- The Washington Times - Monday, August 12, 2013

A sales associate at an upscale shop in Switzerland accused of racism for refusing to show Oprah Winfrey a $40,000 handbag called the claim “absurd.”

Ms. Winfrey is not telling the truth about the encounter, she said, according to the Daily Mail. The woman said that she treated Ms. Winfrey like any other customer, but that perhaps her “OK but not excellent” English-speaking skills contributed to the misunderstanding.

“It is absolutely not true that I declined to show her the bag on racist grounds,” the woman said. “I even asked her if she wanted to look at the bag.”

The fiasco began late last month when Ms. Winfrey, who was in Switzerland for friend Tina Turner’s wedding, entered the Trois Pommes boutique in Zurich and asked to see the pricey bag, which was located behind the counter.

“I wasn’t sure what I should present to her when she came in on the afternoon of Saturday, July 20, so I showed her some bags from the Jennifer Aniston collection,” the associate told a local newspaper. “I explained to her the bags came in different sizes and materials, like I always do. She looked at a frame behind me. Far above there was the [$40,000] crocodile leather bag. I simply told her that it was like the one I held in my hand, only much more expensive, and that I could show her similar bags.”

The associate said Ms. Winfrey perused the rest of the shop but did not speak again and left within five minutes,  the Daily Mail reported.

The store owner later apologized for the incident, calling it a misunderstanding.

Ms. Winfrey later recounted during a television interview that the saleswoman — who did not recognize her − denied her a look at the item because she was racist and assumed that the bag was beyond her price range.

Ms. Winfrey said the associate told her, “You don’t want to see this bag. It is too expensive. You cannot afford it.”

But the saleswoman said she never made that statement.

“This is not true,” she said, The Daily Mail reported. “This is absurd. I would never say something like that to a customer. Really, never. … I don’t know why is making these accusations. She is so powerful and I am just a shop girl.”


• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide