The alleged sexism of Apple Card has been a hotly debated issue in the United States in recent days, with the parties to the incident issuing a statement on Monday in response to speculation. She said she applied for an Apple credit card because she cared about digital privacy, but without Apple’s fair treatment, Apple shouldn’t have succumbed to algorithms and should have done better.
On November 7th David Heinemeier Hansson, a technology entrepreneur and founder of the web app framework Ruby on Rails, shared a disturbing story on Twitter. David claims that Apple’s credit card discriminated against his wife, Jamie Heinemeier Hansson. David says he and his wife, Jamie, applied for an Apple credit card, but he received 20 times as much credit as his wife, even though the couple shared a tax return and his wife’s credit score was higher.
When they contacted Apple Customer Service, Apple’s customer service representative sat down the black box algorithm to the difference in credit lines, and then raised Jamie’s credit limit to David’s level without asking for more information. David’s tweet went viral online, with many others, including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, saying they had a similar experience applying for an Apple credit card. Wozniak says his Apple credit card is 10 times the amount his wife’s, even though they share all bank accounts and assets.
“Apple has given the customer experience and reputation that it deserves as an inclusive company to an algorithm that they don’t understand, can’t judge, and can’t control, and is biased and sexist. David wrote on Twitter.
Goldman Sachs, which co-issued The Apple credit card with Apple in August, said in a statement: “We do not and will not make decisions based on factors such as gender.” Carey Halio, chief executive of retail banking at Goldman Sachs, said the credit limit for Apple’s credit card would be re-evaluated.
David argues that Apple should not shift the blame for sexism to Goldman because he feels he is not a client of Goldman, but a customer of Apple.
Apple declined to comment. The New York Financial Services Authority has reportedly launched an investigation into Apple’s credit cards since David shared his story.
After David publicly shared the couple’s encounter with apple credit card applications, his wife, Jamie, also posted a blog post on Monday, responding to speculation about her.
Here’s the full text of Jamie’s statement:
I’m Jamie. I (or my credibility) have been the focus of much speculation since my husband David shared on Twitter the unfortunate and absurd experience I had when I applied for an Apple credit card. Unlike David, I’m a very lonely person who doesn’t like to post on social media and is slightly ashamed of his name appearing on the news. However, in order to avoid being seen as a meek housewife who cannot speak for herself, I would like to make the following statement:
I care about digital privacy: that’s what I wanted to apply for an Apple credit card in the first place.
I care about transparency and fairness: that’s why I’m so upset with the “this is the algorithm” and “this is your credit score” response from Apple’s customer representatives. My credit history in the United States is far better than David’s, and I have never had a late payment and no debt. David and I share all the financial accounts, and my credit score is very high, better than David’s. I had a successful career before Meeting David. Although I am now a mother of three and have to call myself a “housewife” on my tax return, I am still a millionaire who has made a significant contribution to my family and is repaying the full amount of my credit every month. However, Apple’s customer service representatives didn’t want to hear that at all, and didn’t give me any explanation. My argument is of no use.
I care about equality: that’s why I told David he could tweet about it, even if the credit limit didn’t matter to my life. But in a world where women still seem to think they can’t be as successful or as reliable as men, it’s important for women who have a hard time starting a business. At the same time, it is important for women trying to get rid of being insulted, important for minorities who are harmed by institutional bias, and important for many people. So it’s important to me.
I care about fairness and justice for everyone: that’s why I feel pressured and guilty about the absurd ity I enjoy when the Apple credit card manager told me that she had noticed David’s tweets and raised my credit limit without any real explanation. So many women (and men) responded to David’s tweets by sharing stories of unfairness they had faced when applying for credit cards. It’s not just a story about sexism and black-box credit algorithms, it’s also about how the rich can achieve what they want. For another wealthy white woman, justice is impossible.
I care about businesses and people doing the right thing: we can’t give in to algorithms and slide into the “black mirror” world (note: the TV series “Black Mirror” explores the relationship between people and technology). Apple can and should do better than we do now, and we should all do better than we do now.
Finally, I understand the frustrations of women and minorities. They’ve been speaking out all these years, but they haven’t received attention like me. I don’t want to be the main character who lit this fire, but I’m glad it caused a stir. I may not be active on social media, but I’m not a silent person. David’s arguments and conversations with the world, as well as my observations, are often the source of David’s tweets. We had three sons together, and you should believe that they were educated by a mother who was equally opinionated and of the same level as their father. On this subject, David and I are entirely in agreement, and i am pleased that his broad platform and my Apple credit card problem have led to a national discussion of institutional bias, black box algorithms, and broken credit industry systems. This is not a story about me. Smart women are spreading social media, using their voices to fight for a better way out. Listen to what they say.