Apple product vendors in Iran are laughing at reports from last week about U.S. Apple Store employees refusing sales to Farsi-speaking customers.

According to a weekend story from the Agence France-Presse (via MSN News), iPhones and iPads are widespread throughout Iran’s capital:

One salesman who gave only his first name, Hossein, told AFP that he had sold 40 iPhones the day before, and explained that prices for Apple items in Iran were only around $50-$60 more than in the United States.

Hossein explained it is easy for traders to workaround the export restriction. He said Apple’s highly coveted products are smuggled into Iran through Iraq. He also noted practically everyone in Tehran owns an iOS device, while other salesclerks claimed several shops are “dressed up to look like official Apple Stores.”

Despite the vendors’ jibes, and their claims about Iran’s unwavering access to the Cupertino goods, many questioned Apple’s treatment of Farsi-speaking U.S. customers, which bordered on racial profiling. An Apple Store in Georgia apparently refused to sell iOS devices to an Alpharetta woman and her uncle, because they spoke Farsi, a Persian-Iranian language, to each other. Another customer, Zack Jafarzadeh, apparently received the same treatment at a different Apple Store in Atlanta when he accompanied a fluent friend to buy an iPhone.

Sabet and Jafarzadeh asserted that the Apple Stores racially profiled Iranians and discriminated against them. They further said Apple’s policy is both confusing and inconsistent.

A representative for the U.S. State Department clarified there was no policy or law that prohibits Apple from selling products in the U.S. to anybody intending to use them stateside, including customers of Iranian descent or citizenship, but customers do need a license to take the “high-technology goods” to Iran.

Apparently, though, at least to a few vendors in Iran, that license is a joke.


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