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Oprah sorry for Switzerland incident over purse



Oprah Winfrey. AP FILE PHOTO

LOS ANGELES — Oprah Winfrey says she’s sorry a media frenzy emerged after saying she experienced racism during a trip to Switzerland.

“I think that incident in Switzerland was just an incident in Switzerland. I’m really sorry that it got blown up. I purposefully did not mention the name of the store. I’m sorry that I said it was Switzerland,” Winfrey said, speaking at the premier of Lee Daniels’ “The Butler.”

In recent interview with “Entertainment Tonight,” Winfrey recalled a clerk at an upscale Zurich boutique refusing to show her a handbag. Winfrey said she was told she could not afford the $38,000 purse.

“I’m in a store and the person doesn’t obviously know that I carry the black card, and so they make an assessment based upon the way I look and who I am,” said Winfrey, who earned $77 million in the year ending in June, according to Forbes magazine.

“I didn’t have anything that said ‘I have money’: I wasn’t wearing a diamond stud. I didn’t have a pocketbook. I didn’t wear Louboutin shoes. I didn’t have anything,” said Winfrey on the red carpet. “You should be able to go in a store looking like whatever you look like and say ‘I’d like to see this.’ That didn’t happen.”

Swiss tourism officials and the boutique owner apologized for the incident last week, but Winfrey insists there’s no need.

“It’s not an indictment against the country or even that store,” she said. “It was just one person who didn’t want to offer me the opportunity to see the bag. So no apologies necessary from the country of Switzerland. If somebody makes a mistake in the United States do we apologize in front of the whole country? No!”

“The Butler,” which opens Friday, documents the civil rights movement through the story of a butler who served in the White House for seven presidents.


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  • clanwolf

    there is a discrimination at work. but its not a Swiss or European phenomena. it is prevalent in most upper class stores selling luxury goods.

  • CaliforniaGranny

    Oprah is not the only one in this world that has been snubbed. I was in Honolulu, Hawaii, went to a Japanese owned store on Kalakaua Avenue, as they had a purse I liked. After entering the store the Japanese sales people looked me up and down with a distaste on their faces. (Ugh, who the hell they think they are, I thought?) I looked at both of them up and down and returned their expressions to them same way. I turned around, looked at them in their eyes and said, I have no intention of buying anything in this store, thank you very much and marched out, head held high. Japanese people are very discriminating to anybody else, other than their own people there. We make a point never, EVER to step into their spaces, not even accidentally. So it happens others too in this world. Snobbery does not look at the skin color or race when it is present in the minds of some very small people. May their teeth fall out
    in the near future, I say.

    • boybakal

      Maybe you misinterpreted when the Japanese looked at you as suspicious looking creature.
      Maybe there were just curious or amazed at you.
      As you know, most Japanese only sees Hawaiian and filipinos, so different person arose their curiosity.

      Or your mind just think negatively.

  • jamesina007

    I’ve been to Switzerland and have not been shown any descrimination, only once in Zurich airport when they asked me to wait for my turn..queueing is very much observed in that country where everything is very rigid…from planting corns to cleaning houses..

    • asman

      Why do you think queueing and being asked to wait your turn were signs of discrimination? Those are just simple expectations of decency.

      • jamesina007

        I was the only one at the store, and they asked me to wait for my turn in a rude and shouting manner, am i a customer or a soldier??? Londoners are far, far more polite and well mannered IMHO.

  • boybakal

    Oprah got mad at sales lady….now her movie is Butler.
    Saleslady and Butler.

  • Paulstronghold

    Discriminated because of her color or her being too assuming?

  • drimmmmer

    She intentionally blew it out of proportion because of her upcoming movie. Nyeta ka..para paraan ka din!

  • haybuhay69

    biglang bawi si oprah, pano, lumabas yung store owner at yung attendant at nagsabi na hindi ganoon yung nangyari. kala nya siguro tatahimik lang yung sales clerk

  • peach black

    Oprah, I am white and look decent but have experienced the same. Get over it.

  • basilionisisa

    some people don’t get it! they are happy to just walk away with their heads BOWED down, that’s why it KEEPS HAPPENING everywhere.
    It is not right to say to a customer when he/she is pointing to see something expensive: (1) Are you sure? (even as simple as this question is insulting!)
    (2) To stare at her/him. (just stare without uttering a word is demeaning!)
    (3) You cannot afford it, Dear! (outright insult!)
    (4) Can I show you a different style? (same as 3, and annoying!)
    It is not OK to refuse a customer (remember: ‘The customer is always right’ motto?)
    A salesperson is supposed to SERVE, he/she is PAID to serve, NOT to judge people. Simple as that!

  • pinaypoako

    happened to me, too several times, pagpasok ko sa high-end store, minsan titingnan lang ako, walang hi or hello or even a smile kahit mag-greet pa ako kasi nga halatang “pinoy” and accent ko. Minsan naman susundan ako parang akala yata mag-sho-shoplift ako. What do I do? Hindi ko sila kino-confront pero kinukuha ko ang cellphone ko at bigla kong tatawagan ang opisina ko at tatanuging ko ang aking secretary kung anong program ko for the day or the next day at ilalagay ko sa speaker para marining nila at magkaroon ng ideya kung saan at ano ang trabaho ko, bigla silang mag-iiba ng approach, of course! Bigla naman akong magsasabi over the phone sa secretary ko ng’ I’m in this store but all items look cheap to me sabay labas ng store “with a very sarcastic smile.” Hindi ako makikipag-away of course, that’s so not classy, palibhasa, mukha akong “illegal alien o “nanny” minsan” pag pumapasok sa store or do my grocery, walang make-up or any jewelry kaya ganoon. “Sabi nga ni Melanie Marquez, don’t judge me, I’m not a book!”



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