MacBook Butterfly keyboard lawsuit granted class-action status

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited March 22
Apple will have to face a class-action lawsuit over allegations it knew about flaws in the MacBook Pro butterfly keyboard design and didn't do enough to combat issues or lost value for owners.




The lawsuit, which complains of issues with the butterfly keyboard, was officially certified as a class-action suit by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose Division. The certification took place on March 8, but was kept under seal until March 19 so that a redacted version of the court order could be created.

A total of seven subclasses were determined by District Judge Edward J. Davila, with each covering users in a different state. The states it applies to are California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Washington, reports The Verge.

The suit also applies to people within those states who bought a Macbook between 2015 and 2017, a MacBook Pro between 2016 and 2019, or a MacBook Air between 2018 and 2019 that used the butterfly keyboard.

Originally filed in 2018, the lawsuit alleges the keyboard failed during regular use, such as dust or debris ingress causing keys to not fully respond. In some instances, the behavior manifested as "sticky" keys or overly repeating characters, as well as a lack of response.

It is claimed Apple was aware of the issue, but kept selling models using the keyboard despite knowing this. One Apple executive is quoted in writing "no matter how much lipstick you try to put on this pig (the butterfly keyboard)... it's still ugly."

The complaints were so much of an issue that Apple updated the keyboard to include a thin silicone membrane, seemingly to reduce noise and cut down on debris.

While most public complaints were anecdotal, research by AppleInsider in 2018 collecting data on first-year hardware failures for the MacBook Pro found the butterfly keyboard failed twice as often as previous models.

By late 2019, Apple seemingly gave up on the butterfly keyboard altogether, and started to migrate its new MacBook products over to the Magic Keyboard instead.

Apple previously attempted to dismiss the lawsuit in 2019, citing its implementation of troubleshooting methods and a repair program. The plaintiffs successfully argued that the voluntary program was ineffective as it failed to address the core problems with the keyboard.

Replacing the faulty keyboards with another using the same design was also considered by the plaintiffs to be a bad idea, as it had the potential for the same issues to resurface at a later time.

Class Action Suit Regarding Apple's Butterfly Keyboard by Mike Wuerthele on Scribd

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 34
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 8,994member
    With these constant class actions, constant patent lawsuits, constant security debacles, constant negative press, WHY are people still buying Apple products? Have people not woken up to the fact that Apple is the most disreputable, untrustworthy, criminal corporation in history that produces only overpriced garbage and screws its customers at every opportunity... well, according to tech blogs, law firms, politicians, and Epic.


    buttesilvertokyojimucharlesnviclauyycAlex1NMacProurahara
  • Reply 2 of 34
    techconctechconc Posts: 147member
    I have a late 2016 15" MacBook Pro.  It's used heavily every day by several family members which includes teenage kids.   According to the tech press, I guess my keyboard should have blown up a long time ago.  Yet, I've never had a single problem with it.  Mind you, I'm not crazy about the lack of travel on the butterfly keyboards, but I've not had any reliability problems.  I guess I'm the lucky one??
    buttesilverJWSCAlex1Nrevenanturahara
  • Reply 3 of 34
    lkrupp said:
    With these constant class actions, constant patent lawsuits, constant security debacles, constant negative press, WHY are people still buying Apple products? Have people not woken up to the fact that Apple is the most disreputable, untrustworthy, criminal corporation in history that produces only overpriced garbage and screws its customers at every opportunity... well, according to tech blogs, law firms, politicians, and Epic.


    Oh you got me...I missed your closing sentence!   :p
    edited March 22
  • Reply 4 of 34
    tokyojimutokyojimu Posts: 477member
    My 2017 MacBook is about to go in for a second keyboard replacement. I sure hope they extend the four-year replacement program because I’m sure it will happen again.
    lkruppAlex1Nparaeeker
  • Reply 5 of 34
    tokyojimu said:
    My 2017 MacBook is about to go in for a second keyboard replacement. I sure hope they extend the four-year replacement program because I’m sure it will happen again.
    I think this is the problem. Replacing the keyboard with another that can fail for the same issue reminds me of the 6+ replacements which could have the same issue and do not instill confidence in the consumer about buying another Apple product. 

    I’m not for the lawsuit, but I’m also not for just replacing a faulty part with another potentially faulty part without extending the warranty for the part. 

    There has to be a middle ground going forward. 
    JWSCAlex1Nmuthuk_vanalingamcgWerksparaeekerc0dezelijahg
  • Reply 6 of 34
    charlesncharlesn Posts: 130member
    No matter how much R&D and beta testing are done, no product is problem-proof once millions start using it "in the field." The real question is how a company responds to those problems. I've been using Apple computers since 1992 and have had two products with issues during that time: my 2009 iMac and my 2015 MacBook 12'. The iMac developed screen splotches (which were an issue on that model) quite a while after my AppleCare had expired. Apple replaced the whole screen anyway, free of charge. Then the hard drives in that iMac began showing signs of early failure. Again, I was long out of AppleCare by that time, and even though my HD was still problem-free, Apple again replaced it at no charge. With my MacBook 12", I started having a sticky keys issue with the butterfly keyboard about 6 months after AppleCare expired, but Apple still replaced the whole bottom case of my MacBook at no charge. 

    Bottom line: when Apple does discover an issue once a product is out to consumers, they've always done right by me in terms of fixing it at no cost. 
    JWSCAlex1Nfastasleepmontyburns
  • Reply 7 of 34
    seankillseankill Posts: 539member
    charlesn said:
    No matter how much R&D and beta testing are done, no product is problem-proof once millions start using it "in the field." The real question is how a company responds to those problems. I've been using Apple computers since 1992 and have had two products with issues during that time: my 2009 iMac and my 2015 MacBook 12'. The iMac developed screen splotches (which were an issue on that model) quite a while after my AppleCare had expired. Apple replaced the whole screen anyway, free of charge. Then the hard drives in that iMac began showing signs of early failure. Again, I was long out of AppleCare by that time, and even though my HD was still problem-free, Apple again replaced it at no charge. With my MacBook 12", I started having a sticky keys issue with the butterfly keyboard about 6 months after AppleCare expired, but Apple still replaced the whole bottom case of my MacBook at no charge. 

    Bottom line: when Apple does discover an issue once a product is out to consumers, they've always done right by me in terms of fixing it at no cost. 

    Apple told me to go F myself to the tune of 368$ to replace the screen on my 15 month old 2012 MacBook Pro retina. 3 months outside of the warranty, the screen had horrible ghosting. A <30 second stagnant image would take a minute+ to disappear. The issue was pretty talked about before I bought it. Despite my reluctance, I was assured this was an isolated issue. Bought it at the end of August. Found it had the infamous LG panel. I should have returned it that day and just kept ordering them until I got a Samsung panel.
    when that happened, I recreated the issues on 4/5 other MacBook pros. Only 1 with a Samsung screen (the working one). To be fair, they were display units but you never see that issue on iPhones. 

    That, coupled with the POS keyboard on the 2016s, I bought a PC desktop to replace the MacBook as my main driver and not sure I’ll be going back to mac anytime soon. To be fair, the 2012 still works well now when on the go for light work. 
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 8 of 34
    These class action lawsuits are often bonkers, but this one I fully understand and support.
    cgWerkselijahg
  • Reply 9 of 34
    mrstepmrstep Posts: 459member
    techconc said:
    I have a late 2016 15" MacBook Pro.  It's used heavily every day by several family members which includes teenage kids.   According to the tech press, I guess my keyboard should have blown up a long time ago.  Yet, I've never had a single problem with it.  Mind you, I'm not crazy about the lack of travel on the butterfly keyboards, but I've not had any reliability problems.  I guess I'm the lucky one??
    I had a 2017 MBP 15. The right arrow key stopped working about 3 months after I got it.  The keyboard was swapped out, it ended up frying the power controller chip soon after that - not sure if it was related to the first repair or not.  They ended up replacing it with a 2018 MBP, which is still working - for my son.  I bought a MBP 16 because I didn't trust the butterfly keyboard, particularly after buying a 2017 MB 12 for my daughter and having the letter 'C' not work right out of the box (also repaired under warranty),  I know of other butterfly keyboard issues at my small company - roughly half of the affected machines.

    So... in my experience I'd say it was a coin toss in terms of your luck, but who knows what the real numbers were.  (Maybe we'll find out with this lawsuit.)
    Alex1Nwelshdogmuthuk_vanalingamcgWerks
  • Reply 10 of 34
    rain22rain22 Posts: 132member
    charlesn said:
    No matter how much R&D and beta testing are done, no product is problem-proof once millions start using it "in the field." The real question is how a company responds to those problems. I've been using Apple computers since 1992 and have had two products with issues during that time: my 2009 iMac and my 2015 MacBook 12'. The iMac developed screen splotches (which were an issue on that model) quite a while after my AppleCare had expired. Apple replaced the whole screen anyway, free of charge. Then the hard drives in that iMac began showing signs of early failure. Again, I was long out of AppleCare by that time, and even though my HD was still problem-free, Apple again replaced it at no charge. With my MacBook 12", I started having a sticky keys issue with the butterfly keyboard about 6 months after AppleCare expired, but Apple still replaced the whole bottom case of my MacBook at no charge. 

    Bottom line: when Apple does discover an issue once a product is out to consumers, they've always done right by me in terms of fixing it at no cost. 
    Bottom line is - the Apple you speak of no-longer exists. 
    Now Apple releases products with known problems and ignores it's customers. It denies denies denies until a class action is filed - and then it rolls out some BS program as a PR move and judgement appeasement. 
    1 hour out of AppleCare and you are SOL. 

    80s_Apple_Guymuthuk_vanalingamelijahg
  • Reply 11 of 34
    ukrunrukrunr Posts: 14member
    I've had a similarly good experience with Apple replacing items outside of warranty where they knew they had manufacturing issues. I also had problems with a 2015 Macbook 12", so understand where the class action is coming from. Seems a little unfair that because i don't live in one of those seven states my issues won't get addressed.
  • Reply 12 of 34
    Shilling for Apple over bad hardware design is something i’ll never understand. Those keyboards were so so sooooo bad. I had one and it was awful. It was supplied by my employer. Got a 2020 model from a new employer and it’s as different as night and day. So good on the 2020. Butterfly design was just baaaad
    CheeseFreezeelijahg
  • Reply 13 of 34
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,138member
    Oh a class-action lawsuit....so those involved will end up getting a $25 AppleStore Gift Card in return and Apple will make money off the entire deal. 
    cgWerks
  • Reply 14 of 34
    Bunch of litigious sooks.. go Buy a Dell !! You morons always want something for nothing.
  • Reply 15 of 34
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,747member
    I'm making plans to send in my 2017 for a new keyboard. The space bar double and triple skips regualrly.

    I want to get my wife a new Macbook Air, clone my 2017, restore it into the new Macbook, send in the 2017, I use the new computer until the old one comea back, then I somehow restore the macbook into the 2017 - if that is even possible and then wipe the new Macbook for my wife to use.

    Will this work? 

    I'll be glad to get my $14 bucks or whaever lame amount I am owed once the lawsuit finishes up.
  • Reply 16 of 34
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 5,272member
    rain22 said:
    charlesn said:
    No matter how much R&D and beta testing are done, no product is problem-proof once millions start using it "in the field." The real question is how a company responds to those problems. I've been using Apple computers since 1992 and have had two products with issues during that time: my 2009 iMac and my 2015 MacBook 12'. The iMac developed screen splotches (which were an issue on that model) quite a while after my AppleCare had expired. Apple replaced the whole screen anyway, free of charge. Then the hard drives in that iMac began showing signs of early failure. Again, I was long out of AppleCare by that time, and even though my HD was still problem-free, Apple again replaced it at no charge. With my MacBook 12", I started having a sticky keys issue with the butterfly keyboard about 6 months after AppleCare expired, but Apple still replaced the whole bottom case of my MacBook at no charge. 

    Bottom line: when Apple does discover an issue once a product is out to consumers, they've always done right by me in terms of fixing it at no cost. 
    Bottom line is - the Apple you speak of no-longer exists. 
    Now Apple releases products with known problems and ignores it's customers. It denies denies denies until a class action is filed - and then it rolls out some BS program as a PR move and judgement appeasement. 
    1 hour out of AppleCare and you are SOL. 

    Bullshit. I've also almost never had to pay for any repairs on my Apple devices over the years, even out of warranty.
    edited March 22
  • Reply 17 of 34
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,633member
    I'm usually not big on lawsuits, but I hope Apple gets their clocks-cleaned on this one. They need to learn an important lesson! (Plus, hopefully this goes international so I can be part of the suit.)

    AppleInsider said:
    While most public complaints were anecdotal, research by AppleInsider in 2018 collecting data on first-year hardware failures for the MacBook Pro found the butterfly keyboard failed twice as often as previous models. 
    Yeah, sorry, but that research is faulty. Maybe a lot of people hadn't brought them in for repair at that point.

    When about EVERYONE we know that owns one of these has problems, it's probably just a tad bit more than 2x the previous design (where I'm sure they failed, but I never ran into one or knew anyone). Including our own, people I know, and podcasts I listen to, that's like 20+ bad ones, some replaced more than once. Yes, anecdotal, but the problems aren't THAT clustered. And about everyone I've ever talked to about it says nearly the same thing about their circle of connections.

    I think it would be more accurate to say... some small percentage haven't failed, yet.

    AppleInsider said:
    Replacing the faulty keyboards with another using the same design was also considered by the plaintiffs to be a bad idea, as it had the potential for the same issues to resurface at a later time. 
    Yes, because it is just a matter of time until it fails AGAIN. Maybe that can buy enough time to last the useful timeframe of the product if one is careful, but I don't think that is reasonable. IMO, either a solid class-action, or Apple could just extend the 4-years to lifetime.
    muthuk_vanalingamelijahg
  • Reply 18 of 34
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,633member

    lkrupp said:
    With these constant class actions, constant patent lawsuits, constant security debacles, constant negative press, WHY are people still buying Apple products? Have people not woken up to the fact that Apple is the most disreputable, untrustworthy, criminal corporation in history that produces only overpriced garbage and screws its customers at every opportunity... well, according to tech blogs, law firms, politicians, and Epic.
    Problem is the grass isn't greener...

    techconc said:
    I have a late 2016 15" MacBook Pro.  It's used heavily every day by several family members which includes teenage kids.   According to the tech press, I guess my keyboard should have blown up a long time ago.  Yet, I've never had a single problem with it.  Mind you, I'm not crazy about the lack of travel on the butterfly keyboards, but I've not had any reliability problems.  I guess I'm the lucky one??
    Yes, and you probably should be quiet and not jinx yourself... the last person I heard say this, a couple weeks later...

    charlesn said:
    Bottom line: when Apple does discover an issue once a product is out to consumers, they've always done right by me in terms of fixing it at no cost. 
    In the past anyway, that has been my experience as well. I'm not so sure about now, though. Unfortunately, we get to find out with my son's MBP.

    ukrunr said:
    Seems a little unfair that because i don't live in one of those seven states my issues won't get addressed.
    Yeah, that seemed a bit odd to me too. I know usually each country has to set something up (like with the VW diesel thing), but it seems odd only a few states.
    Also, unfortunately, I've yet to see a class-action where the end-users got a fair amount. We'll probably have to fill out a bunch of paperwork to get your $20, or something like that (while the lawyer buys a few more beach-houses).

    welshdog said:
    I'm making plans to send in my 2017 for a new keyboard. The space bar double and triple skips regualrly.
    Similar here, my son's MBP has a few keys now not triggering most of the time, or repeating, etc. He's reluctant to give it up (to send in) so I'm trying to get that going. We've got him a monitor and external keyboard now (he likes to game) which will help prolong it once repaired (hopefully). He'll still use it some on that keyboard, but it will probably take like 75% of the use off of it.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 19 of 34
    revenantrevenant Posts: 616member
    rain22 said:
    charlesn said:
    No matter how much R&D and beta testing are done, no product is problem-proof once millions start using it "in the field." The real question is how a company responds to those problems. I've been using Apple computers since 1992 and have had two products with issues during that time: my 2009 iMac and my 2015 MacBook 12'. The iMac developed screen splotches (which were an issue on that model) quite a while after my AppleCare had expired. Apple replaced the whole screen anyway, free of charge. Then the hard drives in that iMac began showing signs of early failure. Again, I was long out of AppleCare by that time, and even though my HD was still problem-free, Apple again replaced it at no charge. With my MacBook 12", I started having a sticky keys issue with the butterfly keyboard about 6 months after AppleCare expired, but Apple still replaced the whole bottom case of my MacBook at no charge. 

    Bottom line: when Apple does discover an issue once a product is out to consumers, they've always done right by me in terms of fixing it at no cost. 
    Bottom line is - the Apple you speak of no-longer exists. 
    Now Apple releases products with known problems and ignores it's customers. It denies denies denies until a class action is filed - and then it rolls out some BS program as a PR move and judgement appeasement. 
    1 hour out of AppleCare and you are SOL. 

    that apple does exist, just sadly not experienced by all. my wife's MacBook was well out of warranty and apple care when her speaker stopped working. took it in to Seoul apple store and they replaced the speaker for free. she never mentioned it but they noticed the rubber gasket around the display was worn and leaving streaks on the glass. they replaced the whole display as well for free. 
    my beats stopped turning on and I called apple care, I was just out of warranty but they took them in for repair anyways. I received a note saying they could not repair it and sent two out to me. I sold both and upgraded. 
    I have rarely been hit with a bill from apple, it is a shame that there are such opposite experiences. 
  • Reply 20 of 34
    My wife has an MBP with the Butterfly keyboard which is used a lot by her and my son for some online classes. Between her extended hours of usage and my son's abuse of the keyboard, the thing still works and not one key is spoilt. 

    I am not saying that it isn't a problem for others. I am just saying that it isn't a problem for everyone. 
    techconc
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