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Portables (Apple) The Courts Apple

Macbook Owner With Defective GPU Beats Apple In Court 280

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the justice-actually-served dept.
New submitter RockoW writes "A few years ago, Apple sold defective computers of the MacBook Pro line. They had the defective Nvidia 8600M GT GPU. In this case Apple refused to take the computer back and issue me a refund. Instead, they promised to replace the 8600M GT boards when they failed, up to four years from the date of purchase. Three years later, the MacBook Pro failed and they refused to replace it. This guy took them to the court and won by their own means."
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Macbook Owner With Defective GPU Beats Apple In Court

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  • Re:Cool, but... (Score:5, Informative)

    by CnlPepper (140772) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @01:09PM (#39724427)

    Apple is responsible for the products it supplies. It is up to Apple to seek damages from Nvidia, not the consumers.

  • Re:Cool, but... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Nominei (1998390) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @01:12PM (#39724455)

    Nvidia settled a class action lawsuit about these GPUs.

    (link: http://www.techspot.com/news/43614-customers-get-shafted-in-nvidia-class-action-suit.html [techspot.com])

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @01:21PM (#39724583)

    Re read. 1700 to replace the logic board. The board cost 1400 itself from apple. That is the whole board that makes up the computer. Just an FYI

  • Re:Cool, but... (Score:5, Informative)

    by cjcela (1539859) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @01:22PM (#39724599)
    Don't be so blind. The customer purchased the computer AND an extended warranty from Apple. The GPU manufacturer said to all parties they will foot the bill for the defective hardware. The repair was free for Apple, but they decided to take this customer to court just because. Then, in court, they lied to the judge, saying that the hardware was different, etc. Apple is usually good with warranties, but notoriously for forcing their way on everybody, be it for good or bad. In this case, they were wrong, and behave like morons, and drag one of their customers to court. It is infuriating.
  • Re:Slashdotted (Score:2, Informative)

    by d3ac0n (715594) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @01:25PM (#39724665)

    Whoops! Scratch that. It loaded, but slowly.

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @01:33PM (#39724751)
    Same thing with my MacBook. The HD failed after 4 years ( no extended warranty). I was looking up how to replace it myself as I thought 4 years of constant use was reasonable. I came across an Apple support article that depicted the exact failure messages I was getting stating to bring in the laptop. So I made an appointment at the nearest Apple store and pasted the article in the ticket. They replaced the HD free of charge. They could not replace it with the same HD model or OS version so they upgraded both.
  • by v1 (525388) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @01:33PM (#39724755) Homepage Journal

    If Apple promised to replace parts they knew to be defective for up to four years then they'd better step up. The court costs far outweighed the costs of replacing the GPU in his MacBook (and probably 100's of others). The cost of the bad press? It seems Apple has always been willing to test the patience of their customers' loyalties.

    For more details on the problem check this link [apple.com]. Here's the header:

    In July 2008, NVIDIA publicly acknowledged a higher than normal failure rate for some of their graphics processors due to a packaging defect. At that same time, NVIDIA assured Apple that Mac computers with these graphics processors were not affected. However, after an Apple-led investigation, Apple has determined that some MacBook Pro computers with the NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT graphics processor may be affected. If the NVIDIA graphics processor in your MacBook Pro has failed, or fails within four years of the original date of purchase, a repair will be done free of charge, even if your MacBook Pro is out of warranty.

    I'm surprised anyone has been refused replacement inside 4 years. I bet I've repaired around 170 of these units for this problem, and I have only just recently started seeing Apple refuse a warranty repair, because the computers are starting to cross 4 years old. The only time I see problems of this nature is if they purchase old stock and don't register. Apple assumes a computer is sold 30 days after manufacture if you don't send in your registration. If you need warranty service and are on the edge you may need to submit your proof of purchase to update your purchase date on record with Apple to get warranty coverage. Maybe that played into this case?

    And this problem stems not from Apple, but from Nvidia. I started seeing this issue on new machines a few months after this model was first released, and Apple started going rounds with Nvidia around the 10 month mark, just before these machines were going to start falling out of the 1 year warranty. Nvidia insisted this was not a defect and refused to cover anything. We had to start refusing repairs for some machines after the 1 year mark. Then about 2 months after that I found that Apple had gotten sick of Nvidia stalling and denying, and decided to cover these repairs, before they had even gotten Nvidia to budge. Apple sent notice to users that had paid for a repair that would now be considered covered, and refunds were issued. Apple started the repair extension program for this issue and covered repairs from that point forward. This was months before Nvidia was forced to accept responsibility and start reimbursing Apple for the defect.

    So I find it unfortunate that Apple is receiving a lot of FUD and bad press on this. They do tend to go the extra mile for their customers, they're consistently rated at the TOP for customer service. They were footing the bill for Nvidia's screw-up long before they were guaranteed of getting anything back. Try to find an example of that from any of the other computer manufacturers out there.

  • by Hope Thelps (322083) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @01:39PM (#39724871)

    The repair to replace the logic board that contained the defective GPU was a $1700 repair from a third-party authorized repair center and I did an average of 2 to 3 a week for 2 years.

    From the article: "At one point, the judge asked Apple how much it would have cost them to have simply replaced my logic board when I had taken it in, and one of the Apple guys said “Oh, it wouldn’t have cost us anything, Nvidia foots the bill for each board we replace.”"

  • Re:Cool, but... (Score:4, Informative)

    by JoeMerchant (803320) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @01:48PM (#39724983) Homepage

    In my case, the GPU wasn't at fault, it was Apple's faulty application of heat sink compound that caused the chip to fail.

  • by jbov (2202938) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @02:05PM (#39725279)

    The terms of the class action suit were not favorable for the consumers, as your link states. For replacements from HP, everyone got the same Compaq budget 15" notebook, which retailed at around $270 at the time that the notebook owners received their replacements. Many of the consumers, including myself, had purchased notebooks which cost well over $1000. It is argued by some, that since prices have lowered since the initial purchase, the replacement notebook was comparable to the one initially purchased. This was untrue in my case. It also doesn't take into account that many of these notebooks were unusable during the years it took for a class action lawsuit to take place, and replacement notebooks awarded.

    In my case, it is basically as if I purchased two $1200 notebooks, and didn't have them shipped to me until 3 years later. By the time I got them, I found out they weren't even the correct specs. Since it was 3 years later, I could have gotten much more for $1200.

    The suit pitted the consumers against nvidia themselves, bypassing the computer manufacturers. I don't think this was an appropriate action. The manufacturers share some blame. They took the payoffs from nvidia to replace the GPUs under warranty, until the warranties ran out and it was all swept under the rug. At the time, the manufacturers knew the replacement parts were a time-bomb waiting to fail. They didn't care, because nvidia was funding them to do the repairs anyway. So, the manufacturers were making money by *not* replacing the GPU with a non-defective GPU.

    In the case of HP, they lied about replacing the GPU with another defective GPU, and slapped a 90 day warranty on the service work. When I complained to them, and the BBB, they lied and said they replaced it with a different model GPU. My own eyes and lspci spoke a different story.

  • by idontgno (624372) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @02:39PM (#39725771) Journal

    Well, when all the litigation amongst the companies shook out, it turns out that Nvidia is footing the bill for their own screw-up. [cnet.com]

    As much as it pains me to defend Apple's corporate behavior in any matter, Nvidia was clearly in the wrong. Apple had no advance knowledge of Nvidia's bad engineering and dishonest documentation. The GPUs failed after time and use, so only an unrealistically long engineering evaluation period by any customer of Nvidia's parts would have uncovered the issue. Apple was boned, and Nvidia did the boning.

    This little peccadillo on Nvidia's part is how they wound up on my "never buy" list.

    The Inquirer chased the story quite intensively back in the 2009 timeframe. This query [theinquirer.net] will give you the list of the articles there that might provide a bit of context to this story.

  • by AmiMoJo (196126) <.ten.3dlrow. .ta. .ojom.> on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @02:59PM (#39726101) Homepage

    So I find it unfortunate that Apple is receiving a lot of FUD and bad press on this.

    Because they don't deserve it for refusing to honour the promise they made and having to be taken to court over it?

  • by StikyPad (445176) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @03:08PM (#39726211) Homepage

    This technically wasn't even a manufacturing defect. It was a specifications defect. Nvidia provides manufacturers with very detailed information on their raw products, including cooling requirements.

    Tomato, tomato. The distinction is important for correcting the problem, but not for avoiding the consequences.

    If I'm a cabinet manufacturer and I order hinges that are rated at 100,000 operations I expect them to last that long on the average, you can't expect me to make some cabinets and then open and close them 50,000 times to make sure the hardware is as durable as the manufacturer claims it is before selling any. Manufactures have to put some trust in their OEMs' specs.

    They don't have to; they choose to because it's usually cheaper. The fact is that in this case, it turned out to be more expensive, but on the whole it's still a gain I'm sure. I can tell you for a fact that you don't take the manufacturer at their word when you put together a sub or a space shuttle; you test everything before acceptance and then perform NDT on every piece before it's used in production. While I don't expect Apple or any consumer goods manufacturer to go to those lengths (because it's quite expensive), most electronic manufacturers test samples (including Apple) and with some examples failing within weeks, this was surely a case of insufficient testing. Apple decided to replace them as they failed rather than issuing a voluntary recall, and that's their prerogative, but to claim they had no responsibility is just absurd.

  • Re:Cool, but... (Score:2, Informative)

    by jazzmans (622827) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @03:16PM (#39726335) Journal

    original article, sorry for the fucked formatting.

    [quote]
    A few years ago, Apple sold me a $4,000 computer with a defective graphics chip/logic board. The defective part was the Nvidia 8600M GT GPU, and when it was discovered that the machine was defective, Apple refused to take it back and issue me a refund. Instead, they promised to replace the 8600M GT boards when they failed, up to 4 years from the date of purchase.

    Three years later, the board failed, and predictably, Apple refused to replace it. Instead, they used the fact that the machine wouldnâ(TM)t boot (due to the failed logic board) to deny the repair. Not only that, but in addition, they tried to charge me a hefty sum of money to have it replaced, knowing full well that Nvidia pays for the full repair cost.

    Three and a half months ago, after having my repair denied, I announced on this very site that I was going to sue Apple. Reading these lawsuit threats often, many people assumed that I was bluffing or blowing off steam, but true to my word, I did exactly what I said I was going to do. I sued Apple.

    I did not take this step lightly, however. In the months following the announcement, I did everything in my power to keep my dispute with Apple out of the court system.

    First, I filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. In their rebuttal to the BBB, Apple blatantly lied about the diagnostics they had run on my computer, and the BBB promptly closed the case, leaving Appleâ(TM)s âoeA+â rating intact.

    Next, I spoke with Apple Executive Services ⦠three separate times. Each time, I was told that âoeWe value each customer and hope that they have a positive experience with Apple, and are sorry that you did not have this experience, but you will get nothing.â ⦠or something to this effect.

    After that, I sent a demand letter to Apple via certified mail. I informed them that if I did not have my issue resolved within 10 days, I would sue.

    Only then, after Apple failed to reply, did I file a Small Claims lawsuit.

    Last week, the trial was held.

    I arrived at the King County Courthouse shortly after 8am, and about forty five minutes later, the clerk performed roll call. Imagine my surprise when I learned that Apple had sent not one, but two people to represent the company. When Apple told me that I would get nothing, they really meant it.

    After calling roll, and before calling the docket, the clerk went down the case list and asked each litigant if they would be willing to try mediation. Mediation keeps cases out of the court system, and keeps the outcomes confidential. This is especially beneficial to companies, as having judgements issued against them by customers is bad PR.

    Always one to exhaust all good-faith remedies before resorting to more drastic measures (really, nobody can say I didnâ(TM)t try my hardest to stay out of court), I agreed to try mediation, and to my surprise, so did Apple.

    Since everything said in the mediation room is confidential, I cannot go into details about what happened there, but I will tell you that it failed (for the same reason that everything else failed), and the case was sent back to the courtroom.

    In retrospect, I am glad that mediation did fail. After seeing that Apple sent two guys ⦠two guys who were in continuous contact with Apple legal via text and cell ⦠I knew that I was outgunned, outspent, and out-everything elsed. $500,000,000,000 vs. $37 and a pack of chewing gum is not a fair fight. Because of this, I offered settlements that were ridiculously favorable to Apple and unfavorable to myself, but even these were rejected. Thank goodness that they were.

    After failing mediation, shortly after 11am, we were called before the judge, sworn in, and I read my opening statement. I said basically everything Iâ(TM)ve been saying on this blog for the last several months. I stuck to the facts, handed my exhibits to the clerk (several printed pages), an

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @03:18PM (#39726361)

    This reminds me of Toyota refusing to replace engines that had failed after only ~25,000 miles. They claimed the blame belonged to the customer, and forced owners to shell-out ~$6000 on new engines for their 1-2 year old cars/trucks.

    Nope, never happened. You have failed twice [slashdot.org] now [slashdot.org] to back up that claim with proof (and been called out both [slashdot.org] times [slashdot.org], and not just by me [slashdot.org]), therefore we are forced to conclude that you [slashdot.org] are [slashdot.org] lying.

    And if the only "proof" you can provide is another lmgtfy link, don't bother. I told you before I'm not doing your work for you. You make a claim, back it up or be prepared to get called out for it. You wouldn't turn in a research paper without properly citing your sources, would you?

  • "wouldn't boot"? (Score:4, Informative)

    by v1 (525388) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @03:20PM (#39726409) Homepage Journal

    "wouldn't boot" is pretty general... Apple's Repair Extension Programs cover specific models, for a limited additional duration, that are demonstrating specific symptoms which are being caused by a very specific problem.

    We get people in from time to time with a computer that has an REP on that model, and they're expecting Apple to cover something else out of warranty. And we get people demanding we "fix" the computer simply because there is an REP on that model even though it's working fine. That's not how REPs work. (we had a school show up with a panel van FULL of emacs that were listed on an REP, we tested ALL of them and repaired TWO)

    If it powered on, and chimed (possibly after clearing pram to turn the volume back up) but showed no video, and could be heard to boot up (hdd access) and possibly even get interaction from it (turning volume up and down and hearing the reply) and external video was also dead, THAT should be covered and I would be surprised if they didn't cover it. All AASPs were given a special tool to test the computer and verify the problem also, and this test could be run after the video was out, OR before it was out, and could identify a computer that was beginning to fail, even if the symptoms were very minor or infrequent. If it was demonstrating symptoms, this test should have been run on your computer. Users tend to put off taking computers in for service, so only about 3% of the machines I saw with this problem still had usable video by the time they checked them in.

    However, if it failed to turn on, or failed to post at all, no, that's not the issue the REP was for, that's not a video problem, and you were not entitled to coverage by this REP. I also ran into a couple that were having "no video" problems but that didn't fail the special test app, those users had to pay for their repair because it was the same part, but not the same cause.

    I won't say that every AASP and Apple Store does the right thing. I'm just sayin' how it's supposed to work, and how I make it work here. If you still think they didn't react correctly, call applecare (even now) and talk with them about it. I've seen them make things right for people outwards of 5 years after purchase, with a discount on a new machine for example.

  • Re:Cool, but... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @03:23PM (#39726479)

    Apple is responsible for the products it supplies. It is up to Apple to seek damages from Nvidia, not the consumers.

    If you had bothered to read the article, you would have learned that it doesn't cost Apple a dime for the repair:

    At one point, the judge asked Apple how much it would have cost them to have simply replaced my logic board when I had taken it in, and one of the Apple guys said "Oh, it wouldn't have cost us anything, Nvidia foots the bill for each board we replace."

    So, it costs Apple nothing for the repair, Apple promised to do the repair, and then Apple refuses the repair and sends two people to contest the lawsuit.

    Apple is just being their usual asshole selves, but this time it is clearly obvious.

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