Thursday, November 7, 2019 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Limits to Apple’s Butterfly Keyboard Repair Program

Michael Peterson:

Unfortunately, there appear to be limits to how many times you can get a MacBook repaired under that keyboard repair program. Notably, that is something that’s fairly unknown among the Apple community.

[…]

According to a post they made back in October, Reddit user spgremlin brought recently their 2016 MacBook Pro in for service for the third time. Under the Apple keyboard replacement, the user’s first two repairs were completely free. As they should be.

But when the Redditor brought their MacBook Pro in a third time, the Genius Bar staff there told them it wasn’t covered under the repair program.

Previously:

10 Comments

In Europe (specifically in Germany), it's the other way around with our consumer protection laws: If you have to send in something for repair for the 3rd time, you have the right to demand a new(!) replacement of the entire unit or your money back - i.e. you do not have to suffer endlessly repeated repairs.

@Thomas In the US it varies by state; many do have lemon laws.

@Thomas in the Netherlands (it may be the same in Germany), it does not actually have to be three times. Also, if they are not able to solve the problem timely and/or are not able to provide a new product that resolves the problem (which is arguably the case with all butterfly keyboards), you can withdraw the 'sales agreement' and you should get your money back.

When you hand in a product for repair, you should always ask a written confirmation of the agreed upon repair date (since you can then hold them to that date). Plus depending on how necessary the product is, they should repair a product timely or provide a loaner (e.g. you cannot reasonably live without a fridge). So, you should not just accept their repair term, but negotiate a shorter term if what they provide is not reasonable.

I cannot believe this problem has lingered for so many years. Then again, both the G3 and G4 iBook had motherboard problems for pretty much the entire run of the dual USB design, so about four years, which just happens to be the length of time the butterfly keyboard defect as existed. Hmmm

Sören Nils Kuklau

Then again, both the G3 and G4 iBook had motherboard problems for pretty much the entire run of the dual USB design, so about four years, which just happens to be the length of time the butterfly keyboard defect as existed.

I dunno.

I had an iBook G3 (the May 2002 “16 VRAM” version), and it had various issues. I do wonder if the reason several hard disks died in it is a faulty main board. It also had battery issues after about a year and a half; to be fair, Apple replaced that one for free. (And Hitachi replaced the hard disk for free each time.)

It’s also interesting in retrospect how much of it was upgraded. It was Apple-configured with 128 MB RAM and a 20 GB HDD. But I had it shipped from the reseller with 384 MB RAM, and later on upgraded it myself to 640 MB. And I put a 60 GB HDD in there. Those weren’t even expensive upgrades.

Two generations later, I had one of the MacBooks Pro with a faulty NVIDIA chip, causing heat issues and sudden shutdowns (in turn causing file system issues, including on the backup disk; yikes).

But, I digress. My point is actually that I don’t think any of the issues of the time come close to shipping a keyboard for multiple years that just seems to be fundamentally flawed. They’ve applied multiple measures to mitigate the issue, and they want to pretend for PR and liability reasons that it isn’t as widespread as it likely is (see below*) but it doesn’t seem like they have it figured out.

And the PR damage is certainly (rightfully) there. What used to be the benchmark for a premium laptop is now one that can’t even get its keyboard right.

I don’t think the issues on the white iBook ever got close to that.

*) Apple’s wording:

Apple has determined that a small percentage of the keyboards in certain MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro models may exhibit one or more of the following behaviors

The “small percentage” part doesn’t seem plausible given that virtually everyone seems to either be affected or know someone who is affected. The percentage appears to be in the medium double digits, at least.

My point is actually that I don’t think any of the issues of the time come close to shipping a keyboard for multiple years that just seems to be fundamentally flawed.

[…]

I don’t think the issues on the white iBook ever got close to that.

I agree. The current issues are unprecedented in Apples history. Not that every other Mac has been problem free, there have been quality issues here and there all the time, some severe, but not like this.

Both me and my wife hade several iterations of the white dual USB iBook and they were solid and we were very happy with them. IMO they were Apples best value so far for a Mac, considering features, size, performance, the price and the existing market at the time. (And I upgraded the hard drive in each of them, as time went by and storage need increased.)

@Adrian
I had two G4 iBooks and neither exhibited the problem, but it was widespread enough to be mentioned many times on Mac websites of the day. I even knew people with the problem. I was just lucky as failure rate was likely double digit percentages on the various dual USB iBooks.

Yes, but that was at a time Apple had little resources, now they have 10x the resources and its output is more like 50% of what they were used to.

@Nathan: Yeah, you're number seems about right, now that I read about it:

”MacInTouch has called the Dual USB G3 iBooks Apple’s most unreliable notebooks ever.”

When I think about it I do think we went through some logic board replacement for one of them. Still, we have found memories of them, and they were mostly reliable for us and I brought it everywhere I went. And no stuck keys :)

@Adrian
The worst part was the iBook G4 was supposed to have fixed those problems! Yet, it sadly did not as the failure rate on those models might have reached double digits as well, low double digits, but still. I loved those little computers, but I clearly dodged a bullet with no problems on the G4 models.

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