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Apple asks iPhone customer to prove he isn’t Saddam Hussein


saddam hussein

Apple has apologised after an admin gaffe saw one bewildered customer being asked to prove he wasn’t the deceased despot Saddam Hussein.

When Sharakat Hussain tried to get a refund for a new iPhone 7 he’d bought, he was absolutely sure he'd never been a Middle Eastern dictator. But Apple wasn’t so convinced about the Birmingham, England resident’s identity, and demanded that he prove he wasn’t an infamous Iraqi tyrant that was hanged back in 2006.

Hussain originally bought the £800 smartphone for his sister last month, but she decided she didn’t want it – maybe she saw our 3.5/5 score? He took it back to the store, according to the Sun, and gave staff his details to get a refund by bank transfer, owing to the large size of the transaction.

But when no cash arrived, Hussain called up Apple to demand an answer. Only then was he sent an e-mail that asked him to confirm he wasn’t dead Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. According to the e-mail, Apple believed Hussain may have been on a ‘Government Denied Parties list’, which would mean they’d be unable to make any sales or refunds.

“I thought the email was spam, I was stunned to learn it was real. I was furious to be linked to Saddam,” the 26-year-old dad-of-two told the Sun.

iPhone 7 vs iPhone SE

When Apple tries to make a large transaction (like this refund), it triggers a requirement to check the international sanctions list – human error meant Hussain was incorrectly flagged up as a ‘denied party’. Apple has since promised to refund Hussain, and has apologised for the major bungle. In a statement given to TrustedReviews, an Apple spokesperson said:

“We offer our sincerest apologies to Mr Hussain. Though we are required to check identity while processing a refund, the letter he received was an error and should not have been sent."

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Do you have a story about an unbelievable customer service gaffe? Let us know in the comments.


October 31, 2016, 1:13 pm

So what difference does it make to his right to return a phone if he is a dictator?
Is there a special clause in Apple's terms and conditions dealing with dictators and disallowing them to refund phones?


November 1, 2016, 6:41 pm

Well, yes, if he is a dead dictator. I don't think you should refund money to dead people, as it is likely to be a fraudulent claim. So Apple were correct to want proof that the man who walked into the shop was not a dead dictator. Of course you could argue that Apple ought to have known that Saddam was already dead but that the person who walked into the shop was not yet dead and therefore the two could not be the same person. But that is splitting hairs over a question of timing.


November 1, 2016, 9:21 pm

"So Apple were correct to want proof that the man who walked into the shop was not a dead dictator."

Sorry, but there is definitely something wrong with this sentence. Do you really believe that it makes sense to ask someone, who WALKED into your store, to prove that they are not dead?

But anyway if we go back to Apple's story:

Mr. X walks into the store and wants refund for a phone he bought.

The staff ask him to prove he's not Mr. Z ?!?

Firstly, Mr. Z has no relevance to the purchase what-so-ever. The phone was bought by Mr. X and Mr. X wants to return it, there is no sane reason for Apple staff to involve this third party Mr. Z.

Secondly, let's assume Mr. X has some physical resemblance to Mr. Z, who happens to be a dictator and already dead. So Apple staff want proof from Mr. X that he is not is not the dead Mr. Z, because Mr. Z in a government list that should not be made financial transactions to. But this makes it even more ridiculous, because it is plain stupid to assume Mr. X who walked into the store is the already dead Mr. Z.

Of course, I understand this is supposed to be a funny story, but the completely broken logic by Apple staff did not allow me to let it pass.
And BTW I am pretty sure the man on the picture above is not the unfortunate customer, but the real Saddam Hussein.

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