It is being reported by WSB- TV this evening that two local Atlanta area Apple Stores have denied the sale of Apple products to customers who are of Iranian descent.
A college student from University of Georgia, Sahar Sabet went to the Apple store to purchase an iPad. The sales associate turned her away after the customer was heard speaking Farsi to her uncle.
The sales associate told the uncle that he could not sell to them because 'Our countries have bad relations.' Ms. Sabet is a U.S. citizen.
In a separate incident, Zack Jafarzadeh was turned away from the Apple Store in Perimeter Mall. He was there with a friend, a student from Iran, purchasing an iPhone. They too were unable to purchase due to company policy. At no time during either incident were the customers asked where the products were going.
The reporter for WSB-TV went back to the North Pointe location with Ms. Sabet. The manager showed them the company policy that prohibits the sale of exports. A copy of Apple’s export policy can be found here.
Sabet did call the Customer Relations line at Apple and was told that she can purchase an iPad online. Ms. Sabet is clearly hurt and frustrated and feels the policy is confusing and inconsistent.
In looking at the company’s lengthy sales policy, Apple does reserve the right to decline sales to any purchaser for any reason through their online store or call center orders. But this language appears to exist to dissuade unofficial resellers or fraudulent transactions.
The Export Compliance documentation does point out that it is illegal to export to prohibited destinations, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria. This is standard language for all computer equipment purchased in the U.S. It is also illegal to travel to these destinations with a laptop or cell phone. But at no time during the sales experience for either of these customers were they asked if the purchases were going to be sent to a foreign country.
It is unclear if there has been a local policy change among Apple Stores in the Atlanta area. Perhaps there has been a misinterpretation of policy in this region. But both customers feel that they have been profiled and discriminated against.
Searches to find similar incidents of this nature around the country have turned up empty.