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Oregon Apple Store 'slur' incident being investigated
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Aug 14, 2014, 08:09 PM
 
An Apple customer at a store in Portland, Oregon is claiming that his receipt contained a homophobic slur. Adam Catanzarite, an LBTGQ activist and HIV prevention specialist, received a receipt for a pair of Earpods that listed his email address (which he had declined to give) as "f@g.com." More than a month after the incident -- and following a claim that a promised refund didn't occur -- Catanzarite published a photo of the receipt on Facebook and called for a boycott.



While the email address could be a legitimate attempt at a slur, the long delay between receiving the receipt and reporting the outrage -- along with Catanzarite offering to teach a sensitivity class to the employees -- has raised questions about the incident. A number of Apple Store employees, often identifying themselves as gay, have pointed out that the receipt requires an email address of some sort to be filled in, and that "f" and "g" are next to each other on the keyboard. Since Catanzarite declined to provide an email, the staffer in question may have simply filled in something quick, possibly oblivious to any hurtful interpretation.

It has also been noted that at the time of the incident, Catanzarite received an apology from the manager, a gift card from the store and a promise to refund the cost of the Earpods. Apple corporate is aware of the allegation and is investigating, but has not offered any comment on the matter. It was only after the alleged refund did not appear that Catanzarite went public.

He added in his post that he felt the employee's alleged slur was "not acceptable, particularly for a company that 'prides itself on being LGBTQ inclusive and welcoming.'"

"Being queer and having worked with queer youth, I know firsthand that this is an example of the type of homophobic beliefs and actions that lead young people to harm themselves," Catanzarite said. He did admit that the slur could have been completely unintentional, but decided to press the issue anyway.

"It is possible that this could have been made in error, but the impact of the action remains the same," he said in his Facebook post. "The employee who entered f@g.com should not be fired ... but should be given an opportunity to learn about the impact of the use of the word 'fag' and how these words impact the individuals who have been oppressed by them."

A number of commenters have pointed out that due to the store record-keeping associated with the sale, there is no question of the identity of the clerk in question to store management, and that a deliberate action of this nature is akin to resigning, as the incident would result in a near-instant firing or suspension after the customer reported it. Neither the store nor Apple corporate have said if the employee in question is still working at the Portland store.
( Last edited by NewsPoster; Aug 14, 2014 at 08:17 PM. )
     
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Aug 14, 2014, 08:21 PM
 
seems like a bit of a stretch.
     
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Aug 14, 2014, 10:59 PM
 
How would the employee know the customer was gay?

Either employee knew the customer, the customer announced it, or ... it was random key presses. Probably the latter.

Why do they require an email on every sale anyway? I hate that in a physical store.
     
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Aug 15, 2014, 12:24 AM
 
That term has evolved beyond just meaning homosexual. It now means someone annoying. So I suspect it was entered purposefully.

Lets hope the employee that did it turns out to be gay. I think that would put an end to this problem.
     
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Aug 15, 2014, 12:39 AM
 
I'd be willing to bet that if the refund for the Earpods, as originally promised by the staff at the store, had been received by the customer (unclear if the manager made the promise), then nothing further would have happened. Also, why is an EMail address required for the purchase? Any customer needs to have the right to refuse to give one, especially if the customer thinks it's an invasion of privacy (which it is). If that is store policy, then it needs to be CLEARLY stated.

If I do encounter such a situation and am not willing to provide my EMail address, then I would just fill in something fake. It would be better, though, if the store simply requests an EMail address, and allow the customer the decision as to whether to provide one or not. That seems reasonable.
     
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Aug 15, 2014, 01:08 AM
 
An email address is NOT required to purchase anything. That doesn't stop them from asking you though, and it shouldn't, either. You're free to decline, just like this guy did.

Some stores ask me for my email address to email a receipt to me in lieu of a printed receipt. In these cases, for trusted stores, I give it to them. It makes archiving and tax time easier for me when things are sorted and filed electronically.
     
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Aug 15, 2014, 03:31 AM
 
Originally Posted by DiabloConQueso View Post
An email address is NOT required to purchase anything. That doesn't stop them from asking you though, and it shouldn't, either. You're free to decline, just like this guy did.
Looks like "anything" does not apply here. From above (bold part is my emphasis):

"A number of Apple Store employees, often identifying themselves as gay, have pointed out that the receipt requires an email address of some sort to be filled in, and that "f" and "g" are next to each other on the keyboard"
     
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Aug 15, 2014, 07:52 AM
 
Two main reasons they ask for your email are (1) to make your purchase retrievable if you have lost your receipt and need another copy, if the item does not have a serial number, and (2) to randomly send questionnaires about your experience (both sales and repair). A customer can decline to provide an email and the staffer will put in some bogus thing probably not intentional because, as has been pointed out, a staffer must login with a unique user ID. Having said that criminals aren't the only dumb people out there.
     
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Aug 15, 2014, 09:10 AM
 
Sometimes you can tell if a person is gay and sometimes you can't. The employee probably detected the vibe from the customer's behavior and attitude and just being a "D**K" about it. Also mistakenly typing that email address is just hard to believe.
     
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Aug 15, 2014, 11:03 AM
 
akent35, I'm not quite sure how that's different from what I said. A customer is not required to provide a valid email address to purchase anything and everything from the store, and in cases where the customer refuses to provide an email address, a fake email address, or gibberish, is filled into the email address field by an employee during the electronic checkout process.

"Requiring an email address field be populated by the employee" and "requiring the customer to provide their valid email address" are two completely different things. No one who is looking to buy something from an Apple Store is being turned away, empty-handed, because of their failure to provide their email address.
     
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Aug 15, 2014, 12:56 PM
 
Originally Posted by DiabloConQueso View Post
akent35, I'm not quite sure how that's different from what I said. A customer is not required to provide a valid email address to purchase anything and everything from the store, and in cases where the customer refuses to provide an email address, a fake email address, or gibberish, is filled into the email address field by an employee during the electronic checkout process.

"Requiring an email address field be populated by the employee" and "requiring the customer to provide their valid email address" are two completely different things. No one who is looking to buy something from an Apple Store is being turned away, empty-handed, because of their failure to provide their email address.
The problem is that by requiring an email address be "provided", a store employee can put anything they want when the customer refuses to provide one. And, what happened at the Oregon store is proof enough that such a policy is both bad and ridiculous.
     
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Aug 15, 2014, 12:58 PM
 
Originally Posted by Whattheheck View Post
Two main reasons they ask for your email are (1) to make your purchase retrievable if you have lost your receipt and need another copy, if the item does not have a serial number, and (2) to randomly send questionnaires about your experience (both sales and repair). A customer can decline to provide an email and the staffer will put in some bogus thing probably not intentional because, as has been pointed out, a staffer must login with a unique user ID. Having said that criminals aren't the only dumb people out there.
Don't care whatever the reasons are. The customer has every right to refuse to provide whatever "extraneous" information is being asked for, and no one else should be allowed to fill something in.
     
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Aug 15, 2014, 01:00 PM
 
Originally Posted by coffeetime View Post
Sometimes you can tell if a person is gay and sometimes you can't. The employee probably detected the vibe from the customer's behavior and attitude and just being a "D**K" about it. Also mistakenly typing that email address is just hard to believe.
Well said! That is why that stupid policy of "requiring an EMail address" must be rescinded.
     
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Aug 15, 2014, 01:06 PM
 
One person does something horrible, and now we are being ask to boycott the entirety of Apple! Lame! Lame! Lame! Lame! Lame! Lame! Lame! Lame! Lame! Lame! Lame! Lame! Lame! Lame! Lame! Lame!
     
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Aug 15, 2014, 02:16 PM
 
"The problem is that by requiring an email address be "provided", a store employee can put anything they want when the customer refuses to provide one."

I think they can do that with just about any field of information that they type into any of their systems.

Wouldn't a less sledgehammer-ish solution be to allow the employees to simply leave the email field blank, or indicate that the customer declined to provide one? And how do we know that's not already the case, and this one, single employee simply typed something in rather than do what they were perhaps taught to do in training?

Why do we need to completely abolish the notion of collecting the customer's email address if they're willing to provide it, and the email is used for nice things, like paperless receipts and the like, all based off of a single, seemingly isolated incident of worker misconduct?
     
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Aug 15, 2014, 02:35 PM
 
Originally Posted by DiabloConQueso View Post
"The problem is that by requiring an email address be "provided", a store employee can put anything they want when the customer refuses to provide one."

I think they can do that with just about any field of information that they type into any of their systems.

Wouldn't a less sledgehammer-ish solution be to allow the employees to simply leave the email field blank, or indicate that the customer declined to provide one? And how do we know that's not already the case, and this one, single employee simply typed something in rather than do what they were perhaps taught to do in training?

Why do we need to completely abolish the notion of collecting the customer's email address if they're willing to provide it, and the email is used for nice things, like paperless receipts and the like, all based off of a single, seemingly isolated incident of worker misconduct?
You are still missing the main point, as it applies to this store's policy. Again, and I state (for what seems like the millionth time! ):

"A number of Apple Store employees, often identifying themselves as gay, have pointed out that the receipt requires an email address of some sort to be filled in, and that "f" and "g" are next to each other on the keyboard"

Note that it clearly states REQUIRES. That left it up to the employee to enter anything they want.

As for "Wouldn't a less sledgehammer-ish solution be to allow the employees to simply leave the email field blank, or indicate that the customer declined to provide one?", I already stated something similar to that above. That is, when the customer refuses to provide an EMail address (or any other unnecessary piece of information), then either that information is left blank (and not to be filled in by ANYONE), or there is some sort of check box that basically states that the customer refused to provide it. In fact, probably most customers that refuse to provide the information would check that box themselves.

Finally, I am not saying we should "completely abolish the notion of collecting the customer's email address if they're willing to provide it, and the email is used for nice things, like paperless receipts and the like, all based off of a single, seemingly isolated incident of worker misconduct?". Just allow the option for the customer to not provide it. Allowing a store employee to arbitrarily fill in the EMail address (or any other unnecessary information) is just plain bad. And, none of us know if such practices (and with similar results) have not occurred elsewhere. Just eliminate the stupid, worthless requirement that such information is required. That, to me, is a bunch of BS!
( Last edited by akent35; Aug 15, 2014 at 02:55 PM. )
     
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Aug 15, 2014, 03:01 PM
 
Akent, you guys are arguing the same point, and agreeing nearly 100%. Let it go, man.
     
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Aug 15, 2014, 03:17 PM
 
Apple keeps a record of all of these documents, so it should be verifiable. Also, the customer may not have noticed it due to not looking at the paper till some time after, perhaps clearing out a desk or home office and saw it. Truth will out.
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Aug 15, 2014, 03:51 PM
 
Originally Posted by EstaNightshift View Post
Akent, you guys are arguing the same point, and agreeing nearly 100%. Let it go, man.
Not quite. Some folks still feel it is OK to "require" such extraneous information, and subsequently allowing an employee to "fill in the blanks". I am saying that such information must be optional, and that no one else can be allowed to alter it. That is what the policy of that store (and ANY other retailer) MUST BE.
( Last edited by akent35; Aug 15, 2014 at 04:29 PM. )
     
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Aug 15, 2014, 03:52 PM
 
Originally Posted by FastiBook View Post
Apple keeps a record of all of these documents, so it should be verifiable. Also, the customer may not have noticed it due to not looking at the paper till some time after, perhaps clearing out a desk or home office and saw it. Truth will out.
Good point. Thus, lesson learned: make sure to look at all paperwork associated with a purchase.
     
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Aug 17, 2014, 10:35 PM
 
I used to work at a store that required an email address and when the customer didn't want to give an email address, I'd type the closest, fastest thing I could to get on to the relevant points... so often it came out as e@r.com or y@u.com. Easy and quick to type. Look where "F" and "G" are on the keyboard and how the fingers move when you type. F@g.com types very quickly. Granted it looks bad and perhaps was a poor choice, but I offer the suggestion that it was more an innocent mistake taken out of context by a group who are used to being put down upon. Perhaps a little less sensitivity and a LOT less sensationalism would have been called for here. Its a shame that what you see on a receipt that you will most likely never see again requires such huge media attention when it could be better served by more pressing issues to the GBLT community
     
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Aug 17, 2014, 11:46 PM
 
Originally Posted by EstaNightshift View Post
Akent, you guys are arguing the same point, and agreeing nearly 100%. Let it go, man.
Some people like to nitpick and will use any excuse, no matter how small, to argue - even to the point of it becoming mild trolling. Some people just like to argue.
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Aug 18, 2014, 02:19 AM
 
Originally Posted by arrannen View Post
I used to work at a store that required an email address and when the customer didn't want to give an email address, I'd type the closest, fastest thing I could to get on to the relevant points... so often it came out as e@r.com or y@u.com. Easy and quick to type. Look where "F" and "G" are on the keyboard and how the fingers move when you type. F@g.com types very quickly. Granted it looks bad and perhaps was a poor choice, but I offer the suggestion that it was more an innocent mistake taken out of context by a group who are used to being put down upon. Perhaps a little less sensitivity and a LOT less sensationalism would have been called for here. Its a shame that what you see on a receipt that you will most likely never see again requires such huge media attention when it could be better served by more pressing issues to the GBLT community
All of that seems reasonable, but again, if a customer does not provide a piece of non-critical information, or what is not required for the sale to be completed, then it is not acceptable to allow anyone to alter the receipt. That is a basic fact. Given all that is going on with privacy and all, the receipt cannot be altered, plain and simple.

Also, in this particular case (and to make matters worse), the customer never received the promised refund. Hence, the management at that store went back on their word. How then can one expect them to be trusted? That's just another reason why refusing to provide the EMail address is the customer's right, and cannot be subsequently filled in by anyone other than the customer.
     
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Aug 18, 2014, 02:21 AM
 
Originally Posted by unicast reversepath View Post
Some people like to nitpick and will use any excuse, no matter how small, to argue - even to the point of it becoming mild trolling. Some people just like to argue.
Another typical narrow minded response. I already clearly explained why it was not quite finished. And, by the post right before yours by arrannen, that's definitely the case.
     
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Aug 18, 2014, 05:55 AM
 
Not rocket science akent.

The law requires no such details to be given but Apple requires its employees to get an email from the customer. If Apple didn't require this, then some employees would simply never bother to do it. Apple is trying to ensure that their employees try to get email addresses from everyone and don't just phone it in.
The policy is not stupid or unfair and should not be abolished because one paranoid loon in 1000 can't be bothered to set up a webmail account for spam trap purposes. If you don't want to give the details, make them up and don't blame the employee.

I had the same thing with a guy once. I was required to get a phone number or address or something, he didn't want to give one. I tried a dozen times to signal to him that I had no way to verify the info he gave to me but that he had to give me some info and the dumbs still didn't get it.

I agree with whoever called this customer out for trying to start a boycott. He clearly knows that Apple is gay-friendly and he is trying to punish them for the actions of one employee. Totally out of order and a clear attempt to get undeserved free stuff.
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Aug 18, 2014, 05:57 AM
 
The fact that f and g are close on a keyboard doesn't really hold up when you have to put an @ sign in between. Especially since it would almost certainly have been done on an iOS device.
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Aug 18, 2014, 10:31 AM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
The fact that f and g are close on a keyboard doesn't really hold up when you have to put an @ sign in between.
Agreed.

I think it's ridiculous that Apple employees "have to" put an email address down in the first place (gosh if they don't the universe might split in half). I call blatant prejudice on the part of that employee.

In the meantime, customer@noemailgiven.com (or something like that) would have been a suitable default for customers.
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Aug 18, 2014, 01:26 PM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
Not rocket science akent.

The law requires no such details to be given but Apple requires its employees to get an email from the customer. If Apple didn't require this, then some employees would simply never bother to do it. Apple is trying to ensure that their employees try to get email addresses from everyone and don't just phone it in.
The policy is not stupid or unfair and should not be abolished because one paranoid loon in 1000 can't be bothered to set up a webmail account for spam trap purposes. If you don't want to give the details, make them up and don't blame the employee.

I had the same thing with a guy once. I was required to get a phone number or address or something, he didn't want to give one. I tried a dozen times to signal to him that I had no way to verify the info he gave to me but that he had to give me some info and the dumbs still didn't get it.

I agree with whoever called this customer out for trying to start a boycott. He clearly knows that Apple is gay-friendly and he is trying to punish them for the actions of one employee. Totally out of order and a clear attempt to get undeserved free stuff.
Yes, it's not rocket science. But, you (and others) are missing the critical point. Once the customer refuses to provide the information (non-required, as far as the law is concerned), that has to be the end of it. No one else can be allowed to alter the form/receipt, especially without the customer's permission.

The other crucial thing people are forgetting in this particular incident is the justified lack of trust this customer has in the employees at that store. Remember, he was promised a full refund for the item. Obviously, management knew there was something wrong, or else why would they make such a promise? The customer initially accepted that, believing the refund would come through. Well, that did not happen. Now that could be a valid reason for advocating the boycotting of that particular store: management lying to customers.

Once again, I state that if management had come through with the promised refund (which the customer trusted management to follow through on that promise), none of this would have happened.
     
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Aug 18, 2014, 08:16 PM
 
Originally Posted by akent35 View Post
Not quite. Some folks still feel it is OK to "require" such extraneous information, and subsequently allowing an employee to "fill in the blanks". I am saying that such information must be optional, and that no one else can be allowed to alter it. That is what the policy of that store (and ANY other retailer) MUST BE.
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Originally Posted by akent35 View Post
Another typical narrow minded response. I already clearly explained why it was not quite finished. And, by the post right before yours by arrannen, that's definitely the case.
It is very obvious that you just really really like to argue , and your pontification is very irritating - please chill out and quit being so mental!
( Last edited by Mike Wuerthele; Aug 18, 2014 at 08:56 PM. Reason: annoying graphic purged)
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Aug 18, 2014, 08:56 PM
 
This is the line, right here. No more attacks, no more back and forth. If you even THINK it could be construed as an attack, don't even bother typing it. You want to beat on each other? Take it to PWL, NOT the front news page.

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Aug 20, 2014, 09:58 AM
 
So are we done here...?
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Aug 20, 2014, 10:34 AM
 
Not quite yet.
     
   
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