Oprah Gets Swiss Apology for Racist Diss in Handbag Shop

Swiss Tourism says shop clerk "acted terribly wrong" towards Oprah.

ByABC News
August 9, 2013, 11:09 AM

Aug. 9, 2013— -- The Swiss Tourism Office has apologized for the racism that media mogul Oprah Winfrey says she encountered last month while in town for Tina Turner's wedding.

Oprah told Entertainment Tonight that a shop assistant in Zurich refused to show her a handbag that was "too expensive" for one of the world's most powerful and richest women.

She told the story when asked by ET about the use of the N-word.

"Racism for me doesn't show itself that way. It still exists," she said and went on to explain what happened in the Zurich shop.

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"Obviously, "The Oprah Winfrey Show" is not shown in Zurich," she told ET. "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."

The country's tourism officials apologized for the clerk's behavior today.

"We are very sorry for what happened to her," Daniela Baer, a spokeswoman for the tourism office, told the AP today.

The tourism office also tweeted that the salesperson "acted terribly wrong" in this case.

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This isn't Oprah's first bout of trouble while trying to buy a designer bag. In 2005, she was turned away in Paris at Hermes after showing up to the store 15 minutes after closing. Hermes also later apologized for the incident and "not having been able to accommodate Ms. Winfrey and her team."

Aside from dealing with circumstances like this, Oprah has been busy as of late. After 15 years away from the big screen, she is starring in Lee Daniels' "The Butler" opposite Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker, something that she told ABC News made her nervous.

"It's like having an instrument," she said. "You play the piano pretty well or you play a flute, you play the trombone, then all of a sudden you put it in a corner, cause you go, 'I'm not going to do that anymore, I can't, I don't have time to do that,' which is what I did, that's your acting instrument."

Whitaker told ABC that Winfrey had nothing to fear.

"She really went for it," he said, "She's so great in this."