Apple launches keyboard service program for 'small percentage' of MacBook, MacBook Pro own...

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited June 2018
Apple on Friday launched a service program for a "small percentage" of MacBook and MacBook Pro models exhibiting keyboard failures, the company's first official action to reconcile complaints concerning alleged flaws in its butterfly keyboard design.




Outlined in a support document posted to Apple's website, the company recently determined certain late model MacBook and MacBook Pro units exhibit keyboard functionality issues that include unexpectedly repeating letters or characters, letters or characters that do not appear after a key is pressed, and key or keys that feel "sticky" or do not respond to input.

Owners of the following MacBook models who experience one of the behaviors listed above can take their machine in to Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider for free servicing:
  • MacBook (Retina, 12-inch, Early 2015)
  • MacBook (Retina, 12-inch, Early 2016)
  • MacBook (Retina, 12-inch, 2017)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2016, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2017, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2016, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2017, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2016)
  • MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2017)
While not specified in the document, the list includes every Apple laptop with a butterfly key mechanism.

Apple or an authorized repair shop will examine user MacBooks to determine whether the unit is a candidate for service and, if so, replace problematic keys or the entire keyboard. Owners who already paid for eligible keyboard repairs can contact Apple to request a refund. Apple's coverage applies to MacBook units up to four years after their first retail sale.

The program arrives as a growing number of customer complaints question the reliability of Apple's butterfly keyboard. The low-profile switch design debuted with the 12-inch MacBook in 2015, while second-generation switches arrived in the MacBook Pro line the following year.

Last year, however, customers began to report issues with the switch architecture, saying small amounts of dust and debris would render keys inoperable. Apple indirectly acknowledged the issue in a support document outlining a method of cleaning affected keyboards with a can of compressed air. Anecdotal reports claim the technique rarely works.

Customers who encounter the issue, and who are no longer covered by Apple's gratis one-year warranty, are faced with two options: pay for a pricey repair or be left with a non-functional computer.

AppleInsider investigated the issue in April. According to data from Genius Bar locations and authorized third-party shops, the 2016 MacBook Pro's keyboard failed roughly twice as often in its first year of use as 2014 and 2015 MacBook Pro models with scissor-type switches. Current 2017 model year versions fair a bit better, though the model has not been available for a full year.

Shortly after the report was published, Apple was hit with a class action lawsuit claiming the butterfly keyboard design is inherently flawed. According to filing, "thousands" of MacBook and MacBook Pro owners have experienced some type of failure with Apple's butterfly keyboard that renders the machine useless.

A series of related class action complaints were subsequently lodged, and continue to be filed, in California District Court, each detailing nearly identical failures related to Apple's key switch design.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 83
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 1,047member
    Wow, that’s all of them!  I was hoping it was an isolated affliction but it seems the butterfly design is fundamentally flawed.
    aylkwilliamlondonmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 2 of 83
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 3,752member
    Guess the lawsuits worked. Hopefully the new modes have a different keyboard design.
    cgWerksmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 3 of 83
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 3,215member
    "This worldwide Apple program does not extend the standard warranty coverage of your MacBook or MacBook Pro"

    Strange. They are saying that some machines may have an issue (the cause of which isn't described), provide no run of serial numbers that could limit the issue to certain keyboard batches, leave the last word on repair with Apple service reps but then refuse to cover it out of warranty.

    On first reading it looks like a tacit admission of a design problem but the user will have to live with it once out of warranty or pay for repair.
    ktappeaylkmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 4 of 83
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    avon b7 said:
    On first reading it looks like a tacit admission of a design problem but the user will have to live with it once out of warranty or pay for repair.
    Sounds like the GeForce 8600M problem in earlier MacBook Pros, where they just swapped out an identical logic board with another GPU that had a 100% failure rate.
    ktappemagman1979lamboaudi4bshankElCapitanmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 5 of 83
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 1,921member
    avon b7 said:
    On first reading it looks like a tacit admission of a design problem but the user will have to live with it once out of warranty or pay for repair.
    Sounds like the GeForce 8600M problem in earlier MacBook Pros, where they just swapped out an identical logic board with another GPU that had a 100% failure rate.
    Exactly. (and that's what killed my first MacBook Pro) This isn't a solution. It's a PR action.
    ktappeaylkwilliamlondonmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 6 of 83
    urashidurashid Posts: 86member
    avon b7 said:
    "This worldwide Apple program does not extend the standard warranty coverage of your MacBook or MacBook Pro"

    ... but then refuse to cover it out of warranty.
    But they are covering the keyboard out of warranty, just not extending the warranty for any other issues.  That's how I am reading it.
    sportyguy209GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 7 of 83
    KITAKITA Posts: 154member
    mcdave said:
    Wow, that’s all of them!  I was hoping it was an isolated affliction but it seems the butterfly design is fundamentally flawed.
    They're also horrible to type on.
    irelandaylkwilliamlondonGeorgeBMacd_2muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 8 of 83
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 3,215member
    urashid said:
    avon b7 said:
    "This worldwide Apple program does not extend the standard warranty coverage of your MacBook or MacBook Pro"

    ... but then refuse to cover it out of warranty.
    But they are covering the keyboard out of warranty, just not extending the warranty for any other issues.  That's how I am reading it.
    Ah, that makes sense. Thanks. When I read it something didn't seem right.
    urashidmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 9 of 83
    DuhSesameDuhSesame Posts: 390member
    Wonder if it’s a design failure or something related to production qualities.  If it’s latter then all they need to do is to swap the parts out with a better quality one, but if it’s a design issue then people will still betting their chances.
  • Reply 10 of 83
    DuhSesameDuhSesame Posts: 390member
    KITA said:
    mcdave said:
    Wow, that’s all of them!  I was hoping it was an isolated affliction but it seems the butterfly design is fundamentally flawed.
    They're also horrible to type on.
    Yeah?  Many people seemed interested at first.
  • Reply 11 of 83
    irelandireland Posts: 17,538member
    Third time lucky.
    Alex1N
  • Reply 12 of 83
    tipootipoo Posts: 1,013member

    Four years from the first sale of the unit, not just your purchase. If you have a three year old 2015 Macbook, or even bought one recently off the refurb store, you're still kinda boned.

    This is just like the 4 year solder issue extension, started 3 years after the problem, leaving you with a 1 year window for the failure to occur, if it happened after you were still on your own.

    It's better than nothing, but 4 years from YOUR purchase date would help refurbs not feel burned.

    aylkwilliamlondonmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 13 of 83
    irelandireland Posts: 17,538member
    avon b7 said:
    "This worldwide Apple program does not extend the standard warranty coverage of your MacBook or MacBook Pro"

    Strange. They are saying that some machines may have an issue (the cause of which isn't described), provide no run of serial numbers that could limit the issue to certain keyboard batches, leave the last word on repair with Apple service reps but then refuse to cover it out of warranty.

    On first reading it looks like a tacit admission of a design problem but the user will have to live with it once out of warranty or pay for repair.
    It’s covered for four years, apparently. But my experience with Apple is their support typically sorts stuff if it’s not your fault, even out of warranty. Ask and you shall receive.  
    williamlondonAlex1N
  • Reply 14 of 83
    DuhSesameDuhSesame Posts: 390member
    I don't think I've heard anything about the first-generation keyboard, which I guess is more reliable than the second-generation?
  • Reply 15 of 83
    irelandireland Posts: 17,538member
    KITA said:
    mcdave said:
    Wow, that’s all of them!  I was hoping it was an isolated affliction but it seems the butterfly design is fundamentally flawed.
    They're also horrible to type on.
    Proud MBA owner. Badge of honour!
    KITAAlex1N
  • Reply 16 of 83
    mknelsonmknelson Posts: 284member
    mcdave said:
    Wow, that’s all of them!  I was hoping it was an isolated affliction but it seems the butterfly design is fundamentally flawed.
    It sounds like a clearance issue if the keys are getting gummed up with fine dust and debris. Modifying the key caps or top case to allow a larger gap around the keys might be a simple fix for the next model.
    Alex1N
  • Reply 17 of 83
    irelandireland Posts: 17,538member
    DuhSesame said:
    KITA said:
    mcdave said:
    Wow, that’s all of them!  I was hoping it was an isolated affliction but it seems the butterfly design is fundamentally flawed.
    They're also horrible to type on.
    Yeah? Many people seemed interested at first.
    I don’t know if they are horrible, but a bit extra key travel can be nice when using a physical keyboard. Like a piano with half the travel would feel yucky. Or a doorbell with half the press-travel, I wouldn’t like. Or a gas pedal with only a small amount of accelerator travel. The list goes on. Most humans like a decent amount of tactility.
    edited June 2018 aylkAlex1N
  • Reply 18 of 83
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    I have a 2017 Macbook Pro and did have a problem with one of the keys getting stuck. But I don't think the butterfly switches are fundmentally flawed, because the keys do feel more stable than my previous 2015 MBP. 

    They just need to have a few mm more travel and not be so tight in their tolerances, and they will be a genuine improvement. It was a basically good idea pushed a little too far in implementation.
    lamboaudi4Alex1N
  • Reply 19 of 83
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,489member
    It's not Apple's fault you people don't use your MBP in hermetically sealed clean rooms¡
    cgWerkselijahgaylkanantksundaramAlex1N
  • Reply 20 of 83
    DuhSesameDuhSesame Posts: 390member
    I don’t know if they are horrible, but a bit extra key travel can be nice when using a physical keyboard. Like a piano with half the travel would feel yucky.
    Maybe.  But laptops are always dealing with shorter travel anyaway.
    ascii said:
    I have a 2017 Macbook Pro and did have a problem with one of the keys getting stuck. But I don't think the butterfly switches are fundmentally flawed, because the keys do feel more stable than my previous 2015 MBP. 

    They just need to have a few mm more travel and not be so tight in their tolerances, and they will be a genuine improvement. It was a basically good idea pushed a little too far in implementation.
    Maybe Apple knows why and how keyboard fails, but we don’t.
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