I'm currently engaged with Apple's Executive Relations team in Cork regarding a consumer law claim for a device which I own. The device is a 2017 MacBook Pro 15 inch device, which cost a little above a whopping 3,000EUR when I bought it direct from Apple in June 2017.
Unfortunately, the screen on this model has developed issues and is no longer working properly, displaying a line multiple pixels thick down the centre of the screen which varies in thickness when the laptop screen is tilted or opened/closed. This problem is actually an extremely common manufacturing defect which has been widely reported on and affects a huge number of consumers:
The above are just a few sources of the thousands written on this issue, including teardowns and videos of the device showing the design flaw. It is due to the ribbon cable, which connects the screen to the body, not being made long enough when designed by Apple. As a result, through opening and closing the laptop (normal use), the cable gets damaged as it gets pulled tight over a sharp edge inside the MacBook housing. Apple have started a service program for this issue, but only for the 13 inch 2016 models, despite it also impacting 2016 and 2017 models of both 13 and 15 inch sizes.
Based on the above, I think there is extremely clear evidence that the device is both fit for purpose, as it cannot be opened and closed as per normal laptop use without damaging the device, and it is not of merchantable quality, as the ribbon cable inside should not be of such poor design and quality that it gains damage through normal use of the item. As such, the Sale of Goods & Supply of Services Act should entitle me to a repair, replacement or a full refund. Furthermore, as this is an internal design issue, and research online has led me to believe that this cannot be repaired adequately by Apple, as the repaired ribbon cable will fail again due to the same design flaw further down the line, I believe that a repair option would be excluded as the repair would not be fit for purpose or of merchantable quality, so a replacement or refund should be offered.
I laid out all of this information in a polite but firm, legally worded formal letter to Apple and only a day later received a response from their executive relations team in Cork who deal with high-level consumer rights claims and other escalated support issues. They have authority to authorise almost any remedy.
Unfortunately, since then, I've been given a response of: 'your case is still in investigation', over the past two weeks of waiting. The agent just called me this morning and said that he still does not have the information needed to make a decision, and needs to liaise with internal legal teams. It became clear to me from his response that he has been spending this time trying to find any way to worm out of a replacement for me.
For example, on the call, he told me there are 'a lot of moving parts' to consumer law and that 'it only applies in very specific circumstances'; also, that' these circumstances can change depending on situation'. I don't personally agree with any of that, I actually think that the SOGA is very explicit and straightforward. He said to me that he was 'investigating the possibility that Apple would have had to be notified of the problem within 24 months, despite the act covering 6 years in total'. I informed him that this was incorrect and that he was probably thinking of the EU directive which we didn't implement as our act supercedes that. He also informed me that he found some information where the exclusion period for computers was three years, rather than six. I also told him that this is not true and there is no specific exclusionary period for computers. It appears to me that he doesn't have much knowledge of the law, which is surprising for someone in Apple's executive relations, who have surely dealt with SOGA before? He's just trying to get out of having to cover me, from what I can see.
About a week after making contact, I sent a more polite email trying a different tact to see if they'd expedite this for me, as I don't want to drag this on for months. I told them that I'm a very loyal customer (indeed I am, 4 iPhones over the last 10 years, an Apple Watch, MacBook Pro, 2 iPads, AirPods, I'm a subscriber to Music and TV) and that this device has been a very disappointing experience for me; having spent over 3000EUR I expected a far longer life than the 3.5 years it took for the problems to begin with this device and this is the only Apple device which I've ever had issues with. As a loyal customer, I asked if they would consider approving a replacement for this incredibly disappointing experience rather than dragging out this process of claiming for an issue which I am fully entitled to be remedied for, however, it doesn't appear that this worked, as it seems like he's still doing all he can to try to find things to stop me claiming.
Can anyone verify that they think my claims are legitimate and almost certain to quality for SOGA, as I think they are, and if you have any advice on what to do? They seem intent on making this quite a painful process and their updates are little more than new (incorrect) things that they try to find to go against my claim. It's very frustrating, especially considering I have read a lot about their executive relations team online and other people with issues like mine got a replacement quite quickly without much hassle or trouble from them.
Thanks for taking the time to read and respond,
I know iConnect in Cork are very good at making claims against the apple warranty so it might be worth giving them a shout.
It's a long post, and I didn't read through the attachments, but if this is widespread there would have been class action lawsuits and a repair programme put in place. The repair is usually good, although sometimes, as with the butterfly keyboard issue, not so much. If the fix is as simple as you suggest, they wouldn't normally have any problem doing it. Apple are fairly good at this, even if it is always US driven.
I remember when I worked up there, and we were doing training and were advised to keep it in mind about "thousands of cases" being mentioned. There was a supposed fault in early iMacs, and a customer said to me there are literally hundreds of cases being reported.......I didn't say it, but the sales figures on that particular model were 6 million and sky rocketing. Back in those days no-one in Customer relations knew anything about SoGA and used to fob everyone off, until a barrister with a faulty Powerbook came on and blew everyone away until he got his replacement. Everyone quaked in their boots when he came on the phone, despite the fact that he never raised his voice once.
Anyway, I digress. Exec relations are the top dogs there. Surprising to be given the run around and such terrible misinformation. Ask to speak to the manager. Problem is that under the Small Claims Court procedure you are over the limit of €2000.00. Which means you would have to get a solicitor and go to court. Worse that can happen in SCC is that you lose the €25.00, you stand to lose a lot more if you lose in court.
Yeah, the attachments are just to demonstrate the widespread nature of the issue. There is already an ongoing class action lawsuit which Apple attempted to dismiss in the US, but the judge denied that and said there is merit to the suit, which is still ongoing. The fix isn't simple at all, because in their infinite wisdom, they decided to solder the ribbon cable which gets damaged through the bad design directly to the display, so the entire display needs to be replaced just for that one cable issue, which is too short. I know they're supposed to be really good for this stuff, but this case is one where they fall short, probably because the cost of replacing every single display for all of the 2016 and 2017 models would be enormous.
Really bad misinformation from them, very, very surprised from what I've heard of the exec relations, as they've been known to be very good from what I've read online of experiences. Very disappointing.
I know we have the anecdotal 'thousands of cases' out of millions or whatever, but in this case, it actually is a very widespread issue and is down to bad design, there is video evidence of the cable being pulled tight around a sharp corner of the PCB when the lid is opened.
Unfortunately I think because this is outside of 'warranty period', they probably won't be able to help... :(
Ahh Apple, the consumer's friend. With friends like these who needs enemies :D
Maybe small claims court ? At €25 outlay for a possible €2,000 return it might be worth a try. it may at least convince the person handling your case you're not going to drop it without a fight.
You could put in a claim to the small claims for up to €2000, allowing for capital depreciation for the 3.5 years use to date. Revenue would normally allow 12.5% depreciation per year.
Yeah, I was thinking about that myself...
Yeah good point, that's a good shout. Wouldn't be the worst resolution if it came to it, to be honest.
The Irish warranty on apple products is quite lengthy https://www.apple.com/ie/legal/statutory-warranty/ie/
Ah yeah that's the sale of goods act they're mentioning. I could try iConnect but I didn't actually buy from them so not sure where I stand there. Might give them a call and see, thanks for the suggestion.
"I laid out all of this information in a polite but firm, legally worded formal letter to Apple and only a day later received a response from their executive relations team in Cork who deal with high-level consumer rights claims and other escalated support issues. They have authority to authorise almost any remedy."
This is your issue. Once you go legal or attempt to go legal Apple will get their backs up and will tell you to go to your solicitor. I know it's gone to the ER team and they'll try sort it out but they have to consult the SACS team about their next steps while also seeing what options are there to try to get it sorted out. They'll definitely need a diagnosis but if you continue with the "legal" side of things it's going to be a long drawn out battle on your hands.
When I say 'legally worded', I only mean that I mentioned the provisions of the sale of goods act very explicitly and outlined how my case qualifies my device being remedied under those terms, in a professional and polite tone (ie. not throwing the toys out of the pram demanding a replacement immediately). I didn't start threatening legal action and a lawsuit or anything drastic like that.
I don't know how you avoid 'going legal' when you're invoking statutory rights for a remedy...
TBH I don't see scope for a long drawn out battle. It all depends if they want to defend it or not. They might contest the claim, in which case you'll get your day in court to present your evidence and see Apple forced to defend themselves. You can represent yourself in court on the day, so if you can afford the day off I'd say go for it.
Corporates also HATE having precedents established. You may very well get an offer on the day that would match any potential judgement just so they don't have the risk of a judgement made against them and being made a matter of public record.
It comes down to you pays your €25 and you takes your chances. I know personally being taking for a mug over a fault that is well known would eat me away; €25 is a small amount to pay for peace of mind, knowing you didn't take it lying down and took your best shot at a remedy.
In addition there's the EU small claims process which also costs €25 to initiate proceedings, but with a max payout of €5,000. I don't believe you can follow the EU process if the domestic process failed, so it might be worth while going for the EU process if you believe you can justify a claim greater than €2,000 to such a degree to make it worth while, the depreciation rates for IT kit might make that a bit of a stretch
Good luck whatever you decide.
Thanks a million, lots of useful info. I actually didn’t know about the EU SCC, that’s very good to know, thanks for pointing that out to me.
Don’t worry, I absolutely plan to take the issue to the SCC if not resolved with Apple directly, no way I’m just going to back off in this instance. My device cost a lot of money, is in impeccable physical condition (no way they can claim physical damage or mishandling) and 3.5 years is not in any way an acceptable lifespan for a device of this cost to last, especially when the issue causing this problem is well documented and widespread.
I would think that by Apple admitting that there is an issue with the ribbon cable present in the 13” 2016 version, and there being documented video and photographic evidence of the exact same issue being present in teardowns of equivalent units of my model (15” 2017), they shouldn’t really have a leg to stand on here?
I'm now dealing with a different executive liaison to the one who gave the misinformation on the sale of goods act a few days ago. She said that she'll reach out to me tomorrow with an update on the case.
I hope it works out for you, my wife had a similar issue (same cause) where her screen would only turn on when the angle was less than 40º open, it was the same faulty ribbon cable, fortunately for her she bought her 2016 macbook laptop in compu b in cork and they replaced the screen and the ribbon for her out of warranty (it happened 2 years in) under the sale of goods act but they did say it had to be authorised by apple so it must have been.
Thanks, glad she got the issue sorted out. Hopefully they'll look after me too, but they're not making it easy so far, that's for sure. I won't be giving up on the issue anyway.
Apple just got back to me with a very disappointing conclusion. They said that because the problem happened 3 years after purchase, it is extremely unlikely to be a manufacturing defect, as she said they'd normally appear much sooner than that. She also said the engineers ruled out the issue being with the internal hardware, despite not even inspecting the physical device themselves.
All in all, very disappointed with them. So I told her I'll be going ahead with a SCC claim, which I'm going to start preparing.
Small Claims Court application has just been filled in and submitted, fingers crossed. Anyone know if you can look up SCC records for Ireland (ie. cases where it went to a hearing)? I'm wondering if Apple ever went that far with a claim before.
I will go to the hearing if it gets that far, but I'd prefer a simpler outcome of course 😂
They probably won't bother appearing, the cost would outweigh the claim
Claim has been approved by the Cork Small Claims Registrar, 25 euro has been paid and claim has been issued!
Well it is now day 12 since the initiating document was served to Apple, just three days to go for Apple to respond; and day 15 lands on a Saturday which should actually fall in my favour, as the people handling these things in Apple likely don't work on a Saturday. Fingers crossed they just forget about it or ignore it and don't respond.
Well, in about 20 mins we reach day 15 since the initiating document was served to Apple. Their final day to respond.
Do you reckon they’ve just decided to ignore it or forgot about it? I’d be surprised if they file the dispute on a Saturday… you’d think their legal people would only work Mon to Fri?
Does anyone know what happens if I automatically win due to non response? Do they have to pay the amount claimed?
Actually, I’m not sure how the days work. The notice was served on July 30th… so does that count as a day in the 15 days? If it does, technically 15 full days have passed since then.
Likely to be fifteen working days so exclude Saturday and Sunday and bank holidays so that's the 19th or 20th (based on 30th filing date) for the fifteenth day
It’s actually calendar days, surprisingly enough :)
Oh would have thought working days but you learn something new everyday
So this should technically mean an automatic win, right? :D
Not quite over yet, check the CI link above