Tags: oprah | swiss | racism | absurd

Oprah Swiss Racism Claim 'Absurd,' Says Clerk Who Waited on Her (Video)

Tuesday, 13 Aug 2013 07:07 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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The Swiss sales clerk who Oprah Winfrey said refused to show her a pricey handbag because "it's too expensive" is speaking out about the racism claim, calling it "absurd."

It all started last month when Winfrey was in Zurich, Switzerland for Tina Turner's wedding and decided to stop in the Trois Pomme boutique to buy a handbag to match her dress. She reportedly spotted a $40,000 one and asked the sales assistant to see it.

"Obviously, 'The Oprah Winfrey Show' is not shown in Zurich. I say to the woman, 'Excuse me, may I see that bag right above your head?' And she says to me, 'No, it's too expensive.' She refused to get it," Winfrey told Entertainment Tonight.

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"One more time, I tried. I said, 'But I really do just want to see that one,' and the shopkeeper said, 'Oh, I don't want to hurt your feelings,' and I said, 'Okay, thank you so much. You're probably right, I can't afford it.' And I walked out of the store."

Now the sales clerk, who chose not to be identified, is speaking out and defending herself against Winfrey's claims.

"I don't know why she is making these accusations," she told Swiss paper SonntagsBlick, as interpreted by the Daily Mail. "She is so powerful, and I am just a shop girl. I didn't hurt anyone. I don't know why someone as great as her must cannibalize me on TV. It is absolutely not true that I declined to show her the bag on racist grounds... This is not true. This is absurd. I would never say something like that to a customer."

The clerk said the whole thing was simply a "misunderstanding."

"I explained to her the bags come in different sizes and materials, like I always do," she said. "She looked at a frame behind me. Far above there was the 35,000 Swiss franc crocodile leather bag. I simply told her it was like the one I held in my hand, only much more expensive, and that I could show her similar bags."

Despite feeling victimized initially, Winfrey said she's sorry for the media frenzy surrounding the accusations against the Swiss store.

"I think that incident in Switzerland was just an incident in Switzerland," Winfrey said Monday night at the Los Angeles premiere of Lee Daniels' "The Butler." "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."

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