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I have always liked Apple products. Although they are a little expensive compared to other products, they are stylish and reliable.

I would love to be able to sell them. I recently signed up with a new wholesaler who is an Apple distributor, and began to go through the process of becoming an Apple reseller.

Normally Apple require a commitment to sell a minimum of $30,000 worth of their products per quarter. Our total IT sales easily exceed that, but Kangaroo Island is an isolated community with a very small population; less than 5,000 people, so I did not feel able to make a commitment to that level of sales from day one.

I explained this to the Apple rep, a pleasant seeming young woman named Charmaine. It was not necessarily a problem, she said. She asked me to send her photos of the shop and of the space in the shop where Apple products would be displayed. After I had done that she sent me a Reseller Application and told me that once that was completed and returned, we would be ready to go.

A week later I heard from a third party that my application had been declined. I emailed Charmaine to check whether there was anything in the form I had missed, or if there was something else I needed to do. No reply. A week later I emailed her again. No reply. Another week later I tried again. Still no reply.

I was beginning to think that if Apple treated its customers the same way it treated potential resellers, I was probably better off not selling its products. That is a decision we have made before with companies which do not keep their promises. See this earlier story about OKI printers.

Co-incidentally, at about the same time, I read about an Apple Store in Sydney which had been copying personal files and photos from client computers for the amusement of staff:

The Sunday Telegraph revealed last week that the inner-city store – an accredited and official Apple reseller – copied private pictures of the household-name star and his wife in numerous sexual acts.

He had taken the computer to the shop to be repaired…

The Olympian is among a number of celebrities – as well as members of the general public – caught out.

This was not an isolated incident, or one or two staff members who were swiftly dismissed:

Shop staff scan machines for intimate material under the encouragement of the store’s owner and upload sensitive photos and videos to a shared drive…

The store owner denied targeting sexual images but said: “If people choose to put photos and personal information on their computers that’s their decision.”

I was gobsmacked. That is a shocking betrayal of trust. People’s computers are their private property. The only time we ever look at client files or emails is if we are asked to recover and check particular files. Otherwise, client privacy is sacred. Even if there are photos on the desktop, we simply ignore them. I don’t even tell my wife what I have seen on client computers.

What was Apple’s response to this?

Apple spokeswoman Fiona Martin …  called on any customers who feared their privacy had been compromised at an Apple store to contact the company immediately. However, she would not guarantee Apple would take steps to protect its customers, or that it would withdraw the store’s licence.

What does that mean? Let us know, but don’t expect us to do anything about it? As far as I know the store is still operating, is still an Apple reseller, and existing staff are still in place. Nor has Apple revealed publicly which store it was.

So clients going into an Apple store and having their private files searched and personal photos filched for the prurient entertainment of staff is OK, but when someone with a long-standing interest in Apple products, a high level of technical qualifications, a commitment to customer service, and a solid trading history wants to introduce Apple products into a new market, that’s not even worth replying to emails about.

It seems an odd set of priorities.

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