A customer bought some headphones at an Apple Store in Portland. He later noticed something weird on the receipt: in the spot where a customer’s e-mail address would normally be was a fake address, “firstname.lastname@example.org.” Was the store employee out to insult the customer, who is a gay man, or just making up a fake e-mail address to get past a required field?
Apple isn’t saying. The Portland Oregonian has given this story quite a bit of coverage, and they keep checking back with Apple to find out whether the company is willing to further explain what happened. The company has confirmed that the receipt is genuine and this incident really did happen, but won’t provide any more information than that.
An Apple Store is one of the last places on earth we would expect to see someone aim silent anti-gay slurs at a customer, but maybe that’s just falling back on geographic and brand stereotypes.
“It’s really not okay, especially in a city where we like to believe we are progressive,” the customer told the Oregonian. He asked a store manager to refund the purchase price of his set of headphones, and the manager agreed. No refund has happened yet, though, and the purchase took place last Friday. He has also offered to help prevent similar incidents by giving store employees cultural competency training, but hasn’t heard back about that offer.
According to the Oregonian, Apple Store staff asked the man for his e-mail address, and he chose not to provide one. Some online commenters who claim to be former Apple Store workers say that this field is required, so it’s possible that someone just typed some nonsense that looks like an e-mail address in order to finish the transaction. It’s also possible that another employee typed in the false address during a different transaction that was then tied to this customer’s credit card, making the source of the offending faux address hard to figure out.
What really happened in that e-mail input box? The managers and employees of the store are the only ones who might know, and Apple corporate hasn’t clarified things one way or the other. If it was intentional, that’s unacceptable and insensitive. If it was accidental, well, let it serve as a lesson to be careful when mashing your fingers on the keyboard to create fake e-mail addresses.