Monday, March 30, 2015

MacBook Pro Screen Staingate

Topher Kessler:

However, owners of some Retina MacBook Pros sold since mid-2012 are reporting that the coatings on their displays are peeling progressively under normal use. When this occurs, the systems show what appears to be light-colored stains on the display. Since the coating is translucent, the separation can’t always be seen easily in dark conditions with the display on, but it’s more apparent when the display is turned off in a bright environment.

The true extent of this issue is unknown, but it’s sufficiently widespread for disgruntled users to have created a dedicated “Staingate” Web site. Plus, a thread on Apple Support Communities has over 500 posts and nearly 90,000 views, and there’s even a Facebook group with over 800 members.


Apple’s support has often been customer-friendly and responsive, and the company has a great reputation for being personable with customers. However, Apple’s reputation is often sullied by oddly inconsistent behavior like this. Most recently, before starting an official repair program, Apple was similarly random about fixing graphics issues in certain MacBook Pro models (see “Apple’s Baffling Response to 2011 MacBook Pro Graphics Issues,” 13 February 2015). (comments):

The stains can start as early as 7 months after the purchase. There is no clear pattern as to how it starts: some experience it in small spots around the edge, on other screens it appears in the middle as large patches.

Apple hasn’t responded accordingly to this problem and have told us that this is a “cosmetic damage and it is not covered by the warranty”.

Repair costs are around 800 USD/EUR with a 3 month warranty, so probably in 12 months the Macbook would start showing stains again.


Early last year I bought a top-of-the-line MacBook Pro Retina 15”. It cost about $3500. (I am a professional programmer, and use ever last ounce of this capacity.)

A few months ago, I noticed that the screen coating was starting to come off around the edges. About a week ago, I noticed a spot of missing coating in the middle of the display.

My 2012 Retina MacBook Pro is so far fine, but clearly this is affecting a lot of people, many of whom did not use any damaging screen cleaners. I don’t understand why Apple will invest in initiatives that are not about the bloody ROI—in other words, do what it thinks is right at a potential short-term financial cost—yet it seems to take a class-action suit to get it to stand behind its own products. And when you factor in the costs to its reputation, this might well make sense in terms of ROI.

Update (2015-07-20): Ben Lovejoy:

A possible class action suit is in preparation over multiple reports of what appears to be anti-reflective coatings flaking off the screens of Retina MacBook Pros, resulting in a stained appearance. Most of the machines affected seem to be 2013 models.

A group calling itself Staingate says that it has a database of more than 2500 people affected by the issue. More than 1800 of them have joined a Facebook group, a petition has been created, and lawyers Whitfield Bryson & Mason are collecting details of owners for “potential legal action against Apple related to staingate” …

Update (2015-10-19): Joe Rossignol:

Apple will replace Retina displays on affected MacBook or MacBook Pro models for free within three years from the date of original purchase, or one year from October 16, 2015, whichever is longer. Affected customers that have already incurred out-of-warranty costs may be eligible for a refund through AppleCare support.

Andrew Cunningham:

Apple won’t be launching its typical repair program for this fix—there’s no page where you can go and check your serial number to see if you’re eligible, and no concrete process laid out for obtaining service or reimbursement for previous service.

Nick Heer:

However, if you have an early-adopter Retina MacBook Pro that’s affected and you’ve been holding out for a proper out-of-warranty replacement program, this sucks. I stand by what I wrote back when this story broke: Apple should suck up the cost of replacing these displays regardless of when the product was purchased.

Update (2015-10-21): Benjamin Mayo :

In general, though, it seems Apple is trying to keep news of the problem quiet. There is no public acknowledgement of such a program existing on Apple’s website. Apple is contacting people who have reported the problem earlier in the year and were turned away, however.

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[…] Michael Tsai says, I don’t get why a lawsuit seems necessary for Apple to do something about this. It would be […]

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