New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is looking into claims that several Apple stores in New York City discriminated against Asian customers trying to buy iPads prior to the system’s launch in other regions outside the United States.
According to Politico, a Queens Assemblywoman tipped off the AG’s Civil Rights Bureau after her constituents complained about being a asked series of unusual questions while trying to purchase multiple iPads. The inference is that Apple Store workers seemed suspicious of these purchases and – perhaps – suspected that some were being sent to China. Keep in mind that this allegedly all took place in early May before the iPad was available outside the United States. The stores where this happened were the flagship stores in Soho and on 14th Street in Manhattan.
"Our Office received complaints over the treatment of certain individuals of Asian descent at two Apple stores in New York City," said Cuomo communications director Richard Bamberger in an email to Politico.
An unnamed source familiar with Apple’s policy told Politico that the company was "concerned that customers were purchasing multiple iPads for sale abroad" and had "briefly instituted a questionnaire for use in the course of iPad sales, aimed at blocking those illegal exports." But the question is did Apple broadly use this questionnaire on all customers or did the stores specifically target customers of Asian descent? The questionnaire is no longer being used, said the source.
Here’s a Daily News story from last month:
Grace Meng (D-Flushing) fired off a letter to the tech giant after she was approached by a handful of disgruntled customers claiming Apple staffers denied them iPads, demanded to see their passports or asked inappropriate questions.
"One person was asked why they wanted one since their English was not so good," Meng said. "I want to get an explanation."
Meng can expect an explanation when the investigation wraps up soon. Ironically iPads are made in China. Apple is cooperating with the AG’s office and the investigation should be finished soon.