Georgia store refuses to sell iPad to Iranian teen

An American teenager was refused the sale of an iPad in Atlanta, Georgia because she was Iranian.

Sahar Sabet, aged 19, had visited the store with her uncle in Alpharetta. As she browsed the store she conversed with her Uncle in Farsi, one of the most widely spoken Persian languages.

A few moments later, she tried to buy an iPad, but the sales assistant refused to sell it to her, according to Sahar he said:

‘I just can’t sell this to you. Our countries have such bad relations’

The employee was himself Iranian, which makes the whole episode rather confusing. Had he been American, it would have been very easy to label this as a mindless act of discrimination, but it makes no sense to do the same in this case, it would be rather hypocritical to refuse a sale on discriminatory grounds because the assistant shares Ms Sabet’s ethnic background. The method in the madness became more clear when she returned to purchase the iPad a second time, with a TV crew at her back. This time, the assistant produced the company’s store policy, which prohibits the sale of Apple products that will be exported to Iran or any other country the U.S does not trade with, North Korea for example. According to him, the system relies on the honesty of the customer.

Sahar called customer services later that day, and she received and apology, and was told she could purchase an iPad online instead. In an interview with WSBTV Ms Sabet said:

‘It’s discrimination, racial profiling… He didn’t have any business asking which country I was from.’

Ms Sabet said she was embarrassed because she held full U.S. citizenship and because she owned Apple products already, she left the store in tears.

What do you think? Is this an act of discrimination? Or was the assistant simply acting correctly on Apple’s policy, in which case, does that policy need revised? Leave your comments and opinions below as always, but remember that this is a sensitive topic, so please think before you post.




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  • KevinGautreau

    Ok I can understand taking it into another country… But either way, it is their responsibility thereafter, is it not?
    But she did have her citizenship, so really it’s a no-brainer. Or should have been, in my opinion.

  • jarrod

     I think they should have just sold her it and if she did go to Iran with it the country would probably just take the device and possibly return it when she did come back state side but who knows, the employee isn’t in the business of making sure they can take it around the world without her consent to know.

  • RonaldGaray

    It’s not discrimination or racial profiling when she had the intent to export the device and told the associate that very fact. This is not a sob story or a story of racism. 

  • ozzy

    An “American” teenager was refused the sale of an iPad in Atlanta, Georgia because she was “Iranian”.- so what is she?

  • JanisVaivars

    Clearly the employee acted upon the policy of the company. She must have clearly said that she is exporting the ipad otherwise what sense would it be for him to do anything like that? I mean, to say he can’t sell it if its exported. And then she probably just made a scene and turned the whole story upside down as women often do. And having a friend working in a mobile operator shop I know how these non European/ non American people act, they do not understand when you tell them that something is not going to work, they’re stubborn as hell and think they can get whatever they want. Say there is contract deal for 15 pounds a month and the “non European” customer says “But I want it to be cheaper, you can give me a discount”, “no, we don’t do discounts, it’s a company tariff, it’s impossible to change”, “no, you can change it, I’m sure you can give it to me cheaper” (and this takes an hour for him to understand, or rather not to understand and make a big fuss about it). Or another real life example – there is a deal for 15 pounds and 600 included minutes, and a deal for 20 pounds and 1200 included minutes. Employee “How many minutes do you usually talk a month?”, “around 300 or less”, “ok so you can take the deal for 15 pounds with 600 mins”, “no, I want a deal with 900 mins for 15 pounds”, “there is no such deal”, “but I want 900 mins for 15 pounds”, “but you said you talk under 300 mins and don’t need more”, “but I want 900 mins for 15 pounds, I know you had this kind of deal 2 years ago”, “It was two years ago and we don’t have it anymore”, “but I want that deal”…
    NIGHTMARE!!! Yes, this might sound racist, but that is the real life experience with most of these people.

  • Yiftach

     @RonaldGaray Sorry, where/when exactly did she say she was going to export the iPad to Iran? And are Apple Store employees trained and authorized to enforce their parent company’s export policy?

  • ak

    How do we know if the Iranian Employee isn’t exporting Apple Items to Iran? 

  • techietut

    @jarrod , if that’s the case then consumers would no longer have rights to the product they bought. Right? Who would like to own something and not own it? The policy is pure BS!

  • techietut

    It’ BS! They should have made a signage that says we dont sell our products to the following nationalities… To make it clear to people that apple is racis. And yes they finally allowed her to purchase.. But still not on the store, but online.. They made it clear that apple store is racis and the online store is not. BS!

  • dcar

     @JanisVaivars You talk some amount of crap!

  • TiP_Cam

     @JanisVaivars Not at all. I also worked in phone retail, and although it sounds racist, the Middle Eastern/Asian customers would try for ages to haggle deals that were simply not possible. You have to remember that in their cultures, you can haggle for everything, nothing is set in stone in terms of price. Not in the same way as it is in the west. 

  • Farhad

    Iranians, If not the only one, are among the very few nations in the world , where everyone hates and blames another, for everything, they are terrible in teamwork and naturally deserve the circumstances they are currently under.

  • dcar

     @TiP_Cam There was nothing in the story suggesting the girl was trying to haggle for a better deal or was trying to export it either. JanisVaivars has used this as a rant against other cultures which by calling them “these people” highlights his intolerances.
    I worked with customer care for a while with a mobile phone company and where i did come across some instances where people of other nationalities trying to get deals that didn’t exist i would not group them all together and call them “these people” in a single minded somewhat racist manner.
    Hence he is talking CRAP!

  • WhitneyDaniellePyant

    She said to clerk and WSBTV.  The person is who representing her also to told MSNBC the same thing. She stated that she sending to Iran.  She stated that uncle is from Iran

  • WhitneyDaniellePyant

    The uncle who was with her was visiting from Iran.   He probably wanted to an ipad to take back with him for his son or daughter.  She stated it was a gift for her cousin in Iran.  Sending to Iran makes it illegal