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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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  • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @01:08PM (#39724415)
    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.
    • 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 cpu6502 (1960974)

        >>>Try to find an example of that from any of the other computer manufacturers out there

        My Commodore Plus/4 died after just 1.1 years, so even though the warranty had already expired, Commodore gave me a brand-new 128. Has Apple ever done anything like that (free upgrade to the latest model Mac)?

      • by StikyPad (445176) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @01:53PM (#39725067) Homepage

        They were footing the bill for Nvidia's screw-up

        No, they were footing the bill for their own screw-up. The part may have been defective, and nVidia may have made it, but Apple approved it for use in their own products based on, clearly, insufficient validation that the part met their standards. In the real world, that's how it works.

        • 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?

    • And now that there is a precedent Apple will have to make good on EVERY similar failed Macbook. And thanks to /. every geek that owns one knows this.

  • It just works. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by i kan reed (749298) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @01:09PM (#39724429) Homepage Journal

    I remember that slogan. Not too long ago even. Before that it was "Think different" and buy the most common mp3 player on the planet. I dislike apple because I dislike marketing, and Apple is like an avatar of marketing; the essence of style over substance given form.

    • "... Apple is like an avatar of marketing; the essence of style over substance given form."

      I disagree entirely. That is to say, I do dislike some of the things Apple does, but it's not "style over substance" at all.

      Contrary to popular belief, most consumers aren't stupid. There is a reason it became the #1 mp3 player on the market: superior design and execution. Among other things, iPods had the most usable and intuitive interfaces. They have been copied but still not equalled.

      There is plenty of substance.

  • Not what you think (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @01:13PM (#39724481)

    I did in warrantied repairs for an Apple authorized service provider for two years. I can't tell you how many of these repairs apple picked up the tab on. I have never seen another computer company take as much responsibility as they have on this issue. 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.

    Try stacking up those numbers against any other computer companies defective products in what they did to fix them

    • If it costs $1700 to replace a GPU, something is VERY wrong
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        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

        • A lot of components: CPU,RAM,HDD,Wireless cards,etc are still removable arent they?
          Its the motherboard+GPU thats being replaced right? (Atleast thats the way it is in my laptop, maybe Macbooks are special, IDK)
          Then again, my entire laptop cost $700
          • by armanox (826486)

            I haven't seen a removable GPU or CPU in a laptop for years (probably since 2005), and even then most of the laptops I've seen the CPU was in the board (going all the way back to an 8088 laptop I have).

            • Maybe the Thinkpad R61 was a unique model then...
              It has a CPU socket like a desktop, you can upgrade the processor yourself as well (the socket itself is quite different from a Desktop socket, but it has one, and replacing the CPU is a relatively trivial process)
        • by firex726 (1188453)

          Yea, these were laptops, it's not a $1700 video card/GPU like in a desktop. Replacing the mobo/logic board/system board is basically swapping out the entire computer.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Yeah and? That's too much money. When I owned a MBP I had a horrible time getting apple to fix anything, as a matter of fact they regularly denied problems and their people seemed to be instructed to all tell me that anything wrong with my machine was "something they'd never seen before, huh" Every person I talked to on the phone seemed to say this, every person at the apple store said this.. it was always very forced and unnatural and unprompted. This was on problems that seemed to be very common on in

      • It's an iGPU - not just a regular GPU. It's welded to a lot of other things. All of those things have to be replaced.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      I did in warrantied repairs for an Apple authorized service provider for two years. I can't tell you how many of these repairs apple picked up the tab on. I have never seen another computer company take as much responsibility as they have on this issue. 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.

      Try stacking up those numbers against any other computer companies defective products in what they did to fix them

      it's not like they had any choice on picking up the tab. they were known to be defective(anyhow, due to accounting/tax reasons it's helpful for them to upmark the replacement board which they were "paying" for.)..

      • by Jesus_666 (702802)
        In my experience Apple is usually pretty good with replacing stuff that is broken on arrival. If I remember correctly they reacted to the Geforce bug fairly quickly once it was confirmed by Nvidia and back in the iBook days they made trading in the battery-shaped hand grenades Sony made for a real battery very quick and painless.

        Of course promising four years of free repairs and then only doing three is a dick move. I'd expect more from Apple.
    • 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.”"

    • Try stacking up those numbers against any other computer companies defective products in what they did to fix them

      Microsoft's infamous problems with the XBox 360 overheating RROD problems come to mind. AFAIK they handled that pretty well, I have never owned an MS console though so I have no personal experience.

      Nintendo replaced my GBA and my copy of Mario Kart GBA for free when the warranty was technically voided (I had dropped my GBA one too many times and only that specific game failed to work, though ot

    • Try stacking up those numbers against any other computer companies defective products in what they did to fix them.

      Microsoft, during the RROD debacle with the Xbox 360s. Dell, HP, Compaq, etc., after selling defective batteries and adapters that would explode. HP, for selling printers, faxes, and copiers that would catch fire. Sony Viao's, which would overheat...

      Just because Apple made an expensive mistake doesn't mean it should get more respect for owning up to it. In fact, Apple has a reputation for coming up with odd explanations for denying a service request. Similar stories are never heard from other OEM vendors b

    • by X.25 (255792)

      I did in warrantied repairs for an Apple authorized service provider for two years. I can't tell you how many of these repairs apple picked up the tab on. I have never seen another computer company take as much responsibility as they have on this issue. 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.

      Try stacking up those numbers against any other computer companies defective products in what they did to fix them

      What is your point? That they are great because they repaired some of those broken computers?

      Amusing.

    • Three of us at the company got 17" MBPs at the same time. Sequential serial numbers even. Every one of them had the graphics card suddenly fail. Mine lasted longest but I believe that is because I took more care to keep my laptop cool.

      To my surprise, Apple covered the repair as a "known issue" even though the machine was long out of warranty and I did not have an AppleCare policy. Not only that, the part was overnighted to the shop and it was done in under 24 hrs.

      I have no reason to be anything but im
  • As anecdotal examples go...

    My MBPro was affected by the problem. I knew about it, and a little over 3 years after purchase (extended warranty had expired) the telltale symptoms started appearing (horizontal stripes on the screen). I scheduled an appointment, took my machine in to the Apple Store, and Apple replaced the video card, no questions asked. Took about 2 days because they didn't have the part on hand in-store.

    • 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.
  • they arent terrible, i guess... they replace 6 year old products..

    they just replaced my 2005 1gig iPod Nano with a new 6th generation 8gig iPod nano... for free, only took a little over a week.

    Apple has determined that, in very rare cases, the battery in the iPod nano (1st generation) may overheat and pose a safety risk. Affected iPod nanos were sold between September 2005 and December 2006...Apple recommends that you stop using your iPod nano (1st gen) and follow the process noted below to order a replacem

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      Why should it take a whole week to replace something? You should be able to walk into an Apple store and have it done pretty much instantaneously.

      I had a Mini that needed a brain transplant. An exchange would have be simpler since they ended up reformatting it anyways. That would have saved me the week or so being without a machine.

      • On one hand, yes. On the other hand, we're talking about them replacing a 5 year out of warranty iPod Nano. Who gives a shit if you're without it for a week? It's an iPod!

    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      Darn. I sold my 1st gen Nano on Ebay. Oh well.

  • Opposite Anecdote (Score:5, Interesting)

    by IKnwThePiecesFt (693955) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @01:33PM (#39724769) Homepage

    That's strange... I had this exact same problem and Apple replaced my motherboard for free when the time came. I wonder why they denied it for him?

    • Re:Opposite Anecdote (Score:4, Interesting)

      by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <taiki AT cox DOT net> on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @02:20PM (#39725493)

      Because the machine failed to boot. If the GPU failed, it'd boot but no image on screen.

      Which apple thusly correctly blamed on other parts of the logic board.

      While Apple is technically correct here, the failure on Apple's part is customer satisfaction. They should've replaced the board. I think the Judge was right in categorizing any logic board failure as being within the scope of that replacement program too.

      Apple's not evil, they're just dicks though. Evil would've been to deny the problem ever existed, or to replace affected machine owners with lower class machines, like some OEMs did.

  • Same thing happened to me. My Macbook Pro motherboard fried about 4 yrs out. Apple replaced the motherboard for free; no questions asked. The bill was $1,200 b/f Apple waived it.

    They also replaced my iPhone screen when 1 pixel went bad for free...no questions asked...2 months after my 1 yr warranty had expired.

  • The judge and everyone else wondered "why, Apple, if it cost you nothing to accept the repair, did you have to pay two employees to take time off work in order to defend an indefensible case?" The answer, which they couldn't state, is that most people accept what they are told by Apple as the truth... and most people STILL DO. That once-in-a-while a customer with a valid complaint actually brought them to court and won does not break their winning business model. Most people will take it up the butt when

  • First, I'm glad he won. It shouldn't have gotten to that point, but he did what he had to do.

    I am typing on one of the affected machines now. The 8600M GT in this one failed in January of this year, 4 yrs & 4 months after purchase. Apple refused to replace it under warranty because it was beyond 4 years. I was not happy about that.

    Contrary to some previous posts, repair cost for these machines isn't $1000+. In store repair quote was around $450. However, Apple also offers "depot service", flat rate repa

  • I had the same failure arise with the Nvidia Geforce Go 7900 GS chipset in a Toshiba Satellite P105-S9337 model laptop. The laptop was out of warranty. In this instance, though, the graphics were a separate discrete board. After being fully ignored by Toshiba, I began looking for used, refurbished, or 'pre-owned' replacements. I had also modded the laptop to force the GPU fan to draw power from a nearby USB port, thus forcing it to run continuously in the hope of preventing symptoms. (It didn't, really.) I knew the chipset itself was essentially defective, but it's not a guarantee that every chip will fail, so I was hoping to get lucky. I found an eBay seller, a liquidation business, that was selling a whole batch of allegedly refurbished ones, and for much less than I had seen them previously. I purchased two. One of the two boards was still faulty, and the seller replaced it; the other one wasn't actually what I had ordered: in fact it was a Geforce Go 7900 GTX, a slightly upscale version and with more onboard VRAM. I discovered that it was compatible with my system, though I was concerned about the potential heat generation. I wound up keeping both, installing the replaced 7900 GS and keeping the 7900 GTX as a spare. Thus far the laptop has continued working, but I certainly suffered a substantial net loss over the whole affair, in actual material cost and labor and time. I wish I'd had the opportunity and courage to do what this fellow did, but since I has a system out of warranty it would have been more difficult.

    I also had a similar problem with a cherished 21-inch Nokia CRT monitor years ago. Six years after I bought it, it failed. I wanted very much to get it repaired. I discovered that in the meantime Nokia had abandoned the display market, selling its brand name to Viewsonic and the manufacturing to another Finnish company. When I contacted Viewsonic, they told me there were no spare parts for it, and refused to replace it with an equivalent Viewsonic model (which I really didn't want). That Finnish company had apparently stopped making Nokia display parts, and Viewsonic refused to otherwise honor its obligations from acquiring the brand name. I even contacted Nokia and tried to persuade them to pressure Viewsonic, but nothing came of it. I didn't create enough of a public relations fiasco. I finally contacted numerous third-party repair services, but each one also told me nothing could be done as parts were not available.

    You might be thinking to yourself, "Dude, it's six years old, what do you expect?" I happen to live in California, and this state has a so-called "lemon law" that attempts to force manufacturers to not... well, sell lemons! It stipulates that any product - not just the automobiles with which it's usually associated - with a manufactured cost over $100 should be repairable for a period of no less than 7 years from the date of manufacture. That means the manufacture is obligated to make available the parts and service materials necessary for repairs for those 7 years, and if not to otherwise make amends for failure to do so.

    Obviously Viewsonic had failed to do that. Because of that lemon law I had an open and shut case, had I taken Viewsonic to court here in California. I didn't, but again I wish I had.

    My point in sharing these anecdotes is that this is a consistent pattern of behavior with all manufacturers, not just one or two or a handful of them. It's endemic to the system we've allowed to take hold. It's this unfair system that makes consumers the inferior party in transactions with these manufacturers that motivated California's lemon law in the first place. It SHOULD be a Federal law applicable in every state. Better yet a globally recognized law.

  • by buddyglass (925859) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @05:27PM (#39728153)

    If Apple could have replaced my logic board at no cost to themselves, then why in the hell did they drag this out for so long, and why did they send two people to court to try and make sure that I got absolutely nothing? Friends, this is a question I have been asking myself for three months, and it is a question that I do not have the answer to.

    Really? Because the sheer volume of replacements that would have ensued would have damaged Apple's partner relationship with nvidia. There's your answer.

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