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Portables (Apple) The Courts Apple Hardware IT

Class Action Suit Filed Against Apple Over the Keyboards in MacBook Pro and MacBook Laptops (theoutline.com) 219

On Friday, Apple was hit with a class action lawsuit over the butterfly-switch keyboards, found on the current generation MacBook Pro and MacBook lineups, that have plagued its customers since they were released in 2015. The suit, filed in the Northern District Court of California, alleges that Apple "promoted and sold laptops it knew were defective in that they contain a keyboard that is substantially certain to fail prematurely," The Outline reports, and that selling these computers not only directly to its customers but also to third party retailers constitutes a violation of good faith. From the report: The Outline was the first outlet to substantially cover the magnitude of the issue, writing that Apple Geniuses responsible for diagnosing and repairing these Apple computers would benevolently attribute dead keys and double-spacing spacebars to a "piece of dust" stuck under the keyboard. Under Apple's warranty, Geniuses might offer to replace the entire top case of the computer, a process that takes about a week. Out of warranty, it costs about $700 to replace this part on a MacBook Pro. Apple has declined repeatedly to comment on the issue, but directs sufferers to a support page that instructs users how to tilt the computer at an angle, blow canned air under the malfunctioning keys, light candles arranged in the shape of a pentagram, and recite an incantation to Gaia in hopes of fixing their machines. Earlier this month, users kickstarted a petition on Change.org that calls on Apple to recall MacBook Pro units released since late 2016 over the defective keyboard. The petition has garnered about 20,000 signatures. Widely respected iOS developer and Apple commentator Marco Arment tweeted on the news, "We can't know for sure that Apple knew the 2016 keyboards were defective and sold them anyway. But it's hard to see how they couldn't have known. They were released 18 months earlier in the 12" MacBook, and those had the same problems with high failure rates from the start."

Class Action Suit Filed Against Apple Over the Keyboards in MacBook Pro and MacBook Laptops

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  • by JoeyRox ( 2711699 ) on Sunday May 13, 2018 @10:03AM (#56603460)
    In most companies, if the first tier of tech support is unable to resolve your issue it gets escalated to a 2nd tier of support personnel. At Apple it gets escalated to black hole, requiring customers to file class actions to get resolution.
    • It's because Apple doesn't know how to test stuff. They do this over and over again, more so than any other 1st tier company.

      This kind of flaw would have been discovered during routine testing of the keyboard at Lenovo out Dell. They would have aged it, blasted it with dust, tested it in 100% humidity and -10C, dropped all kinds of stuff on it...

      I can only think that Apple is so desperate to keep stuff secret that they have to forgo this. They must have product engineers telling them they need to do it.

      And now they have who knows how many defective keyboards, rivetted to the upper part of the case and battery so replacement is insanely expensive and labour intensive.

      • by JoeyRox ( 2711699 ) on Sunday May 13, 2018 @11:18AM (#56603722)
        I don't disagree with you, but even if Apple's failing was in design and/or testing they could resolve it by not shirking their responsibility to stand behind their products, which they almost never do unless forced to via class-action suits.
      • by antdude ( 79039 )

        It's not just Apple. All companies are not caring about QA. :(

      • It's because Apple doesn't know how to test stuff. They do this over and over again, more so than any other 1st tier company.

        This kind of flaw would have been discovered during routine testing of the keyboard at Lenovo out Dell. They would have aged it, blasted it with dust, tested it in 100% humidity and -10C, dropped all kinds of stuff on it...

        I can only think that Apple is so desperate to keep stuff secret that they have to forgo this. They must have product engineers telling them they need to do it.

        And now they have who knows how many defective keyboards, rivetted to the upper part of the case and battery so replacement is insanely expensive and labour intensive.

        No. Apple "Doesn't know how to test stuff." No expertise in simulated real-world testing. Of course not.

        Retard. Apple has its own destructive-testing facility:

        https://www.theverge.com/2014/... [theverge.com]

        The original report I saw also mentioned that they were stress-testing Macbook Pros, etc. in that facility.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          That article shows them testing the iPhone 6 for bending, yet they still had bendgate... They don't know what they are doing.

          • That article shows them testing the iPhone 6 for bending, yet they still had bendgate... They don't know what they are doing.

            1. You have NO idea how much force was being used in that photo. ANYTHING will bend (or simply break!), given enough force.

            2. "Bendgate" was OBVIOUSLY a farce. You'll notice how quickly it dissipated. If it had actually been a design or materials defect, there would have been Class Action Suits, people would STILL be bitching, etc.

        • Yes, and I have my own recording studio. That doesn't mean either of us know what the fuck we're doing in those facilities. As an owner of one of the affected laptops (and a slew of other Apple gear dating back to a Mac Classic), I can say I probably know better what I'm doing in the studio than Apple does in their testing facility, today at least. They used to produce quality hardware, but that's become less true each year since Jobs passed.
          • Yes, and I have my own recording studio. That doesn't mean either of us know what the fuck we're doing in those facilities. As an owner of one of the affected laptops (and a slew of other Apple gear dating back to a Mac Classic), I can say I probably know better what I'm doing in the studio than Apple does in their testing facility, today at least. They used to produce quality hardware, but that's become less true each year since Jobs passed.

            You would be VERY wrong there.

            The only reason I don't actually have a recording studio myself is money. I have some stuff; but certainly not enough to call a "studio" (nevermind having no dedicated space for same!). However, I have logged many hours behind mixing desks, both for live-mixing and multitrack recording, and a fair amount of time with various DAWs. I have been a pro audio enthusiast and expert since about age 16, and play about 4 classes of instruments.

            And I have a slew of Apple gear dating back

            • Yes, they're so good at materials and mechanical product testing that they specifically tested the iPhone 6 for bend strength and still had bending issues! Okay, okay, I'll grant you that they probably test their products quite well; that they truly suck at is acting on test failures so they don't happen in the wild.

              When you have to be a pedant to make your argument, you truly don't have much of an argument to make.
              • Yes, they're so good at materials and mechanical product testing that they specifically tested the iPhone 6 for bend strength and still had bending issues! Okay, okay, I'll grant you that they probably test their products quite well; that they truly suck at is acting on test failures so they don't happen in the wild.

                When you have to be a pedant to make your argument, you truly don't have much of an argument to make.

                Yeah, they're SO unresponsive to field-failures that they completely redesigned the keyboard for the 2017 MacBook Pro, and THOSE don't seem to be failing like the 2016 versions.

                Everyone make mistakes; it's how they RESPOND to those mistakes that makes the difference between a crappy company like Dell, or a superior company like Apple.

                I've been Googling for about a 1/2 hour to see if you can replace a 2016 MBP's keyboard assembly with the improved 2017 version. Powerbook Medic seems to allude that pretty muc

                • Unfortunately, the Intarwebs have a way of amplifying negativity...

                  Yes they do, which is why I assumed this was less of a problem than it actually is and bought one of the affected machines. Live and learn, I guess.

                  • Unfortunately, the Intarwebs have a way of amplifying negativity...

                    Yes they do, which is why I assumed this was less of a problem than it actually is and bought one of the affected machines. Live and learn, I guess.

                    Did you buy a 2016 or 2017 version?

                    • Late 2016, though the early 2017 models are affected as well. The v2 keyboard is only on the late 2017 models.
                    • Late 2016, though the early 2017 models are affected as well. The v2 keyboard is only on the late 2017 models.

                      Yeah, you probably need to start pestering Apple to swap out your case top Assy. With a "mid-2017" model.

                    • Well, if my F key starts doubling up again (it did it for a week) I'll do that. Some of us actually work for a living, though, and don't have time to pester Apple for months until they cave in, then go entirely without the machine for 1-2 weeks for the repair. And yes, that's how long that repair takes because they have to send it out.

                      Oh, and out of warranty it's a $750 repair. What did I say elsewhere in the discussion about replacing a Mercedes with a Fiat because you can do so for less than the cost of
      • by mjwx ( 966435 )

        It's because Apple doesn't know how to test stuff. They do this over and over again, more so than any other 1st tier company.

        This kind of flaw would have been discovered during routine testing of the keyboard at Lenovo out Dell. They would have aged it, blasted it with dust, tested it in 100% humidity and -10C, dropped all kinds of stuff on it...

        I can only think that Apple is so desperate to keep stuff secret that they have to forgo this. They must have product engineers telling them they need to do it.

        Oh yes, they most certainly do. The engineer is told to shut up and do their job.

        Apple is a company run by designers, not engineers. The engineers "job" is to make what the designers envisage work even when its completely pants on head retarded. Because good engineers typically have a problem with producing sub standard crap when they can fix it and more so, being able to shut up and follow orders to do so, Apple does not keep many good engineers.

    • As if second level at other companies like Dell are that much better than first level. Currently dealing with an entire order of Precision 5520 laptops that won't boot that we received over two months ago, and Dell's support is just useless. I've already personally spent over eighty hours on the phone or on chat with them, and the laptops don't work. Between our IT director yelling at our account exec and our CFO demanding a refund, they've probably spent that much more time between them.

    • In most companies, if the first tier of tech support is unable to resolve your issue it gets escalated to a 2nd tier of support personnel. At Apple it gets escalated to black hole, requiring customers to file class actions to get resolution.

      Riiiiiiight.

      Prove it.

      So that's why, when a man reported that iTunes "ate" his song-Library, they ultimately sent not only a special version of iTunes with some additional logging features, but then actually flew TWO engineers from the iTunes DEVELOPMENT TEAM across the country to his HOUSE to see if there was something particular about his computer, network, music files, etc. that was causing the issue.

      The debugging session proved unsuccessful as Apple couldn't reproduce the reported issue; but apparently l

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 13, 2018 @10:46AM (#56603572)

    Posting as AC because I work as an Apple service tech during the day.

    These systems are probably the worst computers Apple has ever produced. The failure rate on them is astoundingly bad- so bad in fact, that the shop I work for is thinking about getting out of the Apple repair business just because we can't adequately support our customers when servicing these machines. We want to, but our hands are completely tied. It's a crap shoot if we can even get new chassis in stock these days (the keyboard is riveted to the lower chassis, which also contains the non-removable battery pack and a few other components). More and more we've been having to send the entire machine into Apple for servicing, at which point they just send you back someone else's refurb (yes, really, this is becoming an extremely common occurrence when servicing any of their portables) and you get to go through the whole process again when that inevitably breaks.

    We've been swamped with these machines to the point that it's been clogging up our service centre for other customers with different machines. On any given week, there's as few as 5 machines awaiting parts (or to be shipped to Apple) and as many as 12. It's usually the keyboard that fails- either one or more keys refuse to work properly, or in some cases we've seen the entire board go tits up and totally scramble the input of the keys (ie, C types Z, J becomes backspace, etc). Other failures include bad or cracked touch bars (don't ask me how these get shattered so often, people keep swearing that they opened up their system one day and it was cracked- I'm starting to think the glass is shattering under the thermal stress from being positioned near the hot end of the system) and logic board failures presumably due to overheated components (we can't perform board level service on these machines, but that hasn't stopped me from putting a few systems under a microscope and poking around- there's a few power related ICs that seem to love blowing up and killing the entire system).

    All in all, I've never seen anything like it. Our owner is pissed off enough he's thinking about dropping Apple entirely and pushing our customers to convert. We do service PC laptops, but it's rare we see keyboard issues with those that can't be fixed in 15 minutes using a $30 replacement part. With the MBPs, it's a $900 CAD piece, and you can't just buy one from Apple- you have to go through GSX to requisition one and send back the old part after you've removed it (they REALLY don't want spare parts getting out onto the second hand market). But again, that's assuming they're even in stock. The last time I was able to order a lower chassis was three weeks ago, and we've had to ship in about two dozen systems since then (which won't come back for 1-2 weeks).

    Anyways, if you want my professional opinion- stay away from these machines. They're defective by design and Apple is clearly buckling under the service load (we're seeing something similar with the iMac Pro as well). I don't know what the fuck they're smoking over there these days, but it's nothing good. A keyboard should not be an integral part of a computer like this. It should be easily removable and serviced without having to scrap half the chassis in the process. Apple fucked up big time here, and it's finally swinging around to bite them in the ass. They won't admit it though, it's more likely you'll see some reference to a vague repair program in a few months promising to fix "affected" machines (hint: they're all affected).

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Itâ(TM)s an inevitable result of the cult of thinness. I miss the 2012 MacBooks that were actually designed for professionals.

      • I recently bought a 2013 MBP instead of a new one. I refuse to pay 2x more for a laptop that is 2x worse. Better to prop the second hand market than these greedy fucks that work today at Apple.
        • by mjwx ( 966435 )

          I recently bought a 2013 MBP instead of a new one. I refuse to pay 2x more for a laptop that is 2x worse. Better to prop the second hand market than these greedy fucks that work today at Apple.

          I have an Asus K501 because I like paying 1/3 as much for a laptop that's 2x as good.

    • by spoot ( 104183 )

      Wish I had mod points. this should be up-voted. I have a 2016 mbp, and let me tell you the keyboard does really, really suck.

    • Most of Apple's recent products are "defective or crippled by design." iPhones without headphone jacks. MacBooks with only one port, to be used for charging and USB. Soldered-on SSD and RAM, making upgrades and recovery after a motherboard failure difficult. (You can't just pop out the SSD and stick it in a sled.)

      If Cook and Ive joined Jobs, Apple's ecosystem would likely improve. Fuck "courage." Build products that are actually functional.

  • Recently, I was prompted to install an OSX update. It bricked my laptop on reboot. Fortunately the installer was on a separate partition and I could boot back into the previous OS, but I have NEVER seen such shitty software releases from Apple in 14 years of usage. Ever since Steve died the company is ruder-less.
  • by DaMattster ( 977781 ) on Sunday May 13, 2018 @01:16PM (#56604040)
    Gone are the days when a corporation would acknowledge a problem and fix it. Now it takes lawsuits to get anything done. It would've been cheaper for Apple to acknowledge and fix the issue. As another poster stated, the 2nd tier of Apple's support is the class action lawsuit.
    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      Gone are the days when a corporation would acknowledge a problem and fix it. Now it takes lawsuits to get anything done. It would've been cheaper for Apple to acknowledge and fix the issue. As another poster stated, the 2nd tier of Apple's support is the class action lawsuit.

      And gone are the days when people would accept them and move on. Nowadays acknowledging a problem is tantamount to admitting there was a problem, thus, a defective product, thus a class action lawsuit. Which you lose because you admitte

    • It would've been cheaper for Apple to acknowledge and fix the issue.

      I'm pretty sure Apple (and others) have done plenty of risk analysis. From what I've seen, class action lawsuits (which are civil cases and subject to negotiation) usually do end up being the cheaper option.

  • Prayers to Gaia? How is Captain Planet supposed to help?
  • If your keyboard is broken, you can't go and buy an Apple keyboard if you work in any industry that has mandatory security audits as all their new keyboards are wireless only and won't pass unless you work in a faraday cage.

    • Oh bloody hell. I just checked, and you're right. They used to have a perfectly good USB keyboard but they've gotten rid of it. Wireless-only now. :(

      Very frustrating. I work in an area with extremely bad RF interference, so bluetooth peripherals are extremely hit or miss depending on where you're sitting. I avoid wireless keyboards now cause it's just not worth the hassle.

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