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Tue Jun 19, 2012, 11:17 PM

Apple store in GA won't sell an iPad to an American citizen from Iran



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

19-year-old Sahar Sabet says an Apple Store in Georgia refused to sell her an iPad after a store representative overheard her speaking in Farsi....

When a reporter from the station returned to the same Apple Store with Sabet, the employee once again reiterated that it is Apple company policy to not sell products to anyone from Iran. The WSBTV reporter recorded video of the exchange on her phone.

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.

"When we said 'Farsi, I'm from Iran,' he said, 'I just can't sell this to you. Our countries have bad relations,'" Sabet said.




The irony here is that the late Steve Jobs was of Middle Eastern descent.

Now I want to get a smartphone -- just to make sure it's an Android.

53 replies, 4248 views

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Arrow 53 replies Author Time Post
Reply Apple store in GA won't sell an iPad to an American citizen from Iran (Original post)
KamaAina Jun 2012 OP
MADem Jun 2012 #1
Hoyt Jun 2012 #2
KamaAina Jun 2012 #3
ananda Jun 2012 #31
Cali_Democrat Jun 2012 #4
progressivebydesign Jun 2012 #8
obamanut2012 Jun 2012 #21
obamanut2012 Jun 2012 #20
Hoyt Jun 2012 #27
Fawke Em Jun 2012 #30
Hoyt Jun 2012 #32
Sgent Jun 2012 #5
freshwest Jun 2012 #6
HubertHeaver Jun 2012 #7
progressivebydesign Jun 2012 #11
HubertHeaver Jun 2012 #12
Ter Jun 2012 #18
HubertHeaver Jun 2012 #34
LanternWaste Jun 2012 #50
Chan790 Jun 2012 #13
Ter Jun 2012 #19
Art_from_Ark Jun 2012 #37
muriel_volestrangler Jun 2012 #33
Chan790 Jun 2012 #52
progressivebydesign Jun 2012 #9
Blue_Tires Jun 2012 #25
Art_from_Ark Jun 2012 #38
nadinbrzezinski Jun 2012 #49
Cali_Democrat Jun 2012 #10
Nuclear Unicorn Jun 2012 #23
nadinbrzezinski Jun 2012 #42
metalbot Jun 2012 #43
Sans__Culottes Jun 2012 #14
Renew Deal Jun 2012 #16
FrodosPet Jun 2012 #45
nadinbrzezinski Jun 2012 #46
warrior1 Jun 2012 #39
n2doc Jun 2012 #15
Dawgs Jun 2012 #17
n2doc Jun 2012 #24
Dawgs Jun 2012 #28
Hoyt Jun 2012 #29
FrodosPet Jun 2012 #47
Nuclear Unicorn Jun 2012 #22
jp11 Jun 2012 #44
Nuclear Unicorn Jun 2012 #48
trumad Jun 2012 #26
HubertHeaver Jun 2012 #35
trumad Jun 2012 #36
nadinbrzezinski Jun 2012 #41
HubertHeaver Jun 2012 #53
HubertHeaver Jun 2012 #51
nadinbrzezinski Jun 2012 #40

Response to KamaAina (Original post)

Tue Jun 19, 2012, 11:19 PM

1. Go to DC--they'll sell anything to anyone!!! nt

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Response to KamaAina (Original post)

Tue Jun 19, 2012, 11:32 PM

2. Where can one live where this and similar crud is not as likely to happen?

I'm talking a state, or city.

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Response to Hoyt (Reply #2)

Tue Jun 19, 2012, 11:49 PM

3. I would have said Canada or the UK

but they're both lurching rightward, too.

With Hollande's victory, France has possibilities.

edit: Oh, a U. S. state or city? San Francisco or Seattle, or maybe Honolulu.

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Response to KamaAina (Reply #3)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 10:18 AM

31. Austin is kewl too.

I wore my Wikileaks shirt Monday and got lots of positive responses.

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Response to Hoyt (Reply #2)

Tue Jun 19, 2012, 11:56 PM

4. There's really no escape from American stupidity

But there are some places where it's less likely to happen. Georgia seems like a place where it would be more likely to happen.

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Response to Hoyt (Reply #2)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 01:12 AM

8. California (excluding Orange County,) or Portland, or Eugene. pretty much. n/t

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Response to progressivebydesign (Reply #8)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 09:13 AM

21. Lots of California is very bigited and conservative

Much worse than Orange County.

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Response to Hoyt (Reply #2)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 09:12 AM

20. Atlanta isn't some bigoted backwater

It's a diverse and vibrant city. This is bizarre.

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Response to obamanut2012 (Reply #20)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 09:58 AM

27. I live 8 miles from downtown. I've pulled confederate flags down on major highways.

I was 25 miles outside Atlanta this weekend near Lake Lanier. I saw a surprising number of confederate flags and similar crud. And, a lot more people are not as obviously bigoted.

I love Atlanta in many ways, but some -- at times a lot -- of the people are out of the 1800s or earlier.

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Response to Hoyt (Reply #27)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 10:16 AM

30. Some comedian once said:

"Atlanta is great! The only problem with Atlanta is that it's surrounded by Georgia."

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Response to Fawke Em (Reply #30)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 10:26 AM

32. That's it exactly. Thanks for the laugh.

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Response to KamaAina (Original post)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 12:09 AM

5. This is probably company policy -- its illegal under US law

under US law its illegal to export goods / technology to Iran without specific permission from the Dept of Treasury. It seems like this was the right call by the Apple Store.

http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Documents/iran.pdf

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Response to Sgent (Reply #5)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 12:14 AM

6. It is what it is. I don't even know if Iran allows much of the net anymore:

Iran Shuts Down the Internet

http://www.nowpublic.com/technology/iran-shuts-down-internet

Certainly can't be that effective, but they've got censorship out the kazoo.

The mistake was saying the iPad was to be a gift for a cousin living in Iran, which is 'illegal.'

If they'd known about the law, they could have left that out, purchases and shipped it on their own.

It would probably be in Iran now. I hope the law will be changed soon.

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Response to freshwest (Reply #6)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 01:09 AM

7. The clerk is compelled to ask the questions and demand clear answers.

If there are any indications the item will be exported they need further information. If they find the item is destined for a restricted country, they cannot complete the sale.


Technology export law is quite strict and penalties are severe.

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Response to HubertHeaver (Reply #7)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 01:19 AM

11. Really? So a store has a right to grill you if you speak another language?

Sounds like a civil rights issue here. The clerk had no right to stop the sale, unless the person was asking for it to be shipped to Iran. So if I, blonde hair and blue eyed, go into that same store to buy a computer or ipad, do you think that they would grill me to ask if I was buying it for a family member in Iran?? That's the issue here. I don't think that it's legal to grill a customer that way in America.

Apple stores pretty much suck all the way around. I had my last visit there when I tried to bring them a macbook battery to recycle. The people at their support said to just bring it to the store and hand it to anyone, and they'd send it back to be recycled. Walked into the Apple store, and had 3 clerks saying "Gee, I don't think we can take that..." "hmmm...." "so they said what at support?" "I don't know.. I need to find a manager," while I stood there with the stupid battery in my hand. After they looked at it for a while I handed to them, then they gave it back like it was snake or something.. .so afraid that they'd get in trouble for accepting a battery for recycling. After 10 minutes of waiting for them to figure this out, and get a manager, I said "never mind" took the battery and threw in in the trash in front of them, right outside their window.

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Response to progressivebydesign (Reply #11)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 02:13 AM

12. If you are purchasing export-restricted technology,

they will ask you the purpose--personal use, gift, and the like. You may withhold that information if you like. Keep in mind all technology is tracked. If the item you purchase ends up in North Korea, Iran or Syria you can be charged with export law violation. Exports are regulated by Homeland Security. HS agents have no sense of humor.

If the clerk has asked the questions and had no indication you were withholding vital information, he or she may be in the clear. If the clerk does not ask the questions, then he or she is in as deep as you.

It is not a civil rights issue at all. It is international trade, export compliance.



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Response to HubertHeaver (Reply #12)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 09:08 AM

18. How come I never got asked?

 

I buy stuff all the time. No one has ever asked me what's it for or where it's going. It's just been no questions asked. Is it because I'm a white American without an accent?

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Response to Ter (Reply #18)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 10:36 AM

34. The questions are asked in conversation. They try to get a sense

of what you are going to do with the item. Your being a white American blond without an accent would certainly put them at ease. Your home address, method of payment, general demeanor would further that sense of security. They are in the business of selling electronic devices and they want to sell as many as they possibly can so they cannot be too aggressive with their questioning. They need only to give themselves "legal cover" such that if you do turn out to be a terrorist they can show performance of due diligence--the store through training records, the staff through habit on the sales floor.

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Response to HubertHeaver (Reply #34)


Response to progressivebydesign (Reply #11)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 03:29 AM

13. Actually in this case, yes it is legal to grill the customer.

Not only allowed...required to stop the sale upon suspicion. Financial institutions like banks and investment firms are subject to the same laws. I used to have to deal with these issues at the bank because we're a major branch that handles foreign transactions of our bank...I probably saw 2-5 such transactions a month.

If the Apple store employee had made the sale, they could have been charged even if they did not know she was exporting the iPad. It's their job to know or find out...it's their job to refuse the sale if concerns cannot be allayed by inquiry. To be clearer, he's supposed to ask everybody, not just the woman with the Iranian accent speaking Farsi to her acquaintance.

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Response to Chan790 (Reply #13)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 09:10 AM

19. BS

 

They are not required to ask any questions about background. Banks maybe, certainly not stores.

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Response to Ter (Reply #19)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 11:14 AM

37. From Apple's web site:

PROHIBITED DESTINATIONS
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. This prohibition also applies to any Apple owned subsidiary or any subsidiary employee worldwide.

http://www.apple.com/legal/export.html

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Response to Chan790 (Reply #13)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 10:29 AM

33. But the article says she was told by Apple she could buy it online

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


Which seems to mean Apple don't think gifts sent to Iran count after all.

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #33)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 12:26 PM

52. It's subterfuge. Let me explain.

The reason they told her to go online is because it's not a point-of-sale transaction, they can take all the information on both the buyer and the person they are having it shipped to and forward it to the proper law enforcement authority (The FBI, I believe, is the designated authority.) who will tell them whether or not to send the iPad, refuse the sale and return the funds or do any number of things in furtherance of the investigation. By telling her to buy online, the proper government authorities can gather more information before any technology changes hands and ends up where it isn't supposed to be, including her banking information in case they determine she might be a foreign operative and decide to freeze her accounts pending an inquiry. Online sales is a much better place to screen questionable sales than face-to-face because it's non-immediate and seems more customer-friendly if it turns out to be nothing. Most people referred to online or phone sales because their transaction raises red-flags don't know they're being investigated and never will.

We do similar subterfuge at the bank, say you come in with a check drawn on a Canadian bank from the account of the flagged alias of an Iranian businessman (the computer will tell me this if there is an alert in the system for it), we don't refuse it outright: we tell you that it has to be deposited (because deposits are not immediate. The tech exists for immediate processing but it's intentionally not being done) and make up an excuse...then as soon as you leave, we call compliance, they call the Office of Foreign Assets Control and the FBI, people in dark suits and grim smiles show up, take the check information and client information, they tell us whether they want us to deposit the check so they can track the money or whether they want us to do something else. (Usually most of this is done at the compliance level rather than in the branch. I just take the check and put in the processing bin for compliance. Every transaction gets screened again overnight, not just the one's we've flagged.) Again, most people don't know they're being investigated. Ironically, the guilty ones give themselves away before they ever leave the bank; because they know the process and that they're being routed to investigative channels, they react in different ways.

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Response to Sgent (Reply #5)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 01:13 AM

9. The person in Iran was not buying it.. the store was wrong.

Let the Govt deal with the buyer shipping a gift to their relative in IRan. The American citizen has every right to buy a product in America.

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Response to progressivebydesign (Reply #9)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 09:36 AM

25. that was my thought as well...

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Response to progressivebydesign (Reply #9)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 11:16 AM

38. The store was not wrong

PROHIBITED DESTINATIONS
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. This prohibition also applies to any Apple owned subsidiary or any subsidiary employee worldwide.

http://www.apple.com/legal/export.html

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Response to progressivebydesign (Reply #9)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 11:46 AM

49. Third party export

I know, I know, most people can't conceive of this.

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Response to Sgent (Reply #5)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 01:18 AM

10. So Apple can deny Iranian-Americans the right to buy goods in their store?

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Response to Cali_Democrat (Reply #10)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 09:26 AM

23. Yes. I'm not saying it's right I'm saying those are the facts.

If they have reason to believe the purchase might violate the law they can refuse a sale and they'd be accepting a liability if they didn't. By way of analogy, imagine a liquor store owner selling to someone he believed was going to give the alcohol to a minor. No one wants the legal headache so they'll just say "no" and the would-be customer will just have to deal with it.

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Response to Cali_Democrat (Reply #10)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 11:31 AM

42. Read the full story

This was destined for family in Iran. This falls under third party export.

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Response to Cali_Democrat (Reply #10)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 11:31 AM

43. No, they can't

BUT they can deny anyone the right to buy goods in their store if they say "I'm going to send it to Iran".

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Response to Sgent (Reply #5)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 08:30 AM

14. "Sabet is a U.S. citizen and a student at the University of Georgia..."

 

This is an example of public hysteria and racial-profiling. The young woman in question is a US citizen.

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Response to Sgent (Reply #5)


Response to Renew Deal (Reply #16)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 11:38 AM

45. Let's blame the law then!

But it is SO much more fun to trash some poor employee for trying to keep their job and stay out of jail.

Oy!

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Response to Renew Deal (Reply #16)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 11:40 AM

46. Legally it is a third party export to a forbidden country

Apple coud be held liable.

Now if she said her own use and later sent it, then LEGALLY Apple woud be covered I know it s silly, but that's CYA in action.

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Response to Sgent (Reply #5)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 11:18 AM

39. that's the first thing I thought of.

you nailed it.

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Response to KamaAina (Original post)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 08:39 AM

15. He could buy one online without a problem

I suspect this is just an ill informed store clerk. And it is Georgia. But go ahead and enjoy your 5 minutes Apple Hate.

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Response to n2doc (Reply #15)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 09:03 AM

17. What do you mean, "and it is Georgia"?

"Ill informed" is right.

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Response to Dawgs (Reply #17)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 09:31 AM

24. I live in Georgia

There are at least as many crackers,. racists, and other t-baggers here as in any part of the south. It is a fact. If you want to pretend otherwise, well, that is as much reality as pretending that UGA has a hope in hell at winning the National Championship in Football this year.

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Response to n2doc (Reply #24)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 09:58 AM

28. There are bigots and racists everywhere, so why point it out. Only makes you look ignorant.

And, you're wrong about the Bulldawgs. They have a great chance of winning the NC this year. Their weak schedule should help.

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Response to n2doc (Reply #24)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 10:11 AM

29. I live in Georgia too, and you are exactly right . . ..As a Ga Tech fan, I'll defer on the dawgs.

I'm really tired of TBaggers, confederate flags, racist Neil Boortz, cutting budgets in the name of "fiscal responsibility," and such crud.

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Response to Dawgs (Reply #17)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 11:43 AM

47. Some think it is a duty to HATE the south

And will take every opportunity possible to demonstrate how much more intelligent, cultured, and tolerant they are than people from the deep south.

Could be worse. Here in Michigan, we get to be hated by both progressives AND conservatives!

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Response to KamaAina (Original post)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 09:22 AM

22. "[T]he iPad was to be a gift for a cousin living in Iran."

Sending it to Iran might be the issue. Apparently it's illegal to send computer related items to Iran. Case in point from 2011 --

WASHINGTON – One individual and his company in New York and two others and their company in California were indicted today in the District of Columbia on charges of illegally exporting millions of dollars worth of computer-related equipment from the United States to Iran via the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The two indictments were announced by Todd Hinnen, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security; Ronald C. Machen Jr., U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia; John Morton, Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); and David W. Mills, Assistant Secretary of Export Enforcement, U.S. Department of Commerce.

Jeng “Jay” Shih, 53, a U.S. citizen, and his Queens, N.Y. company, Sunrise Technologies and Trading Company, were indicted in the District of Columbia on 27 counts relating to the illegal export of computer-related equipment to Iran without first having obtained the required license from the Department of Treasury.

http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2011/April/11-nsd-503.html


So rather than having to be liable in the event the customer *might* be violating what are probably labyrinthine regulations it's easier to have a blanket policy.

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Response to Nuclear Unicorn (Reply #22)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 11:33 AM

44. I highly doubt the seller in this case Apple is in any way liable for the laws that their customers

break after they sell the item as seems evident by apple representative saying the person could make the purchase online. But who can know what the apple policy is and what the person told/asked the apple representative.

Beyond that the employee seemed to not even know what they were 'not allowed to do' ie 'our countries have bad relations'. If the customer told them they were sending it to Iran then the apple store employee would only have to tell them they need to get a license from the treasury before sending it there and then sell it to them. Depending on the store manager/policy/etc they may have demanded to see that license first, before the sale, but I don't see anyone really caring that much about an ipad going to Iran. Any number of people can buy them, not tell any busybody at the store why/who it is for and send it to Iran without a license.

The story you reference is about a business owner actively working against the regulation with millions of dollars of items and going as far as to falsify documents and lie to the government, completely different than the apple store's role in selling one ipad to an american citizen in America.

The video clears up a few things in adding that another person was told they could not purchase apple products after an employee heard him speaking Farsi and asked his ethnicity. He was not asked if he was returning there or if he was a citizen or if the item was going to Iran.


The blanket policy is for the company not really the store, I don't know that the stores ship items anywhere, anything you'd buy that apple ships goes AFAIK through the website. What this seems to be is bigotry based on discrimination or at best a misunderstanding of how that policy applies to a retail store and their role in it. If apple corporate had some hand in telling their stores to do this kind of thing again as some form of misunderstanding by whoever in apple corporate sent out this message I could see that error. Namely not understanding that apple stores are not breaking any laws by selling goods at a retail store to a person that goes there even if they are of Iranian/Cuban/North Korean/etc descent.

What happens after they sell it is not their problem, the only situation I can see where they might have any liability is if people were openly talking about how they were going to break the law or were buying thousands of dollars of merchandise and saying they wouldn't need the license/etc.

That does not seem to be the case in the two incidents reported on, though I don't know if the woman mentioned she was going to send it to her cousin in Iran or not. But as I said the employee probably didn't have to worry about that since they were not violating the law by shipping it beyond that all she had to do was not say she was sending it to Iran and it should have been sold to her.

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Response to jp11 (Reply #44)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 11:44 AM

48. "What happens after they sell it is not their problem"

If you know up-front that a thing could be used unlawfully you accept liability, i.e. my alcohol analogy.

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Response to KamaAina (Original post)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 09:39 AM

26. So let me ask a simple question...

If I was speaking Spanish---would I be grilled about what Country I am from?

Hey---it could be Cuba---and we have a no-export policy with them as well.

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Response to trumad (Reply #26)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 11:05 AM

35. Funny you should mention Cuba.

I had to refuse a computer sale to a man from Detroit, Mi. He wanted t buy a laptop for his daughter who was going to medical school. I offered congratulations and best wishes to the daughter, and by the way, where is she going to med school. The answer was Havana.

Not only was that sale blocked, he and his daughter were placed on the company's "Denied Persons" list so they could not order any product from the company. From the company's point of view, losing one sale and the bad publicity associated with the denial is a minuscule price to pay when compared to the company losing its export privileges.

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Response to HubertHeaver (Reply #35)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 11:06 AM

36. But if he was speaking spanish---

that would not have caused you to be suspicious.

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Response to trumad (Reply #36)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 11:30 AM

41. Depends

I speak Spanish with a mixture of Northwrn Mexico and Mexico city accent.

On the East coast you are more likely to come across people speaking Spanish with either a puerto rican or Cuban accent.

The funny thing is that mexico does have trade with Cuba and you can buy all these electronic toys down there, begs the question, doesn't it?

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Response to nadinbrzezinski (Reply #41)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 12:28 PM

53. The company has a Mexico subsidiary. The subsidiary is still compelled

to follow US export law. It does get tricky. Compliance issues still came back to headquarters and we followed US law. I won't say some one-off sales did not get through--our charge was to perform due diligence, not read minds.

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Response to trumad (Reply #36)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 11:49 AM

51. If he was speaking Spanish I would not have had the call. One of

my Spanish-speaking cohorts would have--they too would have asked the questions, obtained the information and stopped the sale.

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Response to KamaAina (Original post)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 11:27 AM

40. This used to be more common

But it is a prohibited trade destination.

Hell, when aol first came out in disks, you could not technically send it out of the us or Canada, due to code in it. Yup, was prohibited.

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