“I don’t know why she is making these accusations”

News Brief — August 12, 2013

The sales assistant who allegedly refused to show Oprah Winfrey a luxury handbag claims the media celebrity is not telling the truth about what happened in the luxury Swiss boutique where she works.
Speaking to Sunday newspaper SonntagsBlick, the Italian saleslady said she felt ‘powerless’ after the U.S. talk show host and billionaire appeared on TV  claiming she had been the victim of racism.
Winfrey was in Switzerland last month when she walked into the upmarket boutique in Zurich looking for a handbag to match an outfit she was planning to wear to Tina Turner’s wedding.
Unlike most other countries in Europe, Oprah Winfrey’s TV show is not broadcast in Switzerland so she is not a well-known face in the capitol, Zurich.
Winfrey claims the sales assistant refused to show her the black crocodile leather bag because she automatically assumed that being black, Oprah could not afford it.
However the saleslady has denied the accusation, telling SonntagsBlick: ‘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.
‘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 35,000 Swiss franc 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.
‘It is absolutely not true that I declined to show her the bag on racist grounds. I even asked her if she wanted to look at the bag.
‘She looked around the store again but didn’t say anything else. Then she went with her companion to the lower floor. My colleague saw them to the door. They were not even in the store for five minutes.’
The sales lady categorically denied telling Winfrey: “You don’t want to see this bag. It is too expensive. You cannot afford it.”
‘This is not true. This is absurd. I would never say something like that to a customer. Really never. Good manners and politeness are the Alpha and the Omega in this business.
‘I don’t know why she is making these accusations. 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.
‘If it had all taken place as she claimed, why has she not complained the next day at the wedding of Tina Turner with Trudie Goetz, my boss? She was there also at the Turner wedding as a guest. I don’t understand it.
‘I spoke to Oprah Winfrey in English. My English is okay but not excellent, unfortunately.
‘I didn’t know who she was when she came into the store. That wouldn’t have made any difference if I had.
‘We work really hard to greet all the people who come into the store with the same level of respect and treat them all equally.
‘If someone asks me whether he or she can see an article, I always present these. Because that person is a potential buyer. And my job is to sell it.
‘I’m glad if I can sell an article. It is a reward for me, if I can sell a nice piece. This means that I’m good at my job.’
Asked what she would say to Oprah now she added: ‘I would apologize and say it was all a  misunderstanding. I surely did not intentionally want to insult Ms. Winfrey. I hope this nightmare ends soon.’

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