Oprah Winfrey Shares Unsettling Racist Experience in Zurich’s Luxury Store

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Oprah Winfrey is a household name. Everyone from the mainland US to third-world countries knows who she is unless you’ve been living under a rock or don’t have a cable subscription.

But it seems a handful of people still don’t recognize the media mogul.

In a recent interview with Entertainment Tonight, Oprah opened up about her thoughts and experiences with racism, citing an event in Zurich where she felt unfairly judged for her skin color.

“In an unexpected turn, a sales associate at the upscale Trois Pommes boutique seemingly misjudged Ms. O and declined to show her a luxurious handbag designed by American fashion icon Tom Ford.

The clerk refused, saying the purse she wanted was “too expensive” for her. The luxury shop claims a language barrier caused the misunderstanding and has apologized to Oprah.

“I was in Zurich the other day at a store whose name I will not mention. I didn’t have my eyelashes on, but I was in full Oprah Winfrey gear. I had my little Donna Karan skirt and sandals, but obviously, The Oprah Winfrey Show is not shown in Zurich,” Oprah told Entertainment Tonight.

“I go into a store and say to the woman, ‘Excuse me, may I see that bag over your head?’ and she says to me ‘No, it’s too expensive.'”

Oprah Winfrey with long-time partner Stedman Graham at the premiere of Lee Daniels' The ButlerOprah Winfrey with long-time partner Stedman Graham at the premiere of Lee Daniels’ The Butler in New York on August 5, 2013 (Credit: WENN / Joel Ginsburg)

The bag in question was an exotic croc-skin version of the Tom Ford “Jennifer” bag, which retails at about $38,000.

Although Oprah didn’t mention the store’s name, the press later identified it as Trois Pommes, a posh boutique on Zurich’s exclusive Bahnhofstrasse.

The owner of the said shop, along with the tourism officials of Zurich, has already apologized to Oprah, whose net worth is $2.9 billion. Ha! Take that, sassy sales clerk!

Trudie Gotz, the owner of the Trois Pommes store in Zurich, explained that the incident was a misunderstanding, attributing it to language barriers rather than racial discrimination.

“My salesperson wanted to give her the handbag in her hand. But she didn’t want to take the bag,” Gotz said. She added the employee had worked in the Trois Pommes store “for a few years and took care of the most spoilt customers from all over the world.” Gotz emphasized: “She is really a correct salesperson.”

“I have to admit that the employee is Italian,” she said of the possible language barrier. “Of course, she speaks English, but not as well as her mother tongue. It was a real misunderstanding.”

Oprah Winfrey faces service refusal at Trois Pommes, Zurich, over a $38,000 crocodile skin Tom Ford bagOprah Winfrey faces service refusal at Trois Pommes, Zurich, over a $38,000 crocodile skin Tom Ford bag (Credit: Brian To / WENN)

“Mrs. Oprah said she just wanted to look at the bag; she didn’t want it taken down, and because my sales assistant felt a little embarrassed about the price, she quickly said that she also had the model in other materials such as ostrich and suede, which weren’t so expensive,” explained Trudie Goetz, the manager of high-end retail store Trois Pommes.

What do you think of this hot news? Was the sales clerk being racist? Or is it just another case of snobby, lousy customer service?