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Georgia Apple Store Refuses To Sell iPad To Iranian-American Teen

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the cultural-profiling dept.

Businesses 1116

pdclarry writes "An Iranian-American teenager was told by an Apple store employee that they could not sell her an iPad because it would violate U.S. trade restrictions. She returned to the store with a camera crew from a local TV station and was again turned down. Apparently an Apple employee heard her speaking Farsi. As he was also of Iranian extraction he recognized the language and used this as a basis for refusal."

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Poetic Justice (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40431981)

Homosexuality is illegal in Iran, so it should be illegal for Iranians to buy iPads.

Re:Poetic Justice (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40431989)

What if it's an Iranian homosexual?

Re:Poetic Justice (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40432291)

Then the iPad comes with Hangman HD pre-installed.

Re:Poetic Justice (5, Informative)

BitterOak (537666) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432211)

Homosexuality is illegal in Iran, so it should be illegal for Iranians to buy iPads.

No. It has nothing to do with homosexuality. It is a trade restriction based on the fact that Iran is allegedly developing nuclear weapons, and has also funded certain groups labeled as terrorist organizations. Technology found in products like iPads could be used for military or terrorist purposes, and that is the reason for these trade restrictions. This is not a surprising story: as someone who has worked in technology sales before, I know there are very serious regulations (with very severe penalties if not followed) involving sales of technology (even personal computers) to countries on these trade restriction lists. The store employee had no choice: he was obeying the law.

Re:Poetic Justice (-1, Troll)

Third Position (1725934) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432289)

Indeed. My respect for Apple just went up.

Re:Poetic Justice (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40432319)

He broke no law. He was an American citizen, and trade with American citizens is not banned.

Re:Poetic Justice (4, Insightful)

cffrost (885375) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432287)

The discrimination victim in this story is a citizen of the United States.

Why should foreign laws affect how US citizens are treated within US borders?

TSA as role model? (4, Insightful)

rbrausse (1319883) | more than 2 years ago | (#40431987)

An Arabic name is bad news at US airports, speaking Farsi is bad news in Apple stores?

The angst-driven post 9/11 world is a shame :/

Re:TSA as role model? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40431999)

"world"

Re:TSA as role model? (2)

rbrausse (1319883) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432095)

"world"

unfortunately yes, the politicians here in Germany are using the same spins and "rationales"

Re:TSA as role model? (5, Informative)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432087)

" Sabet is a U.S. citizen and a student at the University of Georgia but the iPad was to be a gift for a cousin living in Iran."

Sounds less like angst, and more like the Apple employee was doing what they should have done. Apple would be liable if they knowingly sold a iPad to someone about to break the export restrictions.

Re:TSA as role model? (1, Flamebait)

VirginMary (123020) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432105)

None of the Apple haters here care about facts. And neither do the morons who try to find racism or other forms of discrimination under every rock.

Re:TSA as role model? (1, Insightful)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432185)

Then show me some cases of this happening with other large electronics stores - actually, show me enough that it cancels out the small market share of Apple stores. Then you can claim it's just those evil Apple haters singling you out.

Re:TSA as role model? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40432255)

Lots of cases of something != ( something is right or something is lawful ). You're using groupthink as proof.

Re:TSA as role model? (-1, Troll)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432293)

No, I am asking for proof that the reason given for why this is acceptable is actually factual. If it is indeed a law, then alright, we have two cases here of Apple doing this. There should be at least 2 of Best Buy doing it, given there are substantially more Best Buy stores, which sell substantially more, than Apple stores. Can't give me even one? Then shut the fuck up with the fake excuses.

Re:TSA as role model? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40432297)

Apple is following the law. Other companies like HP are trying to bend it by setting up shell fronts abroad to violate the sanctions law. Apple should be lauded for not trying to be a law unto itself. Of course, the wolves in CAIR are going to be baying for their blood.

I won't pretend that this law is perfect. There are many supporters of Iran, who are not Iranian, don't speak Farsi and don't have Iranian last names. Like people from Hizbullah, and Arab Shia from countries like Lebanon, Iraq, Bahrein and Saudi Arabia. And there are also many Iranians living in the US who are Zoroastrians, Jews and Christians who do speak Farsi and have Iranian names. But have no loyalties to Iran, and are not likely to send or take high tech toys to Iran. So the law, and the way it's enforced, ought to be changed. However, until it isn't, Apple should be lauded for following it.

Re:TSA as role model? (4, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432299)

Huh? You want evidence of other electronics stores obeying the law just like Apple, otherwise hatred of Apple is justified?

Re:TSA as role model? (1)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432183)

Really? You think all Apple employees get ITAR and EAR training?

Re:TSA as role model? (4, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432333)

From the article, it's happened at at least 2 stores. And it is following the law. EIther they are are getting trained, or Apple happens to have some very well informed sales clerks.

Re:TSA as role model? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40432219)

Apple would be liable if they knowingly sold a iPad to someone about to break the export restrictions.

Are there really restrictions on selling iPads to Iran? Nobody can possibly believe that that's enforceable. It's a consumer good, for Christ's sake. Their diplomats can walk into shops in other countries, buy them by the armful, and carry them straight back in diplomatic luggage. What the hell is wrong with people who come up with this crap? (Assuming that it's true and you didn't just make it up...)

Re:TSA as role model? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40432285)

You don't remember the encryption export restrictions of the early through late '90s then, back when you were lucky to get 128 bit encryption inside the US (after a shitton of disclaimers) and 56 bit encryption outside (Gee, same as DVDs... wonder why that is.)

Point is the trade restrictions cover a number of 'hostile' governments and export from the US is banned (this list previously included China, but not Taiwan, during the aforementioned era).

While I would've bagged him if it was just an Iranian-American teen buying it for herself, as soon as she mentioned buying it for a cousin in Iran I have to agree with what the guy did: This would in fact be against said export restrictions, and while technically you could claim 'well it was inside the US and it'll be her problem if she gets caught exporting it', he did provide due diligence, and the reporters making this out as a big deal really don't understand what they're talking about.

I really hope some feds nail her for this when she manages to purchase one and is trying to put it in the mail to send to her cousin.

Re:TSA as role model? (1)

trdtaylor (2664195) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432315)

Hey Apple-haters or Apple lovers, lets turn our attention to the true enemy.

Lazy /. front page editors

Re:TSA as role model? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40432329)

Just like all those media companies who also export their media to the army to watch? (that was posted on here a while back in reference to piracy and RIAA)

Of course, all odds are against this person anyway, so it won't matter.
They aren't:
a large company
"american" (standard Caucasian)
They:
look like "them turrurists!"
Iran
Iranian
Speaking "turrurist secret codes" (any other language ever)
were reported by another, who will be just as condemned for this action.

I hate the world.
I wish I was born 2000 years from now, maybe humans might have grown up. (and I could get to be a space trucker)

Re:TSA or the State Dept? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40432123)

It's like confusing Apple stores and airports? They have COMPLETELY different functions, even though they claim to serve everyone's best interests. If you work for TSA you don't have any authority, and you are supposed to blindly do what you are told, just like the Apple store. But if you work at the Apple store you have a little more autonomy, even if you can't set policy.

Obviously, in this case the employee in question is nothing more than a bad apple (employee).

I'm actually impressed that anyone in Georgia is moved to believe they can help to implement a state level strategy designed to pressure 'The Iranians' into compliance with the loosely enforced ban on nuclear proliferation. Apparently there must be some radioisotopes used in the manufacture of iPads?

Re:TSA as role model? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40432125)

And the home of the ..... girlie men!

Re:TSA as role model? (5, Informative)

readin (838620) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432345)

Typical case of a headline deliberately leaving out critical information to make something sound bad. TFAs contain two very useful pieces of information.

1. The US citizen attempting to buy the export controlled product said "I'm from Iran". It is perfectly reasonable to assume someone who speaks Farsi and says their "from Iran" is in fact Iranian, especially when mistakenly assuming the other way could get you in a lot of legal trouble. The article makes no mention of the customer specially saying "I'm an American" or "I'm a US citizen". Even "I'm originally from Iran" would have been clarifying.

2.

Jafarzadeh said he was helping a friend buy an iPhone. That friend was from Iran, living and studying in the Atlanta area on a visa.
"We never talked about him going back to Iran or anything like that. He was just speaking full-fledged Farsi and the representative came back and denied our sale," Jafarzadeh said.

It doesn't matter whether the friend was going back to Iran. Since the friend is Iranian (A US citizen wouldn't be "in the Atlanta area on a visa"), giving or selling the friend export-controlled technology would be a problem.

Re:TSA as role model? (2)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432349)

I studied international business, the professor (who only teaches part time, works full time for the ITC) he told us some interesting stories.
A local businessman who sold farm supplies called the ITC, because there was someone from Iran who wanted to buy a million dollar combine. He called the ITC to make sure he could sell this. They told him no, then the he called again, asking if it would be ok if someone else bought it and shipped it to Iran, the ITC said he still couldn't sell it because he knows that it will go to Iran.
While the Iranian American, can legally buy an iPad, however Apple figures it is better to be on the safe side then breaking International Trade Laws.

Incoming... (-1, Flamebait)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432001)

Lawsuit of the year incoming! Raw, unbridled racism from Apple, which is apparently company policy. Think different, indeed.

Re:Incoming... (0, Troll)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432027)

"Raw, unbridled racism from Apple"

What "race" is "Iranian"?

Re:Incoming... (3, Insightful)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432045)

Iranian, maybe? Does it matter? You hear someone speaking another language, demand to know what country they are from, and then refuse them service because they are from the wrong one. That is racism - pure and simple - none of the usual complexities.

Re:Incoming... (4, Insightful)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432235)

Actually it's not. In this case it's due diligence. Apple is not allowed to export to Iran then they are obliged to not export to Iran, and are supposed to make sure whatever they sell isn't ending up in Iran. If they knowingly sell product to someone who will export or re-export it to Iran that would be illegal and could land them in a lot of trouble.

You could do the same with anyone speaking Korean or arabic. (North korea and syria) it would just be relatively rare that anyone is exporting to North Korea.

When you buy the product you're agreeing to the licence agreement that says you won't export it to Iran. If there is *any* evidence that you are going to violate that agreement Apple, or just about any other electronics manufacturer cannot sell it to you. They sell it to a warehouse in Qatar where people are smart enough to not open their mouths.

You could have every single transaction an employee at any computer products seller say "Now you understand that you aren't allowed to re-sell or otherwise export this to ..........." and sound off the long list of countries export is forbidden to. But most of the time that would be stupid (in the same way airport security long ago gave up on asking whether or not baggage is your own) and just a waste of everyones time. It's there in the fine print if you want to read it.

Nor, by the way is this unique to the US.

The UK page (which itself refernces the fact that the restrictions are EU wide) http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/about-us/what-we-do/services-we-deliver/export-controls-sanctions/country-listing/iran. There are so many layers of places you have to look, I don't see the value in linking them all to convey the point.

Re:Incoming... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40432283)

BS, Cuba is in the same boat as Iran as NK (as far as US export restriction is concerned) and I don't see anyone refusing to sell to spanish speaking people.

Re:Incoming... (2)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432337)

Again, I will ask what I asked twice in this story already and have yet to receive: show me another company doing this in a comparable way (ie, people in an American store being denied a sale because they might send the item to Iran), and I'll maybe buy it. Quoting laws you do not understand, which do not seem applicable, does not convince me of anything other than that you are seeking to excuse racism because you can't believe your favorite company is capable of it.

Re:Incoming... (1, Troll)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432355)

"What "race" is "Iranian"?"
Iranian, maybe?

You seem to be confused about the concepts of race and nationality.

Even putting that aside, there cannot be anything racist about following the law regarding sanctions against Iran.

Re:Incoming... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40432053)

"Raw, unbridled stupid patriotism from Apple"

Re:Incoming... (2)

Bysshe (1330263) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432085)

Persian?

Re:Incoming... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40432103)

sand

Re:Incoming... (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432207)

Persian.

Re:Incoming... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40432247)

Got it. Persian. So apparently Iran is a homogeneous society. They are all Persians. Just like in the USA we are all what race again? See, citizenship (nationality) and race are not equal. Or, being slashdot, race != nationality.

Re:Incoming... (1)

SlippyToad (240532) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432031)

It's the same old think that is so tiresome -- which is really "not thinking."

Re:Incoming... (1)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432089)

If you're buying from Apple, I think it's fair to say you're not really thinking to begin with. However, I just find this astounding. This wouldn't happen at the hickish farming supply store here in the deep south if someone speaking Farsi bought a half a ton of fertilizer - why is it happening in a store which sells to people who at least think themselves to be progressives? It seems like death to their company image unless the reality distortion field gets turned up to 11.

Re:Incoming... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40432163)

Ah, I can see, though, that the field is already at 12. Nice to know Macbois are not just ignorant, but also racists, when it comes to protecting their favored white-box manufacturer from criticism.

Re:Incoming... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40432237)

If you're buying from Apple, I think it's fair to say you're not really thinking to begin with. However, I just find this astounding. This wouldn't happen at the hickish farming supply store here in the deep south if someone speaking Farsi bought a half a ton of fertilizer - why is it happening in a store which sells to people who at least think themselves to be progressives? It seems like death to their company image unless the reality distortion field gets turned up to 11.

Where is at this store at which my Arab brothers can buy large quantities of fertilizer with none questions asked?

Self Racism (5, Insightful)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432119)

Good luck proving the Iranian sales clerk was rasist to the Iranian customer.

Re:Self Racism (1)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432277)

Citation needed. It seems there are at least two cases of this happening at different stores. You're telling me in both cases it was Iranian clerks? That's a pretty astounding claim. It also doesn't correlate with the fact she was apparently asked what language it was - which should have been obvious if you were telling the truth.

Apologize more.

Re:Self Racism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40432321)

Yes, because the salesperson was an extract of Iranian.

"...was also of Iranian extraction"

Personally, I prefer Persian infusions.

Re:Incoming... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40432129)

well the US government made the law so if you don't like discrimination against Iran take it up with your representatives.

Re:Incoming... (1)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432149)

Yeah, right. Which is why we hear this out of Walmart, Target, Best Buy, and all the other electronics-selling stores constantly, which sell orders of magnitude more than Apple stores do. No, sorry, this is Apple-specific. Take the blinders off.

Re:Incoming... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40432197)

Good point, more to the point, why didnt the customer just go to Walmart or Best buy or Radio Shack where they sell the Ipad and just buy one instead of calling the news media.. its what I would have done and would have an ipad.

people get all worked up sometimes and just dont think logically.

Re:Incoming... (3, Insightful)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432231)

So if McDonalds tells you they can't serve you because you are black, you'd go to Burger King and just shrug at the situation? Yeah..., sounds like someone who has no idea what it means to be singled out.

Re:Incoming... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40432341)

If they're selling to Iran, they're violating the law.

Re:Incoming... (-1, Offtopic)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432131)

Flamebait? I can see some Apple fans got mod points today and would like to censor.

Re:Incoming... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40432201)

"Lawsuit of the year incoming! Raw, unbridled racism from Apple, which is apparently company policy. Think different, indeed."

Don't quit your day job at McDonald's in order to go to law school.

If the US export restrictions forbid sales of computers to Iran, then the Apple Store
acted correctly under the law and there can be no lawsuit.

ps2 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40432007)

Remember when they delayed the release of the playstation 2 in some countries saying than it was so powerfull than could be used to create missile guide systems? What a good advertisment that was... fuck apple

She (0, Troll)

future assassin (639396) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432011)

should have just worn a turtle neck and told the store clerk that it was a magical turtle neck.

Competition! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40432013)

Why didn't she just purchase from the competition? There's a huge choice of non-Apple hardware!

Confusion reigns supreme (5, Interesting)

nanoflower (1077145) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432039)

Sounds like the sales person is a bit confused about the regulations. I'm surprised they didn't call over a manager especially when a film crew showed up, or maybe they did after reading the article. It looks like all involved are a bit confused about the regulations.

There was absolutely nothing preventing them from selling the Ipad to the teen since they were in America and said nothing (according to them) about sending it overseas. Now, it would be illegal for the teen to send the Ipad back to Iran, but that would be the responsibility of the teen and not the Apple store. It sounds like the manager and employees have carried the restrictions on shipping certain products to countries like Iran a bit too far as it isn't meant to prevent them from selling those products to people from Iran living in this country.

Re:Confusion reigns supreme (0)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432135)

They should have kicked the news crew out .It IS private property after all

Re:Confusion reigns supreme (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40432257)

They should have kicked the news crew out .It IS private property after all

I may regret asking this but... WHY would they do that?

Re:Confusion reigns supreme (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40432165)

Wrong. If the Apple store had any information that the teen intended to send the product to Iran they would indeed be held responsible under ITAR restrictions. In BATF terms it's a straw buy.

Re:Confusion reigns supreme (5, Informative)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432223)

There was absolutely nothing preventing them from selling the Ipad to the teen since they were in America and said nothing (according to them) about sending it overseas.

And that is exactly the opposite of what the store employee claims. He claims that he understands Farsi and the woman said, in Farsi, that she would send the iPad to a relative in Iran. And at that point selling the iPad to her would indeed be breaking the law - helping someone to export goods from the USA to the Iran carries a penalty of up to 20 years in jail.

Re:Confusion reigns supreme (-1, Troll)

superdave80 (1226592) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432273)

...helping someone to export goods from the USA to the Iran carries a penalty of up to 20 years in jail.

Selling an item is not the same as exporting it. If I buy an item from Target, and then ship it overseas, did Target really help me export it?

Re:Confusion reigns supreme (1, Insightful)

Third Position (1725934) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432347)

If they were aware you were planning to export, then yes, legally they did.

It's not about Farsi (5, Insightful)

cfalcon (779563) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432049)

It's not racism. It's either an employee correctly refusing to violate a (imo silly if it applies to consumer electronics) law, or the same employee INCORRECTLY doing same (pretty damned sure it's the second- the article implies that). Either way, it's clear that the employee's stated reason is not based on race.

Also unlike the summary states, she told the employee that it was a gift for her cousin, who is an Iranian citizen. It wasn't just "because she was speaking Farsi".

And no, I'm no Applepologist. But this doesn't look like it is the story that is being presented.

Re:It's not about Farsi (-1)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432111)

Refusing to sell a piece of electronics to Iranians because they might send it to Iran seems like racism to me, but I guess I must be some kind of insane political-correctness person. Yeah, that sounds about right... (read previous posts of mine if this doesn't sound enough like irony).

Re:It's not about Farsi (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432175)

Refusing to sell a piece of electronics to Iranians because they might send it to Iran seems like racism to me, but I guess I must be some kind of insane political-correctness person. Yeah, that sounds about right... (read previous posts of mine if this doesn't sound enough like irony).

Take that up with the US government. There are laws in place about exporting what are (in a silly manner) "weapons or other military type material" that create a hassle for software and hardware - usually in the realm of crypto. Remember when the maximum allowed export strength for some encryption algorithms was 40 bit?

However, saying that, I'm not sure it is the retail store's call given that they are making the sale within the US - it should be down to customs at the border when whoever bought it (or received it as a gift as is the case in this story) either chooses to declare it or argues the point with them at the point of exit.

It's not Apple Retail's issue since they were not conducting a transaction involving an export from the US. What happens to the iPad once it leaves the store isn't their concern.

Re:It's not about Farsi (1)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432221)

"It's not Apple Retail's issue since they were not conducting a transaction involving an export from the US. What happens to the iPad once it leaves the store isn't their concern."

Which is why the law doesn't apply here, and why it is simply ignorance and arrogance from Apple. What I find really shocking is the people here rushing to defend them with false claims. Stay at least a little classy, Mac users...

Re:It's not about Farsi (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432275)

"It's not Apple Retail's issue since they were not conducting a transaction involving an export from the US. What happens to the iPad once it leaves the store isn't their concern."

Which is why the law doesn't apply here, and why it is simply ignorance and arrogance from Apple. What I find really shocking is the people here rushing to defend them with false claims. Stay at least a little classy, Mac users...

Who says I'm defending them? I'm not sure how you get that from my post. In fact, the section you quoted demonstrates that exactly: they're flat out wrong.

All I'm doing is answering the claims that the reason behind it was racism, when it simply isn't. What they did was incorrect, wrong, not right, the opposite of the proper thing, etc, but their reasoning was not motivated by racial discrimination. Just addressing those "rushing" to claim Apple is racist. How "shocking". Stay classy, Apple haters.

Re:It's not about Farsi (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432261)

It's not Apple Retail's issue since they were not conducting a transaction involving an export from the US. What happens to the iPad once it leaves the store isn't their concern.

It is their concern if they are told it will be sent to Iran. Just like a doctor cannot prescribe pain drugs to someone who, while needing them, tells them flat out they plan to resell them. Or a lawyer cannot knowingly help his client lie under oath.

Re:It's not about Farsi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40432243)

She's an American citizen. And a singular person. This article doesn't involve these mysterious "Iranians" you speak of.

Re:It's not about Farsi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40432215)

One of the article in the link is confusing, as it mixes the story of two different people. A guy trying to buy an iphone for an Irianian friend was turned down. It doesn't seem to be stated anywhere that the girl was buying for someone else or trying to export. The article only seem to point that she was turned down because of her country of origin and her spoken language.

Either way, I think a retailer has no business asking people where they are from and if they do ask and refuse to sell to someone on American soil, it's clearly racial discrimination, I don't care if the law forces people to do racial profiling or to discriminate, the salesperson might not be racist, but he is still acting in a racist manner.

Re:It's not about Farsi (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432301)

Given the sanctions regime on iran it's more likely the first than second.

http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/programs/pages/iran.aspx

It's very very limited in what you can sell to iran and even things that might support their technology sector are banned, and have been for years.

I don't blame Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40432051)

Our export laws are extremely complicated and they have very severe penalties. The girl should complain to the government about the strict policies that force companies to do what Apple did.

is this iranian apple employee banned from buying? (2, Interesting)

lkcl (517947) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432057)

question. is this iranian apple employee also prevented and prohibited from purchasing apple products?

Re:is this iranian apple employee banned from buyi (5, Informative)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432217)

Only if she tells the person about to sell it to her that she intends to send it to her relative in Iran. At that point, it's like selling a gun to someone who says the intend to use it to break the law. You become liable.

Wait wait wait (3, Interesting)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432059)

"Apparently an Apple employee heard her speaking Farsi. As he was also of Iranian extraction he recognized the language and used this as a basis for refusal."

So this isn't just another case of "racist white guy does something stupid to someone just because they're Middle Eastern*", this is "racist Middle Eastern guy does something stupid to someone just because they're Middle Eastern"

That's... wow. I was not prepared for this level of stupid today.

* Is is really correct to consider Iran "Middle Eastern"? I know they're ethnically and linguistically distinct from the Arabs, and also have a significant religious difference. But geographically (and geo-politically, at least from an American view), you could definitely argue that they are.

Re:Wait wait wait (1)

humphrm (18130) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432159)

Technically, Iranians are Caucasian. So if you must bracket this with race and not nationality as the story describes, then it would be "racist white guy does something stupid to someone just because they're white."

Re:Wait wait wait (1)

D rent (2010268) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432169)

from an American view I'm also middle western, and I'm valencian... :S

Re:Wait wait wait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40432191)

middle eastern is a non scientific word for the area, and kinda dumb if you think about it.the correct term is near East

Re:Wait wait wait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40432323)

Actually given what is always said about how women are supposed to behave in Middle Eastern countries, it was probably sexism based on race. He's Iranian, she's Iranian and not covered from head to toe so he can't sell to her.

Though I think that the guy should be fired, and not for the discrimination. I mean, how do we know that something he touches won't be sent to Iran? If it's a risk having someone buy something and sending it to Iran, what about someone who can handle all the merchandise without having to buy it?

I'm Outraged! (0)

Kohath (38547) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432067)

No wait. I guess I'm just bored.

Why should we care? Do Farsi-speakers really need to jump on the victimization bandwagon? Is grievance politics really the most important thing in the world? Can't it be a simple mistake rather than a cause to rally Apple-haters and race-grievance-mongers and lawyers and every other agitator who gets a paycheck by trying to divide people against each other?

Can we all just mind our own business for once?

Obviously (3, Informative)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432069)

As Apple's devices are locked and the company isn't allowed to deal with Iranian carriers, her cousin couldn't use the device even if they sold it to her.

Re:Obviously (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40432241)

Since Apple is a completely closed, non-free platform her cousin couldn't use it for anything useful anyway!

Re:Obviously (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40432265)

Wifi.

Re:Obviously (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40432271)

Well, ipad/wifi wont require a carrier as far as I know.

A sad day (0)

bigtomrodney (993427) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432077)

It's disheartening that a person cannot distinguish between exporting to a sanctioned country to selling to someone with cultural links to said country. At that rate you'd better stop selling to anyone speaking Spanish in case they violate sanctions against Cuba.

I am genuinely shaking my head that my choice is between believing the salesperson is an unashamed racist hiding behind ignorant interpretation of policy or that a person could be that stupid as to confuse the two.

Re:A sad day (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432179)

Well Iranian isn't a race, so you fail on that part, and sure, if there is ANY suspicion with the customer, refuse them and tell them to leave the store. And if they don't leave, they are trespassing and have them arrested.

If Apple is found to be exporting by being negligent, that is a much larger deal then refusing to sell to some loser that cant speak English properly. One is a lost sale, the other is a huge fine and perhaps being audited by the DoJ.

Re:A sad day (1)

Kohath (38547) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432195)

It's disheartening that a person ... can make a mistake. Oh, wait, no it's not. It's ordinary.

Re:A sad day (4, Insightful)

khb (266593) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432205)

Since the apple employee is claimed to be fluent in Farsi why isn't the assumption that the buyer actually said something that gave a solid ground for believing it was actually for export?

Apple could be on the hook if they sold it "knowingly" for export. That is a judgement call for the US attorney and any sensible company would prefer not to be hostage to justice department "judgement" if they can help it.

Next time would be exporters to banned countries should make sure to not have conversations about it in the store. You can't assume that none of the staff or customers speak your language (I used to work with an Itailian guy who spoke at least one Chinese dialect perfectly (correct accent and all).

Re:A sad day (4, Informative)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432259)

1) It's disheartening that someone on /. cannot distinguish between a country and a race.

2) The person doesn't just have "cultural links to said country", they're a citizen of that country and are studying in America on a visa.

3) The salesperson apparently heard them saying it was a gift for her cousin, an Iranian citizen.

4) Last I checked, if I sell something to someone who I know will be using it for illegal purposes, I can be held accountable for my part. Whether or not that was at play here, I can't say, but the employee may have felt that by having knowledge of the fact that the iPad would be going to Iran, they had a responsibility not to sell it.

5) I don't necessarily agree with what the employee did (and the article's writeup isn't great either, so it's hard to form a solid opinion), but I do get annoyed at inflammatory comments like yours that are quick to cry "racism!" without a complete picture of the situation, especially when there are plenty of other factors involved.

Sensationalism and ignorance regarding the embargo (5, Interesting)

KrayzieKyd (906704) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432079)

1. This is old 2. This has nothing to do with race, ethnicity, or 9/11 3. This has nothing to do with Apple 4. This has to do with the US embargo on Iran, which includes selling goods to anyone in the US that could take them back to Iran. This is law. This is not Apple acting out of nowhere. It's in their legal terms that states they follow US embargo laws. If you don't like them, tell your congressman to change US embargo law or to lift the embargo against Iran. Good luck with that.

Re:Sensationalism and ignorance regarding the emba (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40432189)

then I suppose there is a big fine coming Apple's way since they told her she could buy one. That's law. If Apple doesn't like it they can just ignore it. Apparently.

"Sabet says she later called Apple's corporate customer relations, where an employee reportedly apologized and told her she could buy an iPad online."

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/iranian-american-woman-says-apple-refused-sell-her-002456511.html [yahoo.com]

The clerk in this case was probably over zealous/cautious. I don't think racist or mean or anything. He's trying to follow the policy the best he can. Apple HQ fixed the issue, but the fact still remains that your take on US export laws is false.

Re:Sensationalism and ignorance regarding the emba (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40432233)

I am surprised someone on slashdot believes the salesperson was right. Trade embargoes prevent the company from dealing (export or import) with Iran and Iranian companies. Nobody in their right mind will interpret this to mean that Apple cannot sell to someone of Iranian cultural heritage. The employee made a mistake, but people defending this are simply stupid.

Old news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40432109)

Why rehash stuff that happened a week ago?

because we all know (1)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432117)

that if the Iranians get their hands on an iPad, it's curtains for Western Civilisation.

Works for me (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#40432121)

Its illegal to export many products from the US, and selling to someone who could be easily mistaken as a 'foreign nation' could get you into hot water too.

Makes sense (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40432153)

As someone who lives in Florida, I always see Spanish-speaking electronics buyers turned down because the products might be exported to Cuba.

Oh wait...

Read TFA (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40432225)

The second article specifically states that she intended to send the iPad to Iran. Stupid policy or no, this is not racial profiling.

Who to blame again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40432251)

Blame the US for export restrictions?
Blame Iran for being, well, Iran?
Blame Apple employee for asking questions about people speaking a foreign language, which in turn resulted in a refusal to sell?
Blame the customer for disclosing that they might or were intended to have the Apple product go back to Iran, thus an export violation?

Point is, there is enough blame for everyone here. I do take a little more note on the customers, since they should be fully aware of how the US feels towards Iran in general. I'm guessing they didn't think such 'hostility', transferred directly to US businesses, or walk in stores for that matter. Still, are Apple store employees regularly told to 'look out' for potential customers who might be foreigners, or those speaking foreign languages while in the store?

Apple is still leaving a bad taste in my mouth about this. I think they could, and hopefully will, address this rapidly and publically. Not that this will chip at their stock price or anything, but I have a tendency to remember which companies I deal with, are assholes.

yeah its what apple requires (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40432253)

read the licence agreement, you can't sell any apple products to a place the usa disagrees with, well done that man for reading the agreement !

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