, of the man here on a student visa, you might be able to make that argument, though it’s really just the exporting of goods to Iran — and not the sale of items to Iranians in the U.S. — that is embargoed.
Regardless, the 19-year-old woman is a U.S. citizen living in the country, who just happens to also speak the language spoken in a country that is the subject of a trade embargo. This would be like the Apple store refusing to sell to anyone who speaks Spanish because they might have defected from Cuba. And are Apple employees asking every Korean customer whether they were born in North or South Korea?
The woman called Apple customer service. She received an apology and was told she could purchase the iPad online.
Thanks to Abby for the tip!