MacBook, MacBook Pro keyboard repairs 'prioritized' for in-store next-day service

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited April 23
Owners of the MacBook and MacBook Pro may find their keyboard repairs are quicker to complete than usual, with Apple Stores instructed to perform the repair at the in-store Genius Bar, rather than dispatching the notebooks out to an off-site repair shop.

A current MacBook Pro keyboard
A current MacBook Pro keyboard


An internal memo has been circulated to Apple Stores in the last week, headlined "How to support Mac customers with keyboard-related repairs in store." The document advises how technicians should prioritize the work to offer a "next-day turnaround time" for consumers, rather than being a multi-day fix.

"Most keyboard-related repairs will be required to be completed in store until further notice," the memo reads. "Additional service parts have been shipped to stores to support the increased volume."

The note goes on to advise of the next-day turnaround time prioritization, before reminding "When completing the repair, have the appropriate service guide open and carefully follow all repair steps."

It is unclear exactly why Apple is moving to make keyboard repairs an in-store fix, but it is likely an attempt to appease frustrated customers by cutting down the repair time as much as possible. A typical keyboard repair that required the MacBook to be shipped to a separate Apple facility takes up to five business days to complete, making a next-day repair a dramatic acceleration of the repair process.

The internal memo was first reported by MacRumors.

The butterfly mechanism used in the MacBook and MacBook Pro has been the subject of criticism over its reliability since its introduction. AppleInsider discovered in April 2018 the failure rates for the mechanism were double previous versions, strongly suggesting there are issues with its design.

The addition of an "elastic membrane" in 2018 seemed as if it would help reduce the instances of debris interfering with the mechanism, as well as making it quieter to type, though Apple only officially advised of the latter. Testing of the membrane, however, reveals the membrane does help protect against small amounts of fine dust getting into the mechanism, it was easily able to be overwhelmed and defeated by the addition of more debris.

In March, Apple came under fire for the issue in a prominent Wall Street Journal report. Issuing an apologetic statement, Apple advised only a small number of users were affected by issues relating to sticking keys and failing mechanisms, a statement Apple has frequently claimed in response to similar complaints.


Earlier mechanisms have been the subject of multiple lawsuits against Apple over the failures, and in June 2018 it initiated a service program for customers with affected keyboards.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 24
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,007member
    I have no experience with the butterfly keyboards but they certainly have divided people. Seems those used to traditional keyboards largely hate them, while people new to keyboard typing have fewer complaints. It’s rather disappointing that a very different keyboard design would not be pre-tested among hundreds, if not thousands, of testers prior to release. The functional elements of computers, not just the aesthetic ones, must be treated more seriously at Apple. If for nothing else, to reduce the repairs and complaints.
    anantksundaramAI_liasMplsPfirelockmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 2 of 24
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 3,654member
    As a supporter of repairability I would rather have keyboard repairs not require interfering with other unrelated elements of the device such as the battery. If that requires a slightly thicker laptop and a more modular re-design, so be it.

    And while they are at it, make the keyboard spillproof.
    majorsl1STnTENDERBITSAI_liasMplsPelijahgmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 3 of 24
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 3,922member
    I would love to know the backstory on this keyboard. A lot of people blame Apple’s obsession with thinness for the issues yet Windows OEMs have laptops as thin as the MBP without problems.  There are two separate issues with the butterfly keyboard which often seem to get conflated. Less key travel is not a defect it’s a personal preference. Keys sticking or plain not working is definitely a defect and something these butterfly keyboards seem to be plagued with.
    electrosoftanantksundaramelijahgLatko
  • Reply 4 of 24
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,647member
    It is unclear exactly why Apple is moving to make keyboard repairs an in-store fix, but it is likely an attempt to appease frustrated customers by cutting down the repair time as much as possible. 

    Ya think? 

    You know what would have been even better? To design the keyboard so it was, let’s say, reliable, and if it broke, so it could be replaced easily without requiring an overnight stay, let alone “a multi-day fix”.
    anantksundaramLatkomuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 5 of 24
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 2,719member
    Imagine if they could find a way to make the keyboard lift out as a single solid unit from the top, secured by magnets and connected by a Smart Connector type interface. 

    Was it the plastic MacBooks that had the keyboards that could be removed from the top of the case? Not like that exactly, but that general idea and done in a more solid modern way. 
    AI_lias
  • Reply 6 of 24
    saareksaarek Posts: 1,123member
    I still don’t understand how this keyboard ever made it out of quality control during the design phase, let alone survive for this many years.

    I’ve had to take my 2017 MacBook Pro in twice for a repair and I only tend to use it at home.

    Absolute joke and a massive tarnish on their laptop reputation.
    anantksundarammuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 7 of 24
    Imagine if they could find a way to make the keyboard lift out as a single solid unit from the top, secured by magnets and connected by a Smart Connector type interface. 

    Was it the plastic MacBooks that had the keyboards that could be removed from the top of the case? Not like that exactly, but that general idea and done in a more solid modern way. 
    It was the plastic iBooks and the 12" MacBook Pro.
    chiawelshdog
  • Reply 8 of 24
    The biggest issue with fast turn-a-round is the crappy post-repair diagnostics and trackpad calibration.  Hair-pulling frustration levels when something that should take 15 minutes, could take hours or even days to complete.
    hammeroftruthLatko
  • Reply 9 of 24
    Good idea, and about time. The keyboard is producing genuine angst among many users, and is generating intense negative press for Apple. 

    See, for example, this tweet from David Pogue (who certainly is no enemy of Apple): https://twitter.com/pogue/status/1120814670628044800?s=21
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 10 of 24
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,291member
    I have a 2017 MacBook Pro and have been incredibly anal about protecting the keyboard - so far I've had a few minor issues but I've been able to resolve them and it's still working ok. Quite the difference from my 2011 MB Air which still continues to work flawlessly.

    The question I'm wrestling with now is should I get a MacBook for my daughter who's finishing her freshman year in college? She's not reckless with her things, but she will treat it like a college student. I don't want to shell out $1500-2000 for a device that's going to give her troubles and am seriously debating whether I should get her a decent windows laptop.
  • Reply 11 of 24
    AI_liasAI_lias Posts: 289member
    MplsP said:
    I have a 2017 MacBook Pro and have been incredibly anal about protecting the keyboard - so far I've had a few minor issues but I've been able to resolve them and it's still working ok. Quite the difference from my 2011 MB Air which still continues to work flawlessly.

    The question I'm wrestling with now is should I get a MacBook for my daughter who's finishing her freshman year in college? She's not reckless with her things, but she will treat it like a college student. I don't want to shell out $1500-2000 for a device that's going to give her troubles and am seriously debating whether I should get her a decent windows laptop.
    Maybe let her use the Macbook Air for a year until Apple figures out how they will fix this problem (unless she needs really serious computing power). I think this has reached such a pitch that Apple will now redesign the keyboard entirely, but that will delay any new Macbook Pros. If they'll do the right thing, they're rethink the whole top case design, and that means it will take them a while. Some good ideas were mentioned in comments above, at this point anything is better than this keyboard, and having to replace the whole top case for a grain of dust.
    edited April 23
  • Reply 12 of 24

    This is what we internally call an “Apple success“. In contrast to a plain “success”, an Apple success is a state when the work is total shit, which should be burned and the ashes buried deep within the bowels of Earth. But it is proclaimed a success because, officially, there are no failures in Apple.

    In other words - The MacBook keyboard is a typical Apple success and will remain a success each year.

  • Reply 13 of 24
    rogifan_new said: A lot of people blame Apple’s obsession with thinness for the issues yet Windows OEMs have laptops as thin as the MBP without problems.
    Every laptop manufacturer on the planet has to fix keyboard problems regardless of how thick or thin the laptop is. That's because the keyboard is one of the most heavily used parts of the machine and is exposed to a lot of dirt/debris due to direct contact with human hands. Do a Google search on keyboard problems/repairs for PC vendors and every complaint people make about the butterfly keyboards will be duplicated by non-butterfly designs for Lenovo, Dell, HP, Acer etc. The main difference between Apple and it's competitors for repairs is that Apple's lineup is simplified into just a few models, which makes repair complaints seem higher simply because there are vastly greater numbers of consumers using those specific laptop models. 
    edited April 24 chiatht
  • Reply 14 of 24
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 3,654member
    rogifan_new said: A lot of people blame Apple’s obsession with thinness for the issues yet Windows OEMs have laptops as thin as the MBP without problems.
    Every laptop manufacturer on the planet has to fix keyboard problems regardless of how thick or thin the laptop is. That's because the keyboard is one of the most heavily used parts of the machine and is exposed to a lot of dirt/debris due to direct contact with human hands. Do a Google search on keyboard problems/repairs for PC vendors and every complaint people make about the butterfly keyboards will be duplicated by non-butterfly designs for Lenovo, Dell, HP, Acer etc. The main difference between Apple and it's competitors for repairs is that Apple's lineup is simplified into just a few models, which makes repair complaints seem higher simply because there are vastly greater numbers of consumers using those specific laptop models. 
    The issue is twofold. Not letting particles in or if they can get in, making the keys able to live with a certain amount of gunk without negatively affecting use.

    If you can cover those two cases you are in a better position. If on top of that, the part can be replaced with little fuss/cost if needed, much of this becomes moot.

    I'd rather Apple start over and change their overall goals to focus more on the part itself and less on how it integrates with the machine.
  • Reply 15 of 24
    Instead of prioritising the repairs, Apple should be prioritising the complete redesign of these atrociously bad keyboards. 
    RadMaxmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 16 of 24
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 3,922member
    rogifan_new said: A lot of people blame Apple’s obsession with thinness for the issues yet Windows OEMs have laptops as thin as the MBP without problems.
    Every laptop manufacturer on the planet has to fix keyboard problems regardless of how thick or thin the laptop is. That's because the keyboard is one of the most heavily used parts of the machine and is exposed to a lot of dirt/debris due to direct contact with human hands. Do a Google search on keyboard problems/repairs for PC vendors and every complaint people make about the butterfly keyboards will be duplicated by non-butterfly designs for Lenovo, Dell, HP, Acer etc. The main difference between Apple and it's competitors for repairs is that Apple's lineup is simplified into just a few models, which makes repair complaints seem higher simply because there are vastly greater numbers of consumers using those specific laptop models. 
    I get that any piece of hardware can have issues/failures but I haven’t heard many if any tech reviewers complaining about recent Windows OEM laptop keyboards failing/breaking. That’s why I take issue with those who say it’s Apple’s obsession with thinness causing the problem. MBPs aren’t thinner than Windows Ultrabooks. I’ll bet any money the next MBP refresh we see will have a different keyboard. I’m sure Apple PR will avoid making it sound like the butterfly keyboard was a failure so they’ll just spin it as some new amazing thing the “team” came up with.
  • Reply 17 of 24
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,663member
    Imagine if they could find a way to make the keyboard lift out as a single solid unit from the top, secured by magnets and connected by a Smart Connector type interface. 

    Was it the plastic MacBooks that had the keyboards that could be removed from the top of the case? Not like that exactly, but that general idea and done in a more solid modern way. 
    It was the plastic iBooks and the 12" MacBook Pro.
    Some of the Powerbooks had easy to replace keyboards too.
  • Reply 18 of 24
    rogifan_new said: I get that any piece of hardware can have issues/failures but I haven’t heard many if any tech reviewers complaining about recent Windows OEM laptop keyboards failing/breaking.
    They're not hard to find. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is a popular ultrabook and this particular article includes the subhead 'Playing the Keyboard Lottery'. 

    https://www.tomshardware.com/news/lenovo-laptop-quality-control-issues,37510.html
  • Reply 19 of 24
    AI_liasAI_lias Posts: 289member
    rogifan_new said: A lot of people blame Apple’s obsession with thinness for the issues yet Windows OEMs have laptops as thin as the MBP without problems.
    Every laptop manufacturer on the planet has to fix keyboard problems regardless of how thick or thin the laptop is. That's because the keyboard is one of the most heavily used parts of the machine and is exposed to a lot of dirt/debris due to direct contact with human hands. Do a Google search on keyboard problems/repairs for PC vendors and every complaint people make about the butterfly keyboards will be duplicated by non-butterfly designs for Lenovo, Dell, HP, Acer etc. The main difference between Apple and it's competitors for repairs is that Apple's lineup is simplified into just a few models, which makes repair complaints seem higher simply because there are vastly greater numbers of consumers using those specific laptop models. 
    Isn't one of the differences between Apple also that they need to replace the battery and top case to fix a single key, also? That's what made for very involved, multi-day repairs to begin with.
  • Reply 20 of 24
    ...while people new to keyboard typing have fewer complaints.
    I've been typing on a keyboard since 8, and I got used to it, don't make it sounds like "only newbies like the feel".
    rogifan_new said: A lot of people blame Apple’s obsession with thinness for the issues yet Windows OEMs have laptops as thin as the MBP without problems.
    Every laptop manufacturer on the planet has to fix keyboard problems regardless of how thick or thin the laptop is. That's because the keyboard is one of the most heavily used parts of the machine and is exposed to a lot of dirt/debris due to direct contact with human hands. Do a Google search on keyboard problems/repairs for PC vendors and every complaint people make about the butterfly keyboards will be duplicated by non-butterfly designs for Lenovo, Dell, HP, Acer etc. The main difference between Apple and it's competitors for repairs is that Apple's lineup is simplified into just a few models, which makes repair complaints seem higher simply because there are vastly greater numbers of consumers using those specific laptop models. 
    I get that any piece of hardware can have issues/failures but I haven’t heard many if any tech reviewers complaining about recent Windows OEM laptop keyboards failing/breaking. That’s why I take issue with those who say it’s Apple’s obsession with thinness causing the problem. MBPs aren’t thinner than Windows Ultrabooks...
    Then it's not mostly about overall thickness, it's about delivering a new typing experience but didn't go as plan.
    edited April 24 fastasleep
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