Apple's Service Program Fails to Solve Keyboard Problem, Full Refund Only Fair Solution
Jun 24, 2018 — “Apple announces brilliant plan to replace failed keyboards with exact same defective keyboards that will fail again,” would be an appropriate headline if this were a story in The Onion. Unfortunately, this is all too real.
Casey Johnston at The Outline:
“The program doesn’t note whether the replacements will be a different, improved design that will prevent the problem from happening again (and again, and again)… Repairs do not permanently fix the issue... The design on offer as recently as February still presented the exact same issues as the design I purchased in the fall of 2016.”
Chance Miller at 9to5Mac:
“Consumers will have their faulty keyboard replaced with one of the same design, equally as likely to fail.”
The replacement keyboards have a high chance of repeated failure. Numerous commenters on this petition have had three keyboards in a row fail: the original, the replacement, and the second replacement.
“I had the keyboard replaced after 2 months and it failed AGAIN. This product is defective. I've had it serviced 4 times in 2 years and it's still not working properly.”
We, the 31,000 signatories to this petition, asked Apple to provide us with new, redesigned keyboards that just work. Given that Apple seems unable and/or unwilling to genuinely solve the problem, at this point Apple should offer a full refund to everyone who purchased a MacBook or MacBook Pro with a butterfly keyboard, regardless of date of purchase. These laptops are all lemons, and Apple’s non-solution leaves us with a ticking time bomb of a keyboard that can fail at any moment – again.
I’m blissfully writing this update from a 2015 MacBook Pro with a scissor switch keyboard. Not only is the keyboard reliable, it’s quieter and more pleasant to type on given the depth of key travel. Apple must return to this keyboard design for future MacBook Pros, or utilize the Magic Keyboard 2 scissor design, as Marco Arment suggests.
It’s troubling that Apple continues to promote and sell the current gen MacBooks to customers without disclosing upfront the keyboard problem. Apple’s claim that it only affects “a small percentage” seems dubious, given the large volume of anecdotes about the issue in tweets, blogs YouTube videos, petition signatures, etc. This problem is clearly widespread.
Other observations about Apple’s faux-“repair” program:
• Most of us who own MBPs use them as our sole work machine. We cannot afford to be without our machines for even one day, much less three to five days or more. Owners will lose many days of productivity waiting for their machines to be repaired, only to have the repair inevitably fail, and then repeat the cycle of more lost productivity. The cost in downtime alone, for most of us, is far greater than the cost of the machine.
• The four-year limitation is unreasonable. While a warranty normally applies for a limited period of time, this is an extraordinary situation in which the issue is Apple’s flawed design. As such, Apple should offer an essentially unlimited promise to owners of these machines – whether the original owner, or subsequent owners – that the keyboard shall be replaced. Given the four-year time limitation, these machines become essentially worthless four years from the date of purchase. This isn’t fair to the original owners or to second-hand purchasers. Imagine a Late 2016 MacBook Pro being resold in Fall of 2020: The new owner buys it, the keyboard (predictably) fails, and then Apple quotes $700 as the cost of replacing the keyboard – which will likely be more than the cost of the machine by then! However, to be clear, even if Apple extended this faux-repair program for a decade, it would not be a valid solution unless it also involves a redesigned keyboard that Just Works, which apparently is not Apple’s approach.
• If you paid Apple to repair your keyboard, you should ask Apple for a refund of that expense under the terms of the service program.
Apple still has not responded to this petition. I had hoped the petition would persuade Apple to get serious about solving this problem, but at this point it seems unlikely Apple will ever do the right thing. Perhaps the lawsuits will compel Apple to offer a full refund for the purchase price of these machines.
And what about the future? Does Apple intend to double down on garbage butterfly keyboards in future MacBook Pros, or will Apple learn from this experience and prioritize It Just Works over thin and light? The Mac product line is in a sad and neglected state.
P.S. – You will notice that there are no missing Ls in this update. My L key works! Thank you, 2015 MBP.
Rogue Amoeba on the sad state of Mac hardware:
Apple's keyboard program:
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