It’s the season for celebration and gift exchanges but in this woman, who is named Xiaojie Li and is aged 44, the case is not so simple. The Chinese women, who is not fluent in English, was trying to buy iPhone 5s but the Apple Store in a mall called Pheasant Lanes in Nashua, New Hampsphire refused to sell it to her since Apple’s records show that she had already purchased 2 iPhones in the previous week. The manager explained this to her but she could not understand why other customers were leaving with multiple iPhones. She was asked to leave but she persisted until the cops arrived to “escort” her out of the store and as she struggled, she was tasered.
Now, is this really fair? And should this have happened?
She was assumed to be a scalper for not being able to purchase more than 2 iPhone 5s and she has a language barrier for which she was assumed to be neglected. And when she was confused or struggling, she was not only taken down but the police officers shocked her with the taser multiple times.
I understand that Apple may be trying to be fair to consumers by limiting two devices per person to prevent scalpers to excessively buy them to create a shortage of supply and therefore drive the price of the iPhone up. But this incident would not have happened if this limitation did not exist.
She may have been a scalper since she had $16 000 in cash to buy iPhones. If she was a scalper, she could have flipped the iPhone for profits by sending it back to China as the iPhone in China ironically cost more than it does it America. The iPhone 5 is made in Shenzhen, China and it is shipped from the port of Hong Kong to the rest of the world but the iPhone launchers later in China and at a higher price. The higher price can be explained by a tariff imposed by China to promote domestic mobile manufacturing and designing businesses. Any country who wishes to protect their jobs and industry do this by either setting a limitation on importing foreign goods.
But what if this case was different? What if she happened to be rich by whatever means and she wanted to buy many iPhones as gifts to family and friends? Should Apple impose this limitation on her?
If I happened to win the lottery, I would almost certainly spend money to buy my friends gifts like iPads and Apple products would be no exception. And keep in mind this is December – she or anybody could be wanting to buy gifts for family and friends and the iPhone 5 may be that gift of choice. After all, Apple sends me emails almost everyday to buy the latest iPad mini or iPhone 5 as a gift for my friends and family. Should people not be allowed to buy more than 2 even if they have the money?
I think this incident would not have happened or it could have easily been avoided if this limitation was lifted or at the very least eased. Rules and restrictions are made to protect consumers, the firm and the stakeholders and certainly, this rule did not protect this woman.
And was the force used by the police really necessary?
I think not. What the police claim as a “fairly routine arrest” appears to be a sign of the police’s incompetent or ineffective ability to communicate with foreigners. They are like brutes of children who have to resolve problems with violence wherever communication is not favourable. This is power abuse.
In Vancouver, there was another incident where someone who spoke a foreign language was shocked to his death at the Vancouver International Airport because “he did not submit to an arrest”. However, if somebody cannot understand why they are being arrested, how must they submit? The police need to figure a way to communicate better. Even when I worked at McDonald’s, I was able to serve Russians and French visitors during the 2012 Winter Olympics even though we had a language barrier. There is unspoken communication the use of words and in this case, technology could have been very useful.
Considering that incident happened in an Apple store, I assume that it won’t be hard to find her a translation of what was being said. Heck, use Siri and Apple’s diction feature on the iPhone to translate her Chinese into English and the English used by the manager and police into Chinese.
I am very disappointed at the outcome of this incident. Whether she is or is not a scalper, she should not have been punished as if she was a robber.
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