2011 MacBook Pro graphics class-action suit expands, accuses Apple of concealing defects

Posted:
in General Discussion edited April 2015
Members of the 2011 MacBook Pro graphics failure class-action lawsuit were updated this week on the latest developments in the case, which has expanded to include multiple states and lodges new complaints against Apple, accusing the company of deliberately concealing problems.


Screenshot of MacBook Pro graphics issue. | Source: Apple Support Communities forum member "Andy_Gee"


In an email sent out to members of the suit, the law firm of Whitfield, Bryson & Mason LLP revealed that its complaint now includes California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Puerto Rico, and Vermont. The complaint has also been updated to accuse Apple of taking steps to hide the problems from consumers.

"Specifically, we allege that between early- and late-2011, Apple released a software update that dramatically reduced the graphical performance of the GPUs in order to prevent them from reaching temperatures that would cause the GPUs to effectively self destruct," the note reads.

The law firm said that some members of the class-action suit have volunteered their faulty MacBook Pros for testing, and a computer hardware expert has been hired to perform tests on the hardware. The complainants hope to use this information to explain the technical side of the case to the court, and offer ways that Apple could have fixed the alleged problems.

It's expected that Apple will file a motion to dismiss the case on Jan. 29, and Whitfield, Bryson & Mason plan to respond to that motion with their own filing on behalf of the class on March 5. The case is expected to be heard before Judge Edward J. Davila of the Northern District of California in early April.

The 2011 MacBook Pro graphics case is not to be confused with a separate lawsuit over allegedly defective logic boards which was dismissed by a California judge last week.




The graphics-related issues found in some 2011 MacBook Pro models led to the class-action lawsuit being filed last October, seeking compensation for apparent hardware failures experienced by customers. Initially, the lawsuit covered only residents of California and Florida.

The complaint was filed on behalf of plaintiffs Zachary Book, Donald Cowart, and John Manners. The lawsuit alleges that Apple failed to reimburse owners for out-of-pocket repairs that could cost anywhere from $350 to $600.

Some owners of those devices have vocally complained for years that they have experienced graphical distortions and system crashes. Complaints from out-of-warranty MacBook Pro owners first began to gain steam in early 2013.

People familiar with Apple's internal repair network informed AppleInsider in August that the company had no immediate plans to initiate a replacement program for early-2011 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pro models suffering from systematic crashes and graphics failures. The issues are seemingly related to the laptops' discrete AMD-built graphics cards.

The GPU issue might present itself onscreen as visual artifacts, banding or a blank screen. What triggers the failure is unknown, though a common thread seems to be graphics-intensive operations like watching high-definition videos and performing processor-intensive operations in digital media programs.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 47

    You wonder what the company's metric is for crossing a threshold and paying up.

     

    I'm sure all of the friction is in place to pay as little as possible. And to admit there is an issue (to a fair measurable amount).

     

    I think a lot of us remember the iBook G3 problems. Not sure if there was a recall, but they were fixing machines for free in a lot of cases. We turned ours in several times for repair and ended up with a new machine, despite an expiration of the three year warranty.

     

    There was also the issue with the black MacBook logic boards. Not sure if that was a recall, but we did get an out of warranty repair done for free, and they replaced the worn (then shiny) keyboard and the worn palm rests.

     

    Hopefully, the company isn't becoming too corporate and stingy. That's a big fear.

  • Reply 2 of 47
    This is clearly not the fault of the consumer. Apple is WRONG and they need to make it right.
  • Reply 3 of 47
    A lot of the "class-action" suits against Apple are groundless, but this time I think the suit is justified. This is a black-eye for apple's stellar reputation.
  • Reply 4 of 47
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Tim Cook is all about customer sat so I don't understand why Apple doesn't just offer a replacement program and be done with it. This seems like one of the few legit lawsuits out there.
  • Reply 5 of 47
    auxioauxio Posts: 1,856member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post



    Tim Cook is all about customer sat so I don't understand why Apple doesn't just offer a replacement program and be done with it. This seems like one of the few legit lawsuits out there.



    Yeah, I'd be happier with Apple paying the cost of the manufacturing error to their technical support staff than to a team of lawyers.  Also looks a lot better in the eyes of customers.

  • Reply 6 of 47
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,879member

    Washington state isn't included in this suit but I submitted my daughter's early 2011 MBP to their list so maybe they'll extend it to other states. My latest test had the MBP running for 1.5 weeks without doing much of anything but only using the integrated graphics (using gfxCardStatus). When I changed it to the discrete graphics, the display immediately went bonkers. Luckily, this time I was able to restart and get it back to integrated. Previously, it would mess everything up and take a lot of messing around to get it to boot again. Fresh OS install, so software isn't the issue. I left it on because it doesn't wake from sleep either. It's sitting on a towel to hold all the heat in trying to keep the solder joints from contracting. 

     

    The photo shows it on screensaver (yes, those are tulips in the Skagit Valley of WA).

     

  • Reply 7 of 47
    I have a 2011 15" MBP with the well documented video 'snow' issue. So happy that I can expect a small team of lawyers to split 40% of a huge settlement, walk away with millions, and split the remaining 60% with thousands of us. If I'm really lucky, six years from now, I'll get a check for $6.48.
  • Reply 8 of 47
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by MacManFelix View Post



    I have a 2011 15" MBP with the well documented video 'snow' issue. So happy that I can expect a small team of lawyers to split 40% of a huge settlement, walk away with millions, and split the remaining 60% with thousands of us. If I'm really lucky, six years from now, I'll get a check for $6.48.



    You misspelled coupon there at the end.

  • Reply 9 of 47
    jfc1138jfc1138 Posts: 3,090member

    I have two of the early 2011 machines without having that experience, and my work machine is on 24/7/365. 

     

    Guess I should run out and buy lottery tickets?

  • Reply 10 of 47
    Why do Apple's executives let this happen? I can understand why their lawyers might want to fight. It means more work and pay for them. But this bad press isn't good for Apple. They'd be better off extending the warranty on those laptops or (even better) giving their owners a heavily discounted upgrade to a newer model. Instead of large legal costs and disgruntled customers, they'd have happy customers and good press.

    Heck, even a corporate bully like Amazon knows that. I just got a good deal on two 50-foot, contractor-grade extension cords that the company sold as used. They're new. All that's wrong with them is that a customer rejected them because the packing was damaged in shipping.

    Worksite extension cords are not fine china. Falling off a conveyor belt won't hurt them even if the shipping case is damaged. You could toss them off a ten-story building and they'd still be fine.

    But Amazon took them back, and Apple should do the same with these flawed laptops. It's good business to cover your mistakes.
  • Reply 11 of 47

    Perhaps they're waiting to see how big this is, or waiting to get AMD to pay for replacements.

  • Reply 12 of 47
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Slightly OT but a columnist for Marketwatch contacted Apple with a negative story he was planning to run on the company. Instead of getting just a comment (or no comment) he was asked to come to Cupertino and meet with senior executives to discuss his issues. I think some of his whining is ridiculous but the fact that Apple afforded him the ability to meet with senior executives is a big deal. How often has Apple done that in the past?

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/why-i-wanted-to-dump-my-iphone-but-didnt-2015-01-15?page=2
  • Reply 13 of 47

    I fried 3 of these machines. There was definitely an issue with them. 

  • Reply 14 of 47
    The takeaway here: Computers are complex and there are a host of things that may become problems AFTER the thing has been sold and used that may never appear in testing.
  • Reply 15 of 47
    nasseraenasserae Posts: 3,152member
    This happened to my late 2011 MBP exactly 30 days after my AppleCare warranty expired. I took it to Apple Store and they kept it for 4 days running tests. They called me saying nothing was wrong and I should come pick it up. When I got there the employee came back and told me they actually replicated the issue and it will cost me around $300 to send to the depot to replace the display, Logicboard with GPU, and RAM. I said let me think about it. So I went home and called Apple and explained that the device was only 30 days out of warranty and they agreed and said they will cover the repairs. The issue seems to be replaced to GPU overheating. There was an article from ifixitwhen these MBP came out about the amount of thermal paste on these GPU chips and how in the long term this excessive thermal paste will cause a problem.

    This article written in March 2011 about the issue. Clearly the problem was known to Apple back then.

    http://arstechnica.com/apple/2011/03/latest-macbook-pros-suffering-from-gpu-related-freezes/
  • Reply 16 of 47
    lilgto64lilgto64 Posts: 1,147member
    I'd be happy with some sort of nominal fee or half price etc when it is a known defect - I paid $300 tax to have my Early 2011 MB replaced a few months ago on my personal machine. <y work machine, which has 3 year AppleCare for about another month had its MB replaced twice - or maybe it is three times already - the third time they could not reproduce the graphics issue and found some corruption on the HDD but if memory serves they did replace the MB along with reformatting the drive and reinstalling the OS.
  • Reply 17 of 47
    The takeaway here: Computers are complex and there are a host of things that may become problems AFTER the thing has been sold and used that may never appear in testing.

    This is why I'm glad Apple's removed all spinning hardware from their portables, those are responsible for a lot of heat. Also glad they're making integrated graphics standard, because heat again.
  • Reply 18 of 47
    ktappektappe Posts: 749member

    What I don't understand is why Apple is dragging their heels here. The cost for them to make this right would be a pittance for them. Far, far less than they squandered on the Beats acquisition. pfisher is right above that there is friction in place to resist paying out in these lawsuits. But if nobody in Cupertino has yet woken up that this one has merit and "it's the right thing to do"(tm), then Tim Cook needs to recognize that gap in their corporation and fix it. "Don't let things get this far out of hand in the future. Make it right." he should say. To do anything else is to tarnish Apple's reputation and I think I speak for other AAPL stockholders when I say I don't want that.

  • Reply 19 of 47
    This is why I'm glad Apple's removed all spinning hardware from their portables, those are responsible for a lot of heat. Also glad they're making integrated graphics standard, because heat again.

    The hard disk is around 2.5 watts, a SSD is much less, but it's the CPU that's the most by far: 37w for the Haswell i5 CPUs. Having the CPU and GPU in one chip only increases the amount of heat in a small area. That's bad. Dissipated heat is much better. The dedicated GPU is a fair bit too, 20-40w.

    It's the heat concentrated in small areas around the CPU and GPU that cause problems, especially with lead-free solder. The lead free stuff just doesn't flex like leaded does. So thanks to the EU's uninformed mandate, you end up with no lead, but many more electronics being thrown out due to solder fractures.

    It's obvious this is a big problem, I think Apple should really just get on and fix it. It won't exactly put them out of business, and the good PR that would come of it is always welcome. Much more welcome than them being forced to fix them under a class-action lawsuit.
  • Reply 20 of 47
    One aspect that I think is important is that due to the age of the technology in question, the computers are no longer relevant.

    When these machines were relevant, Apple did not step up and make these repairs free of charge. With the time lapse, the cost to Apple is no doubt significantly less.

    As a result, those who suffered this problem should be entitled to an equivalent new computer.
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