updated 06:47 pm EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Apple looking into receipt claim, but questions raised in victim's story
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 "firstname.lastname@example.org." 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 email@example.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.