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Blogger Shows Us How It’s Done – Wins Suit Against Apple Over Defective MacBook Pro

Blogger Shows Us How It’s Done – Wins Suit Against Apple Over Defective MacBook Pro

A few years back Seattle Rex had gone all out on a 17” MacBook Pro – spending approximately $4,500 on the then top-of-the-line machine ($5,100 including AppleCare). The particular MacBook Pro he bought turned out to be defective. The laptop’s Nvidia graphics processor started displaying symptoms of the defect shortly after his AppleCare expired. A few days later the laptop died completely – it wouldn’t even start up. At the time Rex’s laptop broke down the defect was a known and well-documented issue. Apple had even issued a tech note and was replacing defective models as they failed.

Rex did his own research and quickly learned about the defect, “Apple was going to make it good,” he thought to himself. Unfortunately, he was wrong. His local Apple Store refused to service the laptop free of charge – instead they assessed nearly $600 in repair fees. Why? Because the Apple Geniuses couldn’t turn on the MacBook Pro to verify that the Nvidia graphics card was defective. In light of situation this seemed utterly ridiculous. The defect was the reason why his laptop died in the first place. According to Rex, “a $4,500 laptop that fails in 3 years and 3 months is defective. Period.”

In the months that followed Rex continued to press the issue with Apple. He wanted Apple to stand behind its product. He knew his MacBook Pro was defective and he wanted Apple to fix it. He spoke with various Apple representatives at all levels of the corporate hierarchy. When that failed he filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. Finally, Rex filed a small claims lawsuit against Apple demanding that Apple make things right.

I had an experience with a particular Apple defect a few years ago and, as I went through the ordeal (albeit I never had to take Apple to court) myself, I grew to appreciate how far a little bit of consumer-savvy awareness and determination goes in situations like this. Don’t be discouraged. If you believe you have a defective Mac then you should do your own research and stick to your guns. That experience inspired me to write a book on the subject, Buying And Owning A Mac: Secrets Apple Doesn’t Want You To Know, and to start posting articles aimed at informing consumers about the same.

My hat is off to Rex. He knew his rights and he didn’t back down. Typically, Apple has an excellent track record when dealing with defective products. Under most circumstances, Apple will immediately repair or replace any defective Mac without protest. But the reality is this isn’t always going to be the case. Sometimes it’s going to be an uphill battle. Apple may refuse to service a defective Mac for a number of reasons. Your Mac may exhibit a novel or undocumented defect; your Mac’s defect may be hard to articulate or detect; you may get stuck with an Apple Genius that’s just having a bad day.

His story illustrates how far you might have to go in order to get satisfaction. Months and thousands of dollars later (he is entitled to be reimbursed for his expenses too) Rex won his case against Apple and received a favorable verdict. Good for him.

  • AaronD12

    This story makes me think there’s information missing. First, the blogger was a douche for not accepting Apple’s offer for a replacement laptop.

    Second, my friend purchased a BTO 17″ MacBook Pro from eBay and it ended up having the same defect: The computer would boot, but no image was displayed on its LCD or an external monitor. He took it to the nearby Apple store and they fixed it for free even though he didn’t have AppleCare AND he wasn’t the original owner.

    Something is definitely missing about this story and I think it all stemmed from this guy being a douche to Apple staff members.

  • Lane Jasper

    This is AWESOME!!!! one for the little guys!! Apple full-well knew of the issue and took it clear to court….douches/and YES, I’m a fanboi :-)

  • Fiercehairdo

    AaronD12, the only “douche” here appears to be you. Apple didn’t offer him a replacement laptop, so your comment misses the point entirely. Why so quick to jump to Apple’s defence??
    In my experience Apple can be seriously laking in facing up to issues of faulty hardware. Too often they adopt a “not listening”, head-in-the-sand-approach, while customers fill up the message boards with complaints about real problems Apple wont even acknowledge exist. It’s not as if they can’t afford to address these issues for customers – it is widely reported how cash-rich they are. They just prefer to hold firm, knowing that enough frustrated customers will ultimately just go and buy some new replacement hardware and Apple make even more money.
    Apple may have changed our lives’ for the better in many ways but more and more they start to resemble the 1984-ish, Orwellian abuse of the power they once mocked in their adverts: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYecfV3ubP8

  • davester13

    This story makes me think there’s information missing. First, the blogger was a douche for not accepting Apple’s offer for a replacement laptop.

    Second, my friend purchased a BTO 17″ MacBook Pro from eBay and it ended up having the same defect: The computer would boot, but no image was displayed on its LCD or an external monitor. He took it to the nearby Apple store and they fixed it for free even though he didn’t have AppleCare AND he wasn’t the original owner.

    Something is definitely missing about this story and I think it all stemmed from this guy being a douche to Apple staff members.

    I don’t believe Apple did offer him a replacement laptop. It was only “we can’t verify that it the graphics chip without doing some work past hitting the startup button, so it’s not covered by this program.”

    And he hasn’t actually “won”. Now he has the problem of getting Apple to actually pay up. Perhaps the publicity will do this. Maybe an email to Tim Cook will do the job. Maybe having a sheriff show up at an Apple store and start confiscating merchandise will be needed.

  • jyhash

    Another reason why you should go into Authorized Service Representatives for repairs rather than the Apple Store. Usually if you find a hometown owned shop that has a deal with Apple to repair Mac’s, they will do their damndest to make sure you are treated well and fight for you with Apple ASP and GSX. I’ve seen numerous times where my old boss Jeremy went above and beyond the call of duty getting a customer’s computer fixed because he felt Apple was giving the customer the shaft.

    Yes there are numerous hoops that have to be jumped through to get a full on replacement, but that graphics board should have been replaced free of charge WELL before it ever got so far as going to court. So to sum up: Buy Apple, but don’t have it serviced by Apple. Have it serviced by someone who cares if you come into their store again.

  • MacAdvisor

    Assuming he won the judgment in a small claims court, the judgment could be appealed to a regular trial court, where Apple could be represented by attorneys and where depositions can be taken. That would set aside the small claims judgment and there would be a new trial with Apple, due to their rather legen-, wait for it, -dary, legal team to save the day.

    Assuming the judgment is final, a sheriff’s sale would likely satisfy the judgment in a few minutes. In a sheriff’s sale, the plaintiff arranges with the local sheriff to go to the retail location of the debtor and begin selling merchandise found therein at auction. Only cash is accepted. The sale continues until the debt and costs are satisfied. Some jurisdictions don’t hold an auction, but the sheriff operate the register, taking in the proceeds from all sales until the judgment is satisfied (again, only cash is accepted). I rather like the auction format because sales are made for whatever cash is available in the customers present. The judgment holder can use his judgment to bid. Given how little cash people carry these day, items worth thousands often sell for less than $100. I suspect, as soon as the deputies showed up at the local Apple store, money to satisfy the judgment would be forthcoming.

  • Aaron

    I don’t believe Apple did offer him a replacement laptop. It was only “we can’t verify that it the graphics chip without doing some work past hitting the startup button, so it’s not covered by this program.”

    It wasn’t stated on the story on this site, but other sites covering the same story mentioned that Apple offered him a replacement laptop which he refused.

    @FierceHairdo: I’m not quickly coming to Apple’s defense for no reason: I’m coming to their defense because of them fixing my friend’s laptop with NO QUESTIONS ASKED. This is the reason I’m an Apple customer. Their customer service, almost without exception, has been wonderful for me. If you want to go on your paranoid tirade about 1984, you’re welcome to. You’re also welcome to go back to using your Windows computer and leave this site to Apple enthusiasts.

  • technochick

    So instead of saying ‘okay so what if you replace the logic board and that doesn’t fix it, I don’t have to pay for that work right?’ he went nuts yelling for a new computer, threatening to sue etc

    He got lucky the judge probably knows little about computers . A knowledged judge would have likely sided with Apples ‘we can’t verify the claim’ . Especially since this guys training and expertise was I read it on the web’

  • Nate

    It wasn’t stated on the story on this site, but other sites covering the same story mentioned that Apple offered him a replacement laptop which he refused.

    I wonder if the replacement had the very same GPU. If that was the case, I might to have to agree with the guy.

About the author

Jonathan ZschauJonathan was introduced to Apple at the age of five when his family bought its first computer, an Apple IIGS, in 1986. He has owned and used Macs almost exclusively ever since. He is an attorney from Boston, Massachusetts where he focuses on litigation technology. As a contributor he writes about consumer protection issues related to Apple products. He is also the author of Buying and Owning a Mac: Secrets Apple Doesn't Want You to Know.

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