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back to article Apple voids warranties over cigarette smoke, users say

A Mac user claims that Apple voided her warranty and refused to repair her machine because it was "contaminated" with cigarette smoke. The claim mirrors a similar report from last year, when another user complained that the Jobsian cult wouldn't service a system due to the "health risks of secondhand smoke." Both complaints …

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Linux

What's the problem??

If Apple says they will not service equipment contaminated with cigarette smoke, then STOP SMOKING.

As one famous prophet once said, "It's not that big of a deal".

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Grenade

Visible Tar Layer...

Should personally be a warranty void and specifically noted in the warranty. Had to work on some systems from a truck dispatch company. The stuff came off on your hands, glued the boards into the sockets and caused all sorts of grief with electrical connections. The best method of handling computer failure was system replacement.

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WTF?

Wouldn't be an issue if it was residue from pot smoke.

What did you expect from the liberals at Apple? Cigarette smoke residue makes you an outcast. Now, if your Mac contained residue from marijuana smoke, then they'd not only repair it, they'd probably upgrade it for free and put you on a VIP list. Then again, they are headquartered in California. California is desperately trying to outlaw tobacco while at the same time desperately trying to legalize marijuana. Go figure...

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WTF?

not honoring the warranty because they ruined the computer with smoke is one thing, but biohazard?

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WTF?

Oh

For fuck's sake. Someone drown these people.

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Jobs Horns

Apple...

...are completely losing the plot! I've never know any other high-end tech company with such utter contempt for their customers!

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Marek, the "IT guy"

in a school I know in Poland treats the computer lab as his own personal fiefdom and is always smoking whilst faffing with equipment.

The computer lab reeks of fag smoke. The kids love it - gives the place a "homely" feel. And the equipment doesn't seem to suffer. Mind you, it's really, really old stuff.

Marek has incredibly weird teeth and is always laughing and joking in between coughs.

They could send these Macs to him to fix. He always needs more fag money.

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WTF?

Ridiculous

This is exactly the sort of thing I'd expect to hear about Apple, and is exactly why my next phone is not going to be a Jesus phone, or anything Jesus-phone-related.

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Boffin

About Time

Years ago when Teachers Smoked in Class and I had a Company repairing Apple II, Research Machines and BBC micros the damage from Cigarette Tar was staggering...

I don't know about "biohazard", but it can certainly be nasty. It's no wonder either that it's a PLUS point in Car and Electronic Gear sales when they say from a "non-smoker" home.

I have always wondered can the tar vapour or smaller volatile particles get in to the HDD surface via the breathing hole filter? HDDs are absolutely not hermetically sealed.

Some discussions here: http://discussions.virtualdr.com/archive/index.php/t-178020.html

(Safety Goggles and mask...)

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Flame

Funny.

This about covers my experience with what apple funnily enough calls a "service department" (but my experience wasn't smoke related, just another version of the excuse-not-to-service)

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Paris Hilton

Breaking news..

crApple refuses to repair machine because owner had sniffles and liked bacon...

I can understand why an Apple 'tech' would want to reduce the number of machines they worked on though, every spare parts box they have to open presents a significant paper cut risk and those dangerous screwdrivers <folds arms, sucks teeth, frowns, shakes head>

Paris, easy open box, no paper cut risk.

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Double standards

Seeing that as recently as last year Apple Macs were found to be emitting Benzene when powered up. (Incidently included on the OHSA list).

Maybe Apple would like to offer everyone that has one of those Macs, free healthcare instead. I'm sure it's cheaper to just repair the thing and STFU.

Pots and Kettles.

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Thumb Up

A good idea

More power to Apple, as someone who had to repair smoker's machines in the past let me tell you that their filth traps are right up there in second place for nastiness, first being cat owners whose little darlings peed on the machines...

It's also true that optical drives are also the first to go from smoking, so why should other AppleCare payers being covering these people's tabs?

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Coat

Hear! Hear!

As an anti-smoking fascist myself, I'm with the Church of Jobs on this one. If you're daft enough to smoke next to your PC or laptop (of whatever manufacturer) you shouldn't be surprised if it joins you in a potentially premature death.

Mine's the one with the funeral service from smoking grandparents in the pocket.

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WTF?

What is today's date?

I am sure I have just stepped out of time machine and it is April 1st 2010. Must be. Can't be any other reason for this story, can there?

I mean really, come on. I have no love for anything from, or associated with, that massive company with the HQ in Cupertino, but even I have have to question the validity of this story...

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Bronze badge

interesting loophole.

Actually, it's quite possible that cigarette smoke IS a biohazard. Awesome! I wonder if I can use the same excuse to avoid fixing things? Must check out local laws.

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Even though I'm not a fan of Apple's build quality...

I have to say that smoking next to a computer, especially one with optical drives, cameras or air-intakes, should be avoided at all costs. Those devices just aren't made to be smoked at.

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Coat

good on them

having worked in various parts of the service/IT industry I say good on apple.

some items sock up nicotine/tar to so that you get a layer of grease/yellow slime. smokers don't often notice this as it builds up over time but when you put it side by side with a clean item it's pretty disgusting and now we know the dangers of nicotine/tar I don't think people should be forced to come into contact with it - unless appropriately trained/equipped.

<putting on my hazmat suite here>

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Anonymous Coward

And that includes peanut poppers

and chocolate chompers. And, Car Drivers. All of those are bad, and potentially lethal health and safety worries.

Brilliant, I can see it now. And you don't have to put it into the warranty, you just claim it after the fact.

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FAIL

Marigolds

Someone should donate Jobs a few pairs of runbber loves and dust masks to his techies, then beat him with a 8 pound fail-stick.

The Jobsian Jokers get more retarded by the day

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Yuk

I've opened up smokers machines to repair them before, and found everything coated in a layer of tar and ash. If the machine was like that, I wouldnt fix it either!

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Smoke - Tar inside Macs

I am an ACMT and work at an AASP. We repair a lot of Macs and have not turned away a smokers Mac yet but I can see why someone would refuse to work on one. Some of the ones that I've seen are covered inside with a layer of tar, to which is stuck a lot of dust. I usually take it outside & use an air canister to blow the worst out but the fans are covered in it & so are reduced in their effectiveness. I am sure that in some circumstances this has caused the failure of the unit and shouldn't be covered by the warranty as the fault has been caused by the customer.

Biohazard is a bit harsh, but it is like working inside someone's tar covered lungs - vile! It'd make you stop smoking.

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Rubbish...

Utter rubbish. They are miss reading the rules. Ciggeret smoke is a hazard, as is solder smoke. I think they need to go back and re-read the rules before trading standards gets involved.

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crikey

It's a wonder that Apple employees are able to make children...

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Anonymous Coward

See ...

I've owned dozens of computers over the past 20 years and not one has failed from cigarette smoke, though once I had a few fail simultaneously from a build-up from traffic fume emissions from a busy junction outside the office where huge diesels and buses would fart and belch at the lights.

The interior of the PC cases were SOLID with gunk in a month.

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Well...

Well, the optical drive might well have nicotine all over the lens. However, I don't really blame the apple techs for this; you've seen the dusty computer pictures that were on this site not too long ago!

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FAIL

What The World Is Coming To

I agree it's sometimes gross, but to refuse to even look at it is the wrong policy, or rather this isn't a policy at all it is some uptight moron who is selecting smokers as their way to rebel against society in that Apple politically-pseudo-correct sort of way.

Parts like an optical drive, if shown to have failed due to excessive smoke contamination, certainly shouldn't be replaced free. The rest however has to be designed for real-world environments not just a clean-room lab environment but we known this isn't about that, a level 1 tech simply isn't knowledgeable enough yet (nor would it be cost effective) to make that kind of forensic determination.

It basically boils down to too many whiny brats in the world who feel they deserve attention, failing to recognize that if all parts of their job were roses and gravy, nobody would have to pay them to work. Fire 'em, that's what I'd do... then get on that warranty clause about not covering the hardware replacement cost if deemed to be due to cig smoke contamination - but not a refusal to do the labor or other repairs.

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Jobs Halo

well done, apple

Thanks! This made my day.

Cigarette smoke is THE most disgusting thing.

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Coffee/keyboard

Repair or replace

Surely if it's a biohazard and not safe for someone to repair, they can just replace it?

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Anonymous Coward

Why is this news

Most warranties don't cover user damage. The company, where I work, charges for spills. We even bag units that come in filled with roaches, contact the customer and charge them for return hazardous shipment charges. We've had electronics sent in with lizard eggs in them (that was pretty cool), all sorts of bugs, marijuana (and other plant) residue, transmission fluid (that one was confusing), a bullet (that one was funny) and even a unit wrapped in uderwear (straight to trash). I wish we'd add cigarette residue as a hazard, even though everyone wears gloves of some sort to touch the product, because cleaning that stuff is a real pain and it isn't safe in that gooey concentrated form.

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Thumb Down

One word---c*nts!

Pretentious fu*kwads! Ok, more than two words, but that just pisses me off and I don't even smoke!

Apparently Apple's product lineup are sensitive souls... I used to work on NCR point-of-sale equipment in restaurant environments. They'd still be grinding along after 10 years when the entire inside of the case was covered with a greasy sludge from the kitchen environment. And not a fan still working. Made me wonder what the health cost of working in that environment was.

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Split Society

We're slowly becoming a split society where smokers are being viewed with more and more disapproval.

Nicotine probably is on the OSHA's list as it's a powerful pesticide, but I wouldn't have thought a computer owned by even the heaviest smoker would contain it at hazardous levels (though it does seem to build up quite a lot!)

Does beg the question, why do people smoke inside? I go outside even at home, stale smoke is not a nice smell, even to a smoker!

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Presumably

Apple are quite happy to turn a blind eye from the likely extremely bio-hazardous enviroments the staff who make the overpriced hardware they sell have to work in though?

Wonder if this applies to iPods and iPhones too? I see a hole being dug here. Either they alienate a large percentage of their customers or on the strength of this, face lawsuits from their staff when they about face.

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Jobs Horns

OMG...

I'm as anti-smoking as anyone. But... it shouldn't take a genius to understand that while nicotine and tar are hazardous in the AIR, they are not hazardous when caked onto your MacBook case.

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Jobs Horns

Welcome to the world according to Steve.

What? You didn't realize that when you bought your Apple product that you were now at the mercy of Steve Job's sense of morality. Didn't the iPhone app store censorship give you some inkling that Apple really is a cult and not a corporation?

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Alert

Biohazard?

I can see not working on the machine if it's so gummed up with accumulated tars and dust that the machine can't work correctly. Remember that good ventilation is essential to proper (read: cool) operation, especially with laptops.

The dirtiest machines I've ever worked on were those used in coal mines: black, conductive coal dust all over everything, especially fan intakes and heat sinks. You take them outside to blow and brush as much dist as you can off them. (Which is probably illegal now.) And that's regular semi-annual or quarterly maintenance.

But biohazard? Feh, someone's using PC as an excuse to duck work, and to duck telling the customer that the customer screwed up.

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bex

smoke not

the fact is repairing a pc used by a smoker is disgusting , the horrible sticky gunge insise some of the pcs I have come across iis not nice at all.

Don't smoke and use a computer its as bad for the pc as it is for you

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Stop

As a repair monkey at an indie shop

I have to agree that f***ing your machine with smoke is no different that f***ing your machine with a fall onto a concrete floor.

It's the customer that broke it, so they should pay to fix it!

And on the health risk point, I don't have a problem with doing that type of repair, but it is pretty horrible inside a smoker's machine. And it smells.

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Jobs Horns

But, but, but...

...most of Apple's customer base are weed smoking arty types. Surely all their machines are contaminated with illegal substances, not just biohazards. Does Apple repair *anything* under warranty?

More seriously, if they get away with this, then they will be copied and no manufacturer will have to honour any kind of warranty ever again.

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Gold badge

Just employ smokers..

They can cope with the stench and the pollution.

Alternatively, the exposure to what exactly is happening inside their lungs may cause them to stop. Either way a win win..

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Get a smoker to fix it?

Even if staff aren't allowed to set fire to themselves while at work, I have no doubt that among the massed hordes of Apple service engineers at least one of them smokes. So since that employee is already "contaminated" (and presumably is therefore not allowed to come into contact with any other Apple employees) why not have that person do the servicing work?

But then they'd have to think up new and even more ludicrous excuses for not doing what they're paid for.

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Jobs Horns

Statutory Rights

The guarantee doesn't affect them, regardless of the screwdriver monkeys' feelings about "gunky" machines.

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FAIL

Hazards of smoke build-up...

"they are not hazardous when caked onto your MacBook case."

Uhh, not true. They used to use nicotine as an insecticide in the 19th century.

As far as Apple service policy about 2nd hand smoke: that's what rubber gloves are for. If the smoke build-up caused the system failure, charge the customer for the repair as user-caused, but there is no logical reason to refuse the service completely.

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Former PC Tech opinion

I use to work for a major PC retail store as a technician and I can't tell you how many times I received computers that were malfunctioning because their owners smoked around them.

They were plain DISGUSTING on the inside with their previous white cases turned yellow and insides coated with a nasty smelling sticky tar. The smell was terrible and strong. The tar would cause fans to stop and acted as insulation, which then caused the system to overheat and parts to malfunction. I often spent more time attempting to clean the pc out then actually performing the work (which the customer should have been billed for). I felt like i should have been wearing a hazmat suit the entire time while working on them.

I agree with Apple for not performing warranty work on these systems. In my opinion smoking next to your system is just as bad as keeping your system in a damp environment where the insides can rust and corrode (which is also not covered under warranty).

Point is that people in general should be held responsible for the damage they cause to their equipment regardless what the cause is.

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Smoke Residue and Computers

A few years back I worked at TigerDirect in Raleigh, NC as a repair tech. About 25% of the PCs that came in for service were heavily contaminated with cigarette smoke ... some to the point of the CPU heat-sink being totally block with it. It was very unpleasant to work on them, especially as corporate management wouldn't buy us a vacuum to remove it. They expected us to use a compressor to blow the dust out of cases and heat-sinks! It was really gross and without a doubt unhealthy for the techs - well, at least the ones of us with enough sense not to smoke. I fully support Apple's decision not to work on these machines. Other manufacturers, take note, or you may be faced with a lawsuit from employees.

Smokers, you do have the right to kill yourself with tobacco, but you do not have the right to inflict the by-products of your addiction on anyone else. Remember, years ago heavy metals and other poisons were used to "cure" certain conditions. Now, we know better. The same is true now of tobacco. I am, and have always been, a citizen of NC, where tobacco has been the major cash crop in the past. That is no longer true. On Jan 1, 2010, it will become illegal to smoke in ANY public place, restaurant, bar or club in NC. This would have been totally unthinkable 20 years ago! No longer. Times change.

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Why I quit

I used to smoke pretty heavily, to the point of chain smoking when some kind of urgent code creation was overdue. My desktop at the time was something of a nightmare to keep cool, and doubled as a fan heater. After the third hard drive died, I stopped keeping the thing on my desk, and opened up the failed drives. They shouldn't have a faint yellow yellow staining. Stopping smoking around my computers massively increased reliability, and the act of going outside served as an RSI break.

The common student digs practice of smoking in a small room with very little ventilation can coat the inside of a computer in a few months, especially if the air intakes are close to whichever hand one holds a cigarette in.

I wish I'd got some photos of some of the dust monsters I've found, cigarette tar turns dust bunnies into gooey sticky abominations that are immune to the canned air. Cleaning out this kind of mess is one of the most unpleasant things I've had to do.

Anyone saying that the inside of one of these machines can't be that bad hasn't had to deal with one, try coating the inside of an already dusty PC with a little coal dust, half a can of repositionable spray-mount, and a bottle of yellow food colouring. Then imagine an all pervasive smell of ashtray whilst you try and fix the damn thing.

User damage is user damage.

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Paris Hilton

Smoke Residue In PCs

"By Pete 2

Even if staff aren't allowed to set fire to themselves while at work, I have no doubt that among the massed hordes of Apple service engineers at least one of them smokes. "

Yeah Pete, I'm sure you're right, probably a few of them do still smoke. But I'll bet you any amount of money that they sure as hell don't smoke on, or in, any part of the Apple Corporate facilities or grounds!! I'm also betting that they are, or soon will, pay a hefty premium for indulging in what is absolutely a health-risk type of behavior. Rock climbing is risky, but only if you fall. Smoking is risky because EVERY time you do it, you're putting toxins of all kinds into your body. I watched both of my parents die from it. Why should MY insurance rates go up to cover YOUR lung transplant? "Set fire to themselves?!" None of my places of employment allow that ...

Paris, for f*ckin' shure, because as we all now know by way of her night-vision video,

what she likes to smoke, likes to BE smoked! Now that's HOT!

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Jobs Halo

Not an Apple fan but......

Having also repaired computes for many years, tar buid-up DOES destroy computers over time. Since this is customer abuse of the machine, it should NOT be covered.

I support Apple completely on this .... I sincerely HOPE that all other manufacturers follow this and not even just computers.

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Anonymous Coward

De-smogifying your laptop

Get some Ozium and give the laptop a quick spray-down. It will remove that dead cigarette smell pdq. Back in the day (60's and 70's) we used to use it on traffic stops to remove the smell of illegal smoking materials from the car. Works great on tobacco as well! :-)

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Silver badge

Biohazard?

What are they doing? Licking them?

Second hand smoke? Are they afraid the batter is going to catch fire while they work on it?

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