back to article Apple quietly swaps out MacBook Retina displays to fix skin-peeling stains

Apple has finally agreed to swap out "stained" Retina displays, months after ugly blobs of anti-reflective coating began peeling off of affected MacBooks that had cost fanbois more than $2,000 a pop. According to MacRumors, Cupertino has initiated a Quality Program to address the issue, which was inevitably dubbed "Staingate" …

  1. Trigonoceps occipitalis

    So Apple

    ... who know everything about you in their walled garden can't find a current address to write to? No patent cases for targeted advertising because they obviously can't make it work, at least not for your benefit.

  2. x 7

    i dunno if that photo is representative, but that machine definitely looks the victim of some kind of substance abuse - an acid attack, or more likely a washdown with bleach or caustic soda

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "i dunno if that photo is representative, but that machine definitely looks the victim of some kind of substance abuse - an acid attack, or more likely a washdown with bleach or caustic soda"

      There is an urban legend of a head teacher who, before a visit by the governors, went round the shiny new computer lab with its LCD screens and cleaned them all with Windolene. The results can be imagined.

      I imagine that among the things that might do it in this case are suncream, the antiseptic gel you have to put on your hands in hospitals, and detergent.

      I clean LCDs with a 40:60 ethanol/water mix which is relatively cheap and nontoxic (vodka) but I have found that if you have a glass screen protector for your phone, once the oleophobic coating has worn off Windolene does, in fact, work very well.

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        You can clean LCD monitors with Windolene, no problem. They might be streaky, and it's not recommended, but I work in schools and have witnessed it done many times by the cleaning staff.

        You shouldn't NEED to. If you can't get it off with a wipe of one of those glass-cleaning-cloths, and maybe damp it a bit for something tough that won't come off, then chances are it's not coming off. As someone who regularly had to do "anti-vandalism" checks in previous schools, I can assure you that biro etc. will not come off without something worse than ethanol, which you probably can't store in such a school anyway (and certainly not use while the kids are in unless you want it to go missing).

        Modern LCD's are pretty insulated from whatever's on the screen. You can clean with pretty much anything that you can clean the surrounding plastic with. Try in an inconspicuous spot first, of course, but Windolene isn't even close to the worst thing I've seen them survive.

        1. x 7

          best product I've found for cleaning screens is the citrate ester -based "Timclean" solvent used for cleaning old heatsink compound from CPUs

  3. Mark Allen

    Staingate?

    Surly this should be stainjob?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anyone else think that was spunk?

    Seriously, "Yeah, mum, anti-reflective coating"

    I don't actually think that given the numbers but it looks like that

    (I once broke a laptop wiping it with /that/ on it. It was that day I learned that the advantage to shiny/reflective screens isn't as big as I thought)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Anyone else think that was spunk?

      Why did you wipe a laptop with spunk ?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Anyone else think that was spunk?

        And whose?

  5. chivo243 Silver badge

    the onus on customers

    cheap skates... The should at the very least send a polite note to all buyers of said models. I'm sure there maybe a few people who purchased a macbook who are not fanbois... and do not live on every scrap of apple news.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: the onus on customers

      I'm sure there maybe a few people who purchased a macbook who are not fanbois... and do not live on every scrap of apple news.

      Presumably, if their screens start peeling they'll be informed when they return to the place they purchased the laptop to complain.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: the onus on customers

        They've got serial numbers linked to Apple IDs. They can identify the bad batches and e-mail, write, or call everyone but they just don't want to, instead they just silently extend guarantees.

        1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

          Re: the onus on customers

          The trick is they won't extend them in countries like Spain...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: the onus on customers

            If something is purchased within the EU, then there is recourse to defective goods under the appropriate directive. This is in addition to country consumer law.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: the onus on customers

          They've got serial numbers linked to Apple IDs. They can identify the bad batches and e-mail, write, or call everyone but they just don't want to, instead they just silently extend guarantees.

          Little gotchas:

          1 - data protection: what if the customer didn't agree to have their details used for anything but keeping a record of their purchase? You can't just use someone's details the way you want to, even if it seems like a good idea you have to stick to the law. Ironically, you can't even email them to ask them to agree to new terms either.

          2 - the actual problem: what if their screen is so buggered they can't read that message?

          3 - do you really think that anyone who has spent good money on a machine would not immediately contact Apple when this started happening? I know I would. There is no way I would just sit at home staring at a screen that is deteriorating in front of my eyes.

          Having said that, I've never had a problem with my MBP and I hope to keep it that way :).

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: the onus on customers

            1. That's a problem, but at purchase they decide if they want an Apple ID or not, and an Apple ID is used for much more than purchase records.

            2. I think we're talking about good faith on Apple's part.

            3. I hope you don't have a 2011-2013 MBP, they're notorious for overheating and dying. Oddly enough they cover 2011 MBPs, 2012-2013 MBPs with Retina graphics, but don't cover 2012-2013 MBPs without Retina graphics. I don't know if that's because they haven't passed some kind of failure threshold yet or what but mine died with exactly the same symptoms and the were adamant it wasn't covered by the extended guarantee in spite of it being obvious that there is a design problem with 2012 MBPs too. It just scraped in with the 1-year guarantee.

  6. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
      FAIL

      Wrong. He's actually being used as a green power source under their new HQ. Every time the lights flicker they rev him up by announcing a new product such as a mini IPad or a giant iPad with a stylus.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Every time the lights flicker they rev him up by announcing a new product such as a mini IPad"

        So this explains the series of bigger iPhones. A limit is going to come to that but by then I expect they'll have their own nuclear power program. And no Stuxnet getting into the centrifuges; these will be the thinnest, sexiest, smoothest operating centrifuges ever. Next: world domination.

  7. Deltics

    Apple Replacement Programs - Not worth the web page they are posted on

    My mid-2011 iMac 27 suffered a slow graphics card death over the past 3 years. It was supposedly covered by the graphics card replacement program. On each occasion that I took the system to an Apple Service agent to investigate/repair the issue they claimed to have found no evidence of ANY fault, despite being provided with ample documentation and evidence (video recordings on my phone of the display glitching in exactly the manner described by the replacement program).

    Bizarrely initially the problem only occurred during winter months (bearing in mind that winter in Auckland NZ is very mild). If ambient room temperature fell below about 14C then the problem would occur. Keeping the room warm seemed to avoid the problem, and the problem never occurred in the summer.

    Then this year, the graphics card failed entirely rendering the machine an unbootable, useless lump.

    This time obviously claiming that there was no actual fault wasn't going to fly so instead Apple simply denied that the machine was covered by the replacement program (no reason given, just "No, it's not covered") despite the fact that the serial number was explicitly one of the affected (and covered) machines and was still within the 4 year replacement period (by 1 month, as clearly shown by the purchase receipt).

    The result: The "free replacement graphics card within 4 years of purchase" actually cost me $600

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Apple Replacement Programs - Not worth the web page they are posted on

      From that description I'd say you've got a fairly watertight legal case against Apple.

      1. John Tserkezis

        Re: Apple Replacement Programs - Not worth the web page they are posted on

        "From that description I'd say you've got a fairly watertight legal case against Apple."

        "In legal theory, nothing is black or white, just shades of grey. Grey is guilty with a good excuse."

        Apple knows full well, with that class of money you won't fight it, because if you lose against a multinational, multi billion dollar company, you're automagically up for everyone's lawers. And in this case, the plantiff has limited depth to their pockets. Apple doesn't.

        I'm not saying you can't win, you just need to make absolutely sure that you're making it more economically viable for them to "lose". It often means you have to come to the table with more than just what you have right now. This is how it works, I've dealt with enough bastard insurance companies to know they'll use their legal team to save several hundred dollars if they can.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Apple Replacement Programs - Not worth the web page they are posted on

          I'm not saying you can't win, you just need to make absolutely sure that you're making it more economically viable for them to "lose".

          Weird - from what I read you must have had a bad solder joint or something (because of the temp sensitivity), and this refusal to exchange sounds weird (and very unlike my own exchange experience) if the serial number matches.

          I'd write to Apple marketing instead.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Apple Replacement Programs - Not worth the web page they are posted on

          > "Apple knows full well, with that class of money you won't fight it, because if you lose against a multinational, multi billion dollar company, you're automagically up for everyone's lawers."

          Does New Zealand not have an equivalent of the UK's (and similar jurisdiction's) Small Claims Court, whereby court fees are minimal and costs are generallly not awarded unless a part acts vexatiosly, in an attempt to make bringing comparatively low-value cases like the one described viable..?

    2. Fihart

      Re: Apple Replacement Programs - Not worth the web page they are posted on

      Though legal action is a last resort, if NZ has small-claims courts and if the computer's price is less than max for small claim, that is worth investigating.

      In most small claims courts, costs (for representation) are strictly limited so it's an even playing field for consumers. Most likely, the retailer (for that is who you usually have to sue) will not defend the action.

      Roughly speaking, In the UK consumer law covers you for up to 6 years -- so your 2011 purchase would be covered (here).

      Can't be more specific due to local differences, but well worth checking your rights in law.

    3. oneeye

      Re: Apple Replacement Programs - Not worth the web page they are posted on

      Surely you could havve initiated a lawsuit against Apple. In the US, it is small claims court. Small filing fee,and you get that back after you win. Worth a try. Call your local court house that covers the area you made your purchase in. But do something, don't just give in!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not going public.

    Quality stuff Apple, reaching the bottom as always,

    the bottom line that is. The inside(hint) word is that unfortunate customers got well stained when this kicked off originally.

  9. Marcus Fil

    Could do better

    ..but could do worse. I for one find it frustrating that Apple does not reach out to known customers when there is a problem identifed in specific equipment. I also dislike its habit of time limiting replacement programmes to typically three years. However, I will point out that in the UK Apple is all too aware of the 'Sale of Goods' act; this means if a) your Apple product fails within 6 years of purchase b) ..and is in a batch of products known and, crucially, acknowledged by Apple to have your specific problem Apple will very likely fix the problem for free. I speak from personal experience, and obvioulsy this is only going to benefit you if the problem is genuinely of Apple's making and not old age, abuse etc. It does not mean they are obliged to fix any other problems found at the same time as the repair either - at least not without charging you for those. Note that an Apple 'genius' told me that serial number batches are not gospel in identifying a necessary repair - there may be affected devices just outside either end of the published batch list and Apple normally take a pragmatic view on this.

  10. simon gardener

    Good as gold when i had this problem

    I had problems with the coating on my macbook pro. When I took it in to the apple store a few months back they asked if in had ever used a chemical cleaner on it. I, truthfully, replied "No" and they took my computer and swapped the screen for a new one same day.

    I've also had the motherboard swapped out on this machine when it refused to boot one morning.

    I had a previous model well out of its 3 year extended warrantee period have a few issues - one a graphics card - swapped out for free as it was a known issue . the other a problem with a fan that had become very noisy - they charged me for the part but not the work - a grand total of about 16 quid, if memory serves me right.

    I had a nearly three years old iPhone 5 where the battery was swelling slightly cause an issue with the screen. Sat down at he genius bar 10 minutes later they gave me a brand new phone.

    From my experience if you go in and talk politely to the staff and have a genuine grievance then they appear to have a lot of latitude to help you beyond the warrantee period.

    1. Lallabalalla

      Re: Good as gold when i had this problem

      Us too - my wife's old iPhone5 had the home button stop working - known issue but well out of warranty; they just gave her a new one and a cheery wave :)

      1. x 7

        Re: Good as gold when i had this problem

        " known issue but well out of warranty; they just gave her a new one and a cheery wave :)"

        I suspect part of this is due to products becoming superceded / end of life and managers preferring to get rid of old stock as goodwill replacements rather than write it down as scrap

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    tosh

    So what's currently the best Hackintosh laptop?

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