Sharakat Hussain only wanted to get a refund on an iPhone 7 but ended up being told to prove that he wasn’t the deceased Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Apple has since apologized for the iPhone incident, which the company say was caused by an administrative error. It is certainly a laughable state of affairs when a company can mistake a customer for a dead despot who was hanged in 2006, as reported by The Sun.

Saddam Hussein
Image Source: Axel Schwenke- Flickr

Saddam Hussein resurrected to buy iPhone 7

Sharakat Hussain bought the iPhone for his sister, but she didn’t want the gift, and he took it back to the store. Seeing as his original purchase was worth £800, Hussain asked for a refund by bank transfer.

To get one he was asked to provide his personal information to Apple Store staff, but later noticed that he hadn’t received the money. After calling the company to ask why Hussain got an email from Apple that asked him to confirm that he wasn’t Saddam Hussein.

The email told Sharakat Hussain that he might have been on a “Government Denied Parties list,” which means it’s impossible to make 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,” Sharakat told British newspaper The Sun.

Misspelling leads to apology

The problem arose due to Apple’s legal obligations for checking large transactions. When a significant sum of money changes hands, the company has to check the name of the customer against the international sanctions list, which would include Saddam Hussein.

However, you have to wonder how often the list is updated, seeing as the former dictator has been dead for a decade. Perhaps the strangest part of the whole story is that the email Hussain received from Apple contained a box which read: “I am not Saddam Hussein.”

To get a refund, Sharakat Hussain had to tick the box, which understandably left him furious. No one wants to be asked whether they are a murderous former dictator that met a grizzly end.

Apple spokesperson speaks out

Sharakat Hussain was flagged due to human error, which meant the system saw him as a “denied party.” Apple has now said that it will give Hussain the money it owes him and has issued an apology.

“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,”  said Apple spokesperson.

There has been no word on whether Sharakat Hussain is happy with his refund. At least he has a good story to tell his friends, and perhaps the government will update the international sanctions list to get rid of anyone who has died recently.

Although the incident is certainly embarrassing for the Apple staff involved, the company as a whole has plenty of other things to worry about. With a drop in share prices and price rises for new devices in the United Kingdom, Apple could be set for a rocky road.

However speculation is building about a major redesign for the tenth anniversary iPhone, so we may get to see Apple back to its innovative best before long. Some commentators had been worried about the product pipeline under current CEO Tim Cook, but that could just be typical Apple secrecy keeping us in the dark.