A spate of complaints has recently sprung-up against Apple stores and their employees, alleging that the company is illegitimately restricting customers of Iranian descent from purchasing iPhones and iPads, under the guise of following US export restrictions.
Georgia’s WSBTV reports on a series of incidents that have occurred at Apple stores in the state, where both full US citizens of Iranian ancestry and Iranian students legally attending school in the US were denied the ability to purchase Apple products. The stores site Apple’s export policy, which is available through the company’s website and reads:
The U.S. holds complete embargoes against Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria
The exportation, reexportation, sale or supply, directly or indirectly, from the United States, or by a U.S. person wherever located, of any Apple goods, software, technology (including technical data), or services to any of these countries is strictly prohibited without prior authorization by the U.S. Government.
According to accounts of these incidents, however, these Apple stores made no attempt to ascertain whether or not these would-be customers planned to actually export any devices, but denied sales solely on account of their ethnicity.
Restricting sales to Iranians in the US on a long-term visa may be a defensible judgment call, assuming they’d ultimately return home with their belongings, but denying US citizens the opportunity to purchase Apple gear solely because of their heritage sounds very much like it’s going too far, and follows neither the spirit nor the letter of the law when it comes to export restrictions.
To Apple’s credit, these incidents don’t appear to reflect official corporate policy, as calls to customer relations by those affected have resulted in apologies and invitations to follow-through with purchases online.